tv Panel Discussion on World History CSPAN April 24, 2016 4:30pm-5:31pm EDT
history: laws of nature, laws of man. the title is a little difficult for me as a political reporter. i write about the laws of man, and i never think about the laws of nature unless i'm covering a natural disaster like our 1994 earthquake. our panelists have two tasks. t most important for them is to talk about their books in such a compelling manner -- [laughter] that you'll all rush out afterwards to buy copies and have the authors sign them. the book signing is in signing area number one. this is area as noted on the festival map in the center of the event program or one of the volunteers in the room will help direct you.elp dire
so i've been thinking, the laws of nature explain the events like the formation of the great ice packs in the coral reefs, once thought of as permanent. now we know they're not. and we hope the laws of man can save them from global warming. these books deal with these two conflicting forces, i guess, in engaging way with really gripping writing. in reading them, i wondered how all this history that we're going to be talking about todayr affects us. i thought that all three books were essential to our understanding of today's world. michael schuman is the author os "confucius and the world he created."
he has covered asia and the global economy for "the wall street journal." he lives in beijing. he's also the author of "the miracle: the epic story of asia's quest for wealth." in this latest book, he tells how confucius attempted to bring a system of order, respect and responsibility to his unruly world, an effort the communist government is continuing today. mary's book, mary beard's book is "spqr: a history of ancient t rome." she's a professor at cambridge university and is the author of "confronting the classics," which was nominated for the national book critics' circle award. she also writes a very delightful blog for the times' literary supplement. and she tells how these
enterprising, energetic, aggressive -- and the thing i always think about -- cruel romans imposed their ideas of the laws on man on their diverse empire. mark molesky is associate professor at seton hall a university specializing in the intellectual, cultural and political history of modern era. "gulf of fire: the destruction of lisbon," or apocalypse in the science of, in the age of science and reason tells about something we all know too well. no matter how good our leaders are or how complex our government structure is, an earthquake can wipe us all out.i my name is bill boyarsky, i'm a journalist. i was with the los angeles times for 30 years and now write for r
number of web publications. so, michael, i was thinking of you this morning when i was watching cnn and they were telling about how the government is cracking down on these earth sets western villages that are-- developments that are being built in china, wanting to restore the old value. you said in an e-mail to me you said confucius was focused entirely on human affairs. he is blamed for the decline of chinese technology and innovation. now, china is working to reverse that. talk about that a little bit. how is the teachings-- how are the teachings of confucius shaping today's chinese society?
>> thanks, bill. that's a great place to start a history panel because it gets out what makes history somewhat fun and so important because if you believe what some scholars would argue about this is, confucius, this chinese guy who live 2500 years ago and said a bunch of stuff had so much influence because i did kind of ripple down the centuries and completely altered world history and here we are today in the 21st century and his ideas are still influencing world affairs. on this front, we deal with science and technology. confucius has been considered over the years has basically anti- science. he sent his time mainly talking about good government and human relations and he believed that's it everyone cultivated their own moral qualities to try to do the
right thing that, that would lead to a peaceful prosperous strong society. more practical learning, well, that wasn't is so important. there's a passage in one of the old text that recounts a conversation that confucius had with one of his students and this student told confucius that he felt he wanted to learn more about animal husbandry and confucius waited until he left the room and then confucius kind of mocked him and called him a small man. he was not talking about his height. he said the essence of his argument was that if you know about righteousness, what needs do you have for agriculture or animal husbandry, so what some scholars think happened was that as confucius had these ideas and became so important in chinese society confucius kind of this anti- science kind of elements
of confucius thinking made china anti- science. that the really smart people were supposed to be sitting at universities writing poetry or managing a government and not tinkering around in some lab. so, following this line of thinking, confucius gets a blamed for one of the great turning points in world history, which is that the shifts of power from east to west for much the last 2000 years china was actually a far more advanced society technologically and economically than western europe. but, the great scientific resolution-- revolution, the industrial revolution happened in europe and not china that led to the great decline of china on the world the stage. some scholars and reformers look at confucius and his sake that is confucius fall for making china anti- technology. and that's still relevant today because as the chinese economy
is stumbling, leadership realizes that the country needs to become more and more innovative and will take the next step and really compete in the future. so, you can argue that confucius is still a problem for china even today. what's even more just and right now is that as the government is pushing for innovation, it's also reducing confucian ideas and values to a degree that the chinese government hasn't-- hasn't it more than a hundred years, so the government today wants china to become more innovative and more technical logical eight advance and more confusion, so that i get that the original, can you have a society that has both confucian and innovative and the answer to that will be incredibly important for the future. if china does he come innovative
it means it will become a more powerful economy and will become more powerful relative to the united states, but if confucius is there and his ideas continue to hold china back, well, maybe china has a different future. >> thank you. you know, mary, as a tourist i travel around. my wife and i travel around the old roman empire from spain through the mediterranean up to the uk and see all of these things, france. we see a lot of the structure, i mean, older stadiums, old baths, a lot of ruins. and-- but, such a long occupation of these very plans.
