Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950

Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950

by Charles Murray
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 0060929642

ISBN-13: 2900060929649

Pub. Date: 11/09/2004

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

So begins Charles Murray's unique account of human excellence, from the age of Homer to our own time. Employing techniques that historians have developed over the last century but that rarely have been applied to books written for the general public, Murray compiles inventories of the people who have been essential to the stories of literature, music, art, philosophy,

Overview

So begins Charles Murray's unique account of human excellence, from the age of Homer to our own time. Employing techniques that historians have developed over the last century but that rarely have been applied to books written for the general public, Murray compiles inventories of the people who have been essential to the stories of literature, music, art, philosophy, and the sciences -- a total of 4,002 men and women from around the world, ranked according to their eminence. The heart of Human Accomplishment is a series of enthralling descriptive chapters: on the giants in the arts and what sets them apart from the merely great; on the differences between great achievement in the arts and in the sciences; on the meta-inventions, 14 crucial leaps in human capacity to create great art and science; and on the patterns and trajectories of accomplishment across time and geography.

Straightforwardly and undogmatically, Charles Murray takes on some controversial questions: Why has accomplishment been so concentrated in Europe? Among men? Since 1400? He presents evidence that the rate of great accomplishment has been declining in the last century, asks what it means, and offers a rich framework for thinking about the conditions under which the human spirit has expressed itself most gloriously. Eye-opening and humbling, Human Accomplishment is a fascinating work that describes what humans at their best can achieve, provides tools for exploring its wellsprings, and celebrates the continuing common quest of humans everywhere to discover truths, create beauty, and apprehend the good.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900060929649
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/09/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
688

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsix
A Note on Presentationxiii
Introductionxv
Part 1A Sense of Accomplishment1
1.A Sense of Time3
2.A Sense of Mystery13
3.A Sense of Place25
4.A Sense of Wonder53
Part 2Identifying the People and Events That Matter57
5.Excellence and Its Identification59
6.The Lotka Curve87
7.The People Who Matter I: Significant Figures107
8.The People Who Matter II: The Giants119
9.The Events That Matter I: Significant Events155
10.The Events That Matter II: Meta-Inventions209
Part 3Patterns and Trajectories245
11.Coming to Terms with the Role of Modern Europe247
12.... and of Dead White Males265
13.Concentrations of European and American Accomplishment295
14.Taking Population into Account: The Accomplishment Rate309
15.Explanations I: Peace and Prosperity331
16.Explanations II: Models, Elite Cities, and Freedom of Action353
17.What's Left to Explain?379
Part 4On the Origins and Decline of Accomplishment383
18.The Aristotelian Principle385
19.Sources of Energy: Purpose and Autonomy391
20.Sources of Content: The Organizing Structure and Transcendental Goods409
21.Is Accomplishment Declining?427
22.Summation449
Appendices459
1.Statistics for People Who Are Sure They Can't Learn Statistics461
2.Construction of the Inventories and the Eminence Index475
3.Inventory Sources491
4.Geographic and Population Data505
5.The Roster of the Significant Figures513
Notes589
Bibliography625
Index639

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >