Review: Lessons of History (First Edition)

Tags:
Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Will and Ariel Durant

5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond 6 Stars, So Fundamental as to be Priceless, October 10, 2013

When I donated my 2500 volume library to George Mason University (down from 5000 in earlier years), this is one of a tiny handful of books I held back, along with Buckminster Fuller’s Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure.

This edition is the FIRST edition. The reprinted currently in stock version The Lessons of History is more readily available, but if you can get the first edition, it is priceless at multiple levels.

This is the first book that I discuss in my national security lecture on the literature relevant to strategy & force structure. It is a once-in-a-lifetime gem of a book that sums up their much larger ten volume collection which itself is brilliant but time consuming. This is the “executive briefing.”

Geography matters. Inequality is natural. Famine, pestilence, and war are Nature’s way of balancing the population.

Birth control (or not) has *strategic* implications (e.g. see Catholic strategy versus US and Russian neglect of its replenishment among the higher social and economic classes).

History is color-blind. Morality is strength. Worth saying again: morality is strength.

They end with “the only lasting revolution is in the mind of man.” In other words, technology is not a substitute for thinking by humans.

See my various lists. Other books I recommend:

The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography
Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin
The Age of Missing Information
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution
Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, Revised and Updated 5th Anniversary Edition

And of course the nine books I have published, all but the last free online as well as within Amazon.

Robert Steele
THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth & Trust

Comments Off
Oct 11

Review: The Lessons of History (First Edition)

Tags:

Amazon Page

Will and Ariel Durant

When I donated by 2500 volume library to George Mason University (down from 5000 in earlier years), this is one of a tiny handful of books I held back, along with Buckminster Fuller’s Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure.

This edition is the FIRST edition. The reprinted currently in stock version The Lessons of History is more readily available, but if you can get the first edition, it is priceless at multiple levels.

This is the first book that I discuss in my national security lecture on the literature relevant to strategy & force structure. It is a once-in-a-lifetime gem of a book that sums up their much larger ten volume collection which itself is brilliant but time consuming. This is the “executive briefing.”

Geography matters. Inequality is natural. Famine, pestilence, and war are Nature’s way of balancing the population.

Birth control (or not) has *strategic* implications (e.g. see Catholic strategy versus US and Russian neglect of its replenishment among the higher social and economic classes).

History is color-blind. Morality is strength. Worth saying again: morality is strength.

They end with “the only lasting revolution is in the mind of man.” In other words, technology is not a substitute for thinking by humans.

See my various lists. Other books I recommend:

Comments Off
Apr 27

Reference (2010): Integrity–Without it Nothing Works II

Categories: Ethics

Integrity – A New Model

“INTEGRITY: A POSITIVE MODEL THAT INCORPORATES THE NORMATIVE PHENOMENA OF MORALITY, ETHICS, AND LEGALITY”

Academic Paper in Progress

Werner Erhard and Professor Michael C. Jensen discuss their positive model of integrity that links integrity and personal and corporate performance. They address integrity in a developing academic paper, whose primary purpose is to present a positive model of integrity that provides a powerful access to increased performance for individuals, groups, organizations, and societies.

The creation of this model reveals a causal link between integrity and increased performance. Through the work of clarifying and defining what integrity is and it’s causal link to performance, this model provides access to increased performance for private individuals, executives, economists, philosophers, policy makers, leaders, legal and government authorities.

Phi Beta Iota: In late 2009 we pointed to a very important paper in Reference: Integrity–Without it Nothing Works.  That first posting focused on the US member of the two-person team doing all of this original work.  Now we focus on Werner Erhard, whose home page offers a rich combination of background plus a diversity of supporting sources.

Below are a handful of links, we strongly recommend deep attention to every aspect of the web site.  Integrity is a theme that runs through history and the work of, among others, Will Durant and Buckminster Fuller and Robert Steele.  These two authors,  Mssrs. Erhard and Jensen, better than anyone else in modern time, have articulated the pragmatic paradigmatic role that integrity plays in doing what Russell Ackoff calls “doing the right things” and Kent Myers calls “reflexive practice.

Dialogue with Werner H. Erhard and Michael C. Jensen. Integrity: Where Leadership Begins

“Beyond Coordination and Control Is… Transformation” – EconomicPrinciples.com

Do Markets Need Integrity? – A Publication of the Yale School of Management

Integrity – A Business Conference – Photo Slide Presentation

Comments Off
Sep 15

NIGHTWATCH Extract: Dictators vs Iran in Middle East

Tags: ,

Syria-Saudi Arabia-Lebanon: Syria and Saudi Arabia pledged to support efforts to stabilize Lebanon and preserve its security and unity, Reuters reported 29 July. A joint statement from Saudi King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al Asad also called for better inter-Arab relations, praised Turkey’s support for the Palestinians and called for the formation of a government in Iraq to preserve the nation’s Arab identity and security.