and how does it affect what we see today along the mediterranean, in europe and all that. >> that's interesting and, of course, in many different ways, but can i-- i just want to say one thing in response to michael, first. i was listening with absolute fascination to that neat seven up confucianism and all kinds of things similar with the roman elite except they love agriculture. [laughter] >> when they went and smashed, literally destroyed the place. one thing they rescued was a multivolume encyclopedia on animal husbandry and
agriculture. [laughter] >> just shows one of the things are different, but i think it's quite interesting particularly as someone who lives in the uk to reflect on how rome in the roman empire as it were shaped the world and, i mean, i think there is something which is very very in your face about the romans in britain, you know. you say you go out and you see bits of rome still there. you go round the country and you see loads of pounds in britain or chester, buildings, that means the romans were there because that is the roman word for camp. you can see the social geography of britain is still configured in a roman way.
why is london in such a stupid place, actually for capital city y, the bloody romans put it there because it was convenient for them. you are kind of living in a world which still has its parameters formed by rome, but it gets more complicated in this for two ways, really. one way is, of course and i'm talking about britain, but we could do the same about germany. of course, our identity is not formed by that kind of sense of roman infrastructure. it's a formed by our view of conflict between us and the romans. one of the most interesting things about how rome works in the head of any western european is that we are always on the roman side and against them. are we actually thinking that we are the inheritance of the rome or are we inheritors of the
rebels they zero press, that populist? that's an edgy sort of stand out there in when we are thinking about our own cultural identity and there's no better place to see that than just outside the house of parliament, on the banks there is a fantastic bronze statue of leading british rebels, the warrior queen boudicca in her chariot with her daughters, flowing hair. she massacred thousands and thousands of roman soldiers 20 years after the conquest. she is in all sorts of ways, but she's a rebel, the terrorist, she's the independent freak. only base of the statue-- on the
base of the statute this kind of paradox about our relationship with rome comes out clearly because what it says in the quotation from slightly earlier poem and basically says, don't worry boudicca because she did come to a nasty and, don't worry because your descendents will rule more of the world than the romans ever did. [laughter] >> so, you turn the independent freedom fighter into the ancestor of the british empire by an appalling sleight-of-hand, actually. but, i think for me though, it's not infrastructure that's important that first got me into the romans. i think that's where rome has formed, western identity and you
know better than me i think in this country, is not so much in infrastructure, it's in the conversation that we still have with the romans the how politics and civic values work. i think it's interesting in the states because american audience is much more receptive to this than british ones. british ones always tend to think about aqueducts and american audiences think about the capital and the idea of how you create community. in many ways i think, what we are really are the air of is roman debates-- look, we are not simple kind of dupes who were taken by the romans, but we are that errors about roman debate on what it is to be a citizen, what rights a citizen has, what liberty is and to an extent,
this is where * the book away, to write or justifiable or necessary to suspend the liberty of the citizen in the interest of protecting the states and homeland security. we are still talking about that in ways that the romans have focused to talk about and i think that is the direction i dove. >> mark, in your book of this terrible earthquake which occurred in november 1, 1775,-- >> 55. >> 55, and sort of got overlooked in the history of the world because it was followed by the seven-year war, which got most of the ink. with mary just brought up about the conflict, order and civic
life was certainly after this terrible earthquake was certainly an issue in lisbon when lisbon was destroyed by the earthquake and a very powerful first minister assumed all power. ruthlessly suspended rights, to property away, actually he sort of took apart and dismantle the inquisition for his own inquisition. so, there were no civil rights because of the need to protect society from this devastation. can you talk about that a little bit? >> well, the lisbon earthquake disaster, which is the subject of my book-- i mean, you may have heard of it. it's a cameo role in voltaire's candied, but most educated
people i would say nine out of 10 walking down the street have -- it just would not-- is not part of their mental universe, yet it was one of the greatest natural disasters in the last i would say 10000 years. it was certainly the largest earthquake to affect europe in five to make 10000 years. its epicenter was off the atlantic, by your bering coast and cause a tsunami, which is very rare in the atlantic ocean. into was between 8.5 and 9.2 and the moment magnitude scale. it was felt as far away as norway, northern italy, casanova who was imprisoned in the doges palace for a sexual indiscretion , that morning felt his jail cell's shake and he
