Money Makes the World Go ‘Round

Harari links science, empire and capitalism mainly by one thing: money. He spends a great deal of time explaining how nothing is accomplished truly without proper funding. Yes, the acceptance of ignorance has lead scientists to researching things that they don’t know about, but none of it is possible without money. Harari uses the example of Professor Slughorn and Professor Sprout to express this view (Harari, pg 273). He talks about how, in the hypothetical situation, Slughorn wants to research a disease within the udders of cows that causes a decrease in profits. Sprout however, wants to study the mental effects on mother cows when they are separated. The research of Slughorn is most likely to be funded due to potential political interests, where as even though Sprout’s research could still be very beneficial, there isn’t a distinct financial advantage to it. The same people with the abilities to fund a lot of scientific advancements are also the people that could benefit empire and capitalism. Capitalism leads to political agendas being pushed through lobbying and financial support, and imperialism, especially several centuries ago, lead to profits and riches that only the wealthy could invest in.

I agree with Harari that the idea of “progress” plays a pivotal role in the linkage of science, empire, and capitalism. He talk about how “until the Scientific Revolution most human cultures did not believe in progress” (Harari, pg 264). People believed that the world was at a stand still, metaphorically. They believed that the best of times were in the past, and that if they could, they should bring work towards bringing back whatever they felt made the past so great. However, it was progress, and the notion of moving forward that has lead to the worlds greatest scientific advancements and the greatest exploratory endeavors.

4 thoughts on “Money Makes the World Go ‘Round”

  1. I will agree with you that money, and power as well, was what the main theme connecting science with capitalism and empire. But wouldn’t religion or the idea of progress be the better connector of them? Harari states that the people of the age believed that the world’s wealth was a stagnant and unmoving amount, they believed that the only way to increase their own wealth meant taking from somebody else. For me the become wealthier, you must become poorer. With the idea of progress they could go out and find new lands to conquer which meant new wealth for the world. With religion, most scientists worked were religious, an example would be Newton, he was motivated by religion, he studied church history trying to find the second coming of Christ. While I do believe that money connected these three themes, I do not believe it was the main reason.

  2. I agree that we shouldn’t only look to the past to more forward. However, I think most great discoveries are cumulative, so I think there are always important lessons to be learned from the past. It would be great if humans could separate from what you might call “greed” but I think that it plays a large role in our success as a species. Say what you will about the wealthiest people in the world, but many of them are highly motivated which speaks to our ambitions as humans.

  3. I agree with you about the point you made that money is what connects science capitalism and empire. I don’t agree with you when you say to become wealthier you must become poorer. When you end with that you think money connected the themes but you do not believe it was the main reason, I questioned what you think the main reason is.

  4. A very incapsulating title, very well written blog. I very much enjoyed your premise that money ties together an empire, science and capitalism. I had a similar premise but I enjoyed how well you phrased this idea. I also enjoyed your second paragraph where you agreed with Harari. I also agreed with you when you say “it was progress, and the notion of moving forward that has lead to the worlds greatest scientific advancements and the greatest exploratory endeavors” very well said.

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