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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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Age of Discovery

 


日本では大航海時代と呼ばれるAge of Discoveryという言葉を紹介したくなった別の理由はつい最近上記の本をAudibleで聞いたからでした。今はルネサンス、発見の時代に匹敵する大激動の時代というのです。

日本人は何か新しい時代が始まろうとするとすぐに「第三の開国」とか、「何ちゃら維新」とか呼びたくなりますが、欧米にとってはルネサンスという言葉もそのような言葉なのかもしれません。Are We Living in a New Renaissance?と呼びかけています。以下のScientific Americanのサイトでは本の始まりである第1章の抜粋を読むことができます。英語学習的にはa New Renaissance という冠詞の使い方やflounder, or flourishという語呂の良さもチェックしておきたいです。

Are We Living in a New Renaissance?
Two scholars speculate on how history may be repeating itself in this excerpt from their new book

By Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna on May 24, 2016

If Michelangelo were reborn today, amidst all the turmoil that marks our present age, would he flounder, or flourish again?

Every year, millions of people file into the Sistine Chapel to stare up in wonder at Michelangelo Buonarroti’s Creation of Adam. Millions more pay homage to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Through five centuries, we have carefully preserved such Renaissance masterpieces, and cherished them, as objects of beauty and inspiration.

But they also challenge us.

The artists who crafted these feats of genius five hundred years ago did not inhabit some magical age of universal beauty, but rather a tumultuous moment—marked by historic milestones and discoveries, yes, but also wrenching upheaval. Their world was tangling together in a way it had never done before, thanks to Gutenberg’s recent invention of the printing press (1450s), Columbus’s discovery of the New World (1492) and Vasco da Gama’s discovery of a sea route to Asia’s riches (1497). And humanity’s fortunes were changing, in some ways radically. The Black Death had tapered off, Europe’s population was recovering, and public health, wealth and education were all rising.

昨年発売当時、有名コラムニストのトマス・フリードマンもこの本を紹介していました。

Another Age of Discovery
Thomas L. Friedman
JUNE 22, 2016


Have we been here before? I know — it feels as if the internet, virtual reality, Donald Trump, Facebook, sequencing of the human genome and machines that can reason better than people constitute a change in the pace of change without precedent. But we’ve actually been through an extraordinarily rapid transition like this before in history — a transition we can learn a lot from.

Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University, and Chris Kutarna, also of Oxford Martin, have just published a book — “Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance” — about lessons we can draw from the period 1450 to 1550, known as the Age of Discovery. It was when the world made a series of great leaps forward, propelled by da Vinci, Michelangelo, Copernicus and Columbus, that produced the Renaissance and reshaped science, education, manufacturing, communications, politics and geopolitics.


この本の面白いところの一つにルネサンスの光の部分だけでなく激動の時代の闇の部分にも触れているところでしょうか。トランプに匹敵する扇動家がいたというのです。先ほどの冠詞の使い方がWas there a Donald Trump back then?とここでもされています。

Was there a Donald Trump back then?

(中略)

“From there, Savonarola launched an ugly campaign of public purification, introducing radical laws including against homosexuality, and attacked public intellectuals in an act of intimidation that history still remembers as the Bonfire of the Vanities. Savonarola was amongst the first to tap into the information revolution of the time, and while others produced long sermons and treatises, Savonarola disseminated short pamphlets, in what may be thought of as the equivalent of political tweets.”

歴史的な考証に基づいて書かれたわけではなくいかにもコンサル的な切り口で書かれていますが、これからどういう時代になるか予想するのが難しい中、いわば王道とも言える「ルネサンス」という過去のイベントを参照してこれからの未来に備えようとする態度も理解できます。下記のBCGの著者インタビューを読んで興味を持たれた方は本自体も面白く読み進められると思います。

Navigating the New Renaissance
An Interview with the University of Oxford’s Ian Goldin

NOVEMBER 30, 2016

In reading the book, I was really fascinated with the quotes taken from the Renaissance that sounded actual and real. You describe the era as an eruption of genius.

For me, the real driver of that explosion of genius was the printing press. It was the sudden sharing of ideas and information, and, with that, the desire to have literacy. Before then, only monks could really read and write in Latin the handwritten manuscripts in their monasteries, and the church had a monopoly of knowledge. This revolution democratized information in the same way the internet has today. But, of course, the numbers of people today are so much greater. We go from a world of only half a billion people connected in the 1980s to 5 billion people connected now. When I first went to China in 1980, only 78 people had doctoral degrees. Now there are hundreds of thousands. That’s a quantum shift in the number of incredibly gifted people around the world who are sharing ideas. If you believe in the random distribution of exceptional creativity, call it genius, there’s a lot more today—only the new Einsteins will not emerge from the streets of Vienna or New York or London; they will emerge from Mumbai and elsewhere.

It’s not just individual random genius; it’s also collective genius. When people come together as diverse teams, that’s when you really get sparks, and that’s happening across the board. It’s happening virtually—look at YouTube videos of people learning to hip-hop dance, sharing the latest moves around the world, or see what’s happening in the labs in the Oxford Martin School on new cures for cancer on a 24-hour research cycle around the world. It’s that collective endeavor which is totally unlike anything that’s ever happened before.


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