Factfulness PDF Summary

Factfulness PDF SummaryTen Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

Terrorist attacks, climate change, pollution, children dying of preventable diseases…

Think that the world is worse than ever?

Well, it’s time you stopped being a pessimist and become “a very serious possibilist.”

What you need is a little dose of:

Factfulness.

Who Should Read “Factfulness”? And Why?

Hans Rosling devoted most of his life to teaching people how to see the world more accurately.

Not only because, by his own admission, this has saved his life; but also, because it could help everybody act a little more reasonable and more in tune with what reality actually is.

“The world would be a better place if literally millions of people read the book,” wrote Bill Gates.

So, please do: you won’t regret it.

About Hans Rosling

Hans RoslingHans Rosling was a Swedish medical doctor, professor of international health, academic, statistician, and renowned public educator.

Listed by Time magazine as one of the one hundred most influential people in the world, Rosling was an adviser to UNICEF and WHO, and a co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières in Sweden and the Gapminder Foundation.

In addition, his TED Talks – in which “global trends and economics come to vivid life” – have been viewed by almost 40 million people.

Rosling died in 2017. He spent the last years of his life writing Factfulness, his only book. The book was completed by Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Han’s son and daughter-in-law.

“Factfulness PDF Summary”

You either know and love Hans Rosling or, well, you don’t know him.

Because it’s almost impossible not to love him even if you have seen merely one of his numerous engaging and wonderful TED Talks.

We know that not many people like to read stats, and even those who do, have problems making data and tables interesting.

Bar graphs certainly help, as do line graphs and pie charts.

But what Hans Rosling did was magic!

He basically made stats alive.

Don’t believe us?

Here’s the evidence:

Now, unfortunately, Hans Rosling left us a year ago, at the age of 68.

What he left behind him was the all but finished manuscript of Factfulness, as he says in the “Introduction,” his “very last battle in [his] lifelong mission to fight devastating global ignorance” and his “last attempt to make an impact on the world: to change people’s ways of thinking, calm their irrational fears, and redirect their energies into constructive activities”:

This is data as you have never known it: it is data as therapy. It is understanding as a source of mental peace. Because the world is not as dramatic as it seems. I will teach you how to recognize overdramatic stories and give you some thinking tools to control your dramatic instincts. Then you will be able to shift your misconceptions, develop a fact-based worldview, and beat the chimps every time.

And, in a nutshell, that’s what this book is about: a definitive proof (after all, it’s stats) that the world is not as bad as it seems.

There are ten reasons why you think that it’s terrible.

Ten instincts, ten mega misconceptions which prevent you from seeing the world accurately.

Let’s have a look at each of them.

And teach you how you can fight them!

Key Lessons from “Factfulness”

1.      The Gap Instinct
2.      The Negativity Instinct
3.      The Straight Line Instinct
4.      The Fear Instinct
5.      The Size Instinct
6.      The Generalization Instinct
7.      The Destiny Instinct
8.      The Single Perspective Instinct
9.      The Blame Instinct
10.      The Urgency Instinct

The Gap Instinct

Explanation: The gap instinct is basically the ubiquitous “us vs. them” logic, which leads you to categorize people into two groups with a large gap between them.

Examples: There are rich people, and there are poor people, there are developing, and there are developed nations.

Now, that’s true, says Rosling, if you’re living in the 19th century!

Because, nowadays, almost 75% of the population fits in the gap between the developing and developed! So, it’s not really a gap anymore, is it?

A more accurate model nowadays would be a model of four income levels:

#1. Level 1: 1 billion people (14%) live on around $1 a day (compare: in the 1800s, more than 85% of humanity could be described this way!)
#2. Level 2: 3 billion people (43%) make, on average, $4 a day
#3. Level 3: 2 billion people (29%) make $16 a day
#4. Level 4: 1 billion people (14%%) earn $64 a day

How to fight it: Always look for the majority: it’s usually in the middle, where the gap is supposed to be.

The Negativity Instinct

Explanation: Thinking that things are getting worse; evolutionary, it makes sense: it is more important to notice bad things than good if you want to survive.

Examples: Most people hear all the time news of terroristic attacks and watch CSI shows and think the world is getting more violent than ever; it is most certainly not; also, things can be both bad and getting better; for example, 4% of children younger than 5 died in 2016; however, almost half of them (44%) died in 1800; so, it’s a huge improvement!

How to fight it: Expect bad news, since they are much more likely to reach you; good news is not news, but that doesn’t mean that things are not gradually improving day in day out.

The Straight-Line Instinct

Explanation: The belief that trends go up in a straight line.

Examples: The population is rising steadily ever since the Industrial Revolution, and it’s only natural to expect that it will keep on rising if things are going as great as Rosling says. however, the United Nations think that we’re close to hitting the peak precisely because of better conditions, because as poverty decreases, so do the number of children.

How to fight it: Remember that straight lines are rare in reality: you grew up until you reached your twenties, and then stopped growing; so do many other things; so, don’t assume straight lines.

The Fear Instinct

Explanation: Now that we live in a world safer than ever, we’ve started fearing things that don’t exist; in fact, that’s where your stress (and ulcers) come from.

Examples: How much do you fear terrorist attacks? A lot – especially if you’re living in, say, Paris, or New York. However, do you know that during the past decade and a half, no more than 50 people are killed by terrorists on a yearly basis? Just for comparison: on average, 5000 people die in traffic accidents in a year!

How to fight it: Don’t ever forget that frightening things get your attention because of evolutionary reasons; but if something is frightening, it doesn’t mean that it is risky: stop overestimating the risks of violence or contamination; remember this equation: risk = danger × exposure.

The Size Instinct

Explanation: The size instinct is the reason why you overestimate the things your fear instinct tells you to dread.

Examples: Listen to this: 9.5 million crimes were reported in the United States in 2016; that’s too much! But, let’s put that into perspective: 14.5 million crimes were reported in the USA 1990. Does it sound that bad now?

How to fight it: As demonstrated in the example, by putting things into perspective; lonely numbers seem impressive, but mean nothing if not compared or divided by relevant numbers; always look for comparisons.

The Generalization Instinct

Explanation: Your instinct to oversimplify things by putting them into large categories; compare to the gap instinct.

Examples: Categories are usually used as explanations, but not as the only possibilities; generalization is helpful in the former case, misleading in the latter; for example, if I say, with Malcolm Gladwell, that there are two types of geniuses (Picassos and Cézannes), I’m explaining two extremes, but ignoring those that are in-between.

How to fight it: Always question your categories; look for differences within groups and for similarities across groups; beware of vivid examples and never forget that Blakean quote: “to generalize is to be an idiot; to particularize is the alone distinction of merit.”

The Destiny Instinct

Explanation: The idea that some outcomes are unavoidable because some things never change.

Examples: Hans Rosling is Swedish and, as is well known, Sweden is one of the most liberal countries in the world; you can’t even imagine that Catholic Poland will ever be as open about topics as sex and abortion as Sweden, can’t you?

And yet, in 1960, abortion was illegal in Sweden, and, in order to get one, young pregnant Swedish students traveled to – you’ve guessed it – Poland. Five years later, Poland banned abortion, and Sweden legalized it. The lesson? There are no innate characteristics of people. Things change.

How to fight it: Never forget that slow change is change nevertheless; try to keep track of gradual improvements and to update your knowledge as often as you can. Also: talk to Grandpa; that’s the best way to be reminded how values (even those which seem to have been there forever) regularly change.

The Single Perspective Instinct

Explanation: If you see the world through pink lenses, you’ll see it pink; if you see it through black, you’ll see it dark; both are limited, single perspectives: you need to use more than one lens.

Examples: North Korea and Venezuela are two of the worst countries to live in nowadays; for comparison, South Korea and Chile are highly developed, rich, and democratic nations. The lesson? Capitalism and democracy bring peace and prosperity; communism – doom.

However, if you visited these four countries in the 1970s, you’d have a very different opinion; back then, Venezuela was so rich it was called Saudi Venezuela, and people in North Korea earned more than their southern neighbors; moreover, South Korea and Chile were ruled by military dictatorships.

Did you know that?

And do you know that nine out of the ten fastest growing economies today are not exactly democratic? Still thinking that only democracy leads to economic growth?

How to fight it: Recognize that a single perspective can limit your imagination; test your ideas and beware of simple solutions: the world is just too complicated; travel to test your ideas; get a toolbox, not a hammer.

The Blame Instinct

Explanation: Once you identify a bad guy, you look no further than him; suddenly, he’s the one who should be blamed for everything.

Examples: Pharmaceutical companies often don’t research solutions to some ailments which only affect the most impoverished populations (malaria, sleeping sickness, and other neglected tropical diseases). So, blame it on the CEOs! However, does the CEO decide for himself or follows the lead of the board members? What about the shareholders?

Another example: Trump. It’s easy to blame him for all the problems in America, but it’s difficult to ignore the fact that many of them were there before he came to power.

How to fight it: Look for causes, not villains: there are usually no Darth Vaders in the world, but system malfunctions; the opposite is true as well: sometimes the system works well; so, resist pinpointing scapegoats or heroes.

The Urgency Instinct

Explanation: This is the instinct which tells you that if you don’t act now, tomorrow will be too late; activists and rhetoricians cultivate it so as to be heard; but resist the temptation to believe them.

Examples: Urgency usually comes with a clear-cut solution; take a breath before rushing into anything; for example, the refugee problem (and the maltreatment of people just like you) is a real one, but don’t point your fingers before understanding its complexity.

How to fight it: Recognize when a decision feels urgent: it rarely is; take small steps and insist on the data; beware of fortune-tellers, because every single prediction about the future is uncertain; also, beware of drastic actions

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“Factfulness Quotes”

There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear. Click To Tweet Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot. Click To Tweet The world cannot be understood without numbers. But the world cannot be understood with numbers alone. Click To Tweet Every group of people I ask thinks the world is more frightening, more violent, and more hopeless—in short, more dramatic—than it really is. Click To Tweet Here’s the paradox: the image of a dangerous world has never been broadcast more effectively than it is now, while the world has never been less violent and more safe. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

According to Bill Gates, Factfulness is “one of the most important books… an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world.”

His wife Melinda shares the same opinion: “Hans Rosling,” she writes, “tells the story of ‘the secret silent miracle of human progress’ as only he can. But Factfulness does much more than that. It also explains why progress is so often secret and silent and teaches readers how to see it clearly.”

“A hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases” (Barack Obama), Factfulness is an eye-opening account of what the world is and how we’ve made it that way.

And features numerous great pieces of advice to teach you how you can make it even better!

Indispensable.

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The Five Thieves of Happiness PDF Summary

The Five Thieves of Happiness PDF SummaryFeeling unhappy and sad?

Perhaps your problem is that you’re constantly being robbed of your happiness?

By whom, you ask?

John Izzo replies:

By the Five Thieves of Happiness.

Who Should Read “The Five Thieves of Happiness”? And Why?

If we are to believe Aristotle that everyone’s goal in life is to be happy, then any book written about happiness should be read by everybody. Even if it makes one person happier than he or she already is, the book has more than done an excellent job.

The same is correct about The Five Thieves of Happiness. You’ll lose nothing if you read it. And you can gain a lot.

About John Izzo

John IzzoJohn Izzo is an American businessman, bestselling author and an advocate for sustainable living; he is a citizen of both the USA and Canada.

After graduating in Sociology and Journalism from Hofstra University, Izzo went on to earn an M.Div. from the McCormick Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Kent State University.

He has so far written seven books: Awakening Corporate Soul (and its Companion Workbook), Second Innocence, Values Shift, The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, Stepping Up, and the one we’re summarizing here, The Five Thieves of Happiness.

Izzo is currently an Adjunct Professor in the School of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

“The Five Thieves of Happiness PDF Summary”

“We have been so trained to think that we have to seek, long for and work for happiness that it’s easy to forget that the contentment we seek is always there, waiting for us to access it.”

This is the central premise of John Izzo’s bestseller The Five Thieves of Happiness.

In other words: happiness is not something out there, but something within you. Consequently, you don’t need to go out of your way to find it; in fact, it’s quite the opposite: by going out of your way to find happiness, you’re, in fact, losing it.

But, then again, why aren’t you already happy if your happiness is inside you?

Well, that’s what this book is about!

The short answer is: the Five Thieves of Happiness have been stealing your joy for quite some time. And they’ll continue doing that unless you do something to stop them!

And by something we mean following Izzo’s NSR routine.

It consists of only three steps:

#1. Notice: identify the thieves and start being aware when they are present; catch them red-handed!
#2. Stop: once you know who they are and finally happen upon them – show them the door!
#3. Replace: substitute their presence with something else, something far more positive.

Sounds like something familiar?

Well, that’s because it is!

It’s Charles Duhigg’s habit cycle all over again!

If it works in the case of habits, why shouldn’t it work in the case of joy and laughter? Especially if Izzo is right and you’ve been robbed of it by the five thieves he’s talking about.

Speaking of which –

Of course you’ll be unable to catch your thieves rapid if you don’t know who they are and how they look like.

So, allow us to introduce them:

The 5C Brothers.

Key Lessons from “The Five Thieves of Happiness”

1.      The First Thief: Control
2.      The Second Thief: Conceit
3.      The Third Thief: Coveting
4.      The Fourth Thief: Consumption
5.      The Fifth Thief: Comfort

The First Thief: Control

The first thief of your happiness: your wish to control everything.

