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The Origins of Political Order

Monday, April 11, 2011

Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution, talks about his book.

Guests:

Francis Fukuyama
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Comments [13]

Francis Fukuyama seems to do a good job of tracing the implications of modern social science theory back toward the origins of society, but doesn't seem to take advantage of "the physical world theory" in doing so. He sticks entirely with "the explanatory world" of man's attempts to construct images and explanations for nature in our minds.

If one thinks of “the physical world” as what people are trying to explain, as the subject of our explanations that would appear to work on its own, it would then NOT be using our explanations to do so. The world that uses our explanations to operate would be “the explanatory world” we make up.

What that’s useful for is things like finding a more satisfying answer for why people needed to see Gods as a “universal connector” to fill in pervasive gaps in out explanations that we were unable to fill. People mostly can't explain how nature connects all kinds of things. That makes it hard to do without and reasonable to hypothesize Gods to do that. They serve as the connectors of the things of nature we can't explain, which is quite a lot. As science finds out how to connect more things it also seems what is unknown and unknowable may be expanding too… is one of the interesting things.

In the evolution of science to date most of science has been trying to construct explanatory worlds, postulating that nature follows rules from a distance, leaving much to be explained. What’s now happening, though, is that theoretical biology and systems sciences are very slowly inching forward toward becoming able to identify natural mechanisms of organization (how nature connects things) to replace the idea of “rules at a distance” in nature.

One basic leaping off point is realizing that to study a physical world, that works by itself using internal processes instead of by following external rules, it must be a study of uncontrolled systems. That gives you a way to draw a line between our world of explanations and the natural world that works by itself, that our thinking so imperfectly explains.

I have a collection of work on the physics of open systems at www.synapse9.com, and two papers in Cosmos & History on some general aspects of how to observe and discuss natural processes of organization that work by themselves, Models Learning Change (1) & Life’s Hidden Resources for Learning(2).
1) http://www.cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/176/295
2) http://www.cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/102/203

Apr. 11 2011 12:06 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Mike from Park Slope

Congrats on packing into your comments all of the considered criticism of Fukuyama's last book and restating it as your own criticism of his new one, you pretentious twit.

Apr. 11 2011 11:30 AM
Mike from Park Slope

@ athar,
Saladin was not the model for magna carta. Although he did have some impact on it if only by occupying Richard I was Philip Augustus reclaimed the Vexin and Normandy from John.

Apr. 11 2011 11:27 AM
athar from NJ

does he mention Al-Beruni and Ibn-Khaldun?

or the origin of common law being North African Islam

and the Saladin was the model for magna carta

Apr. 11 2011 11:23 AM
eastvillage

Can you ask him to comment on Hegel's influence on his political thinking.

Apr. 11 2011 11:22 AM
Mike from Park Slope

Brian,
You should really interview a counter point from some like Dan Smail (On Deep History and the Brain) to juxtapose this positivist methodologically backward approach with one that points out the flaws in collapsing all history to one modern point.

Apr. 11 2011 11:22 AM
Ron Mwangaguhunga from Williamsburg

Is @fukuyama09 Professor Fukuyama's official Twitter account?

Apr. 11 2011 11:21 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Mike

Professional BS detector here, you know you don't seem intelligent when you write comments like a didactic textbook, you seem like an insecure amateur trying to convince us otherwise. But enjoy Park Slope, you're right where you belong.

Apr. 11 2011 11:21 AM
Mike from Park Slope

No Brian, Feudalism is NOT a government system.

See Susan Reynolds, Dominique Bartelemy, E. A. Brown, and Gansoff.

Feudalism is an anachronistic term placed on medieval society as a construct of early twentieth century thinkers (Marc Bloch chiefly). It was not a "state" system. A most feudalism was a relationship between class-equals among the medieval nobility who exchanged homage and obligation for fiefs and protection. The model ceased to exist by the 13th century.

Apr. 11 2011 11:19 AM
AJ

Hello! Please stop the reverence, Brian. Why not call this book "Francis Fukuyama Discovers Cultural Anthropology"! He's just repackaging the most basic tenets of a VERY ESTABLISHED science. No revelations, here. This guy MISSED the end of History. It seems history bit back. Why not ask him about that? Then ask why he's just giving us an Anthropology book with a different cover?

Apr. 11 2011 11:19 AM
Carolyn from Brooklyn

Mr. Fukiyama claims that he is the first to write this kind of all-encompassing history of human societies--but what I'm hearing is a watered down version of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, which is a much more incisive and profound analysis than Mr. Fukiyama's.

Apr. 11 2011 11:19 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Political Scientist? Is that like an Experimental drug user as opposed to merely recreational? This guy is a laughingstock and has been for years, now he "finds" an explanation for political order in the science and research of other academics with real subjects and expertise - thanks for this derivative tripe Fukuyama, I'm sure it will be marked up BIG TIME and forced down the throats of college undergrads via the course syllabus and college bookstores that your other Prof. pals use to sell their books and line their pockets. Brian was so right, what a "rich" intellectual book this is.

Apr. 11 2011 11:14 AM
Mike from Park Slope

Pre-modern Historian here. Does this not presuppose an inherit teleological modern bias; the idea that modern institutions are the culmination of human experiences up to this point? Is this position not dangerous in its de-contextualizing of the psychological, social, or political legitimacy of religious understandings in any pre-modern society - collapsing it to our perceptions of its anachronistic modern relevancy? Thanks.

Apr. 11 2011 11:13 AM

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