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512 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 2011
Had the Aztecs and Incas shown a bit more interest in the world surrounding them – and had they known what the Spaniards had done to their neighbors – they might have resisted the Spanish conquest more keenly and successfully. (p.292)
If the subject peoples of the Inca Empire had known the fates of the inhabitants of Mexico, they would not have thrown in their lot with the invaders. But they did not now....[Thus] the native peoples of America...[paid] a heavy price for their parochial outlook.
Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don't know what they want?
“Myths, it transpired, are stronger than anyone could have imagined. When the Agricultural Revolution opened opportunities for the creation of crowded cities and mighty empires, people invented stories about great gods, motherlands and joint stock companies to provide the needed social links. While human evolution was crawling at its usual snail’s pace, the human imagination was building astounding networks of mass cooperation, unlike any other ever seen on earth.”
“Three main factors prevent people from realising that the order organising their lives exists only in their imagination:... a. The imagined order is embedded in the material world... b. The imagined order shapes our desires... c. The imagined order is inter-subjective.”
“Nothing captures the biological argument better than the famous New Age slogan: ‘Happiness begins within.’ Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – none of these will bring you happiness. Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.”
“Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”
“How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.”
“Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?”