News flash:

At least ever since the Ancient Stoics and Buddha, we know that the key to happiness is, in fact, quite the opposite: going with the flow, surrendering yourself to the “what may come” of tomorrow and accepting the “whatever it was, it was” of yesterday.

“The chief task in life is simply this,” wrote Epictetus two millennia ago, “to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.”

That’s the best lesson you’ll ever hear!

Simply put, it means that you can control only some of the things that are happening to you, and some others are out of your control no matter how much you try.

Think of it this way:

Regardless of your wishes, if the weather forecast says that it will rain on the day you are planning a picnic with your partner, it will probably rain.

If your happiness depends upon not raining that day, then you’ve just allowed the Powers Beyond You to rob you of your happiness.

Now, why would you do that?

Accept the fact that it might rain beforehand, and devise a Plan B. If it doesn’t – great; if it does – once again, great!

“Staying in the moment is not what brings happiness,” writes Izzo. “What brings inner peace is acceptance of whatever is happening in the present moment.”

In other words, the only thing you can control is the present moment; and even in that present moment, there are thousands of things you can’t control.

Want to make yourself miserable?

Start whining about your past mistakes.

Want to be happy?

Accept them.

It’s that easy.

The Second Thief: Conceit

The second thief of your happiness is your self-centeredness.

What do you mean you’re not conceited?

Let us give you an example:

Say you’re watching the Superbowl and your favorite team is losing.

In addition to saying “Why is this always happening to me?” you’re also trying to activate a superstition or two to help your team get back on the right track.

Because, of course, in the alternative universe where you are the center of the world, your team will inevitably score if you change your seat.

The problem?

There are about a million people doing the same at the very same moment, and half of them are rooting for the other team.

And you know what’s interesting: each and every one of you thinks that they are the only ones affected and the only ones who can help in some way.

But that’s not how the world works.

Moreover, it’s not how the world should work.

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” wrote smartly Martin Luther King Junior. “Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

Life is about realizing this truth, known at least as early as the time of Marcus Aurelius (yes, another Stoic).

Because once you realize it, you’ll know that happiness never comes from focusing on your own desires and needs; it comes from helping others

Numerous studies have shown this, and the Dalai Lama endorses it: helping others makes us happier. Your whole being extends when you sacrifice some of your wishes and desires for others.

It’s a strange paradox, but it’s, nevertheless, true.

Conceit robs you of the possibility to become something more.

Show this thief the door the next time you notice him working behind your back.

You’ll be happier!

The Third Thief: Coveting

Let’s start with pointing the obvious: there’s a big difference between wants and desires on one side, and jealousy and envy on the other.

Coveting is a thief who uses the latter two as his tools.

Even though we explained you above that it’s paradoxically always better for your happiness (to quote Winnie-the-Pooh) to take a few steps back to make room for the happiness of others, a life without desires and wishes would be, undoubtedly, unbearable!

Ever since you were a child, you had dreams which usually included wanting to own something you didn’t have at the moment.

However, as you grew old, this wish transformed into something much darker: envy for the people who owned the things you didn’t.

And there’s the catch: what the others own is not something you can control; even less if they own something which you never will, no matter how badly you want it (say, a yacht or a movie studio).

So, what’s the point in envying them? Also: do you know that you’re also the subject of envy of other people? Why aren’t you comparing with them and, instead of being unhappy about what you don’t have, learn to be happy with what you have?

Of course, society can help.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau argues that comparisons between people stemmed from private property because that’s what caused inequality.

Case in point, numerous studies have shown that people are, by definition, happier in more equal societies – regardless of whether the societies were rich or poor.

In other words, strangely enough, you’ll be happy with your Nissan if nobody is driving a Ferrari or a Rolls Royce.

Even stranger, primitive societies or the people of the world in 1800 were probably just as happy as the wealthiest individuals of today.

Makes you wonder, ha?

The Fourth Thief: Consumption

OK, so let’s sum up what we’ve learned so far:

#1. Your wish to control everything robs you from happiness because you can’t control many things; you need to surrender;
#2. Your conceit makes you unhappy because the world doesn’t revolve around you; you need to learn to live with the others;
#3. Your coveting hinders your joy because you fail to see what you own; and, it will always do that, because, well, “there will always be a dog bigger than you or who has qualities you wish you had;” and because “our worth as a human being is not about how we compare with others but about truly living to our own best potential. We cannot control how we compare with others.”

Well, this last thing uncovers the face of Thief #4: Consumption.

Basically, the Consumption thief insists that happiness is not inside you but that it only comes from external acquisitions.

It constantly whispers to your ear: “You’ll be happy when you have this or that.” And the moment you acquire those things, it comes up with another great idea: “It’s better now, but you need to acquire this as well, and we’re done…”

But we’re never done.

Because we’ve chosen to think of happiness as something which is not inside us and which we can only attain through external things.

If that’s the case, then it means that you are not enough to yourself.

And that’s preposterous!

“We don’t need to seek happiness,” writes Izzo, “so much as we need to get out of its way.”

You want to be happy?

Just choose to be happy:

The idea that happiness is a choice, one that we can make at any moment, is so simple and radical that we often resist it.

The Fifth Thief: Comfort

If you’re like 90% of the people, you are living your life in your “comfort zone.”

True, there are some nice things about your “comfort zone”: you’re familiar with the environment, and you have just enough access to everything which will grant your survival.

But beware: Comfort is the fifth and perhaps the most sinister thief of your happiness!

Don’t believe us?

Let us remind you of two little men called Hem and Haw.

Remember how they were going about their days, following the same basic routine day in day out, pleased by the fact that they always had enough cheese to eat?

And then, one day, there was no more cheese; and the only way to get some was leaving the comfort zone as soon as possible.

The problem with the comfort zone is that it dulls our emotions and our rational capabilities. To our bodies and our minds, routines are basically the same as idleness is to us. They feel relaxed since they know that it’s autopilot time.

But, really, is that a way to live your life?

Is that what happiness really is?

Many people make the mistake of settling well in their comfort zones, contended with the fact that even if they are not too happy, at least they are not sad.

So, they never quit even though their jobs are not as fulfilling as they had once been; and some of them even marry because of the therapeutic effects of routine.

Don’t do that!

Comfort is great at first, but, over time, it becomes toxic to your happiness and spiritual health.

Counter it by accepting that change is usually good and that the world is moved forward through a process of creative destructions.

Why should you, as an individual, be any different?

Disrupt yourself!

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“The Five Thieves of Happiness Quotes”

Happiness and contentment are products of the mind. Click To Tweet Gratitude boosts your immune system and happiness. Click To Tweet Happiness is not in what is happening; it is in how I process what is happening. Click To Tweet Coveting takes away our capacity to be grateful. Click To Tweet The future cannot be controlled, only experienced. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

John Izzo discovered the Five Thieves of Happiness during an eight-month sabbatical spent in Spain and in the Andes of Peru.

And some pages of the book really feel as if written by someone who has managed to isolate himself from the whirlwind of stress and the barriers and conventions of society.

If he can do it, why shouldn’t you be able to do the same?

Hopefully, this book can help you.

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Inglorious Empire PDF Summary

Inglorious Empire PDF SummaryWhat the British Did to India

Most Indian nowadays still feel like the truth about the British “occupation” is somewhat distorted.

They want to understand whether Indians could have done something to prevent it from happening and more!

Shashi provides a critical overview of the events which shaped India’s historical curve, and uses data in order to illustrate a point!

Let’s delve into it!

Who Should Read “Inglorious Empire”? And Why?

There’s rarely a person in the world who knows nothing of India’s history and richness.

Our main guy in India, Guilherme Petrin who resides in Bangalore, tells us a great deal about the astonishing aspects of Indian culture and history.

For precisely that reason, we feel duty-bound to urge every English-speaking Indian to run through this summary, and perhaps purchase the book in a language that fits them the most.

Shashi TharoorAbout Shashi Tharoor

Among Indians mostly Shashi Tharoor is described as the voice of reason. As an author, politician, and a diplomat he has reached a good vantage point from where he can oversee the political processes in India.

Shashi is the author of Why I am a Hindu & An Era of Darkness.  

Inglorious Empire PDF Summary”

The full-scale Loot of India

A passionate and young American philosopher Will Durant who first landed on the shores of India in 1930, discovered the economic calamities induced by the British East India Corporation. Supposedly, this trading company was to help Indians re-claim their national identity, but it was all just a vicious game.

Bribery, stealing, embezzlement, extortion, forced labor, murder, were the primary tools that brought to pass the need for reforms!  

The British capitalized on the collapse of the Mughal Empire and imposed their interests in India.

A culturally, financially, and resourcefully rich country was put under the thumb of a strong military force. Before the “concealed” invasion took place, India was regarded as the world’s top superpower with 23% of the world GDP.

Many industries flourished as Indian goods were in high demand all over the world. Textile, pottery, making jewelry, cutting and shaping precious stones, clothing, to name a few.

The whole operation commenced under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I in the 17th century. It was disguised as a trading effort to maximize the trade in spices and silk. In order to protect their trading posts, the British increased their military presence in India and commenced the conquest.

In August 1765, Shah Alam II was forced to abdicate from his throne and hand over his authority to the Company. The provinces of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa fell under British rule, and India was practically commercialized.

In the meantime, a new phenomenon occurred also known as the deindustrialization of India. India’s most profitable industries slumped to their lowest level due to heavy taxation, high tariffs, and mostly corruption.

The destruction of the textile industry will be remembered as the first significant deindustrialization in the modern era.

This economic impasse imposed upon the Indian people was due to England’s unwillingness to pay for the goods transported to Europe. It was simply a loot!

Colonialists like Robert Clive, the last man standing of Battle of Plassey in 1757 returned home to England with spoils from the conquest making him one of the wealthiest persons in Europe at that time.

The extent of the embezzlement of resources can only be perceived through the lens of acquired wealth! To make matters worse, the East India Corporation also hatched a plan to destroy much of the ship-building industry.

As an illustration to this calamity – we deem fit to mention that 4000-5000 fleet was shrunk down to 1/10 of that number. It was truly an orchestrated disaster which gained high velocity in the mid-eighteenth century.

Shashi even mentions that the British East India Corporation employed only 2.5 million during their reign, leaving millions on the brink of extinction.

The problem with the British-based shipping businesses was the fee. In other words, they couldn’t compete with the low shipping fees offered by the Indian shipbuilding and transporting industry, so they urged the Parliament to shut it down.

This led to outright discrimination and enforcement of laws which undermined years of hard work. Moreover, the ban composed of corrupt imperialistic policies simply crashed the shipbuilding industry by 1850.

The same mindset was applied to the steel industry. India was considered a superpower in steel production possessing the capabilities to supply the rest of the world. “Wootz” the crucible-formed steel is the brainchild of India, to say the least.

The early forms of defiance

The first waves of independence occurred in various shapes and forms. Jamsetji Tata, one of India’s most renowned entrepreneurs, tried to create the first modern steel mill in India at the height of discriminatory policies.

He tried to circumvent the bureaucratic part, but was forced to petition the British for permission! The inept handling of this potential innovation increased hostility in the region.

The production finally commenced in 1912 under his son Dorabji.

As with most other things, the production was closely monitored, and the company was refused access to global markets. In other words, they were forced to utilize the surplus in order to prevent expansion.

Some of the critics like to believe that the unity of India was a conceived idea delivered from the hands of the British. We don’t know whether that is a form of justification for embezzling the region, but it sure isn’t true.

Why? – Because even Non-Indians like Arabs, Africans, and Asians referred to India as a unified country.

India was never perceived as just a part of the whole fallacy. The argument brought up here holds no ground whatsoever, because the history of the subcontinent has always been intertwined with the idea of oneness.

Not even Hindus are directly responsible for this, but the Indian people who hail from different regions.

When the British packed their bags and left in 1947; they laid the foundations of democratic Indian society. From the outset, India had some difficulties with the Muslim League, but they decided to deal with the issue using democratic means.

The rule of law became India’s strongest attributed since the day it declared independence.  

But that’s a story for another day!

The historian Jon Wilson claimed that India’s political role and economic potential was partly weakened due to the multi-societal ruling where a stalemate between rulers of different provinces was a common threat.

In such a structure, it’s hard to make headway in any negotiations or deal-making process.

The author also tells us a great deal about India’s involvement in conflicts raging throughout Europe.

A strong Indian sub-army organized in divisions and brigades were involved in the Mediterranean Coast, East Africa, Central Europe, and other places. Approximately 80k Indians died during First World War fighting under the symbol of the Crown and repelling German advance at Ypres.

Also, Indians were among the first victims of the horrors in the trenches – a disaster which led to many casualties.

India’s massive support for the British in these times of crisis should have been repaid as promised. In exchange for supplies, the British guaranteed greater freedom and self-governance.

Even Gandhi advocated for an increased military presence and support for the United Kingdom. However, the British didn’t keep the pledge made before the war, and India plunged into yet another institutional crisis.

The whole thing backfired against Indians, as Britain enacted the oppressive Rowlatt Act in 1919. The Act consisted of restricting freedom of speech, and governance. It was not the outcome the Indians were hoping for after shedding blood in the first major conflict.

The Act even conferred rights to the British authorities to persecute Indians on mere suspicion. The law was voted in the British parliament, and the Indian people reacted fiercely with thoughts of peaceful retribution.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre of hundreds of unarmed civilians will echo throughout history as a human call for democracy.

Enraged with British betrayal, the Indian nationalists came to the thought that self-governance can never be achieved through peaceful and legal means. A fight was inevitable to fulfill this dream!

