Why Europe Was First

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

"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."
"Since modern societies constantly change, they have no essences and every characterization of them will for that reason quickly become hopelessly out of date. Modern societies are never themselves, always other than themselves."
Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-22T00:31:04+00:00
"Since modern societies constantly change, they have no essences and every characterization of them will for that reason quickly become hopelessly out of date. Modern societies are never themselves, always other than themselves."

"Given this situation we might as well give up on the attempt to look for causes. Neither modern society, change nor economic growth have easily identifiable causes as causes usually are understood."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:16:18+00:00
"Given this situation we might as well give up on the attempt to look for causes. Neither modern society, change nor economic growth have easily identifiable causes as causes usually are understood."

"The institution comes first and the needs develop only later. Far from being functionally required, institutions, once in place, create the needs they then go on to satisfy. The functions are consequences of the existence of the institution but consequences cannot be the causes of that which they are the consequences of."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:38:48+00:00
"The institution comes first and the needs develop only later. Far from being functionally required, institutions, once in place, create the needs they then go on to satisfy. The functions are consequences of the existence of the institution but consequences cannot be the causes of that which they are the consequences of."
  • 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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