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  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    The Historic Agreement to End the Conflict in Kosovo

    Photo credit: Flickr/_Matt_T_After protracted, months-long negotiations, Kosovo and Serbia recently agreed to a compromise on sovereignty and autonomy that would end two decades of conflict. In extinguishing the last embers of war in what was Yugoslavia -- the volatile, ethnically divided nation where the assassination of an Austrian archduke launched World War I, and where civil war throughout the nineties led to ethnic cleansing and other atrocities -- Europe is nearing the end of its long journey to overcome its tribal enmities and build a cohesive, peaceful civilization.

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Jeffrey P. Kahn: How Beer Gave Us Civilization

    Jeffrey P. Kahn, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, is the author of “Angst: Origins of Anxiety and Depression.”HUMAN beings are social animals. But just as important, we are socially constrained as well.We can probably thank the latter trait for keeping our fledgling species alive at the dawn of man. Five core social instincts, I have argued, gave structure and strength to our primeval herds. They kept us safely codependent with our fellow clan members, assigned us a rank in the pecking order, made sure we all did our chores, discouraged us from offending others, and removed us from this social coil when we became a drag on shared resources.Thus could our ancient forebears cooperate, prosper, multiply — and pass along their DNA to later generations.

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Ian Morris’s Big Idea: When the West Falls Behind

    What’s your big idea?The big idea is that geography explains why the West rules the world—and why its domination may not last much longer.There are two sides to the story.First, geography determines how societies develop. The world’s first complex societies appeared toward the Western end of the Old World (around 9000 BC), because, thanks to geography, more plants and animals that could be domesticated had evolved there than anywhere else on earth. Geography dictated that East Asia had fewer potentially domesticable plants and animals.

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