The Moral Arc

The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom by Michael Shermer

Part Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, part Matt Ridley’s “The Rational Optimist”. Part new-atheism, part pop-libertarianism. I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with every single point being made and not fully enjoying it because each of these points has been professed elsewhere, more thoroughly, more originally, and often more, if I may be so crass, poetically. Everything here is stated plainly. And that is great, to a point. Everything said serves its purpose. But nothing more. Though the topic is one for which the moniker “lofty” is often paired, the language, the structure, and the overall narrative is anything but. It’s very accessible. It is very readable. It is very good.

However, perhaps it is because in this book I hear the droning echo chamber of my own mind that I find it not as good as it could be. I wasn’t particularly challenged, my views weren’t particularly put in new light. In reading this book I read an excellent synthesis of great positions, suffering only from not going beyond a baseline familiarity with the material. A good starting point for this kind of stuff, but definitely only a starting point. And I was kind of hoping for more out of it.