Friday, May 15, 2020

读书笔记 - The Lessons of History

This book is a collections of essays from Will & Ariel Durant, winners of the pulitzer prize.

1. Hesitations
The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding.
We can learn enough from history to bear reality patiently, and to respect one another's delusions.
Only a fool would try to compress a hundred centuries into a hundred pages of hazardous conclusions.

2. History and the Earth
Human history is a brief spot in space, and its first lesson is modesty.
History is subject to geology.
Geography is the matrix of history, its nourishing mother and disciplining home.
The development of the airplane will again alter the map of civilization.
The influence of geographic factors diminishes as technology grows.
Man, not the earth, makes civilization.

3. Biology and History
History is a fragment of biology: the life of man is a portion of the vicissitudes of organisms on land and sea.
The laws of biology are the fundamental lessons of history.
The first biological lesson of history is that life is competition.
The second biological lesson of history is that life is selection.
The third biological lesson of history is that life must breed.

4. Race and History
The rise, success, decline, and fall of a civilization depend upon the inherent quality of the race.
The degeneration of a civilization is what the word itself indicates - a falling away from the genus, stock, or race.
Some weaknesses in the race theory are obvious.
Difficulties remain even if the race theory is confined to the white man.
The ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece, and Rome were evidently the product of geographical opportunity and economic and political development rather than of racial constitution, and much of their civilization had an oriental source.
A knowledge of history may teach us that civilization is a co-operative product, that nearly all peoples have contributed to it; it is our common heritage and debt; and the civilized soul will reveal itself in treating every man or woman.

5. Character and History
Society is founded not on the ideals but on the nature of man, and the constitution of man rewrites the constitutions of states.
Known history shows little alteration in the conduct of mankind.
Evolution in man during recorded time has been social rather than biological.
The initiative individual - the great man, the hero, the genius, - regains his place as a formative force in history.
Intellect is therefore a vital force in history, but it can also be a dissolve and destructive power.
The conservative who resists change is as valuable as the radical who proposes it.

6. Morals and History
Morals are the rules by by which a society exhorts its members and associations to behavior consistent with its order, security, and growth.
Moral codes differ because they adjust themselves to historical and environmental conditions.
History as usually written is quite different from history as usually lived; the history records the exceptional because it is interesting.

7. Religion and History
Religion does not seem at first to have had any connection with morals.
Does history support a belief in God?
One lesson of history is that religion has many lives, and a habit of resurrection.
There is no significant example in history of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.

8. Economics and History
History is economics in action - the contest, among individuals, groups, classes, and states, for food, fuel, materials, and economic power.
Every economic system must sooner or later rely upon some form of the profit motive to stir individuals and groups to productivity.
All economic history is the slow heartbeat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of concentrating wealth and compulsive recirculation.

9. Socialism and History
The struggle of socialism against capitalism is part of the historic rhythm in the concentration and dispersion of wealth.
The fear of capitalism has compelled socialism to widen freedom, and the fear of socialism has compelled capitalism to increase equality.

10. Government and History
Does history justify revolutions?
Democracy is the most difficult of all forms of government.
Democracy has done less harm, and more good, than any other form of government. It gave to human existence a zest and camaraderie that outweighed its pitfalls and defects.
If our economy of freedom fails to distribute wealth as ably as it has created it, the road to dictatorship will be open to any man and a martial government will engulf the democratic world.

11. History and War
War is one of the constants of history, and has not diminished with civilization or democracy.
The causes of war are the same as the causes of competition among individuals: acquisitiveness, pugnacity, and pride; the desire for food, land, materials, fuels, mastery.

12. Growth and Decay
Civilization is social order promoting cultural creation.
History repeats itself, but only in outline and in the large.
Civilizations begin, flourish, decline, and disappear.
Civilizations are the generations of the racial soul. As life overrides death with reproduction, so an aging culture hands its patrimony down to its heirs across the years and the seas.

13. Is progress real?
Our progress in science and technique has involved some tincture of evil with god.
We must not demand of progress that it should be continuous or universal.
In the debate between ancients and moderns it is not at all clear that the ancients carry off the prize.
If education is the transmission of civilization, we are unquestionably progressing.
We should not be greatly disturbed by the probability that one civilization will die like any other.
The heritage that we can now more fully transmit is richer than ever before.
History is the creation and recording of that heritage; progress is its increasing abundance, preservation, transmission, and use.

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