Hi,welcome back. Okay, a great divide. Why did it happen? Well let's frame this as a series of questions. A lot of questions, actually. Did the great divide just happen suddenly, kind of a big bang theory? There's a wonderful comic history called 1066 and All That, that simply just states, around the year 1800, a wave of gadgets swept over England. So did this just happen suddenly? Or, as some historians speculate, no really the rise of these technologies, or European predominance, was developing over centuries. Okay. Sudden or slow? That's a question. Another kind of question: all predetermined? That is, the cause of just the fact that there's more coal in Northwest Europe. Relatively good access to quality grazing land, so stronger horses, more food. In other words, did the basic material conditions almost create a predetermined situation in which history was bound to evolve the way it did? Or were there just a series of, kind of lucky breaks of some kind in which it could have developed in a lot of different ways and chance just favored one pathway instead of another. Another kind of question, related to the first. Okay. Material conditions. Important. Who has more kinds of resources? Did cultural factors matter much? That's a really big question. This course is going to give you a lot of information to use in playing with that question. And you recognize the significance of technology. It'll come up again and again. But rather than just using the ï¿½wave of gadgetsï¿½ theory for technological change, as if they kind of spring from the sky, why does technology grow in certain places and not in others? And why some kinds of technology? And, I put this question here on the slide as: Why England? England kind of being a metaphor for the vanguard of progress. Why did particular places in Northwest Europe seem to play such a disproportionate role during a period of history beginning in the late 1700s? Typified by England. So, if you're looking at problems of explaining change, you have to notice change and to notice change you're looking at variations. The difference between one condition and another. All kinds of variations though. There's before and after. Most of what we talked about so far in the other presentations are kind of before and after sorts of variations. But there are other kinds of variations, like between what's going on in Eurasia, and what's going on everywhere else. For instance, already by the year 1700, the most powerful empires on earth were all really concentrated in Eurasia. In the year 1700, probably the two most powerful of these empires were the Qing Empire in what we now call China, and the Mughal Empire, though the Ottoman Empire was still very strong. And some of the empires based in Western Europe, like Spain and England, were acquiring pretty significant overseas domains. But Eurasia's significance is obviously already so important in relation to the rest of the world. Then there's another variation. Between 1700 and 1800, Europe, that western fringe of Eurasia, is already on a different development path than the rest of that whole vast land mass. That's something that needs to be explained, why did that happen? In answering questions about big change, a characteristic method goes something like this: identify preexisting conditions. You know, population, natural resources. I see change, and then I say, oh well, this or that condition seems to have been related to that change. Therefore I have an explanation. This is a lot like those volcano theories that I talked about in the very first presentation where, well the geology is just aligned in a certain way. The lava is bubbling to the surface, boom. My argument is that pre-existing conditions matter a lot. But the pre-existing conditions are mediated by human beings making choices. A lot of what we're going to see are variations in which the quality and character of those choices have enormous consequences. So now, in addition to preexisting conditions, in addition to seeing this as some sort of large-scale science experiment, add in the human dimension by seeing situations. And in these situations, people are solving problems. Take a very small illustration. It turns out, for some very interesting reasons, Europeans had become the best clockmakers in the world by the 1700s. This just happened to be a particular area of mechanical ingenuity about which they were very skilled. A Harvard historian named David Landes has written wonderfully about the significance of this, because then that infuses your culture with a great sense of time and all that. But in the 1700s, the Europeans more than anyone else in the world are engaging in long oceanic voyages. They have the problem of calculating longitude. Latitude, sort of your horizontal axis, that's pretty easy to calculate just with reference to the sun and stars. Longitude, that kind of getting the north-south axis into finding your position, requires them to be able to make calculations about time. Their clocks don't work very well at sea. So they have a situation: how do I calculate my position if I'm engaged in a number of oceanic voyages? They have a problem: how do I calculate position? They come up with, therefore, distinctive solutions. One solution, in which English inventors were pioneers, was to create a really advanced kind of clock, a chronometer. Here is an example of a Harrison chronometer, developed in the late 1700s. Not everybody comes up with this solution. For various reasons that are interesting, some people come up with certain kinds of solutions. In this case, the English came up with a solution that gives them somewhat superior capabilities to conduct long oceanic voyages, imitated by other western Europeans shortly thereafter. The powers they then have create a new situation, hence, new problems, opportunities, and the like. Adding this dimension of causal analysis not only gives you much better explanations, it actually makes for a much more interesting story. But I have a big warning to offer before I wrap up this presentation. And the warning is this: hindsight blinds. You ever heard that expression: 20/20 hindsight? In fact, for a historian, hindsight blinds because the path of what happened in the past is so brightly lit. That trail is so clear to you. That everything else that could've happened is cast even more deeply into shadow. If you then want to reconstruct what could have happened and understand the choices made that produced that pathway versus another, you actually have to work hard to avoid the dangers of hindsight to then reimagine the world before problems had been solved. So, in the next presentation let me set the scene, a series of situations, by doing a little tour of the world in 1760. See you then.