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reason: The book is called The Better Angels of Our Nature. What are the better angels of our nature?
Pinker: I identify four of them. One of them is self-control: the ability to anticipate the consequences of your behavior and to inhibit it as a result. That is, someone insults you, you count to 10 and you walk away instead of knifing them. Empathy: the ability to feel others’ pain, so that you no longer have fun when you watch someone disemboweled, but you’re actually sickened by the thought of it. Morality: admittedly, that’s a very multiple-personality angel, because a lot of morality actually leads to violence rather than preventing it. But at least a morality concentrating on fairness and universal rules is one of our better angels. And reason, the ability to deploy our cognitive faculties to figure out the best way of living our lives.