Lessons of History Will Durant Book Summary
Let's take a quick look at these slogans. “Men and women, black or white, all people are born free and equal”, “equal rights to all insight”, “no to racism”, “black or white, we are all the same”. “Join the majority. Vote for equality”. “No more war”. “Come together in peace”. “How many lives per gallon”. “Think outside the bomb”. These anti-war and equality slogans may sound very interesting at first glance. And you may say what's wrong with them? Well, you are not alone. All of us do this. But the thing is, people living thousands of years before us, did the same thing. The best way for us to understand what is really going on in this world is to read history. Now, I know you may start running away the moment that you hear about history, maybe because of all the boring classes that you had to take in school and made you memorize many lists of useless names and dates. But that's not all to history. It's extremely important to understand the ideas behind events, why people did what they did, what motivated them, and what lessons we can learn from people who lived before us.
Hey guys. Welcome back to RAGWise. Today, we are talking about lessons of history by Will Durant. For those of you that are new to this channel. My name is Bahman, I am A Ph.D. candidate at Ohio State University. And I believe the wisdom of the world available in the books can transform your life in any value amount that you want. I make these book summaries so we can read and grow wise together. If you are new to this channel, please consider subscribing.
Every time that I found a great book about history, biology, or any other school subject that perfectly explains many things that should be part of general education, I get a little mad. Why didn't we learn this in school? Better late than never though. The lessons of history are an absolute must-read. There is a lot to be learned from 5000 years of history. I've tried to jot down some of the most important lessons in this book summary and here it is:
The first lesson is humans are unequal by nature and fighting would mean giving up freedom.
Competition is something that's hard-wired to our genes. Hunting, fighting, even killing was once the key to our survival. So it made sense for our genes to program us for that. Social cooperation only developed because at some point it became an even bigger advantage for surviving. And to this day, humans tend to only cooperate because it gives them a competitive edge. Whether that's in units of families, communities, companies, or nations. Based on genetics alone, we are all fundamentally different from the moment we're born, and just like we can’t become an exact copy of another person, no matter how much we train our bodies and brains, it's not a good idea to push equalities within societies to an extreme. Because it's precisely when we embrace our uniqueness and individuality that we thrive.
For example, consider two persons, Mr. A wakes up at 5 am each morning and works hard all day, and Mr. B wakes up at noon and hardly works. Now a third person comes and says, we are all equal and all should have the same income, what do you think this will do? Will it motivate Mr. B to work harder? …No, It’s just gonna destroy the motivation of Mr. A who works hard, why should he keep working hard when he is not gonna get rewarded for it.
So, the only way to keep up equality is to restrict human freedom. That's why socialist systems rarely work because only when you allow power, wealth and influence to be distributed unequally, then and only then do you create enough freedom for an economy or nation to flourish and progress.
The second lesson is war is a more natural state than peace,
Since competition is such an integral part of humans, it naturally follows that war is also a common state of mankind. This is something that's not obvious and you might not want to hear it, but it's true. War is a constant in history. In the past 5000 years, there have been only 268 years of no war. The states and individuals have the need for survival. So when a state runs out of oil, land, or food, its natural next move is to go to war with another state to battle for these resources. The only reason estates unite is to fight off bigger threats, which rarely happens. This makes world peace unlikely because all countries of the world would have to unite against a common enemy for this to happen. So, unless aliens try to invade the earth, we'll have to accept that, they'll always be some fighting in the world.
The third lesson is the human evolution has been mainly a social one, not a biological one.
Can you imagine living in the Middle Ages? You probably have only a vague idea of what that’d be looking like, right? However, Will Durant says human nature hasn't changed all that much. Come to think of it, most of our evolution has been social, not biological. We still have the same basic desires to sleep, eat, reproduce. What has changed tremendously in the past 5000 years are economics, politics, technology, and morals. But since all these things are indirectly linked to our biology, you could bring a baby from ancient Rome to 2020 and it'll grow up like a normal person. These cultural changes are a result of trial and error. Since the dawn of mankind, people have put forward ideas in various forms, some of which have sunk to the hearts of millions of people like the Christian religion or Facebook, while others have been discarded like the Nazi regime.
To sum it up, humans are unequal by nature and fighting would mean giving up freedom, war is a more natural state than peace, and human evolution has been mainly social.