Apparently, some people believe that Britain should take the credit for introducing Free Press in India. But, there’s a wrinkle! – Not only that the Indians were deprived of sharing their views with their fellow citizens, but they were also arrested and brutally punished for criticizing the British authorities.

Fearful of potential opposition, and scrutinization, Lord Wellesley proposed and later enacted the Censorship of the Press Act, in 1799. Indian newspapers were allowed to publish their columns but under strict monitoring from the authorities.

Even though the Portuguese were the first who introduced the idea of a Free Press, Britain can take credit for the system they created. The Indians were obliged to cater to a privileged few whose interests were on a higher scale than those of an entire nation.

Case in point, we challenge the idea of “Free Press” because there’s nothing liberating in publishing columns dictated by your colonial rulers.

The Divide and Conquer principle

The British realized that the only way to ensure obedience and loyalty from their subjects was to continue to stir up hatred between Hindus and Muslims.

When the British laid eyes upon a united Indian rebellion (Hindus and Muslims fighting together) in 1857, they feared a full-scale escalation. They dread the idea of monarchy that could eclipse their authority in years to come.

It didn’t escalate enough to be labeled as a coup d’etat.

So, you might be wondering – what was Nehru or Gandhi’s role in this political revolution?

The great Indian reformer, socialist, spiritual leader, anti-colonial advocate, Mahatma Gandhi, utilized unique means to exhibit defiance against the rulers. He realized that the disdain for the Indian people had become unbearably violent and cruel – so he took action.

Gandhi feared that violence causes more violence to crop up, therefore it can never be the answer. His determination and uniqueness will later be emulated by anti-apartheid and freedom fighters alike such as Nelson Mandela.

It’s fair to impugn Britain’s motives for taking control over India and imposing their imperialistic ideals, but one must look at things critically.

On the selfish side, Britain looted the country and destroyed India’s thriving industries. On the positive side, they questioned the anarchist rule, and in the long run, they introduced law and order.

Key Lessons from “Inglorious Empire”

1.      Learn history never to repeat it again
2.      Difference in politics
3.      Understand the political struggle

Learn history never to repeat it again

Sometimes, people forget about the dreadful aspects of history, and the so-called “glory” is often linked to some sort of oppression.

We need to conduct ourselves in a way that fits the 21st-century thought and take into consideration the twists of history.

Difference in politics

In this lesson, we’ll zoom in on the difference between French and British influence.

Generally speaking, Africans were encouraged to call themselves French; while Indians got the “second-class” citizenship – and were often treated in the same manner.

Understand the political struggle

Nowadays, we bear witness to ideology-contest that imposes subtle restrictions and influences public opinion.

If we get into that bubble, we might end up trapped and exploited without any previous warnings or cues!

Keep your eyes peeled for the flash!

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“Inglorious Empire Quotes”

The continuing decline, the growing poverty and the meanness of spirit of much of Thatcherite Britain encourages many Britons to turn their eyes nostalgically to the lost hour of their precedence. Click To Tweet Angus Maddison – There can be no denial that there was a substantial outflow which lasted for 190 years. Click To Tweet Will Durant – Hypocrisy was added to brutality, while the robbery went on. Click To Tweet Nearly every kind of manufacture or product known to the civilized world—nearly every kind of creation of man’s brain and hand, existing anywhere, and prized either for its utility or beauty—had long been produced in India. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Undoubtedly, the British rule has taken a toll on Indian society, which struggles to recover even to this day. Also, it would be ignorant to make imprudent remarks on the East India Corporation and show potential bias.

Therefore, we tried to not to get entangled in any sort of political knot and perceive the impasse from an impartial point of view.

That being said, India is now a self-governed and powerful economy on the rise!

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Tao Te Ching Quotes

Tao Te Ching Quotes

The Tao Te Ching – also known as Daode Jing – is an ancient Chinese text purportedly written by Laozi, aka Lao Tzu, a mystical 6th century philosopher and sage.

Even though rather brief – merely 81 chapters – and, at times, almost impenetrable – who knows how many books have been written to interpret it – the Tao Te Ching is widely considered one of the most important Chinese philosophical works ever written.

In addition, it is also one of the most translated works in world literature.

After summarizing it a few days ago, inspired by the interest for that article, we decided to provide you with a selection of the 100 most enlightening and thought-provoking quotes from this magnificient book.

We used the translations, selection and categorization by noted sinologist Herbert Allan Giles (from the book Gems of Chinese Literature) as a foundation for our choice.

Hopefully, you’ll like it.

Enjoy!

Tao Te Ching Quotes on Tao, Humility, Government and Himself

#1. The Spiritual and the Material Aspect of Tao (20 Quotes)

The Tao which can be expressed in words is not the eternal Tao; the name which can be uttered is not its eternal name. Without a name, it is the Beginning of Heaven and Earth; with a name, it is the Mother of all things.
Only one who is eternally free from earthly passions can apprehend its spiritual essence; he who is ever clogged by passions can see no more than its outer form.
These two things, the spiritual and the material, though we call them by different names, in their origin are one and the same. This sameness is a mystery—the mystery of mysteries. It is the gate of all spirituality.

How unfathomable is Tao! It seems to be the ancestral progenitor of all things. How pure and clear is Tao! It would seem to be everlasting. I know not of whom it is the offspring. It appears to have been anterior to any Sovereign Power.

Tao eludes the sense of sight, and is therefore called colorless. It eludes the sense of hearing, and is therefore called soundless. It eludes the sense of touch, and is therefore called incorporeal. These three qualities cannot be apprehended, and hence they may be blended into unity.

The mightiest manifestations of active force flow solely from Tao.

From of old until now, its name has never passed away. It watches over the beginning of all things. How do I know this about the beginning of things? Through Tao.

As soon as Tao creates order, it becomes nameable. When it once has a name, men will know how to rest in it. Knowing how to rest in it, they will run no risk of harm.

Tao as it exists in the world is like the great rivers and seas which receive the streams from the valleys.

The whole world will flock to him who holds the mighty form of Tao. They will come and receive no hurt, but find rest, peace, and tranquility.

Not visible to the sight, not audible to the ear, in its use it is inexhaustible.

Retrogression is the movement of Tao. Weakness is the character of Tao.

All things under Heaven derive their being from Tao in the form of Existence; Tao in the form of Existence sprang from Tao in the form of Non-Existence.

Tao is a great square with no angles, a great vessel which takes long to complete, a great sound which cannot be heard, a great image with no form.

Tao lies hid and cannot be named, yet it has the power of transmuting and perfecting all things.

Tao produces all things; its Virtue nourishes them; its Nature gives them form; its Force perfects them.

Hence there is not a single thing but pays homage to Tao and extols its Virtue. This homage paid to Tao, this extolling of its Virtue, is due to no command, but is always spontaneous.

Thus it is that Tao, engendering all things, nourishes them, develops them, and fosters them; perfects them, ripens them, tends them, and protects them.

It is the Way of Heaven not to strive, and yet it knows how to overcome; not to speak, and yet it knows how to obtain a response; it calls not, and things come of themselves; it is slow to move, but excellent in its designs.

Heaven’s net is vast; though its meshes are wide, it lets nothing slip through.

The Tao of Heaven has no favorites. It gives to all good men without distinction.

Things wax strong and then decay. This is the contrary of Tao. What is contrary to Tao soon perishes.

#2. Tao as a Moral Principle (20 Quotes)

The highest goodness is like water, for water is excellent in benefiting all things, and it does not strive. It occupies the lowest place, which men abhor. And therefore, it is near akin to Tao.

When your work is done and fame has been achieved, then retire into the background; for this is the Way of Heaven.

Those who follow the Way desire not excess; and thus, without excess they are forever exempt from change.

He who acts in accordance with Tao, becomes one with Tao. He who treads the path of Virtue becomes one with Virtue. He who pursues a course of Vice becomes one with Vice. The man who is one with Tao, Tao is also glad to receive. The man who is one with Virtue, Virtue is also glad to receive. The man who is one with Vice, Vice is also glad to receive.

He who is self-approving does not shine. He who boasts has no merit. He who exalts himself does not rise high. Judged according to Tao, he is like remnants of food or a tumor on the body–an object of universal disgust. Therefore, one who has Tao will not consort with such.

Ceremonies are the outward expression of inward feelings.

If Tao perishes, then Virtue will perish; if Virtue perishes, then Charity will perish; if Charity perishes, then Duty to one’s neighbor will perish; if Duty to one’s neighbor perishes, then Ceremonies will perish.

Ceremonies are but the veneer of loyalty and good faith, while oft-times the source of disorder. Knowledge of externals is but a showy ornament of Tao, while oft-times the beginning of imbecility.

Therefore, the truly great man takes his stand upon what is solid, and not upon what is superficial; upon what is real, and not upon what is ornamental. He rejects the latter in favor of the former.

He who is enlightened by Tao seems wrapped in darkness. He who is advanced in Tao seems to be going back. He who walks smoothly in Tao seems to be on a rugged path.

If Tao prevails on earth, horses will be used for purposes of agriculture. If Tao does not prevail, war-horses will be bred on the common.

If we had sufficient knowledge to walk in the Great Way, what we should most fear would be boastful display.

The Great Way is very smooth, but the people love the by-paths.

Where the palaces are very splendid, there the fields will be very waste, and the granaries very empty.

The wearing of gay embroidered robes, the carrying of sharp swords, fastidiousness in food and drink, superabundance of property and wealth: this I call flaunting robbery; most assuredly it is not Tao.

Tao is the sanctuary where all things find refuge, the good man’s priceless treasure, the guardian and savior of him who is not good.

Hence at the enthronement of an Emperor and the appointment of his three ducal ministers, though there be some who bear presents of costly jade and drive chariots with teams of four horses, that is not so good as sitting still and offering the gift of this Tao.

Why was it that the men of old esteemed this Tao so highly? Is it not because it may be daily sought and found, and can remit the sins of the guilty? Hence it is the most precious thing under Heaven.

All the world says that my Tao is great, but unlike other teaching. It is just because it is great that it appears unlike other teaching. If it had this likeness, long ago would its smallness have been known.

The skillful philosophers of the olden time were subtle, spiritual, profound, and penetrating. They were so deep as to be incomprehensible. Because they are hard to comprehend, I will endeavor to describe them.

#3. The Doctrine of Inaction (15 Quotes)

The Sage occupies himself with inaction, and conveys instruction without words. Is it not by neglecting self-interest that one will be able to achieve it?

Purge yourself of your profound intelligence, and you can still be free from blemish. Cherish the people and order the kingdom, and you can still do without meddlesome action.

Who is there that can make muddy water clear? But if allowed to remain still, it will gradually become clear of itself. Who is there that can secure a state of absolute repose? But let time go on, and the state of repose will gradually arise.

Be sparing of speech, and things will come right of themselves.

A violent wind does not outlast the morning; a squall of rain does not outlast the day. Such is the course of Nature. And if Nature herself cannot sustain her efforts long, how much less can man!

Attain complete vacuity, and sedulously preserve a state of repose.

The softest things in the world override the hardest. That which has no substance enters where there is no crevice. Hence, I know the advantage of inaction.

Conveying lessons without words, reaping profit without action, there are few in the world who can attain to this!

Activity conquers cold, but stillness conquers heat. Purity and stillness are the correct principles for mankind.

The pursuit of book-learning brings about daily increase. The practice of Tao brings about daily loss. Repeat this loss again and again, and you arrive at inaction. Practice inaction, and there is nothing which cannot be done.

The Empire has ever been won by letting things take their course. He who must always be doing is unfit to obtain the Empire.

Keep the mouth shut, close the gateways of sense, and as long as you live you will have no trouble. Open your lips and push your affairs, and you will not be safe to the end of your days.

Practice inaction, occupy yourself with doing nothing.

Desire not to desire, and you will not value things difficult to obtain. Learn not to learn, and you will revert to a condition which mankind in general has lost.

Leave all things to take their natural course, and do not interfere.

#4. Modesty and Humility (15 Quotes)

All things in Nature work silently. They come into being and possess nothing. They fulfill their functions and make no claim.

When merit has been achieved, do not take it to yourself; for if you do not take it to yourself, it shall never be taken from you.

Follow diligently the Way in your own heart, but make no display of it to the world.

Keep behind, and you shall be put in front; keep out, and you shall be kept in.

He that humbles himself shall be preserved entire. He that bends shall be made straight. He that is empty shall be filled. He that is worn out shall be renewed. He who has little shall succeed. He who has much shall go astray.

He who, conscious of being strong, is content to be weak, he shall be the paragon of mankind. Being the paragon of mankind, Virtue will never desert him. He returns to the state of a little child.

He who, conscious of his own light, is content to be obscure, he shall be the whole world’s model. Being the whole world’s model, his Virtue will never fail. He reverts to the Absolute.

He who, conscious of desert, is content to suffer disgrace, he shall be the cynosure of mankind. Being the cynosure of mankind, his Virtue then is full. He returns to perfect simplicity.

He who is great must make humility his base. He who is high must make lowliness his foundation. Thus, princes and kings in speaking of themselves use the terms “lonely,” “friendless,” “of small account.” Is not this making humility their base?

Thus, it is that ‘Some things are increased by being diminished, others are diminished by being increased.’ What others have taught, I also teach; verily, I will make it the root of my teaching.

The reason why rivers and seas are able to be lords over a hundred mountain streams, is that they know how to keep below them. That is why they are able to reign over all the mountain streams.

