The Invention of Yesterday by Tamim Ansary

This incredible, sprawling, and insightful work is essentially a 406-page history of the world — one that shows that, from the literal beginning of recorded human history, we have always been interconnected, and will continue to be so for the rest of our history as well. It’s truly stupefying the depths of research, reading, and references Ansary must have had to utilize to put this book together, and he writes The Invention of Yesterday in an almost narrative, storytelling form, explaining how one society is connected to another, how one empire falling foretold another one rising, how one major religion spawned another, and how human beings are just as good at destroying things as they are at creating and inventing them. As I was reading this book, Ansary made me recognize and think about how some conflicts and expeditions, over time, were inevitable, such as the clashing of religious cultures in The Crusades, the combustion of countries vying for power and dominance in World War I, and European exploration and expansion into the Americas, to name a few, but also how some of the atrocities of these events could have been avoided if we had worked just a bit harder to understand that we are not a separate “other”, but all connected in some way, shape, or form. It’s a bit corny and idealistic, obviously, but Ansary has a way of shaping this immense narrative into an argument that, despite our ingenuity, invention, energy, and will, at some point our inability to recognize our interconnectedness might cause the world to split at the seams, and there won’t be much of anything left for future generations. Recognizing and understanding history does not make us weak or cause us to feel guilty — as some politicians might have us believe — but instead arms us with the knowledge that “the present is nothing but the past that will exist in the future”, and perhaps we can learn something from that past to make life just a little bit better today. Cheers to Ansary for his magical prose and inspirational concluding message.

  • we live on the same planet but in many different worlds
  • when we construct our story, we are inventing ourselves
  • culture is a world we invented and keep inventing, a world that would disappear without us
  • history keeps happening because we’re not all one group
  • differences between groups has evaporated over time; they’ve become different parts of the same culture, some single, amorphous, larger, shared us
  • today, every habitable inch of the planet is inhabited by humans
  • we’re still grouped into many different socially constructed microcosms
  • if history is the story we’re telling one another, what is the plot?
  • no such thing as before the big bang — only after
  • 4.54B years ago, Earth came into existence, one of the eight clouds of astral dust coalescing in this region of space around a local star
  • amino acids, lipids, nucleotides connected up to form coherent environments
  • little clots of molecules were the forerunners of the first simple cells, the fundamental units of life
  • life, then, is a closed system within a surrounding environment: it has an internal order among its parts, which transforms its many molecules into a single whole
  • first traces of life appeared in the global ocean nearly 4B years ago — or maybe even earlier
  • life is nearly as old as Earth itself
  • individuals life, reproduce, and die, but life as a whole expands, branches out, and gains complexity
  • in a world where creatures had to keep changing their survival strategies, thumbs, hands, arms, and bipedalism made all the difference
  • fashioning tools, using the tools to make tools — invention
  • 45,000 years ago true language came into being
  • words are not language
  • language is vocabulary embedded into grammar and syntax
  • meaning of many words is relationship to other words
  • making sounds conjured up a simulacrum of the whole world
  • language is a biological trait that we developed
  • whatever our group is speaking, that’s what we start speaking too
  • creatures who had language gained a crucial advantage over creatures who didn’t
  • humans had full blown language, the only ones on earth
  • language gave humans the power to work toward some single goal even when separated in space and time
  • web of meaning we create with language — that is what links biology to history
  • we inhabit imaginary worlds we share with others, but we come to those worlds privately, each with our own unique constellation of information, ideas, and beliefs
  • once we had language, we parted ways with other primates
  • environment determines what we do to survive, which in turn determines how we hang together as groups
  • environmental differences generate consequential cultural differences
  • civilization = any cultural entity spread across a vast territory and encompassing an immense number of people who, despite myriad particular differences, share an overarching framework of cultural assumptions, aesthetics, and values
  • mobility of pastoral nomads, long webs of intercommunication, propensity to spread widely instead of clumping densely, military prowess accounts for the impact they had in early history
  • wherever one culture overlapped with another, ripple effects passed through
  • clique effect = people living in the same environment tend to interact more frequently with one another than they do with people of other environments
