This book transforms centuries into sentences, capturing the over arching forces that shape our world and ultimately answering the question of ‘does history repeat itself?’
These are The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant, compiled from their immense 11 volumes on civilization:
💎History and the Earth
Teaches us modesty, for human history is such a brief blip on the radar of cosmic time. We are inconsequential when compared with the eons that shape and mould the world we find ourselves in
💎History and Biology
Life is competition. Life is selection. Life must breed.
“We are all born unfree and unequal: subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group; diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacity and qualities of character. Nature loves difference as the necessary material of selection and evolution..”
💎History and Race
History is colour blind, and can and has developed civilizations within favourable environments, with any skin type.
For a large part of history environment was the largest facter in the development of civilizations, technology has changed this.
💎History and Character
The evolution of man has been social rather than biological, we still maintain the same primal brain of our hunter gatherer ancestors, it’s just society has new demands and expectations for that brain.
💎History and Morals
Every vice was once a virtue, however with the discovery of farming and later industrialisation, what was valuable for group survival changed.
“Industriousness became more vital than bravery, regularity and thrift more profitable than violence, peace more victorious than war.”
💎History and Religion
“As long as there is poverty, there will be gods.”
💎History and Economics
History is in flux between the amassing of wealth amongst a minority and the forced redistribution to the majority.
Due primarily to the uneven distribution of ability throughout the population, and the compounded advantages/disadvantages this perpetuates.
💎History and Socialism
“Other factors equal, internal liberty varies inversely as external danger.”
💎History and Government
“The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction;…dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty.”
Although there appear to be many positive aspects to an aristocratic form of governance, where leaders are raised and educated with the sole purpose of ruling well, the short answer to government and history is that despite its many pitfalls, democracy has proven to cause the least harm and provide the most benefits of all governments in history so far.
💎History and War
“In the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war.”
States possess our instincts without our restraints, and therefore war is how nations feed.
War will only cease when we have a common reason to unite. A threat to Earth will have this effect.
💎Growth and Decay
History reveals that civilizations grow and decay, and yet never truly die. Greek philosophers have more readers today than in their time, the remnants of civilization are absorbed into the conquering culture, and thus the human story continues.
What creates the decay and decides the speed at which a civilization declines is the ability of the leaders to adapt to change and make the right decisions.
In this respect there is no certainty that the future will repeat the past.
Making each year an adventure unexplored by the experience of human kind.