Episode 42: The Human System

World history is not simply a story. It is a set of puzzles, for which the solutions require the very best in our theoretical analysis and empirical data collection, in all the disciplines of knowledge that address aspects of human experience.” Patrick Manning

Our History

During a week when a murder trial featuring a notorious police officer as defendant rendered its verdict, another broader verdict hung in the balance over the American justice system itself. Like all governing institutions, America’s policing and justice systems are products of a historical evolution , one that has defined the ongoing development of centralized states since the dawn of human governance just over five thousand years ago. Our guest this week is the distinguished historian Patrick Manning, whose recent book, A History of Humanity, makes the case for seeing such institutions in the evolutionary long run of human history. Manning argues that humankind became the quintessentially institutional animal  as an evolutionary outgrowth of our species sudden development of syntactic language 70,000 years ago. Yet because evolution rather than intelligent design forms the basis for human institutional development, one might reasonably ask: what happens when human institutions outlive their evolutionary usefulness? Are they subject to extinction or abolition, or do they simply continue in an evolutionary afterlife of corrosion and rot?

Patrick Manning

To hear Episode 42 The Human System, click on the link below:


Sources Referenced and Items of Interest

Patrick Manning, A History of Humanity: The Evolution of Human System


“Expansion of capitalism and its institutions brought growing problems within the Human System: the question of whether the social fitness of institutions was to be measured by the welfare of a society as a whole or of privileged groups within society.”

Patrick Manning

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