NIGHTWATCH Comment: The King has undertaken another strenuous trip through Arab lands to build an Arab front that blocks Iranian influence in Syria and inroads in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. The Syrian Alawites, the Sunni Palestinians of Hamas and the Shiite Arabs of Lebanese Hezbollah have afforded the Persians unprecedented access to Arab lands and business.

The Saudi King continues to try to limit or reverse the damage to what passes for Arab unity from Iranian subversion. Thus far his energies have been misspent. His initiatives have not weakened Iranian influence in any of the three target entities.

NIGHTWATCH KGS Home

Phi Beta Iota: Ambassador Mark Palmer has it right–the US should not be supporting dictators (nor, we would add, a genocidal Zionist movement that joins the Arabs against the Palistinians).  See Review: Breaking the Real Axis of Evil–How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025.  Will and Ariel Durant also have it right: morality is a strategic asset of incalculable value.  See Review: The Lessons of History.

See Also:

Review: Palestine–Peace Not Apartheid

Review: Unspeakable Truths–Facing the Challenges of Truth Commissions (Paperback)

Review: The Health of Nations–Society and Law beyond the State

Review: The leadership of civilization building–Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century

and all  the book lists.

Comments Off
Jul 30

Journal: Librarians and The Accessibility Paradox

Full Source Online

Full Source Online

Fortunately, most librarians have gotten used to the fact that the Internet is a tremendous boon to researchers and that free information is a fantastic idea. Sure, we haven’t yet reallocated our organizational resources to recognize this fact—our staff time is much more likely to be devoted to acquiring and messing about with purchased information than in making good information from our archives, our labs, or the web more easily available.  [Emphasis added.]

Barbara Fister is a librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN, a contributor to ACRLog, and an author of crime fiction. Her next mystery, Through the Cracks, will be published by Minotaur Books in 2010.

Barbara Fister

We need to separate our value—the way we curate information, champion its availability in the face of intolerance of unpopular ideas and economic disparity, and create conditions for learning how to find and use good information—from the amount of money it takes to acquire stuff on the not-so-open market. We need to be quite clear that good information is good information, no matter how it’s funded. And we need to find creative ways to partner with those who add value to information and find sustainable models for the editorial work that can make good academic work better.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off
Nov 19

Journal: Education and the Republic

Categories: 04 Education

Education in the United States of America (USA) has become a prison, a factory, a fraud that dumbs down the vast majority with compulsory rote education of little value in a rapidly chaning world.  Within the Cabinet of the USA, Education is a sideshow, a neglected step-child vastly overshadowed by a $1 trillion a year national security budget and the insanity of a White House that thinks theater is a substitute for thinking, sabre-rattling a substitute for production.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had it right.  Jefferson said “A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry” to which we would add “and armed”).  James Madison, whose statement we have adopted as the foundation for this Public Intelligence Blog, is even more specific:  “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off
Sep 7

Graphic: Robert Steele Adopts Buckminster Fuller

Tags: ,
Steele Adoption of Fuller

Steele Adoption of Fuller

The pure integral consciiousness of Buckminster Fuller is finally coming into its own as sustainable design, natural capitalism, zero waste, and many other ideas that reflect INTEGRITY as the essence of life, all converge.  Buckminster Fuller is to re-engineering the earth as Will Durant is to re-thinking philosophy.

Comments Off
Jul 13

Review: On the Meaning of Life

Categories: 5 Star,Philosophy
Tags:

Meaning of LifeWOW! A Jewel Pops Out of Amazon’s Recommendation System, October 14, 2008

Will Durant

EDIT of 30 May 2009 to add flyleaf notes.

I was utterly THRILLED to see this book by Will Durant, published in 2005, pop up out of Amazon’s recommendation system. Now I’m hooked.

The book opens with suicide statistics to point out the ultimate sacrifice or loss when hope is not to be found. One million in the world, 81,000 in the USA, 84.5 per day, 1 every 17.1 minutes. I have had 18 professional and one personal suicide in my life, What an important opening.

Finished, it surprises and delights with the common sense selections.

Key insights, remembering that this book is an edited collection of many people responding in one page to the QUESTION from Durant, who sent out 100 letters. First published in 1932, all the answers are grounded in the real world.

1) Uncertainty fosters greed.

2) Corruption of a society does not preclude the emergence of great minds that can catalyze further progress.

3) 1000 citivilizations have died in the course of history.

4) Citing Aristotle, all things have been discovered and forgotten manytimes over. Man–imperfect man–is the constant.

5) Utopia would be birth control, enfranchisement of all, emancipation of all–all of this is undone by crime, corruption, and war, none of which are necessary

Four quotes I feel should be here to encourage purchase of the book:

a) “We are driven to conclude that the greatest mistake in human history was the discovery of ‘truth.’ It has not made us free, except from delusions that comforted us and restraints that preserved us.” Page 14

b) “Where such a faith [that gives hope], after supporting men for centuries, begins to weaken, like narrows down from a spiritual drama to a biological episode, it sacrifices the dignity conferred by a destiny endless in time, and shrinks to a strange interlude between a ridiculous birth and an annihilating death.” Page 17

c. “We discovered birth control, and now it sterlizes the intelligent, multiplies the ignorant, debases love with promuscuity, frustrates the educator, empowers the demagogue, and deteriorates the race.” Page 29

d. “The greatest questions of our time is not communism vs. the West, it is whether men can bear to live without God.” Page 34

All of the above are Durant’s words. Then the book goes forward with two pages for each of those responding, one a graphic etching, the other their text.

The Lessons of History
The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
The Future of Life
DVD: What the Bleep Do We Know!?

Comments Off
Jul 3

Review: The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Categories: 5 Star,Philosophy
Tags:

Greatest MindsAccurate Title, Wonderful Book, May 30, 2009

Will Durant

Some will obviously quibble over Will Durant’s selections, but I will not. I got hooked on Durant after reading his 1916 doctoral disseration (a full thirty years after I acquired the multi-volume History of Civilization), and have been working my way through various “short books” in the past six months.

Here are my fly-leaf notes.

Slams H. G. Wells early on. Durant seems to be the anti-thesis to Marx.

He opens by pointing out that the greatest minds of history were those of philosphy and science, not captains of war, priests, or artists.

As is my tendency, I praise the book by summarizing it. Below are his lists.

Ten greatest thinkers:
01 Confucius as a moral philosopher
02 Plato for first university, philosophy as means of remolding world
03 Aristotle as philosopher and scientists, creating new science
04 St. Thomas Aquinas for bridging between knowledge and belief
05 Copernicus (Poland) for astronomy and mathematics, shifting attention from man to the cosmos
06 Sir Francis Bacon, for knowledge as remodeling power, opened eyes to nature (see my review of Intelligence in Nature, forthcoming).
07 Sir Isaac Newton, for scientific mastery of modern thought
08 Voltaire for ending despotism and starting the enlightenment, but see my review of Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West
09 Immanuel Kant for mind over materialism, restored faith to co-equal status with science
10 Charles Darwin for state of nature, life as conflict, natural selection

Ten greatest poets:
01 Homer
02 “David”
03 Garupedes
04 Lucretius
05 Li Po
06 Dante
07 Shakespeare
08 Keats
09 Shelly
10 Whitman

Ten “Peaks” for Humanity
01 Speech
02 Fire
03 Conquest of Animals
04 Agriculture
05 Social Organization
06 Morality [see my review of The Lessons of History)
07 Tools
08 Science
09 Education
10 Writing & Print

I have a note to myself in which I iclude the Internet in #10, and see #11 as being “True Cost” accounting, see my reviews of, among others:
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming
Ecological Economics: Principles And Applications
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Twelve Major Dates in Human History
01 4241 BC Egyptian Calendar
02 543 BC Death of Buddha
03 478 BC Death of Confucius
04 199 BC Death of Socrates
05 44 BC Death of Caesar
06 BC-AD Birth of Christ
07 AD 632 Death of Mohammed
08 AD 1294 Death of Roger Bacon, birth of gunpowder
09 AD 1455 Gutenberg Press
10 AD 1492 Columbus discovers America (see 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
11 AD 1769 James Watt and the Steam Engine
12 AD 1789 French Revolution

One can only speculate at what he might have picked in the past century or two, that alone would make a marvelous semester-long course.

The book has a lovely index of all names, both those considered and those considered but not selected.

I consider this a classic gift item, along with Ralph Nader’s The Seventeen Traditions and Durant’s Lessons of History linked above as well as his edited work drawing out others On the Meaning of Life

For my own contribution, a work marvelously edited by Canadian PhD candidate Mark Tovey, see Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace. All of the work I have sponsored or produced can be found for free at OSS.Net.

Comments Off
May 30

Review: Philosophy and the Social Problem–The Annotated Edition

Tags:
Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Will Durant

6 Star Special So VERY Relevant Today–Absent Philosophy, No Amount of Money Will Suffice

October 14, 2008
This book, first published in 1916 in 1000 copies of which only 100 sold, is a gem. It is Will Durant’s doctoral thesis simplified for the public, and I found it to be extraordinary. This book *preceded* his life’s work in creating the History of Civilization with his wife Ariel Durant, and I now understand, from this book, how Durant first devised and then applied his personal intellectual & philosophical framework of “Perspectivism.”

