Very well written post! I didn’t read his book, but just going off your summary of his view where you characterize him as “asserting that knowledge and technology will alleviate most of our persisting worries in time” and where you quote him saying, “… there is no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing.”, I am curious how much weight Pinker as well as you give to
1) empathy (i.e. the ability to imagine oneself in the shoes of another—to imagine what it might be like for another) and/or
2) caring for strangers and/or
3) fair-minded-ness (e.g., intellectual humility, critical thinking skills, listening skills, etc).
in the solution to making the world a better place of a lasting nature.
My own opinion is that knowledge and technology alone cannot solve many of the problems that make our world a less than ideal place such as wars or long standing conflicts like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the drug cartel problem or religiously motivated terrorism. Knowledge and technology might solve poverty and disease, but I don’t see them solving many great sources of suffering for innocent people.
From this point of view, I find that one of the biggest gaps in our education systems these days is a lack of emphasis on teaching/instilling the things I’ve mentioned above. Having said that, I am tempted by the idea that one of the best ways to make the world a better place in the future is to donate to organizations that try to promote those things in school. I wonder what your opinion on that is.