Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth

Ultrasociety How Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth Follow Peter Turchin on an epic journey through time From stone age assassins to the orbiting cathedrals of the space age from bloodthirsty god kings to India s first vegetarian emperor discover the

  • Title: Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth
  • Author: Peter Turchin
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 394
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Follow Peter Turchin on an epic journey through time From stone age assassins to the orbiting cathedrals of the space age, from bloodthirsty god kings to India s first vegetarian emperor, discover the secret history of our species and the evolutionary logic that governed it all.

    One thought on “Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth”

    1. Ultrasociety is an extension of Turchin's thesis, laid out in his earlier War and Peace and War, that warfare is the primary driver of civilization. Why are humans so good at cooperating together in groups? Because warfare between groups is a powerful selector for traits of cooperation, so over time societies that have been good at getting their members to work together within groups have outcompeted less cohesive ones. Or, as Benjamin Franklin said to encourage his fellows struggling to establi [...]

    2. At the start of this book Turchin makes a big deal of the scientific approach to history - implementing theoretical ideas precisely enough that they can be tested against data. Unfortunately the material in the following chapters doesn't even come close to fulfilling this promise - it is just garden variety storytelling. Some of it is compelling, much of it is extravagantly speculative. The bits when he goes on about the life style of Pleistocene humans are especially egregious. This is not to s [...]

    3. You can read a book about ancient Rome, or about ancient Egypt before that, or about tribal states that were around before both of them, or about the prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies that were around long before any of those. All of those are interesting topics. What this book brings you, is the perspective that comes from looking at all of them, and more besides.Too often we are presented history as if it is a linear march upwards, or a long series of events with no patterns whatsoever. Th [...]

    4. In Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth, Peter Turchin has another book that translates his sophisticated models of historical dynamics into a prose exposition that non-specialists can enjoy. As in his previous work, War and Peace and War, he has succeeded in his task by mixing accounts of historical (and pre-historical) incidents and epochs with lessons about the science of evolution. Having admired his accomplishment in War and Peace and War, I he [...]

    5. The ambition of this book is vast: using an (extremely) long-term historical perspective to explain nothing less than how humans are able to cooperate in complex societies. As such, it can be placed alongside other 'recent' books such as Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germ and Steel", Steven Pinker's "The better angels of our nature" and Paul Seabright's "The company of strangers" (for some reason, Seabright is not discussed in the book, which is a pity).The beginning of the books is very promising. The [...]

    6. I see this as an intermediary book in which the author is travelling from the basic ideas set out in Secular Cycles to some, as yet unknown, destination. In this volume, he examines a paradox of human development. On the one hand, human progress can be marked by competition between individuals and groups, whilst on the other, competition is best enhanced when individuals and groups co-operate with each other to achieve a common purpose. Which is it?Of course, the answer is both. However, this is [...]

    7. A fascinating read on one of my favorite topics, cooperation. Ultra Society hints at an emerging science that looks to bring analytical rigor to historical analysis, but the book takes pains to avoid explaining the rigor in order to avoid losing potential mass appeal. Written in a relatively breezy fashion despite being dense with ideas and theories, Ultra Society feels like it contains the material for 3-4 books, though none of which are contained start to finish. Like the cover art, I was left [...]

    8. For a brief pop science book, Ultrasociety goes very deep, and it's rich in historical and theoretical insight. Like Guns, Germs, and Steel, it's a good introduction to the history of civilization, and will have plenty for even an expert to chew on. But like most popularizations, Ultrasociety tends to overstate the success and generality of its theories, and to gloss over any aspects of history that fall outside its scope.To his credit, Turchin dismantles a number of popular misconceptions about [...]

    9. Turchin's Ultrasociety moves between the Left and the Right, ideologically, but appears to be coming down on the side of government and cooperation (what may be read as code for socialism). This seems to be made explicit in this quote: "The 30 years in America since about 1985 were a giant social experiment. What would happen if ideologies extolling extreme individualism and elevating self-interest as the sole basis on which to organize society were to gain the upper hand? The results are in: a [...]

    10. Well argued, comprehensible account of investigations into how war made states and states make war.I read this because I wanted some clues on how our societies are going to co-operate and compete on the really difficult current challenges of exceeding our safe planetary boundaries I, and cope with the challenges of collapse of carrying capacity and mineral resource depletion and fossil fuel supply abandonment. None of those things were directly touched. But this evolution of our cooperative abil [...]

