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Nervous States

Nonfiction: Politics & Current Events
Unabridged   11.75 hour(s)
Publication date: 04/16/2019

Nervous States

Democracy and the Decline of Reason

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781684418695
Digital Download ISBN:9781684418701


In this age of intense political conflict, we sense objective fact is growing less important. Experts are attacked as partisan, statistics and scientific findings are decried as propaganda, and public debate devolves into personal assaults. How did we get here, and what can we do about it?

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Product Description

In this sweeping and provocative work, political economist William Davies draws on a four-hundred-year history of ideas to reframe our understanding of the contemporary world. He argues that global trends decades and even centuries in the making have reduced a world of logic and fact into one driven by emotions—particularly fear and anxiety. This has ushered in an age of "nervous states," both in our individual bodies and our body politic.

Eloquently tracing the history of accounting, statistics, science, and human anatomy from the Enlightenment to the present, Davies shows how we invented expertise in the seventeenth century to calm the violent disputes—over God and the nature of reality—that ravaged Europe. By separating truth from emotion, scientific, testable facts paved a way out of constant warfare and established a basis for consensus, which became the bedrock of modern politics, business, and democracy.

Informed by research on psychology and economics, Davies reveals how widespread feelings of fear, vulnerability, physical and psychological pain, and growing inequality reshaped our politics, upending these centuries-old ideals of how we understand the world and organize society.


“A fresh, astute examination of current events and urgent challenges.” —Kirkus Starred Review

“[A]n absorbing book fizzing with ideas…. Davies is a wonderfully alert and nimble guide and his absorbing and edgy book will help us feel our way to a better future.” —Suzanne Moore, The Guardian

Author Bio

William Davies is a political economist at Goldsmiths, University of London, the author of Nervous States and The Happiness Industry, among other books, and a contributor to publications including the Atlantic and the New York Times. He lives in London.