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A discussion of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

2020-04-07 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

下面51due教员组为大家整理一篇优秀的代写范文,供大家参考学习。这篇文章讲述的是为什么西方曾经统治世界,这是一个很大的问题,围绕这个问题西方历史学家有很多争议。这本书反映了正在进行的辩论。这本书提供了一个非常有趣的观点,人类历史,这是非常相似的地理决定论。本文对贾里德·戴蒙德的《枪炮、细菌和钢铁:人类社会的命运》一书中的主要论点进行了总结和评价。

A discussion of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

There is a big problem that why the West once dominated the world, around which the Western historians have a lot of controversy. This book is a reflection of the ongoing debate. This book provides a very interesting view of human history, which is very similar to geographical determinism. In this article, it is to have a summary and evaluation of main argument of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies in a concise manner as much as possible.  

 

The discussion of this book is to start from the tracing back of dramatic collision of two continents of Europe and America, which developed independently, and tries to answer why the Europeans wiped out the Indians, and not the other way round. It probed into this phenomenon from food, animals, weapon, germs, and steel. Food production is a prerequisite for the development of guns, germs and steel. The earliest grain origin did not include Europe. However, there are a series of factors making food production methods spread rapidly to Europe. It is because that the position between Europe and Asia is mainly east-west, and that of Africa and the Americas are mainly north-south. The continental direction affects the spread. The development of human history is closely related to the domestication of wild animals and plants. On the one hand, differences in wild animals and plants on different continents lead to differences in domestication. On the other hand, the differences between domesticated animals and plants directly affect the ethnic conflicts on different continents, leading to the outcome of the rise and fall. One of the direct results of the regional differences in domestication was that soldiers of Spain met the Americans defeated their army by horses, guns, bacteria, steel, Atahualpa, and did not lost their soldier. In the war, invisible bacteria to kill local Americans is also directly related to domesticated animals. In addition, the use of domesticated animals and plants, on the one hand is to meet people's food needs, which greatly increased the population. On the other hand the use of animal power is the liberation of the human, which are related to the refinement of specialized division of labor, and technical inventions. The emergence of technology, and even the emergence of text is closely related. Thus, the use of domesticated animals and plants ultimately explains why empires, literacy and iron and steel weapons were first developed in Eurasia and later in other continents, or not developed at all. The main purpose of this book is to explain why the first civilizations were born in the latitude that runs through China and the Mediterranean, and why the West dominates the world. It tells the reasons why the modern world and its many inequalities are formed, points out the great influence of environment on human history, and denies the determinism of race.

 

The value of argument of this book is interdisciplinary way of account. The science has been fragmented in their own field for a long time. The result is only the increase in complexity of part without substantial breakthrough. The greatest value of this book may not be those conclusions, but an open-ended view in the vertical and horizontal way. For example, China has a good environment, but is under the conquest of the western countries in history. Faced with this problem, his answer is that all the reasons are due to China's flat terrain. For human civilization at different stages, the most suitable for human geographical location is different. In the agricultural civilization period, the most suitable environment for mankind is China.  In the industrial period, the most suitable environment for human is Western Europe. The most appropriate human location depends on the extent to which the technology available to mankind can make people free from the confines of the environment. Also, wars are not always won by the ones with the best generals and the most sophisticated weapons, but often those carrying the most terrible bacteria that can be transmitted to the patient. With advances in technology, the original high cost of transportation has become negligible. In the war, horses’ role in weight lifting, and cavalry is key, until World War I. When the emergence of trucks and tanks, it is to end its dominance.

 

There are other strong points of this book---its unique perspective of environment. The author describes the process of domestication of animals and plants with natural selection and artificial selection, and explains the inevitability of grain production center in some places as a result of geographical environment. This is easy to understand, especially with regard to the spread of food production. For example, there is little difference in climate between east and west countries in the same latitude, so crops are more likely to survive. And the north and south latitudes differ greatly in climate, and crop transmission becomes very difficult. Thus, the great difference in development between Africa and Europe today is not the biological difference of the human race, but the difference of the geographical environment between the two continents, which can not be changed easily. Not all wild animals and plants are easy to be domesticated. For example, the oak plant is always difficult to be domesticated, but animals, cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, horses in different parts of the world have been domesticated. Common features are land animals feeding on grass and have relatively large size as in the food chain they need to obtain more energy to meet human food needs. But cats, dogs and other small carnivores domestication is not mainly for food, but as a pet or hunting. And zoo animals can not be called domestication and should be called tame. In history people had tried to domesticate zebra, cheetah, etc., but were unsuccessful. The wild species are either gregarious and have a certain order of temperament. On the other hand, the apparently most successful location of domestication is Eurasia, partly because of its own large number of wild species. On the other hand, the Americas, Australia may experience a sudden invasion of Homo, which led to the mass extinction of animals. Thus, It is the Spanish horses that step down the Inca Empire rather than the opposite, just because domesticated horses are the first to be found in Europe. The interpretation of human history past and present is completed with this unique perspective of environmental determinism . It is refuting the Eurasian hegemony by Eurasian intellectuals or moral superiority. Dimon argues that differences in technology in human society do not reflect cultural or racial differences, but rather explain it from environmental differences that are amplified by a variety of positive feedback. The author does not take this theory of historical determinism, reasoning of Western cultural determinism, and archeology and other scientific methods. On the contrary, it is to deny racism, and this attitude and emotion of the writer is profound.

 

It is noted that the main weak points of this book is to use an over simple framework to account  unequal development of all regions but ignore some special cases. For example, in the book, only the climate of the Mediterranean is suitable for plant growth. The reason he gave is that only the plants in this region can meet the rapid growth of one year to meet human needs. However, the temperate monsoon climate in East Asia also provide plants necessary energy in the winter when the recuperation, causing the rapid growth in the summer. But Diamond did not mention it. For this book, this is a big problem that all the problems of civilization are attributed to one or two explanations, leading to the applicability of this theoretical framework being too strong. For main points remained to be stressed, the shortcomings of this book is lengthy, and complex account with some duplication of content. In particular, he repeated some of the basic ideas and examples in the book.

 

 

After summarizing Jared Diamond’s central argument and then evaluating the supporting evidence which Diamond presents, this book is not just a description of past history, but attempts to explain why Eurasian civilization can eventually survive and defeat other civilizations from  perspective of environment. Despite an over simple framework, it is still a good book for its interdisciplinary way of account, and its unique perspective of environment.

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