  • stories that circulated within an intercommunicative zone were continuous and self-reinforcing
  • master narrative — complex constellation of stories and ideas that fit together to form some sort of coherent whole
  • sense of time and space, of who matters in history and what matters in life and of how it all started, where the universe has been and where it’s all going
  • people who share such a narrative resist ideas and information that undermine their framework and welcome ones that enrich and confirm it
  • 2,500 years ago, religion, belief systems took hold
  • Israelites had no temple but carried their God with them in a portable container called an ark
  • Yahweh was unseen and unseeable, no physical form
  • Yahweh revealed himself to Moses, what he wanted from his people was moral conduct; Ten Commandments
  • 587 BCE, Babylonians conquered Judah, razed the temple in Jerusalem
  • in Babylon, captive Hebrews had only their traditions, memories, and scrolls; word took the place of the temple
  • suffering narrative: had broken their contract with Yahweh
  • world’s first fully formed, enduring monotheism: Jews declared that their god was not only the best god but the only god
  • he was everywhere, no physical form
  • in this narrative, God had made a pact with Abraham: tribe would get its own land in exchange for worshipping no other God
  • Jewish narrative, the world began with a moment of creation and would end with a day of judgement
  • gestalt: once we humans identify a structure made up of many parts, we stop perceiving the parts and simply perceive the whole
  • whole is other than the sum of its parts
  • explains why we can learn some things and forget some things and yet remain the social self: subtraction and addition don’t alter the gestalt that is a person’s self
  • also explains why, in the presence of contradictory information or incompatible beliefs, people experience cognitive dissonance
  • also explains why societies have the propensity to screen out ideas that contradict their dominant narrative and embrace ideas that fit: they are social constellations struggling to become themselves
  • to grapple with environmental challenges, people needed intermediate social forms built on roles and rules
  • political states emerged to plug this gap
  • political state has a governing authority and a border
  • Nile — central decision maker communicating back and forth with the thousands working on the project
  • speed at which a message could travel determined how big an area one authority could govern
  • increasing size of empires correlated to the increasing speed at which messages could be transmitted, which in turn reflected the development of technology and infrastructure
  • more links in the chain of transmission, greater message degradation
  • written scripts therefore came into being as an extension of language
  • a script that departed from any given spoken language had its advantages
  • through the use of documents, one authority could govern people speaking many different languages
  • math became a language of sorts too, a language that could cross cultural borders without meanings changing
  • every society has a system by which people exchange goods and make use of one another’s skills for their own benefit
  • money is not an invention, its a spontaneous by product of human interaction
  • brings value into existence
  • creates a network of links through which value can flow from place to place
  • when money emerged, it didn’t replace barter; it replaced calculations of credit and debt
  • how could an empire control a vast territory? management, money, math, military, might, master narrative
  • ripple effects travel from world to world, but at the same time, people everywhere are busy looking for advantage on their own
  • wherever it came from, if an idea works, it takes root and grows
  • in Rome, theoretically, no one was above the law
  • Romans did bring the nobody above the law idea into the world, just as the Chinese had put into play the idea of meritocracy
  • people inhabiting lands between distinct civilizations have always played a vital role in the ever increasing interconnectedness of humankind
  • Buddha = journey of individual soul
  • Confucius = individual’s social context
  • bleshing = when vast constellations have overlapped and great master narratives have combined into single, larger, new world historical stories
  • roman conquests ensured that information flowing through their empire flowed through villages and communities inhabited by Jews, which meant that Jews encountered the secular pagan ideas of the greco roman world on a daily basis
  • Jews felt themselves to be a captive nation within the empire
  • faith demanded that Jews agitate for a nation of their own
  • religion that bound these tribes together as a people required that they live under their own government, not that of Rome
  • concept of messiah emerged within their religious narrative; a charismatic figure empowered by God to lead Jews to freedom
  • one luminary stood out — John, created baptism, John was a Jew
  • 29 CE, Jesus met John and accepted baptism
  • Jesus proved to be one of the most charismatic of the possible messiahs in the Jewish nationalist movement
  • as a result, local Roman officials arrested him and asked him just one question: Are you the messiah?, which meant them asking him if he was leading a rebellion, to the Romans