The Sage expects no recognition for what he does; he achieves merit but does not take it to himself; he does not wish to display his worth.

I have three precious things, which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle, and you can be bold; be frugal, and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others, and you can become a leader among men.

But in the present day men cast off gentleness, and are all for being bold; they spurn frugality, and retain only extravagance; they discard humility, and aim only at being first. Therefore, they shall surely perish.

Gentleness brings victory to him who attacks, and safety to him who defends. Those whom Heaven would save, it fences round with gentleness.

#5. Government and War (10 Quotes)

He who respects the State as his own person is fit to govern it. He who loves the State as his own body is fit to be entrusted with it.

In the highest antiquity, the people did not know that they had rulers. In the next age they loved and praised them. In the next, they feared them. In the next, they despised them.

How cautious is the Sage, how sparing of his words! When his task is accomplished and affairs are prosperous, the people all say: ‘We have come to be as we are, naturally and of ourselves.’

Fishes must not be taken from the water: the methods of government must not be exhibited to the people.

Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish.

If the people do not fear the majesty of government, a reign of terror will ensue.

He who can take upon himself the nation’s shame is fit to be lord of the land. He who can take upon himself the nation’s calamities is fit to be ruler over the Empire.

Weapons, however beautiful, are instruments of ill omen, hateful to all creatures. Therefore, he who has Tao will have nothing to do with them.

There is no greater calamity than lightly engaging in war. Lightly to engage in war is to risk the loss of our treasure.

When opposing warriors join in battle, he who has pity conquers.

#6. Paradoxes (15 Quotes)

Thus, while the existence of things may be good, it is the non-existent in them which makes them serviceable.

A variety of colors makes man’s eye blind; a diversity of sounds makes man’s ear deaf; a mixture of flavors makes man’s palate dull.

He who is most perfect seems to be lacking; yet his resources are never outworn. He who is most full seems vacant; yet his uses are inexhaustible.

Extreme straightness is as bad as crookedness. Extreme cleverness is as bad as folly. Extreme fluency is as bad as stammering.

Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know.

Abandon learning, and you will be free from trouble and distress.

Failure is the foundation of success, and the means by which it is achieved. Success is the lurking-place of failure; but who can tell when the turning-point will come?

He who acts, destroys; he who grasps, loses. Therefore, the Sage does not act, and so does not destroy; he does not grasp, and so he does not lose.

Only he who does nothing for his life’s sake can truly be said to value his life.

Hence the warrior that is strong does not conquer; the tree that is strong is cut down. Therefore, the strong and the big take the lower place; the soft and the weak take the higher place.

There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than water, yet for attacking things that are hard and strong there is nothing that surpasses it, nothing that can take its place.

The soft overcomes the hard; the weak overcomes the strong. There is no one in the world but knows this truth, and no one who can put it into practice.

Those who are wise have no wide range of learning; those who range most widely are not wise.

The Sage does not care to hoard. The more he uses for the benefit of others, the more he possesses himself. The more he gives to his fellow-men, the more he has of his own.

The truest sayings are paradoxical.

#7. Lao Tzu on Himself (5 Quotes)

Other men have plenty, while I alone seem to have lost all. I am a man foolish in heart, dull and confused. Other men are full of light; I alone seem to be in darkness. Other men are alert; I alone am listless. I am unsettled as the ocean, drifting as though I had no stopping-place. All men have their usefulness; I alone am stupid and clownish. Lonely though I am and unlike other men, yet I revere the Foster-Mother, Tao.

My words are very easy to understand, very easy to put into practice; yet the world can neither understand nor practice them.

My words have a clue, my actions have an underlying principle. It is because men do not know the clue that they understand me not.

Those who know me are but few, and on that account my honor is the greater.

Thus, the Sage wears coarse garments, but carries a jewel in his bosom.

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Why Nations Fail PDF Summary

Why Nations Fail PDF SummaryThe Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty

Some countries are rich, and others are poor.

Why?

Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson try to give a definite answer to these questions in their ultra-popular and heavily discussed book:

Why Nations Fail.

Who Should Read “Why Nations Fail”? And Why?

Why Nations Fail, writes Jared Diamond, “should be required reading for politicians and anyone concerned with economic development.”

It should also be required reading for those who want to understand why some nations are rich and others poor, as well as those who want to put an end to inequality and corruption.

About Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

Daron AcemogluDaron Acemoglu is a Turkish-born American economist and professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the past two and a half decades.

After completing his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in 1992, Acemoglu embarked on a very successful career which made him one of the most recognizable economists of the 21st century.

In fact, a 2011 survey of American economists ranked him the third most favorite living economist under the age of 60 (just behind Paul Krugman and Greg Mankiw), and a 2015 study named him the most cited economist of the past decade.

James A. RobinsonJames A. Robinson is a British economist and political scientist with a Ph.D. from Yale University; he has worked as a professor of economics at numerous prestigious institutions, currently at the Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago.

A close collaborator of Acemoglu, Robinson is mostly interested in comparative political and economic development of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

He has written quite a few books and studies, many of them collaborations.

Acemoglu and Robinson have written two books together: Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy and Why Nations Fail.

“Why Nations Fail PDF Summary”

In Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson set before themselves a very ambitious task: to pinpoint, once and for all, the real reasons why some countries are rich and prosperous, and why others are poor and doomed to fail all over again.

And in fifteen chapters, they lay out a thought-provoking theory which, if not something more, has incited a lively discussion among the most famous economists, intellectuals, and political thinkers of the XXI century.

Let’s see what all the fuss is about.

The Existing Explanations

It isn’t difficult to guess that Why Nations Fail isn’t the first book to try to get to the bottom of the “rich vs. poor countries” quandary.

And it is even easier to suppose that before presenting their theory, Acemoglu and Robinson try to point to the faults of other people’s explanations of the problem.

They group them into several categories, which we’ll further group into three.

Geography and Climate

According to the geography hypothesis most eloquently demonstrated by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel, some nations were merely lucky enough to form countries on locations blessed with a pleasant climate.

There’s a reason why the poorest countries in the world are located in tropical regions, and why the wealthiest can be found in cooler climatic zones.

Simply put, diseases are more likely to develop in the tropical zones of central Africa and America, and, thus, it is only natural to expect from a Zambian to be far less productive than a Norwegian.

However, ask Acemoglu and Robinson, then why are neighboring countries such as North Korea and South Korea so different?

Moreover, why is Singapore so prosperous, even though it is located in the tropical climate zone.

Culture and Religion

According to the culture hypothesis, some people are simply more inclined to work than others, because of their cultural and religious heritage.

Most of the developed countries, for example, went through the Protestant Reformation.

And, as any Protestant knows, work is a religious duty, and everyone should embrace it; so, it’s only natural to expect that a country with a Protestant past should be far more prosperous than one with, say Confucian values.

Because the latter thinks that humanity, loyalty, and honesty is much more important than work and success; and, because economics is, well, to quote Thomas Carlyle once again, a dismal science.

However, this once again fails to explain why North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world, and South Korea one of the most developed ones.

Ignorance

According to the final group of explanations, the ignorance hypothesis, North Korea is less developed than South Korea because of the ignorance of the ruling elites.

In other words, the people who ruled North Korea were incompetent, and instead of solving problems, they merely created more; on the contrary, those who ruled South Korea understood the root of the problems and tried to solve them.

This does explain some things, but it doesn’t do well in the case of others.

A few case studies provided by Acemoglu and Robinson – such as, for example, Ghana – show that it is not the ignorance of political leaders which causes the economic decline of countries, but it is, on the contrary, their very shrewd understanding that this decline also leads to their personal economic evolution.

And that’s basically the main point of Acemoglu and Robinson’s study.

Rich countries are founded around inclusive and uncorrupted economic and political institutions; poor countries, on the other hand, suffer because of extractive institutions.

Let’s analyze both of them in detail.

Inclusive Institutions

In essence, inclusive – or integrative – institutions are those which allow large groups of people to have a say in political and economic decision-making.

Inclusive institutions give individual members of a society access to high-quality education and allow them to freely choose the profession they like.

They also incentivize them to be creative and challenge the status quo.

And this is especially important because it provides a relatively fair and level playing ground in which the talented know that they can benefit by providing benefit to the other people.

Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos became the wealthiest people in the world because their products made the lives of many people easier; however, Carlos Jesus Slim in Mexico earned his money by exploiting the monopoly in landline telephony.

The extractive institutions in Mexico allowed him to prosper and become rich without providing his countrymen additional value; integrative institutions would almost never allow this.

And how do inclusive institutions come about?

Well, interestingly enough, in many cases, merely by accident.

Consider the example of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England; in less than a century, this revolution would lead to the Industrial Revolution which would eventually change the world in ways nothing before ever did, practically marking the beginning of the “rich vs. poor” debate, as argued in A Farewell to Alms.

And it all started because of the plague.

The plague, you see, had led to the deaths of so many people, that, the ones who survived had to work the jobs of five and still received the paycheck for one.

So, they rebelled, and the attempt to meet their demands eventually led to the establishment of economic institutions which guaranteed the protection of private property and, with it, introduced actual free market policies.

The rest is history.

Extractive Institutions

Extractive institutions are – you’ve guessed it – the very opposite of inclusive institutions.

Acemoglu and Robinson call them extractive because they believe that the thing which defines these institutions is their inclination to extract wealth from those who are not part of them.

So, in countries ruled by extractive institutions, there are always two classes, with the first one (the elite) always in a position to repress the latter one.

The only way for those who are not in power to prosper in a country governed by extractive institutions is to join the vicious circle, i.e., to become part of the elite and prevent others from doing it.

Extractive institutions disincentivize people from taking part in the political and economic processes of a country; the reason for this is simple: they want to keep the status quo.

Now, don’t get Acemoglu and Robinson wrong: they firmly believe that in addition to inclusive institutions, centralized political power is a must if you want to create a wealthy and prosperous country.

However, there’s a limit to how centralized it should be since the economic processes are too complicated for one to be able to predict the results.

For example, in the time of Stalin, the centrally planned economy of the USSR decided to reward workers with bonuses as high as a third of their paycheck for exceeding the assigned quotas.

This did the trick for a while, and USSR became the second largest economy of the world; however, in retrospect, it also disincentivized these workers to think outside the box, which prevented the process of creative destruction (Schumpeter).

But, then again, extractive institutions fear innovation and creative destruction, since these forces usually lead to them losing their power.

So, they stifle them, and thus, cause the failure of their countries.

The Curious Case of China

Now, Acemoglu and Robinson are capable of explaining many things through their framework, but, even at first glance, China is a curious case.

Even though it is still an authoritarian country, China’s economy is growing at such a rapid pace that many have started wondering if we’re living the last years of American dominance.

So how did China succeed to become the second largest economy of the world even though still a communist country ruled by extractive institutions?

Well, according to Acemoglu and Robinson, the main reasons for this are the inclusive policies advocated by Deng Xiaoping, whose economic reforms opened China’s economy to the world and, in addition, they reoriented it internally towards market-based economic programs.

However – and this is the more exciting part of Acemoglu and Robinson’s analysis – their model predicts that, unless China furthers the inclusiveness of its institutions, its growth will steeply drop over the next decade.

What we may be seeing is just another case of the 1970s Soviet Union.

Back then, the relocation of labor from the agricultural sector to the manufacturing industry worked wonders, but twenty years later, the USSR collapsed.

Something similar may happen to China as well unless the country improves its political and economic inclusiveness.

Now, that’s a bold prediction.

Key Lessons from “Why Nations Fail”

1.      The More Inclusive the Institutions, the Richer the Country
2.      Democracy Evolves Because of the Threat of Revolutions
3.      Foreign Aid Is Sometimes the Opposite

The More Inclusive the Institutions, the Richer the Country

The central thesis of Acemoglu and Robinson’s Why Nations Fail is that economic prosperity depends on the inclusiveness of the political and economic institutions of a country.

In other words, the more people make political and economic decisions, the better off a country is supposed to be.

Inclusive institutions flourish because they change. And they change because they allow people to freely choose their professions and the market to guide the country on a prosperous path through its invisible hand.

Extractive regimes, in contrast, are more interested in keeping the status quo, since it is the status quo which allows them to remain in power.

However, the status quo means no innovation or creative destruction, and this is the main reason why some nations have never – and may never – attain wealth.

One more thing, though: a powerful, centralized government is always essential, because, as the case of Somalia shows, without it, neither the free market nor anything else really works.

Libertarians would, of course, beg to differ.

Democracy Evolves Because of the Threat of Revolutions

According to Acemoglu and Robinson, the history of democracy is the history of revolutions prevented.

They think that all societies must begin as non-democratic regimes in which elites rule through extractive governments.

However, at some point, the ruled realize, to quote Marx, that they have nothing to lose but their chains, and this is when they start pondering whether revolution is the optimal escape from their doom.

Since a revolution would cost them all of their benefits, the rich act so that they lose only some of them. Namely, they propose smaller taxation rates and appropriate measures which don’t necessarily lead to revolution; in turn, this causes redistribution which helps some of the ruled ones move vertically upward.

And this works until it doesn’t anymore – when the process restarts.

Thus, democratization happens when the rich try to avoid revolution by willingly increasing monetary redistribution and making some of the poor richer.

In time, this leads to the inclusion of many, and to the transformation of extractive institutions to inclusive ones:

Inclusive economic and political institutions do not emerge by themselves. They are often the outcome of significant conflict between elites resisting economic growth and political change and those wishing to limit the economic and political power of existing elites.