prayed that the wall would fall and he could just skedaddle out. it did not happen, but months later he learned that was the morning of the lisbon earthquake and he wrote about it in his autobiography, so this earthquake and i'm nowhere. most people in lisbon had never felt an earthquake. it began about 9:45 a.m., during that 9:00 a.m. mass. picture frames on the walls of started to shake and then after three tremors, the center of the city was for the most part destroyed. the low lying area of the city was built on landfill. then, about half hour later, thus tsunami hit and came up the targus river, smashed into the river bank and pulled at thousands of people who were there escaping the destruction from the city and then a firestorm begins because of the candles that are in the churches
, the housewives and slaves are cooking the feast day meals and so the city of about 200,000 people, which is much larger population because of the feast day is hit by three blows. many people think it's the last day that this is what is written in revelations and the secretary of state, this man that bill has alluded to is i think one of the most interesting and important statesmen and most people can have never heard of. his house was on the out side of the area that was destroyed by the earthquake. he immediately jumped on a horse, galloped a few miles to the palace where the king was and the king was so shall shocked that he essentially gave the defect of power over to him who was ferociously ambitious man. a man from the lower gentry
where many of these people come-- come from in this period and from that moment on he built essentially a sort of took over the country because the other ministers in lisbon were at their villas several miles outside the city. tomball, again immediately called in the soldiers into the city, martial law was declared, people were executed and from that point on it was earthquake politics and as bill alluded to they were pretty brutal and he started to take revenge on his enemies in that upper note-- nobility in the church, the tickly chuzzlewit and essentially was a terror of state for the next 20 years and what i say in the book in some ways this natural disaster did in a few minutes what took the french revolutionary several
years to do. it essentially got rid of the infrastructure of the regime of all the great villas and great families, the churches which were the power centers of the pool balls enemies where many of them or most of them were destroyed and this allowed-- he essentially created a power back to it-- vacuum and so the story is, the city, and it's what ultimately happens to the portuguese empire, which i believe is the beginning of the downswing and i just want to say that in the first-- 50 years before the lisbon earthquake that portuguese found with the spanish had found centuries before, which was gold in great quantities and 20 years later they found diamonds and emeralds
and rubies. this all flowed into lisbon and 50 years before the earthquake was the second golden age completely destroyed by the earthquake and a new portugal was born and it was in some cases a horrible place, certainly for two decades. >> what i'm going to bring up is not really a central point to these folks, but it is something i'm interested in because i in in the communications business. mark, it took forever to get word out about this earthquake before cnn. [laughter] >> mary, you talked a bit about -- i wondered how christianity could furnish and
you talked about how in the roman empire there was such a great communication and of course in confucius day his teachings, no one who wrote about him had ever seen the man. it was all by word-of-mouth, so could you tell them a little bit about, i mean, this is a huge earthquake and people in europe did not know about it for months. >> as i mentioned, the ripples of it were felt in many areas of europe. thus tsunami actually hit four continents, so by the end of the day on november 1 people had drowned in north america, south america, europe and africa, but pool ball close off so no ships could leave because he was worried the use would fill a ships up with things they has
stolen from the rubble of that churches and villas and so the first writer, one writer who was paid by the secretary of debt and bastard to spain who died in the earthquake left lisbon the morning of november 4, so three days later. it took him about four days to get to madrid and then several writers left madrid for paris and verse i. writers went north, crossing the english channel and i guess sort of november 20, or so the news arrived in london. the stock exchange immediately closed down. at there was among the merchants and then the ripples moved down to rome and eventually they make it to st. petersburg and one of the-- i don't read russian, but
i assumed anyone to find out how long ultimately it took and so i found copies of the st. petersburg, the only newspaper published in russia at the time, stanford had copies of this it was sent to my university and i trained myself to identify what lisbon looks like in russian cyrillic script and portugal and when i saw on article on one of those two things i made a copy and gave it to my two colleagues to translate and it's fascinating, the russians were absolutely transfixed as most europeans were at the time. you would think that it would be the same article over and over again. no, i found fascinating things in the russian newspapers. for example, the morning of the earthquake november 1, around 10:00 a.m. mount the cbs actually smoked.
i never heard that before. i'd never seen that, but it's from a neapolitan news article and apparently everyone thought there was going to be an earthquake and ran into the churches. no earthquake was felt in naples and everyone was happy home not knowing, of course, there was great destruction other parts of europe. >> i still think that seems terribly modern from a roman point of view because québec to 7980, i mean, 300 miles away from there it-- no one knew about it. so, i'm quite keen of the connective vacation of the roman empire, that we need to be realistic. it's a world of pockets of information, quite different from the only modern world where things might be slow, but you did get the news.
i think that for me, again, i could i-- i feel conflicted about the romans because on the one hand everything is slow. news is an travel you know, if you want-- suppose you want the very very quickest way of getting from rome to london. you will never get there in less than five weeks, really. so, when people have this image of the roman empire and a roman empire sitting in the middle of the roman empire issuing orders, you can't get the word out even if he wanted to. but, i think it still is interesting that romans, monty python life of sobriety and what did the romans ever do for us-- [laughter]
>> in some ways that's true, but i think there is something absolutely extraordinarily revolutionary about the idea that however long it took you, you could and 50 a.d. get on a road in rome and you could follow it and you would end up in athens. you were just that with it or in spain. heaven knows what he was like when the peasants woke up one morning to discover and southern france that there were a load of bulldozers that had moved in carving a road through their own property. i suspect they wouldn't be so please, but you do have a kind of servants that the roman empire sees itself in terms of its connections common terms of how they were joined up by roads. that, as bill suggests, is an
interesting background to christianity because the standard view that we all learned through largely christian sources is such that somehow the kind of battle between the romans and christians, standoff. the christians are the counterculture and the romans constantly the enemy. we see it in those two terms. that seems to me really really misleading way of cnet, for all kinds of ways. for start that christians were romans anyway. their work romans over here and christians over here. there were christian romans and not christian romans. the really striking thing and actually we overlook this when we just look at the title of the new testament and paulson and corinthians letter to babylonians is that christianity
and always kind of opposition to roman political power was the first religion in the roman world that saw that that sort of connectivity could be exploited. the christians used the structures of the connective empire to make a world religion. later on, of course, it is re- presented as a kind of standoff that's the most roman imperial religion of all is christianity. christianity would have been impossible to grow without a roman road. >> you know,-- go ahead clec thinks. i take it a different direction because one of the issues i had to deal with when writing about confucius is that there is a lot of modern scholarship that shows that the rollup confucius has been basically inflated over
time, that he really was not as important as people think he is an even more than that he's a bit of a figment of people's imagination. that he is an effort by the west to understand china and east asian society that when the jesuits first down their way to china and trying to figure out what was going on they created a much mark ^-caret philosophy and put this kind of guy in charge of it and their ideas kind of influence the ideas of the chinese themselves about what confucius will was and so that you ended up creating a confucius that necessarily was not even there and this was a difficult subject-- idea for me writing a book about confucius. okay, what does that do with mary was talking about, it has to do with records and how ideas are disseminated. one historian said to me, the reason why we note confucius was
so important is because people wrote down what he had to say. 2500 years ago, not everyone-- books were rare things and people didn't keep records of what everyone was saying and doing and just the mere fact that a bunch of people thought it was important to write down what confucius said and passed along shows how important he was at the time and then of course, these records both oral and written warehouse his ideas became spread and sprayed and spread not only across china, but through all of east asia, so the whole facts that looking back at deep antiquity in china is that there is a written record that-- got passed around at all shows the importance of what this person did and said and at the time and how it carried down through history. >> when does confucius become
known as a presence outside asia when do the people of the west become aware of confucius? >> the west became more aware of confucius when the first jesuit missionaries ended up in china in the 16th century. they were trying to figure out how to convert chinese to christianity. they struggled with that for a while and their eventual solution was let's meld ourselves into chinese society and we have to learn a lot more about it. they were the first ones actually to go about translating text that are considered confucius text into european language. >> romans got to china pending they got quite a long way with what i was brought up to call the far east. but, the cultural impact seems-- the traces in chinese writing of romans turning up.
