This is an ongoing series of posts on topics that catch my interest as I read Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Religion is one of those concepts, like life, beauty, or consciousness, that are difficult to define. I used to think it was just worship of God, or gods. But many … Continue reading The superhuman order definition of religion
Politics is about self interest
I've read a lot of history, including American history of the 18th and 19th centuries. It's interesting to read about the politics of these periods. From a distance across generations and centuries, you can see the distinction between the self interested stances people took and the rhetoric that was used to justify those stances. An … Continue reading Politics is about self interest
Are the social sciences “real” science?
YouTube channel Crash Course is starting a new series on what is perhaps the most social of social sciences: Sociology. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnCJU6PaCio The social sciences, such as sociology, but also psychology, economics, anthropology, and other similar fields get a lot of grief from people about not being "real" science. This criticism is typically justified by noting … Continue reading Are the social sciences “real” science?
Religion, the Axial Age, and theoretic culture
I recently read the late Robert Bellah's 'Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age.' Although the title of the book seems to narrow it to just religion, in ancient societies, religion was just about everything, so the book ended up being about the development of cultures, which isn't too surprising given … Continue reading Religion, the Axial Age, and theoretic culture
Confucianism and the definition of religion
I've noted before that defining religion is difficult. Simple definitions (such as belief in gods) tend to either exclude some religions (such as Buddhism), or include things that most people don't consider to be a religion (such as constitutional law or science). Definitions that get the scope about right tend to be hopelessly vague or unwieldy. … Continue reading Confucianism and the definition of religion
Wealth may have driven the rise of moralizing religions
One of the things that a lot of people are often surprised to hear, is that most scholars don't believe that religion was always concerned with morality, that moralizing religion didn't exist to any significant extent before the 'Axial Age' circa 500 BC. Psychologist Nicolas Baumard has a theory about what may have led to moralizing … Continue reading Wealth may have driven the rise of moralizing religions
Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed, a brief review
After my post the other day on what fields I thought someone needed to be familiar with for coming up with credible theories about why civilizations collapse, a number of people recommended I read Jared Diamond's book, 'Collapse'. I finished it this week, and like the other books I've read by Diamond, I enjoyed it. … Continue reading Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed, a brief review
SMBC: A fable
As is often the case, Zach Weiner hits it out of the park with this observation. I've read a lot of history, and I'm struck by how often this type of pattern emerges. Click through to see the full sized version. via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.