Why Europe Was First

Economic growth and social change in Europe and East Asia, 1500-2050
London: Anthem Press, 2007.

"This was ultimately the reason why the modernization projects failed. Modernizing elites and foreign experts were unable to capture the essence of modern society for the simple reason that there is no such essence."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:14:21+00:00
"This was ultimately the reason why the modernization projects failed. Modernizing elites and foreign experts were unable to capture the essence of modern society for the simple reason that there is no such essence."

"And most disconcertingly of all, although the modern machine is man-made we are neither its designers nor its masters and for that reason change cannot be predicted, stopped or even properly controlled. Modern society is a kind of self-transforming machine from whose constantly changing output we both benefit and suffer."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:35:26+00:00
"And most disconcertingly of all, although the modern machine is man-made we are neither its designers nor its masters and for that reason change cannot be predicted, stopped or even properly controlled. Modern society is a kind of self-transforming machine from whose constantly changing output we both benefit and suffer."
"What modernization requires can never be defined beforehand for the simple reason that we never know where the development of history will take us."
Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-22T00:30:35+00:00
"What modernization requires can never be defined beforehand for the simple reason that we never know where the development of history will take us."

"Instead of a predetermined content, modern society has only a form, a form constituted by continuous changes. Modern societies, at least since Francis Bacon's time, are societies that always are becoming different from themselves."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:15:12+00:00
"Instead of a predetermined content, modern society has only a form, a form constituted by continuous changes. Modern societies, at least since Francis Bacon's time, are societies that always are becoming different from themselves."

"There are many institutions — consider the British monarchy— which remain in place although they no longer serve any clearly identifiable purpose at all. Just like the appendix or nipples in males, the British queen is still around mainly since she not yet has been abolished."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:37:37+00:00
"There are many institutions — consider the British monarchy— which remain in place although they no longer serve any clearly identifiable purpose at all. Just like the appendix or nipples in males, the British queen is still around mainly since she not yet has been abolished."
  • For most of its history Europe was a thoroughly average part of the world: poor, uncouth, technologically and culturally backward. By contrast, China was always far richer, more sophisticated and advanced. Yet it was Europe that first became modern, and by the nineteenth century China was struggling to catch up. This book explains why. Why did Europe succeed and why was China left behind? The answer, as we will see, does not only solve a long-standing historical puzzle, it also provides an explanation of the contemporary success of East Asia, and it shows what is wrong with current theories of development and modernization.

    The book is published twice, under different titles. For the paperback, published by Athem Press, I came up with the idea of calling it "Why Europe Was First." The idea was that it would sound less boring and academic (to go with the man on the dragon roller-coaster). Yet it's the same book as "Mechanics of Modernity," published by Routledge. Take your pick.
  • It is brilliant: beautifully argued and written, and (mostly) correct.
    Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois, author of Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce.
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