Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gupta History - podcast review

As I have written before: history podcasts do not tend to pay much attention to non-western civilizations. And when it is done, I have seen attention to Islam, to China and occasionally to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. To the civilizations of India, there is hardly any attention. I know only of David Kalivas's World History, a podfaded podcast, who had two installments about the Indus Valley civilizations.

Now we have a new one, but yet again, it remains in a single installment. Matthew Herbst's series in the Making of the Modern World lectures from UC San Diego (MMW 3 - The Medieval Heritage) takes one lecture to acquaint us, a little bit with another Indian empire, that of the Guptas. Around the end of the Western Roman Empire, this dynasty ruled on the northern half of the India subcontinent.

It was a Hindu culture and the explanations about and quotes from Hinduism are what make Herbst's lecture especially worthwhile. We find that in many ways the Gupta's are different from other civilizations. Whether it is the polytheism of the Hindus, or something else, in India social order is less strict, less violent, more open to the other than elsewhere. It would beg for more attention, more depth, but Herbst has to move on. He has to fill the requirements of all of the medieval Heritage, but I sure hope to some day find a podcast entirely dedicated to India.

More MMW 3:
World history guided by the religions,
World history outside the European box,
Making of the Modern World - UCSD,
UC San Diego's podcast courses,
David Kalivas' World History Podcast.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The brain - In Our Time review

BBC's In Our Time paid attention to the history of the brain. This is not a biological or paleontological history of the brain, but rather a cultural history; a history of how we came to perceive the brain.

The ancient Greeks had their respect for the brain and some surmised the brain may be the center of all. But for western history Galen became dominant and he emphasized the heart. Hence, medical practices focused on the heart and the metaphors we used to address the soul, the center of human being, of thought and emotions we also pointed to the heart, as does much of our language still today.

Only in recent history, with the advance of medical technology, it came to be understood just how central the brain is.

Previously on In Our Time:
General review of In Our Time,
Yeats, Enclosures and Materialism,
King Lear,
Ada Lovelace,
The Social Contract,
Plate Tectonics.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button