Arrived In My Pile: May 15, 2015

I received these books today and thought they may of interest to our readers:

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The Poverty of Historicism     Karl Popper

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The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, with A Retrospective Essay     William H. McNeill

Both of these books are classics and I wanted to delve into both of them. The Poverty of Historicism comes up in other books I have read and I knew I needed to read it. Popper explores and criticizes the idea that there are laws of development in history and we are able to discern them. I have an interest in Cliodynamics and thought it would give me a different perspective. For our readers, The goal of cliodynamics (or cliometrics) is to turn history into a predictive, analytical science. I believe that this is very speculative, however, I believe it is necessary for me to study, in order to understand the other side. As you can see these ideas are polar opposites of each other.

After reading Ian Morris’  Why The West Rules For Now, I was also intrigued by this classic by William McNeil and wanted to make sure I had a good understanding of this subject. As you can see this is along the lines of syntopical reading and moves me closer to a finished reading of the subject. If our readers have any suggestions on more syntopical readings on both of these subjects, I would be very appreciative.

I have included a video from William H. McNeill and why he wrote The Rise of The West and the study of history

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Currently Reading: War! What Is It Good For? By Ian Morris

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I have approximately eighty more pages to go and I must say I have enjoyed this book very much. Thus far, I must say that I am slightly disappointed in understanding how productive war has made us richer. After having just read Piketty with all of his statistics, I wish Morris had these statistics included to make his point much stronger. I am not saying that I disagree with him, I would at this point in the book liked to have seen this point made much more clearly. Maybe the statistics were not there for him to justify this point. I am interested in doing more syntopical reading on this and with limited time, I am including a poll to see which book or books I should read next.

Currently Reading: War! What Is It Good For? by Ian Morris Part I

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After having read Why The West Rules—For Now by Morris, I decided to pick this book up because of the intrigue of the title. Morris attempts to makes the case that war has been good over the long run and since I am only on page 81 I would have to say he has done an excellent job in explaining the four parts to his case.

On page 7 Morris states: “There are four parts to the case I will make. The first is that by fighting wars, people have created larger, more organized societies that have reduced the risk that their members will die violently.”

On page 8: “My second claim is that while war is the worst imaginable way to create larger, more peaceful societies, it is pretty much the only way humans have found.”

On page 9 Morris adds the third conclusion: “If I am right that governments have made us safer and that war is pretty much the only way we have discovered to make governments, then we have to conclude that war really has been good for something. My third conclusion, though, goes further still. As well as making people safer, I will suggest, the larger societies created by war have also—again, over the long run—made us richer.”

And also on page 9 he presents his fourth case: ‘War, then, has been good for something—so good, in fact, that my fourth argument is that war is now putting itself out of business.”

Thus far, as I have stated he has done a great job in going back in history to justify his points and even though I was very skeptical at first, I see and must admit that he may be correct. The problem by using history going back 15,000 years is that you do not have enough quantifiable data to be sure of your conclusions, which the author readily admits.

His central argument is made on page 10 is that: “It is my central argument, however, that war has made the world safer, which will probably raise most eyebrows.”

See my post on June 30th, 2014 for some introductory material on this book as well as a video from Book TV by the author. I am including another video today for you:

Recently Purchased: War! What Is It Good For By Ian Morris

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I picked this book up over the weekend primarily because I am reading Capital In The Twenty First Century by Thomas Piketty, Piketty discusses inequality and how the two World Wars moved the world back towards more equality but I wanted to read Ian Morris thoughts on war and what it has really done to us and for us. After reading Why The West Rules—For Now, I really enjoyed Morris insightful and in-depth research and I hope he does it with this subject. I ran across this video of Morris discussing his book and thought it might be of interest to our readers.