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The world until yesterday : what can we learn from traditional societies?

by Diamond, Jared M.

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Summary

Diamond reveals how tribal societies offer an extraordinary window into how our ancestors lived for millions of years -- until virtually yesterday, in evolutionary terms -- and provide unique, often overlooked insights into human nature. Full description

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Table of Contents:
  • PROLOGUE: AT THE AIRPORT: An airport scene
  • Why study traditional societies?
  • States
  • Types of traditional societies
  • Approaches, causes, and sources
  • A small book about a big subject
  • PT. I: SETTING THE STAGE BY DIVIDING SPACE. Chapter 1. FRIENDS, ENEMIES, STRANGERS, AND TRADERS: A boundary
  • Mutually exclusive territories
  • Non-exclusive land use
  • Friends, enemies, and strangers
  • First contacts
  • Trade and traders
  • Market economies
  • Traditional forms of trade
  • Traditional trade items
  • Who trades what?
  • Tiny nation
  • PT. 2: PEACE AND WAR. Chapter 2. COMPENSATION FOR THE DEATH OF A CHILD: An accident
  • A ceremony
  • What if...?
  • What the state did
  • New Guinea compensation
  • Life-long relationships
  • Other non-state societies
  • State authority
  • State civil justice
  • Defects in state civil justice
  • State criminal justice
  • Restorative justice
  • Advantages and their pride
  • Chapter 3. A SHORT CHAPTER, ABOUT A TINY WAR: The Dani War
  • The war's time-line
  • The war's death toll
  • Chapter 4. A LONGER CHAPTER, ABOUT MANY WARS: Definitions of war
  • Forms of traditional warfare
  • Mortality rates
  • Similarities and differences
  • Ending warfare
  • Effects of European contact
  • Warlike animals, peaceful peoples
  • Motives for traditional war
  • Ultimate reasons
  • Whom do people fight?
  • Pearl Harbor
  • PT. 3: YOUNG AND OLD. Chapter 4. BRING UP CHILDREN: Comparisons of child-reading
  • Childbirth
  • Infanticide
  • Weaning and birth interval
  • On-demand nursing
  • Infant-adult contact
  • Fathers and allo-parents
  • Responses to crying infants
  • Physical punishment
  • Child autonomy
  • Multi-age playgroups
  • Child play and education
  • Their kids and our kids
  • Chapter 6. THE TREATMENT OF OLD PEOPLE: CHERISH, ABANDON, OR KILL? The elderly
  • Expectations about eldercare
  • Why abandon or kill?
  • Usefulness of old people
  • Society's values
  • Society's rules
  • Better or worse today?
  • What to do with older people
  • PT. 4: DANGER AND RESPONSE. Chapter 7. CONSTRUCTIVE PARANOIA: Attitudes towards danger
  • A night visit
  • A boat accident
  • Just a stick in the ground
  • Taking risks
  • Risks and talkativeness
  • Chapter 8. LIONS AND OTHER DANGERS: Dangers of traditional life
  • Accidents
  • Vigilance
  • Human violence
  • Diseases
  • Responses to diseases
  • Starvation
  • Unpredictable food shortages
  • Scatter your land
  • Seasonality and food storage
  • Diet broadening
  • Aggregation and dispersal
  • Responses to danger
  • PT. 5: RELIGION, LANGUAGE, AND HEALTH. Chapter 9. WHAT ELECTRIC EELS TELL US ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF RELIGION: Questions about religion
  • Definitions of religion
  • Functions and electric eels
  • The search for causal explanations
  • Supernatural beliefs
  • Religion's function of explanation
  • Defusing anxiety
  • Providing comfort
  • Organization and obedience
  • Codes of behavior towards strangers
  • Justifying war
  • Badges of commitment
  • Measures of religious success
  • Changes in religion's functions
  • Chapter 10. SPEAKING IN MANY TONGUES: Multilingualism
  • The world's language total
  • How languages evolve
  • Geography of language diversity
  • Traditional multilingualism
  • Benefits of bilingualism
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Vanishing languages
  • How languages disappear
  • Are minority languages harmful?
  • Why preserve language?
  • How can we protect languages?
  • Chapter 11. SALT, SUGAR, FAT, AND SLOTH: Non-communicable diseases
  • Our salt intake
  • Salt and blood pressure
  • Causes of hypertension
  • Dietary sources of salt
  • Diabetes
  • Types of diabetes
  • Genes, environment, and diabetes
  • Pima Indians and Nauru Islanders
  • Diabetes in India
  • Benefits of genes for diabetes
  • Why is diabetes low in Europeans?
  • The future of non-communicable diseases
  • EPILOGUE: AT ANOTHER AIRPORT: From the jungle to the 405
  • Advantages of the modern world
  • Advantages of the traditional world
  • What can we learn?
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