    11. Interesting semi-contrarian take that details how the need for human societies to organize themselves to prevent/defend against and/or survive military conflict is the source of the immense cooperation we see among our species now days. No neo-Rousseau type, Turchin argues that mankinds predilection for war long predates the rise of agricultural civilizationhe notes how all over the globe pre-ag, hunter/gather peoples show high percentages of death by violent trauma maybe homicide, but most like [...]

    12. Human evolution from the Pleistocene (2 million years - 10 000 BCE) up to present time can best be described, according to Turchin, as a zigzag. The dominance typical of ape groups is inverted into a dominance free, egalitarian polity in hunter-gatherer groups, which is, quite later, inverted into bloody archaic states held by sacrificial god-kings, archaic states that gave way to modern states regulated by egalitarian, tolerant - even benevolent standards in laws, institutions and values. From [...]

    13. Turchin tries to explain how human societies evolved from small groups of hunter-gatherers to nation states with millions of people. His main thesis is that war and intergroup competition more generally created selection pressures to increase scale of the societies. Turchin also provides relatively simple explanation of multilevel selection theory in chapter 3.

    14. Finally the book I have been waiting for years to read. Explains how we got from hunter groups to empires with data and theory instead of sciency dreamy stereotypes, but remains interesting all the way.

    15. Well written for a history book. Interesting thesis, supported reasonably well. Enough that it makes sense. Took me a few stops and starts to get all the way through.

    16. Picked this up when I saw it on Vox Day's reading list. I enjoyed the historical aspects but his conclusions didn't make a lot of sense. He outs himself as a leftist early on, using a fictional character (Gordon Gekko) as his evidence of individuality run amok in the 80's. He never once refers to IQ when discussing the success of certain cultures, and quotes Thomas Pikketty without irony.

    17. Peter Turchin, in Russland geboren und zusammen mit seinem Vater 1977 in die USA exiliert worden, hat Biologie, Mathematik und Anthropologie studiert und modelliert jetzt an der Universität Connecticut die Entwicklung menschlicher Gesellschaften durch Multilevel Selection. Das Buch "Ultrasociety" ist die populärwissenschaftliche Kommunikation seiner Erkenntnisse bisher, und verweist auf eine ganze Leseliste richtiger wissenschaftlicher Dokumentation in den Anhängen.Wir kennen Turchin schon vo [...]

    18. The fantastical idea that anyone will be able to study human societies scientifically puts me in mind of a Tom Lehrer song. I don't care how big your data set is. Not saying that trying is worthless, butNot sure how much this book really adds to human thought. I mean, obviously there has been evolution of humans based upon their membership in groups, and anyone claiming otherwise is silly. The author's quibbles with Pinker and Dawkins seem to be just that -- quibbles, nothing at all to contradic [...]

    19. Not bad, some good points overall. I found it at least challenging (just as in Secular Cycles or Historical Dynamics, better than anything by Tainter or Diamond post GSG; also I'm interested in MLS) and think the major theses discussed nail it more than not. And yet, Turchin covers too many topics any of each too rapidly and then reassembles smaller bits in a way that makes it hard to track his method (and I would have settled for just a few hints), or what kind of data he relies on. Naturally I [...]

    20. Many people gave this book 3 or four stars and I truly believe that's unfair. Turchin's friendly redaction and powerful synthesis are admirable. The book may seem a little bit flat to people that are involved in History, Anthropology or Sociology but for people who's main interest are not social sciences but enjoy reading about those subjects I believe this book will fit very well.He has a strong theory that defends and clearly states that's only one more theory and gives some lights about the o [...]

    21. Not too long, so reasonably digestible. Some interesting, provocative ideas. Frequent, troubling correlation = causality statements, most of which I have no particular knowledge of, but I couple I do, and are patently absurd (e.g. massive confounding factors). So minus one star for that. Worth a read if you like this type of book (human nature / vast sweep of history / etc.) and have read some others (so that you don't anchor too much on this one).

    22. Probably a good introduction to cultural evolution through multilevel selection, but if you've read some papers on the topic & perhaps Henrich's book then nothing will be particularly new. Didn't really finished it because of that.His Seshat project is pretty cool though

    23. Quirky self-published book about the cultural evolution of social cooperation by a professor at UConn. I enjoyed reading it and it had a lot of interesting ideas, but I think it wants to be taken with a grain of salt.

    24. Some of this book is a direct critique of Pinker's "Better Angels" which makes me think I should read it again.

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