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Arguing for the power of ideas in history

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PHILOSOPHY BOWLING RESULTS

• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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… Scott L. Montgomery and Daniel Chirot concur, arguing that ideas “do not merely matter; they matter immensely, as they have been the source for decisions and actions that have structured the modern world.” In “The Shape of the New: Four Big Ideas and How They Made the Modern World,” Montgomery and Chirot make the case for the importance of four ­powerful ideas, rooted in the European Enlightenment, that have created the world as we know it. “Invading armies can be resisted,” they quote Victor Hugo. “Invading ideas cannot be.”

Read the rest of Fareed Zakaria’s review here.

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