there is a wonderful copy of a copy of a copy of a roman map, which actually extends as far as india and there are all kinds of this event in a kind of dump like pompeii there are all kinds of indian bric-a-brac, which has come back, iv-- ivory statuettes. heaven knows how they got there, but it doesn't seem to be any kind of interesting culture in play. just little bits of stuff, slight sense of that exotic. >> you know, the earthquake touched off what you call the great earthquake debate. did god cause this earthquake, punishment for our sins or did
it come from natural forces that were hardly understood. although, we were just at the beginning of the discovery of science and all of those things that led to the industrial revolution. right at the beginning and so there was this huge debates. >> the lisbon earthquake happened at a fascinating moment and europeans history. scientific revolution had occurred, but the phenomenon of what causes earthquakes was amount. there was a great debate. i would say most people believed that god has caused the earthquake. but, many were trying desperately to find out what caused it, what natural forces had essentially brought it about
there were all kinds of theories mainly based on aristotle's idea of cowbirds under the ground and when going through them. 18th century site is added fire and chemicals and so forth. there was even a series that the new lightning rods might have brought-- and many of them were fascinating, inventive comedy series, but they were wrong. in fact, we didn't really figure out what caused earthquakes until the 1950s and 1960s when plate tectonics was accepted by the scientific community. this gave an extra opening to the religious areas and sectors of society paired people like john wesley, for example, said to his congregation and he wasn't alone-- well, he knew that educated pastors and priests of your appeal the theories about what caused
earthquakes and it put these into their sermons. well, look the scientists say that a ground fires, exploding gases and today of all kinds of theories, but they have no idea what causes earthquakes. looking out into the congregation, but we all know what causes earthquakes. we have read the bible this is god and god is sending us a message. and the religious figures in europe were particularly excited because they did not have a problem with science. they believed in science for the most part. but, they could train their argument against people they really hated, the deists, those who believe that god had greeted the universe like a watchmaker and then stepped back. this clearly showed the lisbon earthquake, that god was not a indifferent sovereign. he was playing a role in nature, in our lives. he is sending us messages and so
there is this extraordinary overlap and debate between people that are accepting people-- things from both sides and the fascinating-- in england , which is potentially the center of the european enlightenment and of course the industrial revolution begins in the middle of the 18th century the king george the second called for a national past day several months later, i think february 6. every member of the church of england was to go into the churches and pray. that what had happened to lisbon didn't happen to the british empire and in fact, the churches were filled. not only the protestant churches, also the catholic churches, the jews went to temple. only the quakers did not go to services and not only that, the quakers opened their shops that
day and this apparently led to writing. the quakers were attacked for this. this is again in the middle of the 18th century enlightenment >> there's another debate which comes out of that, which he touched on a bit ago which is a historical debate, which is about how the earthquake managed to speed up what took the french revolution years to achieve or not achieve. that question is, if it we are standing back and thinking about this from a historical point of view is do these natural disasters really show us anything? do they speed up something that might have happened or are they terribly convenience something
we cling onto later? there are back-- very many explanations of the fall of the roman empire, which somewhat makes it a natural disaster. it was the plague in the late century. declined birthrate. what's you then do is it becomes off the peg explanation which in many ways you are looking at or discourages you from looking at all of the other things that were actually working at that time anyway and i wondered where you stood, actually, on the lisbon earthquake. did this do in the regime or did it fast forward? >> excellent question. alexia, the great sociologist historian of american democracy also wrote a book and his argument was precisely that,
that the french revolution simply sped up the centralization of the state in france. it was going on before 1789, and therefore we should not really look at what happened between 1789 and 1799, but look at what was going on before and what comes later and his argument was centralization of the state. when i started writing this book, i had a subtitle: forging of the modern world. the lisbon earthquake changed everything. i, of course, went into the sources and realized it's not quite true. unfortunately. the story is somewhat more interesting. i think in terms of portugal, it did speed up these forces of secularization, centralization of the states, the decline again of the church. thank god, pombal was sent into exile, ultimately.
