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The Big Book of Wisdom of Western Civilization

Jordan Peterson and Jonah Goldberg both published books this year that connect the social science understanding of how and why we humans do the things we do with the wisdom, lessons, and principles of Western Civilization.

I see these book as the concluding chapters in a much larger book made out of similar books, in which each of the individual books is but a chapter in the larger one.

The title and table of contents of my book of books would look something like the following. The first chapter-book lays out a foundational premise that each subsequent chapter-book logically follows, builds upon and expands, such that in the end a comprehensive story of Western culture can be comprehended. The appendices expand further still on the concepts told in the main story. I’m open to suggestions for additional chapters, appendices, or Rogue One style spinoffs:

The Social Science Wisdom of Western Civilization

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, by Steven Pinker

Human are born with brains prewired by hundreds of millions of years of natural selection to favor some things and disfavor others.

Chapter 2: Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences, by John R. Hibbing, Kevin B. Smith, and John R. Alford.

The prewiring comes in two basic flavors, each corresponding with the two predominant ideologies.

Chapter 3: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt

Intuition comes first, and reasoning follows. The intuitions of each of the predominant ideologies are distinctly different.

Chapter 4: The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization, by Herman

The cognitive style of the predominant ideologies are also different. It’s not WHAT they think that separates them, it’s HOW they think. All ideology is downstream from psychological profile

Chapter 5: A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, by Sowell

The patterns of thoughts, ideas, values, and principles of each of the predominant ideologies are distinctly different, and have remained remarkably consistent, through the centuries.

Chapter 6: Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy, by Goldberg

British/American Western culture, as opposed to European Continental Western Culture, is based more on one ideology than the other, but since being established it has drifted away from its roots and toward the other, to its detriment.

Chapter 7: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by Peterson

The wisdom of Western Culture transcends ideology, seems to be a human universal, and is an excellent guide to a meaningful life.

Appendix 1: The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, by Drew Weston

The human brain evolved to be political, geared toward negotiating its way through the social environments humans create for themselves..

Appendix 2: Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them, by Joshua Greene

Humans evolved to form into tribes around shared belief sets..

Appendix 3: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, by Colin Woodard.

The united states is a collection of eleven discernable moral / intellectual tribes.

Appendix 4: The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, Civil Warfare, And The Triumph Of Anglo-America, by Kevin Phillips

The British Civil War, the American War for Independence, and the American Civil War were battles in a larger between the same two mega tribes of Anglo Saxon / Scotland / England enlightenment values vs those of Continental European enlightenment.

Appendix 5: Pathological Altruism, by Barbara Oakley

Ideology / morality focused only on “care” tends to become pathological, and to serve primarily its purveyors, and to do more harm than good to its supposed beneficiaries. 

Appendix 6: Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, by Paul Bloom

We tent to conflate empathy with sympathy and compassion. Morality / ideology centered on empathyslao  becomes pathological.


2 thoughts on “The Big Book of Wisdom of Western Civilization

  1. I’m glad to say I’ve read four of the books you chose and have seven of the others!


    Posted by henryscuoteguazza | May 4, 2018, 3:16 pm
  2. Whig- a great (albeit controversial) Tibetan Buddhist teacher in the 1970’s coined the phrase “Idiot Compassion” to refer to a non beneficial or even harmful expression of Compassion that lacks Wisdom (Wisdom and Compassion being the two dominant virtues within Mahayana Buddhism.)

    Chogyam Trungpa


    Posted by Ryan | May 3, 2018, 7:06 pm

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