The Historical Process: The Views Of Jared Diamond, William Mc Neill, And Hans Zinsser

1402 words - 6 pages

When pressed with explaining the progression of human society to its current state and, more broadly, the historical process in general, one has several possible options. Three of the most compelling views, however, can be attributed to Jared Diamond, William McNeill, and Hans Zinsser. Although each offers a distinct model of how to understand chance and how history explains evolution, they all take radically different approaches. Diamond proposes that everything is explicable by a few simple laws and principles, and even goes so far as to suggest that there are no alternatives in history. McNeill argues that although there are loose, regulated principles at work, they do not dictate or explain everything; instead, he suggests that they create broad general patterns but adds that while there is pattern, there is also a fair amount of chance. Zinsser suggests simply that historians have largely disregarded disease as an agent of change. While all seem to be sound, when examining these three views on a more fundamental level, while focusing specifically on the role disease has played throughout history, it is evident that Zinsser’s stands as the most well-reasoned.
To understand why, let us first examine Diamond’s theory. Diamond, a professor of geography and physiology, offers the most deterministic point of view. He is of the opinion that history and its outcome can be easily explained by applying a few laws and principles, and accordingly that history has no alternatives. And as per Diamond’s postulation, it is indeed easy to retrospectively explain historical outcomes with these laws and principles, as evidenced by Diamond in his 1997 expository book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. In it, Diamond attempts to explain the dominance of Eurasian civilizations while discrediting the idea that their supremacy was due to any sort of inborn natural superiority. To do so, he offers eighteen factors for consideration including population density, geographical and climate conditions, and abundance of natural resources, among others. In regards to disease specifically, he suggests that Eurasian peoples increased resistance to pathogens due to biogeographic factors was a significant contributor to the history of modern civilization. In essence, Diamond’s explanation attempts to recategorize history as a hard science.
Diamond’s proposal is not without its flaws, however. While it is relatively easy to retrospectively attribute plausible causal factors to almost any event, there is no guarantee that any of these factors were the true cause. Moreover, Diamond’s simple laws and principles seem to justify the outcome of any historic event simply because they are deterministic in nature. On a moral level, this is particularly chilling when Diamond applies his laws and principles in explanation of Eurasian hegemony. Another criticism of Diamond’s view comes from John R. McNeill, son of historian William McNeill, whose own...

Find Another Essay On The Historical Process: The Views of Jared Diamond, William McNeill, and Hans Zinsser

Guns, Germs And Steel: The Credibility Of Jared Diamond's Theory

1373 words - 6 pages , the Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians. While one man, Prof. Jared Diamond argues that it was because of environmental conditions and geographical placement that some peoples were able to advance further and faster than another.But how credible is his theory.Two main weaknesses in Diamond's theory are:-Farming-GoodsDiamond argues that it is through farming that so many cultures advanced quickly and efficiently. The cultures that farmed

Differences between the extraverts and introverts of Hans Eysenck

1858 words - 7 pages ).One of the most influential trait theorists has been Hans Eysenck. Ryckman (1993) cites Eysenck's definition of personality as "a more or less stable and enduring organisation of a person's character. Temperament, intellect and physique, which determines his unique adjustment to the environment". (Ryckman, 1993, p.278). His theory of personality has gained global acceptance and is regarded as one of the major systems by which human personality is

Thriving of Europe in Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

777 words - 4 pages Guns, Germs, and Steel Geography Essay Why did certain early civilizations thrive and some fail? Jared Diamond, a famous author and scientist, explains in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel. He believes civilizations like the ones in Europe thrived because of geographical luck. Geographic luck is the idea that people in some areas got luckier than others. For example, the Fertile Crescent had a warm, moist climate, and fertile soil to grow wheat

Breakdown of an educated person, Refers also to articles by Mary E. Clark and William Zinsser

917 words - 4 pages an educated person is a firm grasp of the use ofLanguage. This person needs to develop the gift of relating his thoughts and feelings intoa clear and interesting way. Many people try to use large words and awkward vocabularyto sound educated, but a true educated person can relate an idea in a way that any personcould understand.In his article Simplicity, William Zinsser advocates this idea when he makes points like,'We are a society strangling in

Into the Mind of Hans Christian Andersen

2392 words - 10 pages Into the Mind of Hans Christian Andersen “Hans Christian Andersen was a product of two towns, two social environments, two worlds and two ages.” Said Johan de Mylius. Andersen was born on April 2, 1805 in Odense, Denmark. The only child to a poor shoe maker and a washerwoman, Andersen experienced the lower quality of life. As a young child he would roam the local town. He would often visit the home for the elderly in Odense where the old women

No Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

930 words - 4 pages In the novel Guns Germs and Steel, an American biologist named Jared Diamond is attempting to answer a question from a New Guinean politician named Yali, in July 1972. Yali asked him: (1)“Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people hat little cargo of our own?” For over thirty years, Diamond was investigating our inferred history for clues, to answer Yali’s question. He published a

Hans Holbein, The Ambassadors

1508 words - 6 pages Hans Holbein The Ambassadors ❦Introduction The Ambassadors is one of the most complex and arguably portrait which Holbein had painted. The purpose of this report is to analyze Han Holbein?fs painting, ?gThe Ambassadors?h. The main task of this report is to uncover the meaning of this painting, as it still remains unclear. Firstly, I will give a short introduction about the painter. Then, I will examine the characteristics of the

Historical Views of Leadership: Plato and Aristotle

1780 words - 7 pages What is leadership, and how do we attain the best and most effective leaders? These are questions that are as old as civilization itself. Bass (1974) wrote that, “from its infancy, the study of history has been the study of leaders” (as cited in Wren, 1995, p. 50). Since the study of history in the West is commonly held to begin with Herodotus of ancient Athens, it is not surprising that we should examine the historical views of leadership

The Diamond

1308 words - 5 pages The Diamond Diamond is the best known gem. It is known as the “king of gems” for its brilliance and for being the hardest mineral on earth. (Foa, p.50) Its characteristics enable it to be used for many different purposes. Since diamonds are the hardest gems on Mohs’ scale, they make useful tools for industrial purposes, such as drilling hard materials. However, they are quite rare, which makes them very valuable. Their beauty and brilliance

Handlin vs. McNeill - Should history be interpreted with strictly facts, as suggested by Oscar Handlin, or should the historian incorporate his own perspective as according to William H. McNeill?

651 words - 3 pages and use of history (Handlin 5). On the contrary, when scholars employ William McNeill's method of investigating history through interpretation, biased and one-sided analyses emerge, and, therefore, scholars may elasticize actual truth to suit their purpose. Historians who use interpretation to depict history "are likely to select facts to show that we-whoever 'we' may be-conform to our cherished principles" (McNeill 16). Consequently, a fusion

The Princess and the Pea by Hans Andersen

1286 words - 6 pages to degrade people and judge on first basis. Not believing a persons word is more easy today then trusting someone. Sometimes it seems like we know the truth about someone but are afraid to accept it perhaps in a jealousy way. It is quite hypocritical because we want others to admire ourselves but we don't accept them right back, yet alone believe the truth. Refer back to the story when the princess admit that she is real, but the mother still makes her do a task of things to trust her. Hans Andersen definitely made these points well said through out his story

Similar Essays

Dissapearance Of Civilization In Jared Diamond The Ends Of The World As We Know Them

901 words - 4 pages   Jared Diamond author of “The Ends of the World as We Know Them” highlights the reasons for the disappearance of early civilizations. Civilizations like the Mayans, Incas and Aztecs once inhabited the earth for hundreds of years, However; when these advanced civilizations reached the pinnacle of their capability, they faced tragedies such as war, unusual weather, environmental deprivation, terminated trade markets and unscrupulous leaders who

An Examination Of Guns, Germs, And Steel By Jared Diamond

1137 words - 5 pages history, but wouldn’t the Americas be discovered eventually anyway? Here lies the logical fallacy of the “Big Man Theory.” It is impossible to go back in time and find out how history would be different without certain individuals, but is it not true that someone probably would have filled the vacuum had Columbus been killed before his journey? And so, the historical geocentrics, and Jared Diamond is one of many, have

Analysis Of The Worst Mistake In Human History By Jared Diamond

918 words - 4 pages is also quite a bit of evidence that indicates the more elite had a better diet and where therefore healthier than some of the more common people. While Jared Diamond does make several valid points, there is no purpose or anything to be gained by living in the past or wondering what may have been. Humans have become quite accustomed to the conveniences that have developed over the centuries, even if they have to work harder for them. Humans work

Guns, Germs, And Steel, By Jared Diamond

1473 words - 6 pages After reading Guns, Germs, and Steel, the five main points are domestication of plants and animals, food production, government, innovation, and germs. The domestication of plants and animals helped determine a society's supply of food. First of all, there is the domestication of plants. Domesticated plants were used for food, clothing, and traction. There is about 200,000 wild plant species, but human only eat only a few thousands of those