Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels by Ian Morris

Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels

Most people in the world today think democracy and gender equality are good, and that violence and wealth inequality are bad. But most people who lived during the 10,000 years before the nineteenth century thought just the opposite. Drawing on archaeology, anthropology, biology, and history, Ian Morris explains why. Fundamental long-term changes in values, Morris argues, are driven by the most basic force of all: energy. Humans have found three m...

Details Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels

TitleForagers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels
Release DateMar 22nd, 2015
PublisherPrinceton University Press
GenreHistory, Environment, Anthropology, Economics, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Politics, Cultural, Religion, Culture, Society

Reviews Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels

  • David
    The subtitle says it all: How Human Values Evolve. In itself this is not particularly new or compelling, but the manner in which Ian Morris pursues the concept is. Mr. Morris is focused on the different ways each of these cultural stages of human development [hunter-gatherer, farming, and industrialization] captures energy. Foragers on a good day would capture no more than 10,000 kilocalories per person; agrarians no more than 10,000 kilocalories...
  • M.I. Lastman
    Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve by Ian MorrisThis book is dense with footnotes, displaying the author’s smug confidence in his considerable erudition. Unfortunately, the book itself does not demonstrate much aptitude for wise understanding on Morris’ part. Yes, he has a big idea: human values evolve to fit the wealth of society. That seems obvious enough, but the characteristic which gives the book a frisson of or...
  • Frank
    In his earlier book: Why the West Rules, Ian Morris developed his system of historimetrics. Supported by a detailed archeological study, IM argues that societies undergo discreet changes each time they pass through key thresholds in energy utilisation. In Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve, IM applies these ideas to political and moral philosophy, showing how mankind’s native moral code adapts to differing material con...
  • Hall's Bookshop
    I always enjoy the sense of intellectual daring when an academic in one field attempts to reduce all of human knowledge to their own subspeciality; here Professor Morris shows how all of human values, and consequently human civilization, are a product of geography. Written with verve, it is a fascinating survey from a geographical, anthropological, and philosophical standpoint, and much of what is best in the book comes from the commentaries writ...
  • Lucas
    I am not wholly convinced by Morris's thesis, but that did not diminish the pleasure of reading, as the evidence martialled (a large portion of human history) is very interesting for its own sake, and Morris's skills as a writer are good. The most fascinating portion of the book is, as Morris himself suggests, the debate that is encouraged by the four respondents.
  • Sophie Polyankina
    This idea is quite thought-provoking, but not convincing to a believer's mind.
  • Elizabeth Smith
    I agree more with his detractors than him, but Mortis has written a very important book nevertheless.
  • Antonio
    Comparado con su libro ¿Por qué manda Occidente... por ahora? presenta mucho peor sus argumentos, la evidencia en la que se basa y el método que sigue para concluir lo que concluye. Especula mucho más, no solo en su predicción de los valores futuros, sino en las conclusiones a las que llega sobre el pasado, como le señalan dos de los críticos que hacen la réplica a su ensayo. Puede que esto se deba al formato del libro, ya que es resultad...
  • Terry
    Interesting thesis and book format. I enjoyed most the critiques and then Morris replies to the critiques. My opinion - glad I read the book (most of it); don't believe his thesis holds up as he presents it. It struck me quite odd that effective contraception (the pill) wasn't mentioned by Morris or the critics as a key (if not the key) game changer for women's role in the economy, and thus indirectly in shaping our value system.Korsgaard takes M...
  • Ian
    Thoughtful and careful analysis of the connection between social values and human ability to extract energy. Made all the more valuable by having critique by others built in.
  • Victor Rotariu
    Good, very goodA bit academic with the comments from others and the response to comments
  • Mike Peleah
    "Why my wife bears big sack and walks, while I am riding the donkey? Because she has no donkey"--was the response of Greek farmer to group of British archaeologists. With this respond in mind Ian Moris wrote a book (actually gave a lecture at Princeton University), addressing the central issue--"does the way we capture energy affect our values?" His response--yes, a great deal. There are three broad stages of human society organization--hunter-ga...
  • Rob
    The main idea is that human values and the structures of our societies are driven by how much energy our society can capture and the methods we have to capture it. For example hunter-gatherer societies tend to be really egalitarian because everyone has to do the same work and there is no room for specialized roles, but as they turn into agrarian societies, they turn really hierarchical with different classes of society and little social mobility....
  • Mark Valentine
    Although Morris never asked me to write a critical response for inclusion in his book like he did the others--a device I found almost endearing (Margaret Atwood's is the best!)--I will place a brief response here: His three phases of cultural evolution is useful. The concept of energy capture as a unit of social measurement recharges the debate. But he missed including the exploitation of workers in capitalist systems; in fact, he omits capitalis...
  • Maria Petrenko
    Читала на русском языке, изд-во Института Гайдара, 2017. Интересная мысль автора, но не достаточно убедительная. Читается с трудом, возможно, сказывается не самый удачный перевод. Выводы автора, на мой любительский взгляд, поверхностны и не всегда л...
  • Eric Pecile
    A very superficial essentialist overview of the evolution of values over the course of human history. While the argument does fall very short due to use of very general evidence, the method has its rewards. Studying the impact of values on historical phenomena is far more convincing and useful for historians than attempting to argue for the superior moral aesthetics of particular moral systems.
  • Kim
    Excellently laid out. Very clear thesis, and well supported. This is a good book for anyone with or without much of an economic anthropology background. Good overview of energy needs and what drives people to make different decisions. Could have done without the book review/response section in the back, but it was interesting to see how some people took the proposed ideas.
  • David Zerangue
    An incredibly enlightening read. It makes you look at the world in ways previously never considered. This will be one to place on the bookshelf for reference.
  • John
    Really interesting. I read the important part.
  • Christopher Johnson
    Good reductionist view of the history of man.
  • Jean Corbel
    beware... this book might make you think, not least because it includes offers another prism to explain hence understand our ecosystem.
  • Andrew Liu
    One more "Best-seller rubbish historical fiction" pretending to be a "serious book." Neoliberal values' cliche.