but, as bill pointed out this earthquake happened right at the beginning of what we call the french and indian war, europeans called the seven-year war and so after about five or six months reports about the earthquake and how the portuguese are doing is kind of pushed off the front pages and europeans still completely forget about the earthquake. but, within a few years they do because more important and pressing things are going on, battles are being fought in the new world etc. so, though this earthquake debate is fascinating. my sense is that many people really didn't change their opinions about the world. they used the earthquake as a springboard to solidify and sort of make their arguments. i mean, their old ideas. i cannot fascinating.
so, i would agree with you there soon so, what you are really saying is that if a natural disaster is going to change anything it has to happen at the right time. [laughter] >> i have one more question and then we will go to questions from the audience. this is for you, michael. they have been talking about things that compared to china happened at warped speed. i mean, even though it took a long time, china has been slow to change as low to evolve, but right now we are able to see through the miracle of the internet, television, we are able to see this society transforming itself immediately. right now and lifetime. as we watch this again, and briefly, where do we put
confucius and what we see and what we read about? >> you know, i get asked a lot about why i wrote a book on confucius and actually all the time. it actually happened when i was on my way to the room this morning. [laughter] >> and you get especially not just from people kind of in the us in the west kind of like, why do we care about this old guy, but you get a lot from asians as well actually have come to have somewhat of a negative opinion towards confucius and blame him for all kinds about step from the second class status of women to governments and all of these other bad things and the reason i did it is that after living in asia, 420 years-- four, 20 years and asia operates differently
than we do in west and why is that, and in the end i think it is because all societies are ultimately based on ideas. i think when we are talking about like earthquakes and natural catastrophes, they happen everywhere and can't change the course of events, but ultimately how i think that ideas a man in some ways are more powerful and live longer and you can see that in china today. even though this is a country that's remarkably different than it was 2500 years ago and in recent times has gone through fantastic political and cultural change, economic change that people now are actually rather than moving farther away from their traditions and traditional ideas are actually moving closer to them. that is the government is
promulgating confucius ideas again for its own purposes, but ordinary people are also after not really looking very much at their own history and their own traditions for about a hundred years are actually going back and reading this stuff again and learning from and the people who are doing that are saying we are looking for answers to our own problems today. and, maybe we confined them in what our ancient philosophers that all these years ago. so, poor me from a historical-- from history standpoint it's remarkable how powerful an idea, you know, can be. something that started so long ago and so resonate the role of these different political, social economic changes that are kind of still around and still influence out people to do what they do and how the world works. >> now, we would like to have-- sheer from you folks.
yes, right over there. do we have a microphone? [inaudible] [inaudible] ceric let's be repeat that in case you could hear. what would be a nuance to the question of why rome fell. [inaudible] >> i think the newest answer splits the east from the west and said, look, actually if you go to the eastern part of the roman empire, it didn't fall until 4053.
they called themselves romans. they said they were the roman empire and so if you look at it from the point of view of them than the fall of the roman empire doesn't resonate. i think in the west, obviously, things are different. there's a breakdown of the political of any kind of political aggregation of the political unity. not as total as we think. we have a-- [inaudible] >> the names of the people who take over for the romans. being seen as nasty characters who came with this senseless violence on great roman civilizations.
