Read e-book online Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of PDF

By Felipe Fernández-Armesto

ISBN-10: 0743216504

ISBN-13: 9780743216500

In Civilizations, Felipe Fernández-Armesto once more proves himself a brilliantly unique historian, in a position to large-minded and complete works; the following he redefines the topic that has involved historians from Thucydides to Gibbon to Spengler to Fernand Braudel: the character of civilization.

To Fernández-Armesto, a civilization is "civilized in direct share to its distance, its distinction from the unmodified average environment" its taming and warping of weather, geography, and ecology. an identical impersonal forces that positioned an ocean among Africa and India, a river delta in Mesopotamia, or a 2,000-mile-long mountain variety in South the United States have created the mould from which humanity has shaped its personal wildly differing cultures. In a grand culture that's absolute to evoke comparisons to the nice historic taxonomies, each one bankruptcy of Civilizations connects the realm of the ecologist and geographer to a landscape of cultural heritage. In Civilizations, the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the golf green Knight isn't really basically a Christian allegory, yet a testomony to the thousand-year-long deforestation of the bushes that after lined ninety percentage of the eu mainland. The Indian Ocean has served because the world's maximum buying and selling road for millennia now not only as a result of cultural imperatives, yet as the standard monsoon winds blow a method in the summertime and the opposite within the wintry weather.

In the phrases of the writer, "Unlike prior makes an attempt to jot down the comparative background of civilizations, it truly is prepared setting via atmosphere, instead of interval via interval, or society via society." hence, seventeen designated habitats function jumping-off issues for a sequence of awesome set-piece comparisons; hence, tundra civilizations from Ice Age Europe are associated with the Inuit of the Pacific Northwest; and the Mississippi mound-builders and the deforesters of eleventh-century Europe are either understood as civilizations outfitted on woodlands. right here, after all, are the commonly used riverine civilizations of Mesopotamia and China, of the Indus and the Nile; but in addition highland civilizations from the Inca to New Guinea; island cultures from Minoan Crete to Polynesia to Renaissance Venice; maritime civilizations of the Indian Ocean and South China Sea...even the Bushmen of Southern Africa are visible via a lens supplied by way of the barren region civilizations of Chaco Canyon.

More, listed here are attention-grabbing tales, brilliantly instructed -- of the voyages of chinese language admiral Chen Ho and Portuguese commodore Vasco da Gama, of the good Khan and the good Zimbabwe. listed below are Hesiod's tract on maritime exchange within the early Aegean and the main updated genetics of seed plants. Erudite, wide-ranging, a piece of astonishing scholarship written with striking aptitude, Civilizations is a impressive achievement...a travel de strength through an excellent pupil.

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Extra resources for Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature

Sample text

Par exemple, même dans les sociétés qui reconnaissent la monogamie dans leurs lois ou leurs coutumes, il y a beaucoup d’activité sexuelle préconjugale, extraconjugale, ou encore sans relation durable : il y a des aventures d’un soir. Cela dit, la plupart des êtres humains ont aussi des aventures qui durent plusieurs années ou plusieurs décennies, alors que les tigres et les orangs-outans n’ont que des liaisons d’un soir. Les tests génétiques de paternité, mis au point au cours du dernier demi-siècle, ont montré que la majorité des enfants américains, britanniques et italiens ont effectivement pour géniteur le mari (ou le petit ami stable) de leur mère.

C’est un pari gagnant pour la mère que de prendre soin de ce bébé. Mais le mâle n’a pas la même certitude quant à sa paternité. Certes, son sperme est entré dans le corps d’une femelle, et du corps de cette femelle est ensuite sorti un bébé. Mais comment savoir si la femelle ne s’est pas accouplée avec d’autres mâles pendant qu’il était absent ? Comment être sûr que ce n’est pas le sperme d’un autre qui a fécondé l’œuf ? Face à cette inévitable incertitude, la conclusion à laquelle arrivent la plupart des mâles c’est qu’il vaut mieux partir juste après l’accouplement, chercher d’autres femelles à féconder, puis laisser ces femelles élever leurs petits, en espérant que l’une ou plusieurs des femelles avec lesquelles il s’est accouplé sera effectivement enceinte de ses œuvres et réussira à élever les jeunes sans son aide.

Comme nous le verrons, cette irréversibilité contribue à expliquer pourquoi il n’existe pas de mammifère dont seul le mâle s’occuperait de ses petits, même dans les habitats où vivent des poissons et des grenouilles dont le mâle veille seul sur ses petits. Nous pouvons donc redéfinir le problème que pose notre étrange sexualité. Au cours des sept derniers millions d’années, notre anatomie sexuelle a quelque peu divergé, notre physiologie sexuelle un peu plus et notre comportement sexuel encore plus, de ceux de nos plus proches parents, les chimpanzés.

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Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

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