Re: Why the West has 'won'.

Andrea Gallagher (
Mon, 04 Aug 1997 16:10:15 -0700

At 10:09 PM 8/4/97 +0100, Sarah Marr wrote:

>But that, of course, begs the question: how did the Roman Empire come in to
>being? Does this, I wonder, lead back to the 'cradle of civilization' in
>the Middle East? What puzzles me is how tool-use occurred throughout
>humanity, but at some point stopped developing for some people, whilst
>others continued to develop more and more advanced technology. And, in some
>ways, more advanced societal structures (although that is open to debate).

Yeah, and it's even more interesting when you think of how Arab and Chinese
cultures were far more technologically advanced than Europe for centuries.
One theory-of-everything book that I found interesting was _Structure and
Change in Economic History_, by Douglas North. He's an economist (economic
historian), and his take is that certain institutions of property were
critical in allowing certain kinds of growth to occur. Concepts like "my
tribe owns this land" allowed for agriculture. "I own this object" allowed
for markets. "I own this idea" allowed for science to create technology.
As with any book like this, your milage may vary, but it's clearly written
and makes for interesting thinking.

And then there's David Friedman's argumen, which Dale alluded to, that
small nation states created competition between nations, and nations
competed to be succesful.

I'm interested in this too, though my current search is for a basic book on
African civilizations.

Have fun,