Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Your favorite books and links
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daylen
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Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by daylen » Sat Dec 31, 2016 3:08 pm

Does anyone know of any books that apply systems theory to human history? I find the vast majority of books on human history too narrow in scope to catch my interest. I am looking for books that analyze the interaction between geographical, political, economic, cultural, and technological systems across all of human history. This is ambitious, so I do not expect any one book, or even hundreds, to capture everything. I have looked at a few textbooks on world history but these typically look at each system in isolation. I am more interested in the interactions of these systems; for instance, how has the evolution of communication effected geographical expanse? ..or how has the feedback loop in scientific research changed over time and space? ..or how has technology diffused across geographical and political barriers?
Last edited by daylen on Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by jacob » Sat Dec 31, 2016 3:22 pm

Harari? Toynbee? Spengler? Durant?

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daylen
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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by daylen » Sat Dec 31, 2016 3:29 pm

Thanks, I'll look into their work.

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Ego
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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by Ego » Sat Dec 31, 2016 3:29 pm

Jared Diamond's books, Gun, Germs & Steel and Collapse. And Sapiens.

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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by enigmaT120 » Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:35 pm

Ego wrote:Jared Diamond's books, Gun, Germs & Steel and Collapse. And Sapiens.
I liked the first book. Haven't read the second yet. I'm not sure he's right about all of it though.

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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by George the original one » Sat Dec 31, 2016 6:37 pm

James Burke's Connections.

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Dragline
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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by Dragline » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:33 am

Those are all good. For something brand new read The Secret of Our Success by Joseph Henrich.

For complexity theory applied to history try Ubiquity by Mark Buchanan.

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Chad
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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by Chad » Sun Jan 01, 2017 3:18 pm

2nd Diamond's books. He isn't right about everything, but no one will find a book like this where the author is right about everything.

Another good book is Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson. It focuses more on Middle Ages and later, with an emphasis on more modern history. The subject focus is also more economic.

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daylen
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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by daylen » Sun Jan 01, 2017 3:49 pm

I have a lot to look forward to! I am starting with sapiens :D

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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by jennypenny » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:05 pm

I also thought Empire of Things was an interest lens through which to view more recent history.

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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Jan 02, 2017 5:07 pm

Diodorus Siculus. Sima Qian. (If you want to start from scratch and build your own ;) )

"The Invisible History of the Human Race" is a quick read that summarizes many of the recent findings in genealogy and genetics. I recommend "A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind" as likely to increase your holistic perspective, since you are probably starting with a Western bias. Some of the recent works, such as "Salt: A World History" or "Zero: The Nothing that Is" or "The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power" , which trace the history of just one important resource or meme through human history, although seemingly narrow in topic, might be fun to read in combination to gain a wider perspective.

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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by Papers of Indenture » Tue Jan 03, 2017 1:35 pm

I would add Lewis Mumford to the recommendations already made here. The City in History is a good place to start.

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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by DSKla » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:27 pm

Lots of great ones have already been listed. If you want to trace the cycles of history idea that Toynbee and Spengler tackled, Ibn Khaldun and Giambattista Vico were probably the first historians to treat the subject.

If you're not interested in reading the thousands upon thousands of pages those four wrote, but you want to know how their ideas might be applied to modern America and the next few hundred years, John Michael Greer's Dark Age America is an imaginative extrapolation that doesn't presume to offer any specific or certain predictions--just broad strokes you could expect to see if industrial civilization entered a dark age.

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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by jacob » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:37 pm

I'd be remiss to not point out that Durant was covered in a book club thread: viewtopic.php?t=7791and there's a thread on Sapiens as well: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=6061

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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by Ego » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:13 pm

Dragline wrote:Those are all good. For something brand new read The Secret of Our Success by Joseph Henrich.
Henrich was interviewed by Tyler Cowen recently. Very interesting.

https://overcast.fm/+EdFwGiET8

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TheRedHare
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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by TheRedHare » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:22 pm

I've been reading David Flemings "Lean Logic" which contains a lot of systems thinking. It contains a ton of various topics including all the ones you are mentioning. I'm really enjoying it.

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Dragline
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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by Dragline » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:39 pm

Ego wrote:
Dragline wrote:Those are all good. For something brand new read The Secret of Our Success by Joseph Henrich.
Henrich was interviewed by Tyler Cowen recently. Very interesting.

https://overcast.fm/+EdFwGiET8
Thanks for that reference. Henrich is an aerospace engineer turned anthropologist and was one of the researchers and authors on WEIRD people that Jonathan Haidt relied upon in some of his recent books.

My take on that: http://www.prospectingmimeticfractals.c ... irding-way

I'm working on an essay on Henrich's new book, which is much broader in scope, but its taking longer than I thought. It does deal with that fundamental question about what makes humans different from other animals, which is what he refers to as "crossing the Rubicon" -- in effect, an emergent property based on a recursive function that aligns with complexity theory.

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Ego
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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by Ego » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:47 pm

Dragline wrote:I'm working on an essay on Henrich's new book, which is much broader in scope, but its taking longer than I thought. It does deal with that fundamental question about what makes humans different from other animals, which is what he refers to as "crossing the Rubicon" -- in effect, an emergent property based on a recursive function that aligns with complexity theory.
My copy has yet to arrive at the library. You led me down a rabbit hole of culture, genetics, evolution, consciousness... :shock:

See the article from my post this morning....
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4323&p=135562#p135562

I look forward to your upcoming post.

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Ego
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Re: Request: Holistic perspective of human history

Post by Ego » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:11 pm

Fabulous article in Aeon...

https://aeon.co/essays/the-future-is-mi ... r-humanity

We are a restless species, and our genomes reveal that even the most intimidating geographical barriers have managed only to somewhat restrict human movements. Today, international migration is increasing at 1 to 2 per cent per year, with 244 million people in 2015 living in a country other than the one in which they were born. The biological implications of this massive experiment in interbreeding we are now witnessing will not be known for generations. But applying what we know about genetics and evolution can help us predict our future, including whether humans will be able to continue adapting to the constantly changing conditions on Earth.

Our ability to continue to adapt to the changing conditions on Earth improves as new genetic variation is introduced to our gene pool through mutations. But the entire human gene pool is made of many smaller gene pools, each corresponding to a particular population. The movement of people around the Earth is mixing these populations, allowing genes to flow back and forth between gene pools, with several important implications for our ongoing evolution.


and

The benefits that come from mixing genes from different populations are well-known to plant and animal breeders. Hybrid corn, for example, outperforms pure varieties when planted in the same fields.

and

Mixing genes is not only beneficial; when mixing doesn’t occur, there can be negative consequences. Consider purebred dogs. A 2013 study from the University of California, Davis compared veterinary records of 27,254 purebred and mixed-breed dogs, and identified 10 different genetic disorders, including elbow dysplasia and cataracts, that purebred dogs are more likely to suffer than mixed-breeds.

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