  • Jesus said yes, Roman authorities arrested him and had him crucified because that’s what they did to rebels
  • most romans had no idea who Jesus was
  • he had followers, began to murmur that he wasn’t dead
  • followers of Jesus began proliferating, and the Jesus movement soon diverged from mainstream Judaism
  • Paul never met Jesus, but according to him, what Jesus offered was not a covenant between God and any particular tribe but between God and all humanity
  • Paul was born Jewish and identified the Torah as scripture because in his day, for followers of Christ, there was no other
  • only later did the Gospels emerge, written reports of what Jesus had said and done
  • Christians recast the Torah as the Old Testament
  • For Jews, the Torah never became the Old Testament, for them, it remained the Torah
  • mainstream Jews went on waiting for the messiah, Christians believed he’d already come
  • to feel included in the Jesus movement, you just had to get baptized and believe in Jesus; anyone could join
  • for slaves and beggars, Christianity came along and said, this world was a mere test for what would happen after death
  • the poorest, meekest, and most oppressed were passing the test, they would live on forever in the kingdom of bliss
  • now everything made sense = power of narrative
  • 395, Christianity now the official religion of the Roman Empire, only one endorsed by the state; Judaism was legal, but laws oppressive to Jews, could no longer legally own land
  • people who lived through the fall of Rome didn’t know Rome was falling, they just thought it was changing
  • Germans were graduating from outsiders to insiders
  • collection of semi independent forts and villages, of little kings and littler dukes and even littler counts
  • 590 CE, Gregory became Pope, declared that he outranked all the other bishops; he was in charge
  • bleshing of Greek, Roman, Levantine, and German world historical narratives was now complete
  • Judaism and Christianity were like the parent and child, for Christianity branched out of Judaism
  • Judaism and Islam were more like cousins — monotheism
  • Muhammad replaced the idea of tribe with that of community
  • Christianity had started out as a religion of slaves and poor people in a powerful empire
  • Islam started out as a religion as small but independent groups ruled by no one but themselves
  • Christianity achieved political power by taking over the apparatus of the state within which it was born
  • Islam achieved political power by conquering its neighbors and its neighbors neighbors
  • different routes, same result — huge and powerful
  • 800, monad, entire universe from a single point of view
  • each contained all the others as parts of itself
  • metaphor for the social universe
  • Islamic civilization was just as self involved as China and India, for like the others, it was a world historical monad
  • understood their model of the world to be, not some model, but the world itself
  • that’s everyone’s understanding of their own model
  • Catholic Church was not a state, it was just western europe’s alternative to a state
  • dominion rivaling that of any government
  • 800, Pope placed a crown on the head of the major German King, a man named Charlemagne
  • birth of Europe as as single something, distinctly different from the world historical monads so far
  • Christendom — most christians didn’t know other worlds existed
  • defensive posture that reinforced its closure
  • decline of Europe serves as one more illustration of how interconnected the world was even then
  • trade flourished wherever Islam took hold, hard currency flowed into the Muslim world like water flowing downhill
  • 1000, amid tumult, ideas, inventions, technologies, goods went sliding from East Asia into Western Europe
  • rise to science, mariners hungrily out to sea in search of precious goods they now knew existed in East Asia
  • in the east, an opposite narrative formed, an impulse to resume the interrupted histories of the glorious past
  • czarist Russia, gunpowder empires of Islam, Ming dynasty of China
  • converging toward an apocalyptic moment
  • Slavic villagers, Rus captured and sold villagers themselves, as slaves, to buyers in the south, thus turning people into money
  • word slave derives from Slav
  • European Christendom was a boiling cauldron of mendicant religious fanatics, war hungry landless knights, ever more ambitious dukes and kings, powerful and monolithic church, burgeoning quantities of money with which great enterprises could be funded
  • all Christendom needed now was a great enterprise to fund
  • 1095, Pope called on the knights of Christendom to head east as crusaders, warriors for the cross, and take holy Jerusalem back from the heathens
  • recover Holy Lands; Crusades
  • Italian word for bench is banque, so guys were called banquers
  • money was not actually a thing, money was information
  • it all came down to accounting
  • once in possession of this arcane secret, Knights Templar began to morph into the world’s first international bankers
  • Genghis Khan, name means lord of the universe
  • empire bigger than Rome’s had ever been
  • Europe was saved by a fluke from him, as Khan’s successor, his son, died
  • biggest contiguous empire the world had ever seen, there would never be a bigger one until the rise of the Soviet Union
  • single busy web of traffic that spanned much of the Eastern Hemisphere — Mongol Empire
  • Black Death killed at least a third of all Europeans, maybe more
  • happened because the Mongols had produced such a spike in Eurasian interconnectedness
  • in the aftermath, wages went up, peasants hit the roads in search of better opportunities
  • wherever traders, warriors and migrants move in great numbers, so do goods, ideas, inventions, and technical innovations
  • in that sense, Mongols completed what the Crusades had begun
  • great tilting of the Eurasian table that shifted cultural power from east to west occurred during the Long Crusades
  • Mongol eruption left Christendom largely untouched
  • gunpowder got to Europe, firearms technology surged
  • Europe was not a single empire but a multitude of distinct, autonomous, more of less evenly matched political states competing with one another
  • mechanical clock transformed time into a mysterious, independent current of something that was always flowing, always forward, always at an unvarying pace, always the same everywhere
  • everyone could be connected to everyone else with a web of clock time
  • latin alphabet = 26 stand alone letters; in Europe, moveable type dramatically simplified the process of copying a book
  • Muslim centers of scholarship featured a novelty in the world of learning, a university degree
  • Islam had no formal structure of authority
  • this is where Muslim universities stepped in
  • concept of the university took root in Europe too, with structural elements borrowed from the Islamic version of the same
  • Roger Bacon, monk, professor, it’s not always about the gods, there is other stuff too
  • protoscientists such as Leonardo were a threat because when people fixated on observation they began to spot little things that didn’t quite add up
  • crusades opened up European Christian sensibilities to a sense of common identity, as parts of a single social whole
  • all on the same side, but “same side” required that there be at least one “other” side
  • Crusades helped to give birth to the concept of Europe
  • others were also Jews, forbidden to own land, became itinerant peddlers to earn a living
  • Europe, everyone was Christian, so there hardly was anyone outside the faith to lend or to borrow from; opened a niche for Jews to make a living as moneylenders
  • monarchs cultivated Jewish moneylenders; English kings were using Jewish moneylenders as an indirect way of taxing subjects, which channeled the inevitable resentments raised by taxation away from the king and toward a minority conspicuous for its otherness
  • Spanish Inquisition went after the most conspicuous trace of otherness still remaining: Jews
  • concept of Jewish otherness that had nothing to do with beliefs or tribal affiliation
  • Jewishness was an inborn trait that people could not expunge by espousing new beliefs
  • developed benchmarks designating what ratio of Jewish “blood” made a person a Jew — biological racism
  • Mongol Empire weakened, local populations firmed up their own identities by closing ranks against the invasive other
  • Ming and subjects were less interested in discovering the new than in preserving the known
  • ideal society was a stable society
  • sounded echoes of the past had luster
  • great goal of human endeavor was social harmony
  • China became not just inward looking but backward looking
  • restoration was the project of Islamic civilization, like China; reconstructing identity
  • 1526, Muslim minority’s struggle to dominate and govern a Hindu majority in India
  • sharia, framework for Muslim life, was the living, breathing essence of the single community of all Muslim believers
  • Sharia means path
  • sharia provided specific instructions for dealing with all possible real life situations
  • since the world never stops changing, the sharia project could never be completed
  • in a purely tribal world, loyalty to kin trumped all other virtues
  • social ties were not a mutual aid market but a simulacrum of family
  • what kept social interactions on an even keel were intuitions about honor
  • Islamic Middle Word was an intricate clockwork of meshing parts that added up to a civilization scaled social constellation of tremendous apparent vigor
  • mythic vision of perfect harmony
  • in a world divided between Ottoman and Safavid rulers, major question was Sunnism or Shiism? couldn’t be both
  • Islam or Hinduism? couldn’t be both
  • 1500, restoring the past didn’t have much appeal in Europe
  • past was nothing to wax nostalgic about
  • what had allure was moving forward
  • people had done everything the church recommended, and still they kept dying
  • maybe the church had gotten something wrong?
  • translate bible into language people actually spoke
  • church took a dim view of this — giving ordinary people access to the bible threatened them
  • Luthar’s 95 criticisms of the Church of Rome were like a lit match touched to a barrel of gunpowder
  • civil war exploded within Christendom between the Catholic monolith and the many Christians who wanted to form autonomous communities of faith, unaffiliated with the Church of Rome
  • one monolithic church versus everybody building his or her own church
  • nation state started
  • trailblazers of science were men of the church, one and all
  • what if the whole world could be explained? what if everything that was unknown could become known?
  • protestants shared a restless appetite for a truth that felt more true, willingness to try something new
  • tendency to view the world in terms of progress and regress
  • time was linear but had no endpoint
  • progress was the ultimate goal of human effort, and there was no final destination — tomorrow could always be better than today
  • deep belief that better was always possible, search for scientific principles of ever deeper explanatory power — progress narrative
  • 15th century, appetite for exploration
  • interconnectedness, Columbus, event that changed everything
  • from this moment forward, both hemispheres were interconnected, all of Earth was part of a single intercommunicating world — came at a cost
  • world intertwined, events anywhere in the world could now have quick and rapid consequences anywhere else in the world
  • globalization of ripple effects had begun
  • Columbus formed an idea that Spice Islands of the east might be reached by sailing west
  • 1492, Bahamas he landed, claimed the island for Spain
  • thought he’d reached India
  • later when he reached Cuba, he thought it was Japan
  • from the standpoint of interconnectedness and the emergence of a global human story, changes set in motion by Columbus justify calling 1492 the year that divides all of history into the before and after
  • voyages punched a hole between the two hemispheres, opening a flood of traffic
  • came to America just as Western Europe was poised for the greatest growth spurt of any cultural region in history — Europe had recovered from the Black Death and “won” the Crusades
  • incorporate the whole planet into their vision of the world and feeling entitled to take whatever was out there for the taking
  • Europeans brought disease with them
  • Americans had never been exposed to the diseases of Europe
  • pigs carried influenza, proliferated and spread, germs far afield
  • in many places, 90 percent of native people died — Great Dying
  • Native Americans, material reality told them they were wrong and strangers were right, for they were dying like ants and the newcomers were walking through horror untouched
  • Columbus destroyed a universe of intertwined narratives — most of its history we will never know
  • tobacco and sugarcane, cotton, alcohol
  • three drugs, gold, silver, cotton — goods that fueled the European colonization of the Americas
  • credit comes from a Latin root that means belief
  • credit exists as long as people believe it exists
  • Elizabeth — East India Company, created LLC
  • if a company committed crimes, only the company could be punished, not any of the people in the company
  • helped ensure that corporations would take their place in the world
  • shares and sell some to the public — anyone can now buy shares
  • value of this thing, this share of stock, was determined by the supply and demand of the belief
  • with stocks, money jumped to a new and higher level of abstraction
  • 1694, King’s debt became foundation for the whole British economy, debt was the glue holding the whole system together
  • central banks enabled kings to deepen power
  • Portugal, Spain, France, England, Low Countries had the first, best, almost exclusive access to two continents virtually depopulated by the Great Dying and loaded with resources that had scarcely been touched
  • voyages of Columbus launched a global drama
  • great world historical nomads of the planet began to overlap and interact, world we live in today grew out of those interactions
  • people started enslaving people as soon as there were people to enslave
  • Romans built an empire on it
  • Rus got rich selling Slavs to Muslims
  • fundamental criterion tended to be power — those who won battles got to enslave the losers
  • race based slave trade was the minotaur chained in the basement of the European colonization of the Americas
  • British government passed laws forcing its American colonists to buy expensive company tea instead of the cheaper tea smuggled in by Dutch freebooters — tea party
  • Wealth of Nations — best way to serve the common good was to pursue one’s own economic self-interest
  • Anglo-Indian opium shipments to China now (1800’s) now constituted the single most valuable commodity traded on world markets
  • British silver gushing into China in exchange for tea went gushing out again, to India, as payment for opium
  • from there it flowed back into British coffers
  • Opium War
  • westerners could now exercise their right to trade freely in China
  • war and aftermath seemed to discredit the whole Chinese model of the world
  • machines came to frame human life, organize human institutions, shape human values, permeate the human psyche, even alter human biological functions
  • west came to dominate the rest of the world, and within the west, those with the most and best machinery rose to the top
  • again and again, breakthroughs in technology changed the course of human affairs, triggered migrations, determined who took control of whom, raised up kings, brought down empires
  • west, entrepreneurs lurked behind every bush, scanning the social landscape for inventions that they might turn into merchandise
  • electricity liberated humans biologically from the natural environment, linking them instead to the rhythms and requirements of the machines they serviced
  • machine demonstrated that a material world could be engineered to produce desired outcomes
  • constitution was like a how to manual for operating a government
  • men who wrote it were living in a vast new world of which they knew nothing — blank slate
  • machine generated, on a scale never seen before, middle class with disposable income
  • centralized machine production also launched the greatest migration in history
  • drew people out of farms and pastures by millions
  • functional unit of machine age societies shrank from tribe to clan to extended family to nuclear family, and within this framework finally down to the irreducible, sovereign unit: the individual
  • were to construct a personal self
  • ideologies were outcompeting kinship and religion as sources of social cohesion
  • with rise of the machine, there was no biological reason to favor men over women in almost any human endeavor or vice versa
  • extent of change in gender roles and expectations, worldwide, over the last two centuries has been staggering
