"The Origins of Political Order" - Fukuyama

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"The Origins of Political Order" - Fukuyama

#1  Postby keypad5 » Mar 08, 2011 7:42 am

I always find these anthropological/sociological topics very interesting, but haven't managed to make the time to delve into this area further. :book:

From ‘End of History’ Author, a Look at the Beginning and Middle
By NICHOLAS WADE

Human social behavior has an evolutionary basis. This was the thesis in Edward O. Wilson’s book “Sociobiology” that caused such a stir, even though most evolutionary biologists accept that at least some social behaviors, like altruism, could be favored by natural selection.

In a book to be published in April, “The Origins of Political Order,” Francis Fukuyama of Stanford University presents a sweeping new overview of human social structures throughout history, taking over from where Dr. Wilson’s ambitious synthesis left off.

Dr. Fukuyama, a political scientist, is concerned mostly with the cultural, not biological, aspects of human society. But he explicitly assumes that human social nature is universal and is built around certain evolved behaviors like favoring relatives, reciprocal altruism, creating and following rules, and a propensity for warfare.

Because of this shared human nature, with its biological foundation, “human politics is subject to certain recurring patterns of behavior across time and across cultures,” he writes. It is these worldwide patterns he seeks to describe in an analysis that stretches from prehistoric times to the French Revolution.

continues: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/scien ... ef=science

I also find that this kind of a perspective gives a very plausible view of religion as a functional institution that creates order/homogeneity in groups of people who were otherwise only loosely related. And perhaps religion has been a necessary institution in our early social development. (But like a booster rocket on a space shuttle, it becomes a problem if it doesn't detach after its usefulness has expired. :coffee: )

The book traces the development of political order from the earliest human societies, which were small groups of hunter-gatherers. The first major social development, in Dr. Fukuyama’s view, was the transition from hunter-gatherer bands to tribes, made possible by religious ideas that united large numbers of people in worship of a common ancestor. Since a tribe could quickly mobilize many men for warfare, neighboring bands had to tribalize too, or be defeated.

Warfare also forced the second major social transition, from tribe to state. States are better organized than tribes and more stable, since tribes tend to dissolve in fighting after the death of a leader. Only because states offered a better chance of survival did people give up the freedom of the tribe for the coercion of the state.


I wonder how dense a read it would be. 608 pages isn't that big, but it probably has a lot of content that'll make my brain hurt. :whine:
http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Political ... nskepti-20
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Re: "The Origins of Political Order" - Fukuyama

#2  Postby Tyrannical » Mar 10, 2011 5:57 am

But he explicitly assumes that human social nature is universal and is built around certain evolved behaviors like favoring relatives, reciprocal altruism, creating and following rules, and a propensity for warfare.


That's a mighty big assumption to make.
He assumes that behavior is genetic and selected for, yet also assumes that all human groups selected for these characteristics identically.
Good fences make good neighbors
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