I set out to find a book that documented thought conventions across time. A book that relates thought to the historical events that are often documented in world history books. It was a passive search, the kind you do when you are already reading a couple of books and you are just looking for the one that you will read next.
About a month ago I found this book. It is called: Ideas. A history of Thought and Invention from Fire to Freud. It’s written by Peter Watson. This book is very accessible and easy to read. I think this book should be recommended reading for a course in multidisciplinary studies.
While I like Watson’s book, I think there is still room for a book that associates the history of ideas with those of archeology, anthropology and art in a visual way (DK Books style?).
So far I find myself reading books on philosophy and then I find myself going back to the history books to find physical, and social traces of these ideas. I try to find these traces across political decisions, social changes, the art and the economics of the time. The unspoken, underlying question perhaps is: how did that type of thinking influence society? What can we learn from those lessons?
Someone who has surely asked these types of questions is Jared Diamond – the author of two other books I’m reading right now. One of them is Guns, Germs and Steel. The Fates of Human Societies. The other is called Collapse. How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.
Collapse, reads like a part travel book, part world history book, and part socio-critical documentation of environmental disfunction. The books relates this to the collapse of civilizations.
“Guns..” is a world history book, that while it’s less comprehensive in its detail than some of the standard world history books out there – it’s also less dry. To me, it’s an introductory course into the subject of world history. A book I will read before moving back to J.M. Robert’s, SUV-sized book, New History of the World – a detailed an comprehensive book that starts with pre-history.
Jared Diamond – Wikipedia
Guns, Germs and Steel – Worldcat
Collapse – Worldcat
Peter Watson – Wikipedia – presents an outline of the historical highlights Watson covers in Ideas.
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