& lessons from history

Title: Lessons from history Author: Will durant Type: #litnote #todevelop Topics: [[ History ]] [[ Life Lessons ]]


have you learned more about the human nature than any man in the street can learn without so much as opening a book?

The knowledge of past is always Incomplete. Sometimes it is guessing and probably inaccurate.

The present is the past rolled upon for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding.

We can learn enough from the history to bear the reality patiently. Althought it is foolish to compress hundreds of centuries in 100 pages, the author proceeds.

This is my summary of the book lessons from history by will durant

History and earth

It takes generations of men to build something something, to be something and establish matery over the earth, but all of them are destined to die. Geography is the matrix of history, its nourishing mother and disciplining home. Every civilization started near river for water is the life of all organisms.

Geography limited us in the beginning. But as technology grows, the influence of geographic factors diminishes.

Therefore, man not the earth, makes civilization.

Biology and history

The laws of biology are the fundamental lessons of history. The first biological lesson is:

  • Life is competition
    • Animals eat one another without qualm: but civilized man consume one another by the due process of law.
    • Competition increases with social development .
    • War is a nation’s way of eathing which promotes co-operation because it is the ultimate form of competition.

The second biological lesson from history is:

  • Life is selection
    • We are all born unfree and unequal. Nature loves difference as the necessary material for selection and evolution.
    • Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it also increases with the complexity of civilizations.
    • If you leave men free, their natural ineualitities will grow almost geometrically The third biological lesson from history is:
  • Life must breed
    • Nature has no use for organisms that cannot reproduce abundantly. She has intereste in quantity to quality. She is more interested in a species than an individual.
    • If there is imbalance, she also has agents for restoring the balance: famine, pestilence, and war.

Much of what we call intelligence is the result of individual education, opportunity, and experience; and there is no evidence that such intellectual acquirements are transmitted in the genes.

Biologically, physical vitalit at birth is of greater value than the intellectual pedigree. Therefore, philosophers are not the fittest material from which to breed the race.

Race and history

History is color-blind and can develop a civilization in any favorable environment under almost any skin. It si not the race tht makes the civilization, it is the civilization that makes the people: circumstances, geogrpahical, economic, and political create a culture, and the culture creates a human type.

Character and history

Society is founded not on the ideals but on the nature of man, and the constitution of man rewrites the constitution of states. Instincts are the nature of man. Each instinct generates habits and is accompanied by feelings. Their totality is the natuer of man.

Every individual has the same instinct but with a slightly difference in the opportunity or skill to implement them.

Evolution of man has been social rather than biological. And it is an interplay of custom with origination.

Intellect is a vital force in history, but also a destructive power. Out of every 100 ideas, 99 of them will probably be inferior to traditional responses which they prosper to replace.

Therefore, the conservationists who try to resist change are as valuable as the radicals who prosper it.

New ideas should be heard but they also should go through a lot objection, opposition and contumely.

The old should resist the young and the young should prod the old.

Morals and history

Morals are the rules by which a society exhorts its members to behaviour consistent witht its orders, security and growth. They differ from time to time to adjust themselves to historical and environmental conditions.

Religion and history

It was fear that made gods. Religion became the propitiatory worship of these forces through offerings, sacrificem incantationa and prayer. It told people that the local code of morals and lawa had been dictated by the gods.

Nature and history doesn’t agree with our conception of good and bad. They define good as something that survives and bad as that which goes under.

The lesson from hisotyr is that religion has many lives, and a habit of resurrection.

Atheism ran wild in the India of Buddha’s youth, and Buddha himself founded a religion without god; after his death Buddhism developed a complex theology including gods, saints and hell.

There is no significan example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.

As long as there is poverty, there will be gods.

Economics and history

History is economics in action. The outstanding personalities in these movements were effects, not the causes. The result is largly determinded by the passions of the mass.

History is inflationary, and that money is the last thing a wise man will hoard.

Normally people are generally judged by their ability to produce-except in war, when they are ranked according to their ability to destroy.

The concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peaceable partial redistribution.

Socialism and history

In a free enterprise the spur of competition and zeal and zest of ownership arouse the productiveness and inventiveness of men.

Neither communism nor socialism has lasted long yet in the history.

The fear of capitalism has compelled socialism to widen freedom, and the fear of socialism has compelled capitalism to increase equality. East is west and west is east, and soon the twain will meet.

Government and history

Men love freedom and it requires some regulation of conduct. The first condition of freedom is it limitation. The government establishes a order as an organizes central force. As power naturally converges at center, for it is ineffective when divided, diluted, and spread

Violent revolution doesn’t redistribute wealh as it destroys.T

The only real revolution is in the enlightment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual and the only real revolutionarist are philosophers and saints.

The excessive of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction. Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy.

But democracy has done less harm, and more good than any form of government.

Though man can’t be equal, their access to education and opportunity can be made more nearly equal.

If our economy of freedom fails to distribute wealth as ably as it has created it, the road to dictatorship will be open to any man who can persuasively promise security to all; and a martial government, under whatever charming phrases, will engulf the democratic world.

History and War

War is the ultimate form of competition and natural selection. War, or competition is the father of all things, the potent source of ideas, inventions, institutions, and states.

In the millitary interpretation of history, war is taken as necessary and natural. It is the nature of human to be competitive and so will be his states. And now the competition and natural selection operates on a international level.

Perhaps we are now restlessly moving towards a higher plateau of competition; where we make contact with ambitious species on other planets or sarts; soon thereafter will b e interplanatery war. Then, and only then and only then will we of this earth be one.

Growth and Decay

History repeats itself, but only in part outline and in large. It’s because human nature changes with time but the response to frequently occuring stimuli like hunger, sex and danger is almost same.

In organic periods, men are busy builidign and in critical periods, men are busy destroying. Civilization begin, flourish, decline and disappear.

Nations die. Old religions grow arid, and suffer other change, Resilient amn picks up his tools and his arts and moves on talking his memories with him.

Is progress real?

Science is neutral. It will kill us for us as readily as it will heal and it will destroy for us more readily than it can build. Our progress in science and technique has involved some tincture of evil with good. We have progressed a lot.

But

Are our manners any better than before? Have we given ourselves more freedom than our intelligence can digest. Has there been any progress in philosophy since ‘confuscius’?

History is so indifferenly rich that a case for almost any conclusion can be made by a selection of instances. If we define progress as the increasing control of the environment by life, the progress is life.

If we define progress as increasing happiness, its lost.

If education is the transmission of civilization, we are unquestionably progressing. Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and earned by each genearation anew; it the transmission should beinterrupted for one century, civilization would die, and we should again be savages.

We have raised the level and average of knowledge beyond any age in history.

The historian will not mourn because he can see no meaning in human existence except that which man puts into it; letit be our pride that we ourseleved may put meaning into our lives, and sometimes a significance that transcend death. If a man is fortunatem he will, before he dies gather up as much as he can of his civilized herigtage and transmit it to his children. And to his final breath he will be grateful for this inexhaustible legacy, knowing that it is our nourishing mother and our lasting life.

Educate yourself so that you can be better. Train yourself so that your future generations can be better.

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