Thursday, January 07, 2016

Inner demons

Coming to an end of Stephen Pinker's wonderfully stimulating book The better angels of our nature.
Pinker summarises what he calls our 'inner demons' thus:

'Neither academic psychology nor conventional wisdom is anywhere close to a complete understanding of what makes us tick ... It seems to me that a small number of quirks in our cognitive and emotional makeup give rise to a substantial proportion of avoidable human misery.' (P688). He lists five on this same page.

Below I have contrasted these with the Beatitudes, as taught by Christ, perhaps indicating that if we could truly follow Christ, much of the violence in human society could be lessened (which, as Pinker demonstrates, has happened and is a long trend in the human story)

-- Overconfident of success in a fight, underestimating how bloody it will be
Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the peacemakers

-- Striving for dominance and likely to get into fights for it, to the loss of all
As above.

-- Seeking revenge by minimizing the hurt we caused and emphasising the hurt our opponents caused; and seeking perfect justice rather than compromise.
Blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

-- overcoming a distaste for violence and acquiring a taste for it
Blessed are the pure in heart; blessed are the peacemakers,

--publicly supporting a belief even if we harbour private doubts because the rest of the crowd supports it.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are you when all people hate you and revile your name as evil because of me.

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