Monday, November 16, 2015

History: The Year is 1677

I've uploaded year 1677 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Statute of Frauds and the Power of a Handshake -- All transactions must now be in writing, with a signature and a date. I talk about agreements made with a handshake and one such modern deal that went wrong and then very right.

The Essentials of Enlightenment Philosophy -- Spinoza publishes his greatest philosophical work and then drops dead. I also talk about my personal prejudices toward his work.

Paris Just Became Cool and Terrible -- Ice cream becomes popular. I talk about cooling in the 17th century and then talk a lot about the recent terror attacks in Paris.

The Statute of Frauds and the Power of a Handshake

The English Parliament has passed a law requiring that all agreements (especially regarding real estate transactions) must be set down in writing, dated and signed in order to make it easier for courts to determine the rights of a plaintiff. This ends the honor system of using witnesses with presumed good character who are well-known to the local community. When transactions span oceans and are between people of different customs, they must put things down in writing so that a judge can have a baseline for determining what the two parties had in mind in the first place. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... transactions based on a handshake can work but where a great deal of money is involved, the temptation to cheat can be overwhelming. I knew a man (distantly) who went through this. Chuck had an agreement with his boss to grow the business and to become a partner if he was successful. The problem was that Charlie became too successful. His percentage of the partnership had grown to half a million dollars. Chuck's boss was sweating. His promise was based on a handshake but it was just too much money. Chuck could have taken his boss to court and won, eventually, but instead, Chuck started a new business in competition with his old boss. His boss's old business contacts lost faith in him and switched to Chuck. Chuck did not limit his vision to half a million dollars. He found a new pair of glasses. He retired a multi-millionaire and when he died, his friends laid him to rest with joy. His life had become his monument and in some ways, I owe what I am today to that man. So my life has become his monument too. [3]

The Essentials of Enlightenment Philosophy

Benedict Spinoza has established the baseline philosophy for the Age of Enlightenment this year. He also dies this year at the age of 44, possibly due to inhaling too much glass dust. He made his living grinding lenses, but his fame will come from his book, "Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order," that is published this year after his death. He uses Euclid's methods to explore the existence of God, the mind of Man and our place in the Universe as if each proposition were a proof in geometry. Philosophers will look back to this work and gasp in admiration. In fact, Hegel will say in 1896 "... to be a follower of Spinoza is the essential commencement of all Philosophy." [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I've read Spinoza's Ethics and found it tedious, but what seems like mundane thinking in the modern day, was the bright light of reason at the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment. To reveal my own prejudice... Spinoza was Jewish and the Dutch Jewish authorities issued the punishment of shunning against him for his heretical views. As an Orthodox Jew, I can report that this was extremely serious since the loss of connection to the Jewish community usually meant a death sentence for any unprotected Jew at the hands of the Christians, but he lived in Amsterdam. The Dutch (and especially Amsterdam) were tolerant of the Jews individually and as a community. I disagree with his philosophy which boils down to a pantheism: the idea that everything is God. Traditional Jewish religious thought depends on the assumption that God has made room for His creation. Even though a spark of the Divine is within me, I am not God... especially not at home. [7] [8] [9]

Paris Just Became Cool and Terrible

Ice cream has become popular in Paris. While ice confections have been around for years, fads tend to bring certain foods to the attention of the public. Coffee came to Paris a few years ago. Tea has recently become popular in England and coffee shops are popular places for conducting business. People of the 17th century don't have iceboxes. Certainly they have ice houses where meat and fish are stored, but there is no cooling device for the individual kitchen. The United States won't begin shipping ice for commercial purposes until 1799 when they will begin moving ice from New York to Charleston. [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I was looking forward to writing about Paris and ice cream long before the recent terror attacks there. I am deeply saddened at the deaths of innocents at the hands of Muslim terrorists. I feared it would happen when Europe allowed refugees across the border without vetting. Europeans have a problem greater than one dubious decision to help so-called refugees. Europeans no longer believe that European culture is good so they are trying to buy an indulgence... a get out of jail free card... by helping so-called refugees. Now it is biting them in the backside. The United States is about to do the same thing. No country is perfect, but if we cannot make the argument that America is best for Americans, we have conceded that our destruction is all for the best. We have not reached European-level foolishness yet, but we are well on that road and I have not seen the off-ramp. [12]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1677, Wikipedia.

1 comment:

  1. Chuck C. provided me with a new pair of glasses as well! Thank you for mentioning him and keep up the great work!