Friday, December 23, 2011

What will historians say about us?

Big Think recently launched The Floating University and has started posting excerpts from its first online course, Great Big Ideas. The site recently featured an excerpt from Larry Summers' lecture, "The Authority of Ideas: Decoding the DNA of Education in Search of Actual Knowledge." In the excerpt, Summers addresses the question, What will historians say about our time 100 years from now? His response—that historians of tomorrow will be shocked by our treatment of the poor, just as we are shocked by slavery and other injustices of the past—reflects his central argument, as summarized by the editors of Big Think, that "we are moving from a world governed by the idea of authority to a world governed by the authority of ideas. He sees history as progressive on a macro-level: a series of cultural advances leading—slowly, and with many interruptions—toward increased human empathy and collective understanding." The short video excerpt of Summers' lecture is worth watching.

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