Tag Archives: History

The rise of the west and the changing sociopolitical landscape

Aeon this weekend highlighted a 2017 article by Joel Mokyr looking at how Europe became the richest part of the world (or at least one of the richest).  Historically, there have been many theories, ranging from racist rationals, cultural ones, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Society | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

A theory more pleasing to the mind

For most of human history, the Earth was seen as the stationary center of the universe, with the sun, planets, and starry firmament circling around it at various speeds.  The ancient Greeks quickly managed to work out that the Earth … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

The discovery of discovery

I’ve been thinking lately about the history of science, particularly the period between 1500 and 1700, what is usually referred to as “the scientific revolution.”  I’m a bit leery of many accounts of this period, as they often assume that … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

Recommendation: What Is Real?

Last week I started listening to a Sean Carroll podcast episode, an interview of Adam Becker on his book, What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics.  Before even finishing the episode, I downloaded Becker’s book … Continue reading

Posted in Science | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

The antecedents of western philosophy

Peter Flegel has an interesting article in Philosophy Now looking at possible connections between ancient Greek philosophy and conceptions explored in the Egyptian New Kingdom period.  Ideas like the four elements and the theory of forms seem to have pretty … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

Neanderthals and the beginnings of us

The Smithsonian has an interesting article up on what we currently know about Neanderthals.  The article details some of the internecine battles that always seems to be a part of the paleoanthropology field, in this case focusing on the capabilities … Continue reading

Posted in Science | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Big societies came before big gods

Some years ago I reviewed a book by Ara Norenzayan called Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict.  Norenzayan’s thesis was that it was a belief in big gods, specifically cosmic gods that cared about human morality, that enabled … Continue reading

Posted in Religion | Tagged , , , , , , | 35 Comments

The soul of the Roman Empire

According to tradition, in the early days of ancient Rome, King Numa Pompilius established a religious institution: the Vestal Virgins.  The Vestal Virgins were chaste priestesses of Vesta, the goddess of home and hearth.  Their duty was to maintain the … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , , , , | 41 Comments

Breakthroughs in imagination

When thinking about human history, it’s tempting to see some developments as inevitable.  Some certainly were, but the sheer amount of time before some of them took place seem to make them remarkable. The human species, narrowly defined as Homo … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

America’s long path to universal voting rights

My memory of what I learned in early grade school about the history of American voting rights went something like this.  Prior to 1776, we were ruled by the king of Great Britain.  He was a tyrant who oppressed us … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments