What is History 6: The Development or Evolution of Religion
Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens: A brief history of humankind Harper 2014 (first published in Hebrew in 2011).
I feel guilty delving into Harari before embarking on Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel 1997 a much more profound book and one I have spent an enormous amount of time with, by reading and delving into Diamond’s sources. Harari himself acknowledges Diamond. He says:
Special thanks to Jared Diamond, who taught me to see the big picture.
Yuval Noah Harari’s book Sapiens: A brief history of humankind is a brave and ambitious enterprise, but he doesn’t quite carry it off. In some ways, he reminds me of Marvin Harris a popularising anthropologist who wrote Cannibals and Kings in 1977, which I also like immensely. For all his faults, Harari takes us on a great journey.
What is History ? by EH Carr, Chapter 1: Historians & their facts
What is History? by EH Carr 1961 a compilation of the George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures delivered at The University of Cambridge in 1961.
I’ve been sneaking up on the meat of this topic slowly but EH Carr and later Jared Diamond represent the meat, though there is much more to come. The previous What is History? articles have been 1 An Introduction, 2 Sleep Patterns 3, The Medieval Mind, 4 Love. They were part of a softening up process to indicate that history is not just about kings and famous individuals, that one can view history from different directions to those normally chosen by historians and that writing about and understanding history is not at all an obvious process and is in fact very difficult.
With Carr one examines mainstream history and historians. He shows in a brilliantly witty and erudite series of lectures that the process of studying history is not at all straight forward. However, since Carr’s 1961 lectures the study of history has come a long way and I certainly am optimistic about its future. If one had to sum up Carr in one sentence, in his words, it would be:
The belief in a hard core of historical facts existing objectively and independently of the interpretation of the historian is a preposterous fallacy, but one which it is very hard to eradicate.
This article will deal only with Carr’s first lecture.
What is History? Has love influenced history? Has history influenced love?
I had thought I’d get onto the meat of this series, but I’ve been diverted again by a charming topic reminiscent of What is history 2: Sleep patterns. This article is about love and how as with sleep patterns, which were modified by gas and then electric lighting, love has been derailed in modern times by a maladaptive and impossible dream.
What follows is my summary and commentary on Chapter 1: Love in a book by Roman Krznaric called The Wonder Box: Curious histories of how to live 2011.