Foreign Aid Is Sometimes the Opposite

Interestingly enough, the analysis above implicitly suggests that foreign aid will more often do a disservice to a country rather than helping it.

In simpler terms, if a country is ruled by extractive institutions, foreign aid will rarely reach the intended addressees and will be, in fact, used by the elites to corrupt even more people interested in defending the status quo.

An excellent example of this process is Afghanistan, a country which, despite billions of dollars in foreign aid, hasn’t prospered almost two decades after the fall of the Taliban!

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“Why Nations Fail Quotes”

Poor countries are poor because those who have power make choices that create poverty. Click To Tweet Politics is the process by which a society chooses the rules that will govern it. Click To Tweet The most common reason why nations fail today is because they have extractive institutions. Click To Tweet Traditionally economics has ignored politics, but understanding politics is crucial for explaining world inequality. Click To Tweet Economics has gained the title Queen of the Social Sciences by choosing solved political problems as its domain. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Why Nations Fail is both an engaging and thought-provoking read.

As we pointed out in the “Who Should Read This Book” section, even Jared Diamond, who has found many faults with its central thesis, endorses it full heartedly.

And we share his enthusiasm!

The central thesis of the book may be a bit reductive and constraining, but it is nevertheless one which will be debated for many decades.

And what more can you ask from a book?

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Jesus Is Risen PDF Summary

Jesus Is Risen PDF SummaryPaul and the Early Church

Want to learn how the Christian Church was established?

David Limbaugh tells it all, from Paul’s Conversion to the Gospel of Love.

It’s his fourth Christian-themed book:

Jesus Is Risen.

Who Should Read “Jesus Is Risen”? And Why?

In a nutshell, Jesus Is Risen is a chronological retelling of six books of The New Testament (Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Romans), all concerning Paul’s early attempts to establish a Christian Church.

Of course, Limbaugh provides the reader with many notes and commentaries, some of which should probably interest even experienced readers of the Bible.

But, as a rule of thumb, if you can navigate yourself around the New Testament, then think of Jesus Is Risen as complementary material: something which can certainly help you, but also something you can do without.

If, however, you are having trouble finding yourself around the many names, events, and toponyms of Paul’s New Testament books, then there aren’t many better books to get started than Limbaugh’s Jesus Is Risen.

About David Limbaugh

David LimbaughDavid Limbaugh is an American author and conservative Christian political commentator.

Born in 1952, Limbaugh graduated cum laude with a B.A. in political science from the University of Missouri; he received his J.D. from the same university in 1978.

Afterward, he went on to teach business law at Southeast Missouri State University, in addition to practicing law at the Limbaugh Firm.

He has written numerous columns for many different publications, as well as nine non-fiction books, primarily dealing with religion and politics.

Some of them are explicitly aimed at the style of governing by Democrats, such as Absolute Power: The Legacy of Corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today’s Democratic Party, or his two books criticizing Obama: Crimes Against Liberty: An Indictment of President Barack Obama and The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama’s War on the Republic.

Since 2014, Limbaugh is dedicated to writing books which concentrate on his personal religious conversion and the merits of the Bible. He has so far written four of them: Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel, The Emmaus Code: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament, The True Jesus: Uncovering the Divinity of Christ in the Gospels and Jesus is Risen: Paul and the Early Church.

“Jesus Is Risen PDF Summary”

As he explains himself in the “Introduction,” Jesus Is Risen is David Limbaugh’s “fourth Christian-themed book.”

His first one was Jesus On Trial in which Limbaugh recounts his “personal faith journey from skeptic to believer” and lays out the reasons because of which he came “to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and gave His life for the redemption of all who put their trust in Him.”

The Emmaus Code followed, in which Limbaugh details “the countless ways the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ.”

His third book was The True Jesus in which he presents the Gospels “in one unified narrative in chronological order.”

His initial idea, he explains, was to summarize the whole New Testament, but this ambitious plan seemed more fit for several books.

Well, Jesus Is Risen is a sort of a sequel to The True Jesus, summarizing – once again in a chronological order – Saint “Paul’s six so-called missionary epistles: Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Romans, which are believed to have been written before his other seven epistles.”

Paul is David Limbaugh’s favorite biblical figure and writer, something which he makes apparent basically on every single page of this book.

Chapter 1: How a Trip to Damascus Changed the World

“By all appearances,” Limbaugh writes, “Paul is the least likely person to become Christianity’s premiere evangelist.”

A Jew born by the name of Saul, he was raised and educated in Jerusalem under a highly respected Rabbi named Gamaliel.

And he grew to become “a Pharisee of Pharisees,” who “intensely persecuted” the followers of Jesus.

It was precisely on a mission to seek out and arrest Christians in Damascus that Paul’s worldview was changed to its very core.

As told in Acts 9:3–9, this is what happened:

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’

“The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless,” the text goes on. Apparently, “they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes, he could see nothing. So, they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.”

On the fourth day, Ananias of Damascus restores Saul’s sight.

Saul is baptized, and before too long becomes Paul, “the apostle of grace,” and the most important figure in Christianity after Jesus Christ.

Truly miraculous.

Chapters 2–5: The Acts of the Apostles

In chapters 2 to 5, Limbaugh retells the Acts of the Apostles, the 51st book of the Bible and a sort of a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. In fact, it is believed that its author is none other than Luke himself and that it was originally written sometime around 60 A.D.

Chapter 2: Acts 1-7: A Church Is Born

The first seven chapters of the Acts tell the story of the very infancy of the church. One of the central events recounted here is Apostle Peter’s sermon to the Jews gathered for the Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks.

Supposedly, the Holy Spirit descended upon the 12 apostles from heaven “with a sound like a mighty rushing wind” and manifesting itself in “tongues of fire.”

The Holy Spirit in them, the apostles start speaking in languages they don’t understand and are consequently ridiculed by the Jews as drunkards.

But Apostle Peter counters this by embarking on a bold sermon which results with the conversion of 3000 new believers.

“The arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost,” notes Limbaugh, “is considered the birth of the Christian Church. As such, it’s interesting that Jesus was also conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).”

Chapter 3: Acts 8-13: An Equal Opportunity Faith

The next few chapters of the Acts describe various aspects of the evangelism of the apostles.

Here you can read all about the false accusation and stoning of Stephen, the religious conversion of Paul, as well as the first attempts by the Apostles to impart Christianity upon the Gentiles.

Speaking of which, in these chapters you can find the very first use of the term “Christians” in the history of the written word.

Chapter 4: Acts 14-20: Suffering and Success While Spreading the Word

Next, we move geographically to the outskirts of Jerusalem and outside of the holy city.

Saul changes his name to Paul so that he can be better accepted by the Gentiles (the former is Hebrew, the latter Greek).

In the fifteenth chapter, the Jerusalem Council takes place, and the spreading of the gospel message among Gentile nations is authorized.

Lydia, a female seller of purple fabric, becomes the first European woman to accept Christianity.

Chapter 5: Acts 21-28: Arrest of an Apostle

After some time, Paul travels to Jerusalem where he is arrested; he is sent to Rome to be put on trial. There he is imprisoned, but we learn little what happens next since the Acts abruptly end here.

“It’s generally agreed,” writes Limbaugh, “that Paul was martyred in Rome, probably by sword, though the precise date is uncertain. Many scholars place his death around 62 AD, at the close of his two-year house arrest in Rome, while others say it could have been in 64 AD, and still others as late as 66 AD after a second arrest.”

“Of course,” Limbaugh goes on, “Paul’s influence did not end with his death, since he did more than anyone besides Jesus to expound and clarify the Gospel.”

Most of which he did through a series of letters, and these are the ones Limbaugh summarizes in the rest of his book.

Chapter 6: Galatians: Freedom in Christ

The book of Galatians is, arguably, the first of Paul’s epistles (letters) sent to local Christian churches.

In this letter he explains how he had been chosen by Jesus himself to preach his gospel, and that “if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”

Next, he explicates how living a religious life is difficult; and how, since, nobody is capable of obeying the ten commandments from the cradle to the grave, the only salvation one can attain is through Jesus Christ.

Hence the title of this chapter: Freedom in Christ.

Chapter 7: 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians: Christ’s Return and the Day of the Lord

In the first of the two letters written to strengthen and encourage the Christian church in Thessalonica, Greece, Paul writes mostly about the Second Coming of the Grace, aka, The Day of the Lord.

Let’s be realistic: if you need some strength, nothing can give you more of it than someone telling you that you’ll eventually be rewarded for your effort, no questions asked.

In the second letters to the Thessalonians, Paul reemphasizes these feelings commending the receivers of his words on their perseverance and cheering them to persist some more.

Jesus, writes Paul, will deal out “retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

Chapters 8-10: 1 & 2 Corinthians

Chapter 8: 1 Corinthians 1–8: A Call for Unity in the Church

In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains the reason for writing it in the first place: “there are quarrels among you,” he writes, and I need to remind you of your calling.

And that calling is pretty simple: to live in accordance with the Gospel, for “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Chapter 9: 1 Corinthians 9–16: The Primacy of Love, and a Spiritual Gift for Every Believer

These are some of the most famous pages in the Bible, dealing with the primacy of love – even over faith (13:1-3):

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Here Paul says that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a topic “of first importance” since it is the foundation of the Christian faith.

Chapter 10: 2 Corinthians: Strength in Weakness

In the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes the essential traits of an Apostle.

One of them is, interestingly, the capability to endure suffering.

Because, as Paul says right away, some fifty years of earthly pain should mean nothing to a real Christian, because they will lead him to an “eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”

Those who cannot endure suffering, basically, are no Christians at all.

Chapter 11-12: Romans

Chapter 11: Romans 1–7: Righteousness through Faith

In the epistle to the Romans, you can read all about the power of the Gospel to counteract the guilt present in all humans, which is why this chapter is titled “Righteousness through Faith.”

Try as you might, you’ll never be a righteous person through your deeds only; however, you can be one through your faith in Jesus Christ.

“For the wages of sin is death,” writes Paul, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Chapter 12: Romans 8–16: Christ: The Hope of Jews and Gentiles

If God is with you, who can be against you, asks Paul here and goes on to explain how the faith in Christ gives him the power to go back to God even after sinning.

Here Paul also shares his plans to reach Rome, which he eventually will – but we know how that ended from the Acts.

Key Lessons from “Jesus Is Risen”

1.      A Trip to Damascus of a Hebrew Prosecutor Named Saul Changed the World
2.      Love Is More Important Than Faith… Until It Is Not
3.      The Resurrection of Christ is the Foundation of the Christian Faith

A Trip to Damascus of a Hebrew Prosecutor Named Saul Changed the World

Saul was a Hebrew, “a Pharisee of Pharisees,” whose main obsession in life was prosecuting Christians.

However, on a trip to Damascus (of course, with a mission to arrest some Christians) Jesus appeared to him, and Saul’s worldview suddenly changed.

OK, that’s a bit of a stretch since he was first blinded for about three days, so his worldview was in complete darkness.

But after his sight was restored by a Christian, he became one.

Or, to be more precise, the One.

Paul did for Christianity more than just about anyone save for Jesus.

There are billions of Christians nowadays mostly because of his relentless efforts to share the Gospel.

Love Is More Important Than Faith… Until It Is Not

Blame us for being ignorant, but we have trouble understanding the very essence of Paul’s words.

Namely, his main message is that one can only redeem himself from his sins (of which he is guilty either way) through his faith in Christ and His resurrection.

However, in 1 Corinthians 13, he claims that love is more important than faith and that even if you have faith that moves mountains, without love, you’re nothing and you’ll gain nothing.

So, our question is quite simple: if one does have love in him and lives his life in accordance with it, but doesn’t believe in Jesus, is he entitled to salvation?

Or is he just guilty enough beforehand and nothing he ever does will grant him redemption from the fires of Hell?

The Resurrection of Christ is the Foundation of the Christian Faith

If we follow Paul and Limbaugh, the answer to the question above is straightforward: you can’t be a Christian if you don’t believe in Christ and you can’t go to Heaven if you’re not a Christian.

In fact, this is how the Gospel of Jesus looks like, according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, a few of the most important New Testament verses ever written:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

Apparently, as David Limbaugh says, “Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching that we are saved not by our works and not by adherence to the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”

There you have it.

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“Jesus Is Risen Quotes”

Paul, probably even more than Peter, is the prominent leader of the early Christian Church. The central figure in the Book of Acts, Paul writes more New Testament books than any other apostle, though Luke’s books contain more words and… Click To Tweet The better we understand the darkness of (Paul’s) past, the more we will understand his gratitude for grace. (Via Chuck Swindoll) Click To Tweet To love God and one’s neighbor is the sum of the commandments. Click To Tweet While works don’t earn us salvation, we will reflect our saving faith and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit through our works. Click To Tweet The more we study the Book of Acts and Paul’s letters, the more fully we comprehend God’s plan for our lives and His offer of free grace for our salvation through faith in Christ. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“My humble wish,” writes David Limbaugh at the end of Jesus Is Risen, “is that you have learned or re-learned important basics about the Book of Acts and these six Pauline epistles and are excited to get back into the Bible, read these books and meditate on their message.”

To be perfectly frank, this book didn’t have that effect on us.

But, truth be told, it is written in a manner which makes us believe that it should have such effect on many people.

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Nicomachean Ethics PDF Summary

Nicomachean Ethics PDF SummaryWant to learn something more about ethics?

Then you’re at the right place!

With 12min, Aristotle and his most famous book on the subject: Nicomachean Ethics.

It’s the Dream Team.