in fact, they were latching loving law-abiding christians, for the most part. which you get in this does go back to the communications problem that's it does prove difficult in a sense to manage this epidemic violence going on within the empire to some extent. you get a split of the western empire certainly slits. in many ways it splits into a series of micro roams. lots of many roams everywhere. is not very nice, but to be honest they are more likely to be restoring their ancient roman buildings meant to be taking pot shots at them. but, they do lose partly from pressure from the outside and partly from the inability to have any centralized form of command within that part of the
empire. they lose political unity, but in many ways they remain culturally roman, for the most part. i'm not talking about peasants, hear. peasants, poor old guys living in the country probably were never romans and people say a good joke again in roman, when did the iron age and in britain, probably about 1500. the romans made no dense anyway in much of rural peasant life. you get desegregation, not revolution. you don't get such good sanitation. otherwise, quite roman. >> i would like to thank all of you for not exposing all of my ignorance during one hour. but, you have a fair amount of
it. market, a question for you. when thomas jefferson was the ambassador to france, he was warned about the brazilians, to steer clear of them. do you think there was any reverberation in brazil from the earthquake in lisbon? >> absolutely. they, of course, received the news after a month or so. in fact, i think they got it before north america, before can to boston. of course, it was the cash cow of the portuguese empire. they were extraordinarily concerned about whether lisbon was completely destroyed, whether they should send ships filled with gold to lisbon and what with a sending those ships to. what's interesting, i read a letter that pombal sent to brazil and he sent these letters throughout, in fact, the western
world downplaying the destruction of the city. he did not want to scare people. he did not want the trade to be dampened. but, the brazilians and i call them sort of brazilians, but there is also portuguese concerr cities and they are asked by pombal to pay a 4% tariff to rebuild the city and at first they are very excited about this and the merchant community all come together and they are going to send enormous amounts of money for the rebuilding of the city. they feel so terrible. but, by the end of the 18th century they are still asked to pay that for percent, and i have seen letters from the brazilians saying when is this going to end the city is almost rebuilt, so yes, absolutely they were concerned.
there is all these many stories they are, but no newspapers to read because the first printing press i came to brazil came in the early 19th century when that king left after the napoleonic invasion. >> over here. >> question for mark. if climate change is sort of the lisbon earthquake on the installment plan, how similar or dissimilar is the debate today regarding climate change, similar to the after affects of the lisbon earthquake as far as the reaction to why it happened and what to do about it? >> that's a complicated question. of course, one thing, i mean, we can't stop or at least we don't know how to stop earthquakes from happening, so there was no question about prevention of earthquakes. again, they did actually one of the things that all of the earthquake commentators or many
of them noted was the temperature, the barometer, at the time. thinking there was actually some connection there. they were shocked, at least in lisbon to discover that the earthquake happened and the tsunami came on a day that was rather beautiful end of the sun was out and it was shining and why are these waves smashing into our coast and wise the ground rattling. in a some ways that, i think, is sort of very different because science-- i wouldn't necessarily completely settle, but science is generally on the same page about what causes climate change, but in my period as i've said that science was not settled at all. all the kinds of theories about what caused earthquakes were out there and so the skeptics had a
point. the skepticism, i think, resonated more. the fact that either god caused it or there was some other cause rather than the theories that were there at the time, so i think it was a very different time in a very different debate. >> this is for mr. shuman. is there a saying of confucius that you feel is particularly pithy and relevant to our current state of affairs? >> [laughter] >> actually, what's interesting about that is that confucius himself got a similar question. [laughter] >> that was from one of his students which was something to the affect of, is there one word that can guide you your entire life or something to that
effect. his answer was actually pretty interesting. his answer was, reciprocity. he went on to say, basically very similar to what the golden rule is in the reverse, which is don't do unto others that you don't want them to yourself and it to a great degree that is basically-- that basically sums up confucius there. you don't need to know he feels. that's it. [laughter] >> no, there are libraries and library's that confucius, but that really was what confucius was about, that's-- that he believed that morality had ultimate power, that if you try to do the right thing and you try to make yourself a better and better person and that was a lifelong question for confucius.
a great deal of confidence that nature was good. natural rights, natural law, et cetera, and here you have this enormous catastrophe and natural disaster in which tens of thousands of innocent people die. oh do we square this with our confidence that nature is good? and i aged earlier there were all kinds of responses. care was very upset about the universe that god crated. railed against it in can deed in the poem he wrote, but people -- like -- wrote a response to voltaire in which he report the earthquake went that bad. the reason the people died is nice were living in big cities in four-story buildings. if they lived in little hut close to nature they would have
surveyed. so, -- i take the point of view of the historian and say, at the risk of bag bit provocative, i'm not very interested in the laws of nature because i don't income there are any laws of nature that are not made, rpi invent. interpret be by -- let make i general -- free -- by men and women. so i'med? how men and women make laws of culture and decide what they think the laws of nature are. [applause] >> well, i want to -- thank you. i thought this was a terrific panel, and -- [applause]