Why Europe Was First

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

"Which conjunction of factors made it possible for this particular part of the world to break so radically with its past and to become so different from other societies? And why did the transformation not first take place in China or Japan which by all accounts were at least as well positioned for a similar take-off?"

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T02:27:13+00:00
"Which conjunction of factors made it possible for this particular part of the world to break so radically with its past and to become so different from other societies? And why did the transformation not first take place in China or Japan which by all accounts were at least as well positioned for a similar take-off?"

"It is the entrepreneur who actualizes the potential that reflection has discovered; it is he or she or it who brings new things into the world. In fields as diverse as politics, religion, culture and the arts there are people who embark on new projects and on more or less well-conceived attempts to make a difference."

Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:19:28+00:00
"It is the entrepreneur who actualizes the potential that reflection has discovered; it is he or she or it who brings new things into the world. In fields as diverse as politics, religion, culture and the arts there are people who embark on new projects and on more or less well-conceived attempts to make a difference."
"As a result change is not ad hoc, but automatic; not occasional, but permanent; change just happens without people thinking or worrying much about it and without anyone consciously trying to bring it about."
Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T03:52:10+00:00
"As a result change is not ad hoc, but automatic; not occasional, but permanent; change just happens without people thinking or worrying much about it and without anyone consciously trying to bring it about."
 "Given its destructive nature it is not surprising that social changes often are resisted, and those with most of a stake in the maintenance of the status quo are usually the ones best placed to block them. If nothing else sheer inertia assures that most features of social life remain more or less as they always have been."
Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-22T00:38:30+00:00
 "Given its destructive nature it is not surprising that social changes often are resisted, and those with most of a stake in the maintenance of the status quo are usually the ones best placed to block them. If nothing else sheer inertia assures that most features of social life remain more or less as they always have been."
"To be modern is to constantly create everything anew. To be modern is to always be different from what one is; it is to be up-to-date and in touch with the latest developments; at the forefront, or the cutting edge, of that which is best, most current, sophisticated and advanced. Hence our current obsession with economic growth."
Why Europe was first, The Mechanics of Modernity, Erik Ringmar
2017-04-21T02:54:49+00:00
"To be modern is to constantly create everything anew. To be modern is to always be different from what one is; it is to be up-to-date and in touch with the latest developments; at the forefront, or the cutting edge, of that which is best, most current, sophisticated and advanced. Hence our current obsession with economic growth."
  • 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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