Friday, December 07, 2007

The Whole Human History in 100 words

At the UP (University of Pennsylvania) a professor history gives 100-word lectures on the biggest things in life. lan Charles Kors, the George H. Walker Endowed Term Professor of History, could give his whole lecture in one SMS message. For world history, Kors's course is:

  • First, tribes: tough life.
  • The defaults beyond the intimate tribe were violence, aversion to difference, and slavery. Superstition: everywhere.
  • Culture overcomes them partially.
  • Rainfall agriculture, which allows loners.
  • Irrigation agriculture, which favors community.
  • Division of labor plus exchange in trade bring mutual cooperation, even outside the tribe.
  • The impulse is always there, though: "Kill or enslave the outsider."
  • Gradual science from Athens' compact with reason.
  • Division of labor, trade, the mastery of knowledge, plus time brought surplus, sometimes a peaceful extended order and, rules diversely evolved and, the cooperation of strangers - always warring against the fierce defaults of tribalism, violence, and ignorance.
  • No one who teaches you knows what will happen.
I am so impressed until I learned that UP has a lot more 60-second lectures. This is part of their "Eschew Excess Verbiage" series.

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