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

ISBN-10: 0060929642

ISBN-13: 9780060929640

Edition: 2004

Authors: Charles Murray

List price: $24.95
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Description:

A sweeping cultural survey reminiscent of Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence . "At irregular times and in scattered settings, human beings have achieved great things. Human Accomplishment is about those great things, falling in the domains known as the arts and sciences, and the people who did them.' 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 have rarely 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.
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Book details

List price: $24.95
Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/9/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 688
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.540
Language: English

Acknowledgments
A Note on Presentation
Introduction
A Sense of Accomplishment
A Sense of Time
A Sense of Mystery
A Sense of Place
A Sense of Wonder
Identifying the People and Events That Matter
Excellence and Its Identification
The Lotka Curve
The People Who Matter I: Significant Figures
The People Who Matter II: The Giants
The Events That Matter I: Significant Events
The Events That Matter II: Meta-Inventions
Patterns and Trajectories
Coming to Terms with the Role of Modern Europe
... and of Dead White Males
Concentrations of European and American Accomplishment
Taking Population into Account: The Accomplishment Rate
Explanations I: Peace and Prosperity
Explanations II: Models, Elite Cities, and Freedom of Action
What's Left to Explain?
On the Origins and Decline of Accomplishment
The Aristotelian Principle
Sources of Energy: Purpose and Autonomy
Sources of Content: The Organizing Structure and Transcendental Goods
Is Accomplishment Declining?
Summation
Appendices
Statistics for People Who Are Sure They Can't Learn Statistics
Construction of the Inventories and the Eminence Index
Inventory Sources
Geographic and Population Data
The Roster of the Significant Figures
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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