Guns, Germs, and Steel

February 10, 2006 at 7:12 am 2 comments

Jared Damond’s book is a compenduim of geopgraphy as a determining force in the evolution of innovation and human societies. If somehow this is the first review you’ve read of this then you should probably check a different review,

Mr. Diamond seems to harp over his points. He frequently has to remind us that this book counters the racist view point that he seems to think is the predominate view. I’ve personally never heard anyone use race as a means to explain to the advancements of some cultures or races over others, if anything I assumed a lot of it had to do with entrenched insitutions like the church or government closing down all possible lines of innovation and hence choking the culture from the inside or just foreign invasions. I’ve recently begun reading Jared’s next book collapse and found it to have the same I’m so better than those racist over-tones. Something in the presentation of Mr. Diamond’s material is what makes it annoying, while he certianly has some good ideas, a brooding and high-minded ego comes out of his prose which seems to have little time to consider an arguement outside of a brutally logical context. Mr. Diamond certianly seems to like the rigors of philosophy or any discipline that would require elegance in arguements. While he’s good at collecting data and weaving an “I was there” type of approach of first hand accounts his consistent mentioning of the “status quo” of anthropological knowledge (i.e. native peoples are inherintly somehow more in touch with the earth etc) gets rather annoying. We’re more than willing to hear you out and accept the premises of the arguement, but at times Mr. Diamond seems to be content to just argue with himself and conclude this is such becuase I say so. Somewhere in this book a convincing arguement remains, but it’s layered in small pieces in what is highly redudant prose. Mr. Diamond underestimates his reader and fails to provide an argument that can surprise as much as some of his simple collections of data can (for instance no new domesticable plants in about 200 years etc.)

cut this

the book revolves around the fact that Mr. Diamond doesn’t seem to consider that maybe many of the cultures that occupy better lands inhabit those lands becuase of culture. If the benefits of living in one are are obvious (good water, food, and weather) then isn’t a competition going to arise from bands in the area? Were the orginators of China the first to stumble into the valley or the first to scuessfully assimilate or kill the others in the valley? My point being while geopgraphy is certianly a high factor in what societies could easily locate the resources to become empires, innovate, and conduct warfare the cultures the basic hunter gathers that saw the potential in the lands settled probably had to contest the land with others, hence some amount of leadership and cultural self has to exist for these people to come to occupy the lands that ended up making the founding cultures of mankind. Hence we can’t rule out that those cultures that grew up and became advanced might have been the cultures that were able to rally their bands into something more than just a family in the first place.

BTW my blog is massively dis-organized

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Vocabulary and Innovation Colonialsm or open standards

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