In this incredible book, historians will & ariel durant attempt to identify recurring themes from their painstaking, lifelong study of over 5000 years of human history.
these are my notes from the book, but i *highly* recommend reading it first-hand.
insights from the book:
* co-operation is a form of competition; we co-operate in our group —family, community, club, church, party or nation — in order to strengthen our group in its competition with other groups.
* freedom and equality are opposites. you cannot have perfect freedom without inequality, and you cannot have perfect equality without losing freedom.
* inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization. economic development specializes functions, differentiates abilities, and makes men unequally valuable to their group.
* in progressive societies the concentration may reach a point where the strength of number in the many poor rivals the strength of ability in the few rich; then the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation, which history has met either by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty.
* religion and puritanism prevail in periods when the laws are feeble and morals must bear the burden of maintaining social order; skepticism and paganism prevail when the laws and government are strong.
* the men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all.
* history is inflationary, and money is the last thing a wise man will hoard.
* since we have admitted no substantial change in man’s nature during historic times, all technological advances will have to be written off as merely new means of achieving old ends— the acquisition of goods, the pursuit of one sex by the other, the overcoming of competition, the fighting of wars.
* the only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.