The Case For and Against Progress

For most of my life as a thinking individual I’ve struggled with two opposing ideas: On the one hand, humans are horrible–taken as a species–both self-serving and self-destructive, weirdly.   And yet they are at the same time extraordinary, overcoming obstacles...
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The Creative Side of War. Part One: China

When an army feeds its horses with grain, and kills its cattle for food, and when the men do not hang the cooking pots over the camp fire, you may know that they are determined to fight to the death. Sun  Tzu, The Art of War. War. Possibly the Alpha and Omega of Human history....
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The History of Greek Philosophy in Four Questions

The History of Greek Philosophy in Four Questions Understanding the history of Greek philosophy is understanding Aristotle’s account of it. His work is authoritative in a way that no other history is, and not only because of the quantity of information we get from him. In...
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Was Agriculture a Mistake? Podcast

Was Agriculture A Mistake by avcole1 How could agriculture have been a mistake? Is benefits are manifest. Or are they?
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Did Democracy Start in Athens?

In March, 2003, a US-led military coalition toppled Iraq’s government. Within a few weeks the United States found itself running Iraq, a country of some 31 million people. Then president George W. Bush put the war in context of the “2500 year-old story of democracy.” Bush...
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Scrappy! Why We Fight: What it Means

I originally intended this as a WH quickie. But it ran a little long. Don’t worry, only 1000 words, you can still rip through it on your phone. (ed).  The BBC has estimated that currently on the planet two people are killed every minute in a violent conflict. Think back...
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Was Agriculture a Mistake?

These days large parts of our culture are celebrating the return of the “small farmer.” Food production is attracting progressive, young people who are earnestly looking to save the planet while improving our health. So it seems uncool and counter-intuitive to go...
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The Same Story, Over and Over?

The more you read in history the more you (ok, I) get the feeling that we’re reading the same story. If you take the big-picture approach, and begin before agriculture and sedentism (ca 10,000 years ago), then the only things of significance seem to be the big shifts. Big...
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The Narmer Palette

When it comes to primary sources, the ancient world is challenging. We usually think of texts as documents–in ancient terms that means inscriptions, such as can be found in Mesopotamia, Shang China, or Mayan stonework. We haven’t deciphered the script of the Harrapans...
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Who are the barbarians?

Every society has their own Barbarians. This subject provides enough material for several classes at the college or high school level. One could start with the Greeks who seem to have coined the term “Barbarian,” from their approximation of how those uncivilized...
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