Summary of Progress Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

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Journalist and philosopher Robert Wright lends deadpan wit and self-proclaimed cynicism to his argument about interconnectedness and morality in the modern world. getAbstract recommends his cerebral, provocative talk for a needed mood boost following your morning paper or the daily newscast.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the “non-zero-sum” dynamic spurs progress and improves human morality,
  • Why this principle is increasingly relevant in the modern world, and
  • What solutions it might hold for the conflict between the “so-called Muslim world” and the West.

About the Speaker

Journalist and philosopher Robert Wright is the author of Nonzero, The Moral Animal and The Evolution of God.



“History has a direction, an arrow” pointing to “something positive.” Throughout time, human social structure has progressed. But even before humans existed, living things followed a path of increasing biological complexity: Genetic material took on the sheath of a cell. Cells gathered in “societies,” drawing together until they evolved into multicellular organisms. These organisms became complex and formed societies. Among humans, a “cultural evolution” bloomed and furthered the trajectory toward complexity. Now humans are verging on “global social organization.” Nations collaborate in an “integrated” world.

A quality called “

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