I read the books below between mid-February and the end of March, on my sabbatical at UC Irvine. At this time I was also in full swing, finding and posting great quotes on Facebook at least once per day (each asterisk below represents a quote further below). I had the habit of buying a coffee on my way to the lab and then sitting down and reading "heavy stuff" for an hour almost every single morning. Here is the previous blog post about books that I've read.
**********Another book I have wanted to read for along time is Marshall Sahlins' "Stone age economics" (1972). The book consists of six chapters that are be better thought of as six essays. I found the quality of the essays to be uneven; the first two were brilliant, but some others were more specialised and were perhaps of interest primarily to (other) anthropologists.
Sahlins have studied "primitive" (premodern) societies and draws on the work of other anthropologists in his fundamental and far-reaching critique of modern "advanced" societies. If wealth is defined as having "enough", then many premodern (hunter-gatherer) societies had much more wealth than we do. In terms of possessions, we of course win hands-down, but in terms of (leisure) time, we come out as a distant second. It's not that we are so much smarter than they are - it's that we have access to so much more energy that can do our bidding than what they have:
"the world's most primitive peoples ... create unparalleled technical masterpieces. Dismantled and shipped to New York or London, Bushman traps lie now gathering dust in the basement of a hundred museums, powerless even to instruct because no one can figure out how to put them back together again."
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The old social ties were ... loosened and ... Individuals of different social origins were thrown together. ... For this very reason the question of uniform good behaviour became increasingly acute ... People, forced to live with one another in a new way, became more sensitive to the impulses of others."
Comment:Erasmus' book, "De civilitate morum puerilium" (On civility in boys) was printed in 1530, reprinted more than 30 times in the following 6 years and more than 100 times thereafter (as well as translated, and imitated, many many more times).
Quoted from "Galeato" (1609) by Giovanni della Casa, Archbishop of Benevento
the longer quote comes from Zimmern (1928), "Solon and Croesus, and other Greek essays"
Quote from Mariner (1827), "An Account of the Tongan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean"