Got a minute for a recap of what’s happened so far? See the lecture offered by University of Pennsylvania intellectual historian, Alan Charles Kors. Unfortunately, you’ll need Real Player to view it. Below is a written summary. Hopeful notes: (for some) irrigation strengthens community and (for more of us) the many benefits inherent in the “cooperation of strangers.”
• First, tribes: tough life.
• The defaults beyond the intimate tribe were violence, aversion to difference, and slavery. Superstition: everywhere.
• Culture overcomes them partially.
• Rainfall agriculture, which allows loners.
• Irrigation agriculture, which favors community.
• Division of labor plus exchange in trade bring mutual cooperation, even outside the tribe.
• The impulse is always there, though: “Kill or enslave the outsider.”
• Gradual science from Athens’ compact with reason.
• Division of labor, trade, the mastery of knowledge, plus time brought surplus, sometimes a peaceful extended order and, rules diversely evolved and, the cooperation of strangers – always warring against the fierce defaults of tribalism, violence, and ignorance.
• No one who teaches you knows what will happen.
This is not the first time Kors has stirred lively conversation about “our” behavior. Yet it may inspire you to explore more of the remarkable research at SAS. Now what do you recall from your past history with others?