Age of Enlightenment


I enjoyed reading this book.  It is well written, easy to read, and interesting.

Here are a few of the main points:

  • Enlightenment was born of the idea that all human beings share the same basic needs and as such should enjoy the same rights and privileges.
  • Enlightenment began around the 1680s and lasted until the early 1800s.
  • Enlightenment was the direct result of the Renaissance and the Reformation.
  • The Scientific Revolution would never have taken place had it not been for the philosophical groundwork of the Enlightenment.
  • Enlightenment was simply an idea; the idea that a better understanding of our world and the people who occupy it, could lead to the progression of our species and the betterment of the human condition on earth.
  • While the leading figures of the Enlightenment were considered philosophers rather than scientist, many of these figures had backgrounds in science.  Scientific advancement is only possible through empirical processes and rational thought, as such became strongly associated with the reason-based philosophies of Enlightenment thinkers.

Against Corruption


This is an interesting book to read, because of the differences among the authors.  They were able to discuss corruption from different cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds/viewpoints.

Here are a few of the main points:

  • Corruption hurts life outcomes in a variety of ways.  Economically, it diverts resources away from their most productive uses and acts like a regressive tax that supports the lifestyles of the elites at the expense of everyone else.
  • Corruption incentives the best and brightest to spend their time gaming the system, rather than innovating or creating new wealth.
  • As the difficulties and risk of corrupt behavior rise, fewer people will behave corruptly.
  • While auditing doesn’t sound like a glamorous nation-building activity, it is a critical part of ensuring that governments are spending public money responsibly and effectively.
  • Corruption is a cancer.  At first, it can look small and harmless.  Before you know it, it has taken over your entire body.  Likewise, the losses from corruption can start small, but in the end the damage is enormous.