Who Should Read “Nicomachean Ethics”? And Why?

If you need to read just one philosopher in your life, then it has to be either Plato or Aristotle.

And if you need to read just one book by the latter, then it has to be the Nicomachean Ethics.

So, who should read this book?

Everyone who has even the slightest interest in philosophy.

Or, for that matter, everyone who wants to become a better person.

About Aristotle

AristotleAristotle was an Ancient Greek philosopher, together with his teacher Plato, the most influential thinker in the history of Western civilization.

He studied under Plato in his Academy for two decades between the ages of 17 and 37, after which he left Athens to tutor Alexander the Great. Even though he was Plato’s best student, after Plato’s death, Aristotle shifted from Plato’s idealistic teachings to empiricism.

He contributed to numerous different fields – from physics to metaphysics, from logic to ethics, from biology to zoology, from politics to economics, from poetry to music – and almost every single thing he has written is still object of academic debate.

He also founded a Peripatetic school of philosophy at the Lyceum, where he also established a library of immense importance.

“Nicomachean Ethics PDF Summary”

The Nicomachean Ethics is Aristotle’s best-known work on ethics and, quite possibly, the most influential book on the subject ever written.

It consists of ten books – all of them originally written as separate scrolls – and is based on Aristotle’s notes from his lectures at the Lyceum, the ancient university founded by the great philosopher in Athens in 334 BCE.

The “Nicomachean” part of the title refers to Aristotle’s son Nicomachus, to whom (quite probably) the work was dedicated; it is also possible that he was the one who edited it. Some scholars, however, claim that the Nicomachus this work is dedicated to is actually Aristotle’s father, who was also called Nicomachus.

Be that as it may, Nicomachean ethics deals with a problem both Plato and Socrates were interested in – namely, how should men live their lives in the best possible manner.

According to Aristotle, Socrates had shown first that this is not a question that should be dealt with merely theoretically, but one which is more specifically a practical matter.

That’s why Nicomachean ethics not only explains what is good and why it is good, but also gives advice as to how one should live to consider his living here on earth good, respectable, and virtuous.

But – we’re running ahead of ourselves.

Let’s walk you through each of the ten books.

Book I

“If there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for its own sake, clearly this must be the good,” Aristotle writes at the beginning of the Nicomachean Ethics.

And then he asks: “Will not knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what we should? If so, we must try, in outline at least, to determine what it is. “

So, that is the topic of the Nicomachean Ethics: to discover what’s the thing humans desire for its own sake and how should they act so as to most easily attain it.

After a lengthy analysis, Aristotle concludes that whatever we like to have – be it money, cars, women, football or sex (OK, he doesn’t use these examples per se) – we like it because it makes us happy.

However, as one can easily deduce, some of the things that make us happy, tend to make us unhappy afterward.

Why?

Simply put, because they are not good.

And what is good?

To quote Aristotle:

Human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete. But we must add “in a complete life.” For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.

Book II

So, to sum up, Aristotle says that many things can lead to temporary happiness, but only virtuous actions lead to a happy life. And since this is something everybody wants, then it’s necessary to discover what virtue means and how should one reach it.

In the second book, Aristotle points out that, just like a lyre-player, no matter how talented, must learn and practice to become a virtuoso, a man, no matter how naturally inclined towards virtuous actions, needs education to attain the proper, virtuous habits.

And then Aristotle lays out the simplest definition for virtue: treading the middle way between two extremes.

What does that mean?

It means that anything in excess or deficiency is bad; and that everything in just the proper amount is virtue.

Or to use a famous example:

Anyone can get angry — that is easy — or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for everyone, nor is it easy.

Book III

At the end of Book II, Aristotle lists many character virtues and starting with Book III, he analyzes many of them in-depth.

But first he explains, foreshadowing Sartre, that you’re responsible for almost everything you do, because you always have a choice not do it (Sartre would add: even if the latter leads to death).

If that is the case, then even ignorance – not knowing what is good – is not actually an excuse, because you always have a choice to learn.

So, more or less, Aristotle says that if you’re not, it’s your fault for not having read his book.

And then he proceeds to explanations of what he means when he says that we should tread the middle way.

The two examples he uses in this book are courage and temperance.

Courage, according to Aristotle, is the mean between fear and confidence; in excess, it leads to fearlessness and overconfidence, both of which are bad; if deficient, it leads to cowardness, which is also bad.

Temperance is the mean between pleasure and pain; in excess, it leads to wastefulness; in deficiency, it makes a man insensible.

Book IV

Book four deals with a second set of virtues, in four groups of two.

The first group deals with two very similar virtues: generosity and magnificence.

Generosity may, once again, lead to wastefulness if in excess, and to stinginess if lacking; magnificence leads to vulgarity and tastelessness when excessive, and to paltriness if not enough.

The second group of virtues are magnanimity and ambition.

Magnanimity is located between vanity (excess) and smallness of soul (deficiency), and ambition is located between, well, overambitiousness and lack of ambition. Sorry, guys, nobody has thought of better words for now.

The third group of virtues are gentleness and friendliness.

Too much of a gentleness leads to irritability, and not enough of it to spiritlessness (they really need to find better words); too much of friendliness leads to either flattery (if for own advantage) or obsequiousness (if for no purpose).

The final group of two virtues analyzed here are truthfulness and wittiness.

If you are more than truthful, you’re exaggerating and boastful; if you’re deficient in truthfulness, you suffer from a form of self-deprecation and self-irony. If you are more than witty, you’re a buffoon; if you’re less of it, you’re boorish.

Book V

Aristotle says that justice, the highest of virtues, deserves a whole book; which is why Book V deals with every single aspect of what it means to be a just person living in a just society.

Why should Aristotle deal with just societies in a book about ethics?

Because, as he explains, justice is not exactly a virtue for isolated individuals; it’s not anything in that case; justice can only be made sense of in a community.

Now, If you know anything about Plato and Aristotle – or about how much you liked your teachers in high-school – you already know that in describing his ideal community, Aristotle is, almost explicitly, criticizing Plato’s Republic.

Because, unlike Plato, Aristotle doesn’t think that a just society is a strict hierarchy ruled by a benevolent dictator, but something which is built around the values of equality, commensurability, and proportion.

Book VI

In Book VI, Aristotle enumerates the five types of stable states of the soul (hexis) which can be considered intellectual virtues:

#1. Art – making things in a way which can be explained;
#2. Knowledge – axiomatically graspable concept: “all knowledge seems to be teachable, and what is known is learnable.”
#3. Practical Judgmentjudgment used in making good decisions upon overall actions (when specific, it is art)
#4. Wisdom – a combination of common sense (nous) and knowledge; it only belongs to the wise; however, we don’t need it, since we have:
#5. Common sense – or intellect, it deals with unarticulated truths and is what helps us perfect our virtues.

Book VII

Here Aristotle discusses self-restraint.

If one is virtuous only when treading the middle road, then self-restraint is a very important value one must learn to acquire.

It is also something that must be furthered by the laws of a country, which means that the lawgivers should really understand the essence of not only pleasure and pain, but self-restraint as well.

The good news: self-restraint is not a vice, and can be taught.

In other words, practical guides for self-mastery are as old as time.

Book VIII

“Without friends,” writes Aristotle, “no one would want to live, even if he had all other goods.”

This is the reason why Books VIII and IX are dedicated to the topic of friendship.

There are three types of friendship, according to Aristotle: useful, pleasant, and complete.

The complete friendship is the one everybody should strive for – it is one in which friends are capable of seeing what is likable in each other.

Unequal friendships, on the other hand – whether between rulers and subjects, or dominant and submissive people – are no friendships, and unjust societies hinder the possibility for real friendships.

Book IX

Still on friendship.

If you’re in a bad one, then you’re probably expecting from the other person things that he or she cannot offer, and/or vice versa.

If that is the case, you’ll never be satisfied, and it’s better that you break off the bond as soon as possible.

Of course, you should, first of all, understand your self because your friend is actually your second self.

This is why it is all but impossible for a person to be happy without having friends; and why sad people can be cheered up by, you’ve guessed it, friends.

When you have a good friend, it’s like you’re talking to yourself.

Only kindly.

Book X

According to Aristotle’s final book of the Nicomachean Ethics, happiness is tightly linked with pleasure.

All beings – whether rational or irrational – instinctively tend toward pleasure and away from pain.

The only life worth living is the one in which you enjoy the right things in the right amounts – because, basically, that is what happiness is.

Key Lessons from “Nicomachean Ethics”

1.      Aristotle Says That Self-Help Books Are a Good Thing
2.      One Can Learn to Be Good
3.      The Golden Mean

Aristotle Says That Self-Help Books Are a Good Thing

You can think that you’re good, but unless you demonstrate your goodness through your deeds, nobody would believe you.

In other words, if you talk the talk but refuse to walk the walk, you’re the opposite of good: you’re a liar, and a hypocrite, and an altogether lousy person.

Analogously, according to Aristotle, there’s no point in merely theoretically analyzing what is good and what is virtuous; the point is teaching people how to be good.

Which is precisely what many self-help books are doing today.

We feel that Aristotle would have endorsed them.

One Can Learn to Be Good

The good news: you can learn to be a good person.

The bad news: it requires a lot of effort.

And don’t pat yourself on your shoulder thinking that not knowing that something is bad gives you an excuse for doing it; you can always learn, so this is always merely a temporary alibi.

No matter who you are.

The Golden Mean

If you need to take away one thing of the Nicomachean Ethics, then, by all means, let it be this one: treat the golden middle way.

Excesses and deficiencies destroy virtues, says Aristotle, which can only be found in moderation.

Too much courage leads to recklessness; too little of it to cowardice.

And this is true with all other virtues.

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“Nicomachean Ethics Quotes”

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. Click To Tweet Philosophy can make people sick. Click To Tweet The good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life. Click To Tweet Freedom is obedience to self-formulated rules. Click To Tweet With the truth, all given facts harmonize; but with what is false, the truth soon hits a wrong note. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

It is difficult to exaggerate how revered and influential Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics has been throughout the history of philosophy.

Quite possibly, it may be the single most debated ethical work ever written.

Which renders our critical review all but obsolete.

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The Giving Tree PDF Summary

The Giving Tree PDF SummaryWell, the softness of this book made it a mark for critics and admirers alike to share their viewpoints.

We don’t prefer the term “book” since we believe it is more of a story which tries to put a broader perspective of inter-relationships into the spotlight.

It is also embellished with illustrations which paint an accurate image of how the plot intensifies.

Who Should Read “The Giving Tree”? And Why?

Firstly published in 1964, “The Giving Tree” rose to prominence due to its original motives. It remained Silverstein’s best work which was translated into numerous languages.

With that being said, we without any equivocation endorse this story and recommend it to the wider audience despite the generational differences.

Shel SilversteinAbout Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein was an American-born cartoonist, poet and a writer born at the height of the Great Depression in 1930.

His work will always remain etched into the hearts of his faithful audience.

“The Giving Tree PDF Summary”

When written, the book didn’t receive many admirations, since it was rejected due to various reasons. One editor at Simon & Schuster even claimed that the book is not cheerful for the kids, and simply not substantial for the grown-ups.

It wasn’t the flying start Shel had been hoping for.

Upon publishing, The Giving Tree received mixed recognitions, praises and often times – critics. Apparently, the main context had aroused controversy in terms of the interpretation of the storyline.

The narrative commences with a simple introduction of the main characters, but the emphasis falls on the relationship between a female tree and a boy.

The boy would come along and gather the leaves, make crowns and imagine of being a king of the dense forest. He would also play with the tree by climbing up and hanging on the branches.

The story continues by expressing the boy’s desires of eating the fruits (apples) from the tree. And when the boy got tired, he simply decided to rest in the shade.

Once the boy had its sleep, he would play hide-and-seek with the tree as they spend much of the time together.

The culmination of the plot rises to the surface as the boy grows older. The boy no more shares that innate desire to pick up leaves and eat apples; he is in need of things.

The tree gives him a proposition, to pick up the apples from the ground and those on the tree and sell them to make money.

And the boy started gathering the apples and putting them in a basket with an intention to sell them later.

The tree felt abandoned as the boy continued his routine.

One day, the tree asked the boy to climb up the trunk and swing a little bit, just like in the old days.

The boy replied that he is in need of a house to keep him warm. The tree allowed the boy to cut off some of the branches and build a beautiful house. And that will eventually make him happy.

So the boy did like he was told!

The next time the tree laid eyes upon the boy, it felt immense happiness. The boy, however, felt no urge to play with the tree and wanted a boat to sail away.

The tree told the boy to cut off its trunk and build a boat, that will make him happy. After a long time, the boy returned and saw the heartbroken tree with nothing left to give.

My apples are gone
My teeth are too weak for apples – said the boy
My branches are gone, you cannot swing on them
I am too old to swing on branches – said the boy.
My trunk is gone, you cannot climb
I am too tired to climb – said the boy.

I just want a place to sit and rest. The tree invited the boy to rest, and it was happy.

Key Lessons from “The Giving Tree”

1.      The power of gratitude
2.      Break out from the bubble of greed
3.      Be careful what you wish for

The power of gratitude

Every now and then, people are not happy with the life they have, and they are in full pursuit for more. It is almost a global phenomenon that keeps us miserable for the entire life-span.

Some people have never once expressed glimpses of thankfulness, and that is why gratitude must emerge.

Break out from the bubble of greed

It comes as no surprise that is not easy to tackle that unquenchable hunger. We are taught that people must always struggle in order to battle through due to lack of money or status.

