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The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley (2010-05-18) Hardcover – January 1, 1729
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But try to think of humanity as an organic whole (difficult, but in a sense we're not that different from the insect biomass--consider the typical traffic flow in any big city, or our ability to organize air traffic flow around any large airport--ignoring the rare disasters. Ants and bees have their problems too.).
If that be granted, which part of human identity is it that really sparks the creative fires that light the way to innovative change? Is it entirely the happy go lucky smiley face side? The guy with the big grin in the first canoe to get to the European sailing ship loaded with trinkets? Or his wife who's threatened to leave him if he doesn't get some baubles in exchange for the exotic fruit they've been throwing into the island's garbage pit for years? That guy or girl who designed a more effective spearhead--was that person motivated by the love of beautiful objects with barbed edges, or by gnawing hunger and the fear of starvation?
More to the point(!): if our great-grandchildren are going to be significantly better off than we are, despite millions more of vehicles terrestrial and celestial, a colossal pileup of trash on land, on and under the sea, and in the air, and regardless of what the scientific consensus is telling us, won't that require just a smidgen of grousing by grumps like me, to goad the engineers and scientists with the promise of fame and fortune? As the incredibly well-rounded Tina Turner so forcefully put it, "It takes two, baby."
This book by Matt Ridley is indeed a fresh breath of air that gives people of the world a beacon of truth. Ridley asserts on the grounds of rational evidence and explanation that the progress of the human race within the historical times ranging from the ancient Greek/Roman times to the modern time has been made possible by collective human intelligence by which we exchange our ideas, skills, and knowledge in the form of specialized division of labor. This social collectivism, whether tacitly or unconsciously realized by doers, apperatins to synchronicity, a kind of inter-brain entrainment in which information based on experience is exchanged between individuals, which is also known as collective phenomenon. This collective intelligence is a vital essence of cultural evolution which results from selection by imitation of successful institutions and habits. It is this element of cumulative culture that makes us singularly different from beasts. Since this social trait is innately preprogrammed in mankind, there is no inevitable end to specialization of efforts and talents that keeps this collective phenomenon going. In fact, more jobs will be produced in more specialized areas contrary to brooding premonition that technology will push out manpower from work.
In sum, Ridley aims to enlighten readers about the necessities of changes as part of cultural evolution for the betterment of mankind and the world itself. In the human history, no other time period has produced the better living conditions and cultural developments than those we have now due to a continued cumulative cultural evolution, which links to the evolution of the origins by natural selection. This book renders me a feeling that how wasteful it would be fretting about the uncertain and dark future that looks darker by popular theories of dysopic economic and social future. Just as Ridley will remain a steadfast rational optimist, I will continue to perform demands imposed upon daily tasks of life as a contribution to the orderliness and constancy of the world as m ancestors did because I know the world will not fall in calamity. as long as we as a collective body of the human race exist.
Top international reviews
If you want to read an optimist's account of the world today, this book is a must. I just finished it and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Lord Ridley's vision is refreshing and illuminating and his writing style is crisp and clear. 5/5.
Overall though a great read and it has gave me a newfound respect for the human propensity for trade and specialisation. To be read with an open-mind and prior knowledge of the authors political and economic views.
I found it quite a waste of time, although everyone taste is different.
But I personally would not recommend it
Ridley starts with putting Darwinism back where it should have stayed: nice theory, but a bit too small to get so much attention. Ridley then goes on to show that many of the doom scenarios that certain scientific people and even more politicians have wished us to believe through the years. Again he does this by showing that there is a lot more to say about all these issues.