Peter Watson is the author of War on the Mind, Wisdom and Strength, The Caravaggio Conspiracy, Ideas, and The German Genius. Educated at the universities of Durham, London,and Rome, he has written for the Sunday Times, the Times,
the New York Times, the Observer, and the Spectator. He lives in London.He has been a senioreditor , a columnist and a contributer.
From 1997 to 2007he was a research associate at the McDonald Institutefor Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge
Pegging his narrative to three ideas–the soul, Europe, and experiment–Watson surveys intellectual history for a popular audience. Departing from the earliest indications of abstract thought–tools fashioned by ancestral human species–Watson highlights the crucial efflorescence of artwork 30,000 years ago, followed by the agriculture revolution.
Watson then assesses classical Greece as the crucial incubator of ideas, incomparable to any other situation in history. This is the origin of his inclusion of “Europe” as one of his three organizers of a massive sweep of material: while Watson covers the important intellectual influences emanating from Islam, India, and China,
He maintains Europe is where the cogitational action has been. Eurocentrism has been a field of fierce academic contests, traces of which bubble up in Watson’s consideration of the main phases of Western thought. Judaism, Christianity, the Renaissance and Reformation, the scientific revolution,and the Enlightenment.
–Watson enfolds changing conceptions of the objective, material world, and of the subjective world of the human psyche in a confident,.Then, in a broad sweep, the book moves forward to consider not the battles and treaties of kings and prime ministers, In this hugely ambitious and stimulating book,
Peter Watson describes the history of ideas, from deep antiquity to the present day, leading to a new way of percieving our world and ourselves.The narrative begins nearly two million years ago with the invention of hand-axes and explores how some of our most cherished notions might have originated before humans had language.
emperors and generals, but the most important ideas we have evolved, by which we live and which separate us from other animals.Watson explores the first languages and the first words, the birth of the gods, the origins of art, the profound intellectual consequences of money. He describes the invention of writing, early ideas about law,
why sacrifice and the soul have proved so enduring in religion. He explains how ideas about time evolved, how numbers were conceived, how science, medicine, sociology, economics, and capitalism came into being. He shows how the discovery of the New World changed forever the way that we think, and why Chinese creativity faded after the Middle Ages.
In the course of this commanding narrative, Watson reveals the linkages down the ages in the ideas of many apparently disparate philosophers, astronomers, religious leaders, biologists, inventors, poets, jurists, and scores of others. Aristotle jostles with Aquinas, Ptolemy with Photius, Kalidasa with Zhu Xi, Beethoven with Strindberg, Jefferson with Freud. Ideas is a seminal work.