For precisely that reason, one must figure out a way to shift its mindset and adopt a more open approach.

Be careful what you wish for

Sometimes the things you crave so deeply, are the things that are going to bring you a lot of suffering. Take lottery-winners, for example; there are many suicidal cases which are a direct consequence of winning the lottery.

Stay with both feet on your ground and ponder about your decisions!

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Our Critical Review

We can say that this is one of the most thought-provoking and mindful stories we have ever bump into. It truly reflects people’s attitude toward life and unravels the exact causes leading to suffering.

It stands to reason why we believe it will benefit you regardless of your age or position.

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The Brothers Karamazov Summary

The Brothers Karamаzov SummaryThere aren’t many novelists more famous or discussed than Fyodor M. Dostoevsky.

And there is one novel in his oeuvre – completed just four months before his death – that stands out:

The Brothers Karamazov.

Who Should Read “The Brothers Karamazov”? And Why?

Let us put it this way: if you had to read only ten novels in your life, The Brothers Karamazov should undoubtedly be among them.

See “Our Critical Review” section for more.

Or trust our word and read this book as soon as you find the time.

Fyodor M. Dostoevsky Biography

Fyodor M. DostoevskyFyodor M. Dostoevsky was a Russian writer, one of the masters of the psychological novel and, according to many, one of the very greatest novelists in the history of literature.

Dostoevsky lived somewhat chaotic life, which, at one point, resulted in a death sentence, commuted at the very last second. The experience scarred Dostoevsky for life, and even though at times he had to beg for money – most of which he had the habit of squandering on gambling – he never lost his Orthodox Christian faith.

He wrote 17 short stories, 3 novellas, and 11 novels; each of them has been analyzed in detail by literary critics and theorists from all over the world.

However, three of his novels are widely considered to be not only part of the European Literary Canon, but also its very center: Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov.

Dostoevsky influenced so many prominent writers and thinkers that even a long list of them would be unfair to some of the greatest novelists of the 20th century.

Plot

Set in 19th-century Russia, The Brothers Karamazov is a philosophical novel which explores the interrelation between God, free will, and ethics through the lives of four half-brothers, each one more memorable than the next.

It is, indeed, one of those “once-in-a-century” masterworks which are bound to touch the hearts of many readers and even change the minds of many others.

At about 1,000 pages, The Brothers Karamazov is a rather long work, and there are quite a few characters in it; since, at times, our summary may seem a bit difficult for you to follow, we prepared for you a simplified genealogical table of the main characters in the novel.

Return to it every time you have troubles navigating yourself in the story.

The Brothers Karamаzov PDF

Book One: A Nice Little Family

The first book of The Brothers Karamazov introduces the Karamazov family.

Here we learn many things about Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, the 55-year-old head of the family. He is a parasite, utterly uninterested about the fate of his sons, and he has at least three of them.

Dmitri Karamazov, aka Mitya, is his eldest son, the only child of his marriage with Adelaida Ivanovna Miusov. He is engaged to be married to Katerina Ivanovna Verkhovtseva, aka Katya, but openly expresses his admiration for Agrafena Alexandrovna Svetlova, aka Grushenka. Strangely enough, Fyodor too has some lustful feelings for Grushenka.

Ivan Karamazov, at 24, is Fyodor’s middle son, the first from his marriage with Sofia Ivanovna. He has some feelings for Katya, his half-brother’s fiancée, and is an atheist.

Alexei Karamazov, aka Alyosha, is the youngest of the three brothers (20 years old), and the second child of Fyodor’s second marriage. Contrary to Ivan, Alexei is a novice in a local Russian Orthodox monastery, a member of a somewhat mysterious religious order of Elders.

Book Two: An Inappropriate Gathering

Dmitri is similar to his father: both spend large amounts of money on earthly pleasures; and, at the beginning of the novel, Dmitri comes back to his birth house in search of some inheritance he believes his father is withholding from him.

So as to solve the dispute, in the second book, the Karamazovs visit a local monastery where Father Zosima, the Elder, Alyosha’s teacher, can act as a sort of a spiritual mediator.

Let’s just say, for all his effort, he doesn’t do a good job; at the end, the conflict between Dmitri and Fyodor is only made worse.

Book Three: Sensualists

Here we learn that the conflict over the inheritance isn’t the only one Dmitri and Fyodor have between them.

As we noted above, they are both passionately in love with the same person, the 22-year-old Grushenka.

So it comes as no wonder that in Book Three, Dmitri bursts into the house of his father, assaults Fyodor, and threatens to come back and kill him at some point in the future.

The third book also introduces Pavel Smerdyakov, a servant at Fyodor’s house but also someone everybody believes to be Fyodor’s illegitimate child by a mute woman of the street who died in childbirth.

Everybody knew her as “Reeking Lizaveta” which is why Pavel’s surname is Smerdyakov: that is Russian for Reeking.

Pavel was raised by Fyodor’s servant Grigory Vasilievich Kutuzov and his wife Marfa and has spent all of his life working as Fyodor’s cook and lackey.

He is also an epileptic whose pretty worrisome childhood habits include one of collecting stray cats and hanging them.

Book Four: Lacerations/Strains

Book four introduces the side story of the Snegiryov family.

It begins with Alyosha noticing a group of schoolboys throwing rocks at a boy whose name, we learn, is Ilyusha. Alyosha helps him, but Ilyusha bites his finger.

The reason?

He is the son of a former staff-captain who was once humiliated by Dmitri in a bar fight.

Learning of the many problems the Snegiryov family is in, Alyosha tries to give some money to Ilyusha’s father, both to help his ailing wife and as an apology for the behavior of his brother.

Out of pride, Snegiryov eventually refuses the money.

Book Five: Pro and Contra

Ivan meets Alyosha at a restaurant and Dostoevsky uses this meeting to pit one against other their profoundly incompatible and conflicting philosophies.

Ivan explains his nihilistic atheism to his brother, and, in one of the most famous chapters ever written, “The Grand Inquisitor,” recounts a supposed poem of his (though there are almost no verses) which describes the meeting of Jesus and a leader of the Spanish Inquisition in 15th-century Seville.

As expected – even though nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition – the Grand Inquisitor puts Jesus in jail, and asks him:

Why shouldst Thou now return, to impede us in our work? For Thou hast come but for that only, and Thou knowest it well. But art Thou as well aware of what awaits Thee in the morning? I do not know, nor do I care to know who thou mayest be: be it Thou or only thine image, to-morrow I will condemn and burn Thee on the stake, as the most wicked of all the heretics; and that same people, who to-day were kissing Thy feet, to-morrow at one bend of my finger, will rush to add fuel to Thy funeral pile… Wert Thou aware of this?

However, after the Grand Inquisitor makes his argument that it’s all Jesus’ fault for he should not have given men free will, Jesus “bends towards him and softly kisses the bloodless, four-score and-ten-year-old lips.”

The Grand Inquisitor shudders, and then “goes to the door, opens it, and addressing Jesus, ‘Go,’ he says, ‘go, and return no more.”

Even though the kiss burns inside the Inquisitor’s heart, “the old man remains firm in his own ideas and unbelief.”

After hearing the story, suddenly, Alyosha goes to Ivan kisses his brother on the lips.

Ivan is stunned and shouts with delight.

Book Six: The Russian Monk

This book deals almost exclusively with Father Zosima, relating his life from his rebellious youth to his death, as he lies on the brink of it in his cell.

We learn that he found God in the middle of a duel, and that, ever since he has served Him and humanity.

His religious philosophy is much akin to Donne’s “no man is an island” or Martin Luther King’s “inescapable network of mutuality.”

Namely, we all sin, but all of our sins are interrelated; so, redemption starts at the moment one finds the courage to forgive other people’s sins, for which he is almost as responsible as for his own.

Book Seven: Alyosha

After the death of Zosima, his body starts decomposing.

A fact of life, you’d think, but, to Alyosha and almost everybody who had ever known or respected Zosima, nothing short of the Apocalypse.

You see, it is a commonly held belief that the bodies of saints are incorrupt and, thus, after death, they do not decompose.

However, Zosima’s starts the process almost immediately, and after a single day, the smell it exudes is unbearable.

This visibly and genuinely shakes Alyosha’s beliefs.

A companion of his named Rakitin uses Alyosha’s vulnerability to set up a meeting between him and Grushenka.

However, the joke’s on him, because it is through this meeting that Alyosha finds the thing he had temporarily lost: profound faith.

Moreover, upon her discussion with him, Grushenka also starts thinking of spiritual redemption and sees in Alyosha someone who may help her find this path; because, for once, he doesn’t care about her body, but about her soul.

The two become close friends.

The book ends with Alyosha kissing the earth and convulsively crying, probably mirroring the last thing Father Zosima did before leaving his earthly body.

Book Eight: Mitya

In Book Eight, we find out that Dmitri owes money to his fiancée Katerina, and that he fears that Grushenka will choose his father over him because of his lack of money.

This is the reason why he was so interested in his father’s inheritance in the first place, and why, in this book, he goes to a neighboring town.

However, the promise of a business deal there fails, and when he returns back, he discovers that Grushenka is not where she is supposed to be.

He immediately goes to his father’s house, with a brass pestle in his hand.

The next thing we know, he’s hitting the servant Gregory in his head with the pestle, and running away from Fyodor’s house in mad haste.

He’s all covered in blood, and there’s a pile of money in his hand.

To make matters worse, next he finds out that Grushenka is, in fact, with an ex-lover of her. Dmitri heads to where they are supposed to be, planning to humiliate Grushenka and kill himself the next morning.

However, there he learns that Grushenka is in love with him.

As soon as they start making plans to marry, the policemen arrive and arrest Dmitri on suspicion that he has murdered Fyodor.

Book Nine: The Preliminary Investigation

Even though Dmitri maintains that he has nothing to do with his father’s death, all of the evidence points to him.

First of all, everybody knows of the conflict between the two.

Secondly, the money Fyodor had set aside for Grushenka is missing, and Dmitri was seen running bloodstained with thousands of rubles in his hand soon after Fyodor’s murder.

Thirdly, Dmitri needed money – both because of his debt to Katerina and because of his planned marriage with Grushenka.

And finally, there was no one else in the house except for Dmitri and Pavel, and the latter had an epileptic seizure which should have rendered him incapable to even attack, let alone kill Fyodor.

You can’t blame the police for formally charging Dmitri with patricide and locking him up in prison while awaiting trial.

Book Ten: Boys

Now, we’re back to the side story.

In addition to being informed that Ilyusha’s sickness has worsened and that he will probably not recover, we are also introduced to one of the boys who, back in Book Four, threw stones at Ilyusha: Kolya Krasotkin.

It seems that the reason for the scuffle between the two was Ilyusha’s decision to accept a suggestion by Smerdyakov and feed a dog with a loaf of bread in which he had stuck a sharp pin.

Through Alyosha’s intervention, Kolya and the other schoolboys gradually reconcile with Ilyusha and join him at his bedside.

Here, Kolya shares his socialistic, nihilistic, atheist theories with Alyosha, whose words strike a chord with him; by the end of this book, Kolya starts reassessing his beliefs.

Book Eleven: Brother Ivan Fyodorovich

Brother Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov, one of the most memorable characters in the history of world literature, slowly descends into madness.

During the course of Book Eleven, he has three meetings with Smerdyakov, the last one of which is the most striking one.

Namely, Smerdyakov confesses to Ivan that he was the one who had murdered Fyodor and stolen his money, after faking an epileptic seizure; he even presents the stolen money as evidence.

Ivan is stunned to hear this, but Smerdyakov is even more surprised at Ivan’s disbelief.

As far as Smerdyakov is concerned, Ivan is at least as responsible for the murder as himself, because he had told him when he would be leaving the house and because he made him believe that in a world without God everything is permitted.

Book Eleven ends with Ivan hallucinating a visitation from the devil, who torments and taunts him by mocking his beliefs.

It is in this condition that Alyosha finds him and informs him that Smerdyakov has committed suicide.

Book Twelve: A Judicial Error

Book Twelve is practically a courtroom drama, detailing the trial of Dmitri Karamazov.

As one would expect, the part which attracts the most attention at the trial is the love triangle between Dmitri, Grushenka, and Fyodor.

Another thing which attracts attention is Ivan, who recounts his final meeting with Smerdyakov and tells of his confession.

Nobody believes him: he is dragged away from the courtroom after his madness takes hold of him.

Katerina – who, by this time, has developed feelings for Ivan – links Ivan’s madness with her supposed love for Dmitri.

So, she presents to the court a letter in which Dmitri says that he would kill Fyodor.

You know the verdict:

Guilty.

The Brothers Karamazov Epilogue

In the “Epilogue” to The Brothers Karamazov, we learn that the brothers are planning to help Dmitri – who they know is not guilty – escape from his sentence of 20 years of labor in Siberia.

We also learn that Dmitri is, in the meantime, in hospital, recovering from an illness and waiting to be taken away.

He begs to be visited by Katerina, who eventually does that.

Dmitri uses the occasion to apologize to her for all the pain he has caused her; Katerina, in turn, apologizes for the letter she had presented during the trial.

They part agreeing to love each other until their deaths – even though they are in love with different people at the moment.

In the meantime, Ilyusha dies, and at this funeral, Alyosha gives a speech to his friends from school. In the speech, he promises to remember each and every one of them and implores them to remember Ilyusha in much the same manner.