Early on he states that philosophy should be the foundation for politics qua political-economic decision-making, but it is not. He shares E. O. Wilson’s view articulated in Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge that philosophy is what SHOULD be unified with science in order to produce social solutions (today he would no doubt say *sustainable* social solutions. He laments the relegation of philosophy to the “ivory tower” of academia, lost to politics and lost to the public. (Conservatives would say they still live by a philosophy but I would disagree–most of them simply parrot dogma–the liberals have neither, they offer platitudes and are just as corrupt and partisan.)

In his view so early in his career, philosophy plus history equals wisdom; and politics without either cannot resolve “the social problem” regardless of how much money might be thrown at specific solutions.

The first five chapters review Socrates, Plato, Bacon, Spinoza, and Nietzsche. In keeping with his “Perspectivism” he neither seeks to refute nor ignore but instead to *relate* diverse philosophies to the present circumstances (reading Plato, and then Durant as of 1916, I am struck by the timeless wisdom–money creates hoarding and speculation, inheritance incentivizes same, neither is good for society as a whole).

“The social problem” and the task of philosophy is to achieve balance between emergent individualism and the larger social construct that needs civic duty and contributions from all if the group is to be safe and be prosperous.

I am fascinated throughout this book, beginning with Socrates inheriting a war of all against all as wealth creates a leisure class that “buys” knowledge and leads to analysis destroying morals. I am struck by Durant’s emphasis on how a civilization may be characterized by its conception of virtue, and think immediately of how the USA is a The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead based on Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids and managed by two criminal parties each Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It.

We are, today, in the midst of the battle for the soul of the Republic and also The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism and the wisdom of Will Durant could not be more timely or relevant.

Durant defines duty not as unquestioning submission to the group but rather individual excellence in thinking and action–for a modern presentation of this, see Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution.

From Socrates to Spinoza and on, Durant finds that morality is not about freedom of will or individual purpose, but rather about how the group and the individuals as part of the group relate means to ends (or we could say now, means (revenue) to ways (policies) to ends (endless war or peace, distributed prosperity or concentrated wealth and broad slavery).

I find guidance and solace for Colin Powell in Durant’s rendition of Plato, and am just blown away by how we must give the best to education, that until we do so, until we give our best brains to education, no amount of money will reduce our social ills. Here is the quote for Colin Powell:

“When Plato says that the office of minister of education is ‘of all the great offices of state the greatest,’ and that the citizens should elect their very best man to this office (Laws 765-6), he is not pronouncing a platitude, he is making a radical, revolutionary proposition.

Durant draws out (mostly from Spinoza) the importance of NOT having a standard government-defined education, of making education fun, exploratory, diverse, and open-ended. I cannot help but recall how the author of Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace suggests we beat the creativity out of children by the fourth grade, and how my hacker friends consider schools to be prisons.

In reviewing Bacon, Durant sees the destruction of philosophy by religion, and states clearly that this is something we must undo. I favor the concept of Faith- Based Diplomacy Trumping Realpolitik and see no conflict between secular philosophy and faith.

He cites Bacon as seeking to inspire more cooperation and less chaotic rivalry in research, and this is one reason I believe Colin Powell would be foolish to settle for Secretary of Education. Instead he should suggest that there be three Deputy Vice Presidents: himself for Education, Intelligence, and Research; one for National Security; and one for the Commonwealth. This will allow the bloated $75 billion a year secret intelligence budget to be used as bill-payer for both Education and Research, at the same time that an Open Source Agency makes it possible to dismantle 80% of the hydra of relatively useless secret sources and methods (they acquire 4% of what we need to know while ignoring all the rest in 183 languages we do not understand).

For Spinoza as for Plato compulsion is a negative force, useful for inhibiting attacks but not for inspiring collaboration.

It is from Spinoza that Durant draws his ultimate vision, one shared by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison: for a democracy to be successful, something other than an anarchist mob, the spread of intelligence–wisdom, knowledge, decision-making skills, is essential.

In the transition to Nietzsche, Durant offers marvelous one-line dismissals (each) of Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Bishop Berkeley, Hume, Voltaire, Compte, John Stewart Mill, Spencer, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Hildebrand.

In Part II Durant explores various solutions and objectives, and then circles around again to his bottom line: the purpose of philosophy, the mission of philosophy, is to facilitate the growth and spread of intelligence among men. Unlike history, which reconstructs the past, philosophy seeks to reconstruct the future. Instead of analysis, synthesis; instead of categorization, reconstruction and redirection, innovation from diversity mixed in diverse ways.

See also his The Lessons of History and the new publication with 55 authors, Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace.

Vote and/or Comment on Review

Comments Off
Oct 14