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Each month we will feature a different book by Gellner.
This month it is:

Plough, Sword and Book

BrainButter
In Plough, Sword and Book, Gellner clearly and forcefully puts forward a comprehensive philosophy of human history, from the Neolithic age to the present. Gellner divides human endeavour into three fundamental activities - production, coercion, and cognition - and examines how these activities were transformed by the "great leaps" of the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

In tracing the social changes that occurred as humans moved from hunting and gathering to agriculture to industry, Gellner rejects genetic and teleological explanations and stresses instead the roles of special combinations of circumstances and of cognition. He argues against cultural relativism and contends that human societies have progressed in genuine knowledge, even if at a price.

Despite the triumph of cognition and the abundance of goods offered by industrial production, Gellner warns, coercion still plays a menacing role in modern society. He advises that, though we cannot predict the future, we can understand our options by comprehending the past.