Moreover, he requests from them to remember, until it is possible, the beauty of that very moment, at the stone of Ilyusha, when everybody was together and when they all loved each other.

In tears, the children agree to do that and, after joining hands, they all return to the house of Snegiryov.

There, they hold a funeral dinner, during which everybody chants: “Hurrah for Karamazov! Hurrah for Karamazov!”

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“The Brothers Karamazov Summary Quotes”

The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man. Click To Tweet I can see the sun, but even if I cannot see the sun, I know that it exists. And to know that the sun is there - that is living. Click To Tweet I think the devil doesn't exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness. Click To Tweet Besides, nowadays, almost all capable people are terribly afraid of being ridiculous, and are miserable because of it. Click To Tweet What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Albert Einstein thought that The Brothers Karamazov was “the supreme summit of all literature.” Sigmund Freud believed that it is “the most magnificent novel ever written.” Ludwig Wittgenstein read it “so often he knew whole passages of it by heart.” He even brought it with him to the front.

Believe us – we can go on.

But we don’t think there’s any need to do that.

Simply put, The Brothers Karamazov is one of the greatest achievements in world literature.

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21 Lessons for the 21st Century PDF Summary

21 Lessons for the 21st Century PDF SummaryFeeling unprepared for what lies ahead?

Yuval Noah Harari is here to teach you

21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

Who Should Read “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”? And Why?

If you like Harari’s previous two books, Sapiens and Homo Deus, there’s no reason not to like this one too.

You know that he is capable of offering new perspectives and fresh insights into familiar topics, and this book proves this yet again.

Whether it’s history, politics, technology or biology – Harari knows just enough to paint the larger picture, “smashing together unexpected ideas into dazzling observations.”

A great gift for big-picture thinkers.

About Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah HarariYuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian, specializing in macro-historical processes and the history of war; he is a professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the author of three bestsellers.

Harari’s first three books were published in relative obscurity though received acclaim among war historians: Renaissance Military Memoirs: War, History and Identity, 1450–1600, Special Operations in the Age of Chivalry, 1100–1550, and The Ultimate Experience: Battlefield Revelations and the Making of Modern War Culture, 1450–2000.

Influenced by Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, and published in 2014, Harari’s fourth book, Sapiens, a sketch of the history of humankind, made him an international intellectual superstar; Homo Deus was written as a sequel to Sapiens, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century revisits some of the ideas analyzed in these two books.

Find out more at https://www.ynharari.com/.

“21 Lessons for the 21st Century PDF Summary”

21 Lessons for the 21st Century is, as suggested by its very title and described in a Guardian review, “a loose collection of themed essays, many of which build on articles for the New York Times, Bloomberg and elsewhere.”

Harari has chosen to group these into five parts, each of which includes a few (three, four or five) essays on different topics.

Part I: The Technological Challenge

The first part of Harari’s book consists of four chapters, covering the topics of disillusionment, work, liberty, and equality.

The gist of it is stated in the subtitle of the main chapter:

Humankind is losing faith in the liberal story that dominated global politics in recent decades, exactly when the merger of biotech and infotech confronts us with the biggest challenges humankind has ever encountered.

And the first four lessons are:

#1. The end of history has been postponed
#2. When you grow up, you might not have a job
#3. Big Data is watching you
#4. Those who own the data own the future

Harari is interested here into how and to what extent computer technology is disrupting almost every single sphere of our existence.

His main point is that up to recently, we used computers and robots to automatize some mechanical processes. And that was not bad at all.

However, we’re at a stage when automating cognitive processes is not anymore just a possibility, but also an inevitable part of the future.

Modern neuroscience has all but confirmed what we’ve feared for quite some time – namely, that even our brains maybe just machines. Exceptionally complex, but machines nevertheless.

And if that is the case, not much time will pass before we build a God-Brain, a supercomputer which will know much more than us.

In that world, human intuition will have no value whatsoever, and all important decisions will be made by AI.

Don’t believe us?

Just remember that back in the 1990s, nobody believed that computers will ever beat a human at chess. Nowadays, no chess player is capable of beating a computer. In fact, now computers are teaching humans to play chess.

So, prepare for a world ruled by AI.

Harari’s serious.

Part II: The Political Challenge

The second part of Harari’s book deals with the political climate of the 21st century, exploring the nature of present-day communities, civilizations, nationalism, religion, and immigration.

Once again, the main lesson is chilling:

The merger of infotech and biotech threatens the core modern values of liberty and equality. Any solution to the technological challenge has to involve global cooperation. But nationalism, religion and culture divide humankind into hostile camps and make it very difficult to cooperate on a global level.

The subtitles of the five essays which comprise this chapter say a lot by themselves.

#5. Humans have bodies
#6. There is just one civilization in the world
#7. Global problems need global answers
#8. God now serves the nation
#9. Some cultures might be better than others

To understand Harari’s analyses and opinions from this very important section of the book, you must first go back to Samuel Huntington and his “clash of civilizations” thesis, according to which, humankind “has always been divided into diverse civilizations whose members view the world in irreconcilable ways.”

In other words, the Western liberals and the Eastern Muslims are as different from each other as wolves and bears. “These incompatible world views make conflicts between civilizations inevitable… and only the fittest have survived to tell the tale.”

The very existence of such cross-cultural creations such as the European Union is evidence enough that this thesis is misleading. However, the current state of affairs unravels the dualistic existence of the modern world.

On one side, the great issues of this century – such as, for example, climate change and nuclear weapons – require a global community; on the other, immigration and nationalism form the basis of the defense mechanism of those threatened by globalization.

Is there a way out?

Read ahead!

Part III: Despair and Hope

The five essays which comprise the third part of Harari’s book try to answer some of the questions posited in the first two parts of 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

Aptly titled, the “Despair and Hope” chapter treats – in five essays – subjects such as terrorism, war, humility, god, and secularism, and ultimately boils down to this:

Though the challenges are unprecedented, and though the disagreements are intense, humankind can rise to the occasion if we keep our fears under control and be a bit more humble about our views.

#10. Don’t panic
#11. Never underestimate human stupidity
#12. You are not the center of the world
#13. Don’t take the name of God in vain
#14. Acknowledge your shadow

As far as Harari is concerned, the best way a human being can keep its fears under control and be a bit more humble about his or her views is secularism, something which “can provide us with all the values we need.”

Unlike dogmatic stories – political or religious – secularism presupposes doubt and critical mindset, as well as a coherent set of values, such as equality, compassion, freedom, truth, courage, and responsibility.

It also allows us to make these kinds of analyses.

During the past 17 years – meaning: since the 9/11 attacks – no more than 50 people are killed by terrorists in the European Union on a yearly basis. During that same period, 80,000 Europeans have died in traffic accidents.

So why are we talking so much about terrorism?

Simply put, because we’re stupid and we’re playing the game terrorists want us to play.

They are proverbially nothing more than flies on the bulls in a china shop. Unable to cause much damage themselves, they merely create a buzz so that the bulls cause it in their stead.

Part IV: Truth

If you ask us, this fourth part may be the most important one of the whole book, encompassing four enlightening essays on ignorance, justice, post-truth and science fiction.

The main lesson:

If you feel overwhelmed and confused by the global predicament, you are on the right track. Global processes have become too complicated for any single person to understand. How then can you know the truth about the world, and avoid falling victim to propaganda and misinformation?

The four sub-lessons:

#15. You know less than you think
#16. Our sense of justice might be out of date
#17. Some fake news lasts forever
#18. The future is not what you see in the movies

Harari’s starting point is one he has already analyzed in detail in Sapiens. Namely, that much of what we do and have accomplished is the result of our capacity to believe in fictions.

Comparing religion to what Donald Trump named “fake news,” Harari notes sarcastically that, “when a thousand people believe some made-up story for one month, that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years, that’s a religion, and we are admonished not to call it fake news in order not to hurt the feelings of the faithful (or incur their wrath).”

The point is simple: it is difficult nowadays to distinguish between facts and fiction, because every single aspect of our existence is so intricate and complex that not many people are able to understand it.

Embracing our ignorance is the only road towards salvation.

Because you’re helping nobody if you are talking about the war in Ukraine or climate change even though you are not that interested into politics and don’t know a single thing about meteorology.

Part V: Resilience

The fifth part of Harari’s book is the shortest one, comprising only three essays on education, meaning, and meditation.

And instead of a lesson, it is framed by a very thought-provoking question:

How do you live in an age of bewilderment, when the old stories have collapsed, and no new story has yet emerged to replace them?

The final three lessons are also pretty short:

#19. Change is the only constant
#20. Life is not a story
#21. Just observe

What lies beneath them is an exploration of Harari’s personal understanding of how should one act in this age of bewilderment.

“Having criticized so many stories, religions and ideologies,” he writes, “it is only fair that I put myself in the firing line too, and explain how somebody so skeptical can still manage to wake up cheerful in the morning.”

Completely aware of the fact that what works for him might not work for everybody, Harari shares his love of meditation and advocates it as an antidote to the chaotic world of today.

In his eyes, there are no more over-arching stories to guide us through our day, but there have always been – and always will be – feelings that define our experience.

And they stream through us.

And it’s about time that we get to know them.

Our systems of education should mirror this thirst for self-discovery and teach us to critically analyze the world instead of merely teaching us to memorize facts and trivial data.

The man of the future is the Skeptic, an always curious Socrates aware of his ignorance and ready to get to the bottom of it.

Key Lessons from “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”

1.      The World Is Changing Faster Than Ever, and We’re Failing to Acknowledge This
2.      The Age of Bewilderment: Do We Have a Story?
3.      The 22nd Lesson: Be a Socrates

The World Is Changing Faster Than Ever, and We’re Failing to Acknowledge This

21 Lessons for the 21st Century tries to make sense of many political, social, and technological changes humankind faces at the moment.

In the opinion of Harari, many of these changes are as inevitable as death and taxes, and yet very few people acknowledge that they are happening.

For example, automation all but guarantees a very recent future in which many people will be left without jobs, and, for some reason, neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton discussed this problem during the 2016 presidential campaign.

What they chose to talk about most was, say, terrorism, even though, essentially, this is basically unimportant topic and is, in fact, what terrorists want to achieve.

They are much more marginal than hundreds of groups of people, and yet, fighting against terrorism is the focus of American – nay, world – foreign policy ever since September 11.

In the meantime, Facebook has gathered data of just about everybody on the planet, automated cars are on the verge of eliminating the need of human drivers altogether, and religion has stopped being an important part of the lives of most Europeans.

So why are we still talking about free will, open jobs, and God?

The Age of Bewilderment: Do We Have a Story?

As stated above, the subtitle of the fifth part of Harari’s book posits a very important question: “How do you live in an age of bewilderment, when the old stories have collapsed, and no new story has yet emerged to replace them?”

As Harari explained all too well in Sapiens, our species exists precisely because of these stories, fiction being “among the most effective tools in humanity’s toolkit.”

Everything – from money to religion to laws – is, in its essence, a big lie; but since these lies come with a story, and we are storytelling chimpanzees by our very nature, we’ve chosen to believe them.

And we’ve made a good choice, since this has helped us create communities and civilization itself.

However, at present, we have a fairly serious problem: a large number of people are uninterested in believing these stories.

Considering the fact that some of them – be that fascism or communism, nationalism or almost every single religion – have wreaked havoc on the world for millennia, this, according to Harari, may not be such a bad thing after all.

“So,” he notes something Jordan Peterson would probably sign as well, “if you want to know the truth about the universe, about the meaning of life, and about your own identity, the best place to start is by observing suffering and exploring what it is.”

“The answer is not a story,” he adds.

The 22nd Lesson: Be a Socrates

So, what is it?

Of course, Harari’s book doesn’t include a 22nd lesson; however, inspired by the Guardian review quoted at the very beginning of our summary, we felt compelled to add it, meshing a few of Harari’s insights into one very actionable advice.

And we feel that it’s good if we start explaining Harari’s point by quoting this passage from the 18th chapter of the book:

Unlike the creators of The Matrix and The Truman Show, Huxley doubted the possibility of escape, because he questioned whether there was anybody to make the escape.
Since your brain and your ‘self’ are part of the matrix, to escape the matrix you must escape your self. That, however, is a possibility worth exploring. Escaping the narrow definition of self might well become a necessary survival skill in the twenty-first century.

In other words, we are our brains and it is impossible for us to escape them.

So, in order to not be brainwashed, doubt everything!

Admit your ignorance before yourself and be skeptical.

Listen to each and every story – coming from many different people – and try to find cracks as often as you can.

Understand your mind before the algorithms of tomorrow start making your mind up for you.

Contemplate, reflect, ruminate, muse, meditate.

You know, be a Socrates.

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“21 Lessons for the 21st Century Quotes”

In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power. Click To Tweet Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question. Click To Tweet Morality doesn’t mean ‘following divine commands’. It means ‘reducing suffering’. Hence in order to act morally, you don’t need to believe in any myth or story. You just need to develop a deep appreciation of suffering. Click To Tweet Silence isn’t neutrality; it is supporting the status-quo. Click To Tweet Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

If we are perfectly honest, Harari is better at detecting the problems humankind is facing at the moment than offering appropriate solutions, so the title of his newest book may be a bit misleading.

In addition, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century recycles many of his past ideas, so don’t expect anything revolutionary here.

Even so, we think that Harari’s book feels like a breath of fresh air in an intellectual world where many people seem to know more than they do and many others predict the apocalypse without even understanding that this is the same as shouting fire in a crowdy theatre.

At least he’s also saying “don’t panic.”

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