  • emergence of women into the public sphere, a ripple effect of the machine, is one of history’s most momentous developments
  • Marx lived in obscurity, unpublished most of his work, few had read what he did publish
  • upper classes, history was the story of the struggle between two classes
  • after the revolution, machines that produced enough for everybody would be owned by everybody
  • at that point, competing social classes would cease to exist, golden age would begin
  • Marx pictured industrialism leading to the revolution
  • Lenin envisioned the revolution leading to industrialism
  • from Russia, Marxist-Leninism rippled east to China
  • Mao set to work to rebuild a civilization state that revolved around a single center
  • successors are using the tools they inherited from Mao to restore China to a dominant place in Asia and soon perhaps the world
  • authority radiates from a single leader
  • Muslim identity shaped by otherness — Western was what they were not
  • Islamic world, revolutionaries were the ones who most passionately sought to constrict the lives of women and strengthen the patriarchal family structures of the past
  • every attempt to restore gender roles of past centuries and to cap the rise of women is doomed to fail at least in part because moving backward on this issue would require reversing the direction of technological development throughout all human history
  • nation state is a structure with an objective existence in the world — compact, condensed, concrete
  • old fashioned empires of earlier times had measured their success by sprawl
  • state was a continuous presence in the lives of all its citizens
  • within the borders of a nation state, same laws applied everywhere
  • form and carry out intentions as single social organisms
  • Nationalism held that every person was part of some nation, and every nation had a right to a sovereign state of its own
  • constitution defined a citizen of this nation state as any person who accepted governance under the American Constitution
  • Europe, opposite idea, of nations as people connected by ethnicity and blood origins
  • fundamental premise of racist thought — that race exists as an objective category and that people of different races have innately different genetic traits — absorbed by many people of the 19th and 20th centuries, even those who saw themselves as liberal humanitarians
  • race is a social construct, not biological fact
  • social norms have interfered with the randomness of intermarriage
  • race theory provided a basis for reducing those others to a lesser status and justifying the privileges of the people wielding power
  • people came to replace Native Americans, not trade or even conquer them
  • westward expansion of the U.S. went hand in hand with the reduction and sometimes elimination of indigenous people
  • War of the World? 1900’s — 1945, with some pauses
  • immediately after armistice of 1918, major hostile powers began rebuilding and rearming for the next big one
  • once the smoke settled, every person was not a citizen of a state or a refugee hoping to become one
  • 1945–2018
  • even as the nation state system was on its way in, nation state system was on its way out
  • really no such thing as one
  • in practice, no nation state was inhabited by a single people, no matter how peoplehood was defined
  • in retrospect, Cold War looks like 40 years of stability and prosperity
  • peace prevailed most of the time in most of the places where most people lived
  • western forces found themselves fighting Islamists who made no distinction between communism and capitalism
  • multinationals marked the rise of the global economy but not the rise of a global government
  • as soon as the silicon chip was born, engineers started improving it
  • reducing complexity to simplicity had always been a core project of our species
  • quite probably the most radical reduction of complexity to simplicity ever attempted
  • throughout history, environment has shaped culture
  • our technology expanded so drastically that our tools became our environment
  • artificial environment we live in keeps changing because we keep adding to the loam of inventions and products that cushion us from the physical world and enable us to extract from our environment what we need or want
  • gases we produce produce some of the same effects implicated in the extinction event of 250M years ago — warmer temps, melting polar ice caps, rising acidity in the ocean
  • our success has rendered various other life forms extinct
  • universal basic income — consumtariat, information age analog to the proletariat of the industrial economy: and underclass living in reduced conditions, whose service to the economy will be their contributions to consumptions not production
  • technology can give us anyone with anyone, but everyone with everyone is a different kind of problem
  • we have trouble making decisions as one whole species because we live in a great many different worlds of meaning, and that’s a problem that exists in the realm of language
  • we are all citizens of the languages we speak, and World is not a language
  • today, people living in different worlds can inhabit pretty much the same physical space
  • scientific revolutions occur when someone proposes a key new idea, it triggers a paradigm shift
  • whole new overarching model replaces the old overarching model
  • every stable society is permeated by a social paradigm that organizes human interactions, gives purpose to people’s lives, makes most events meaningful
  • the present is nothing but the past that will exist in the future
  • goal for all of us to find our way around the world with the same map
  • only then will all discussions make sense
  • only then will all conversations become possible

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I love books, I have a ton of them, and I take notes on all of them. I wanted to share all that I have learned and will continue to learn. I hope you enjoy.

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Adam Marks

Adam Marks

I love books, I have a ton of them, and I take notes on all of them. I wanted to share all that I have learned and will continue to learn. I hope you enjoy.

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