Homework Help

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, what is the lesson of the Phaistos disk?

user profile pic

soccerchick20106 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 23, 2011 at 9:08 AM via web

dislike 2 like

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, what is the lesson of the Phaistos disk?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 23, 2011 at 9:21 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

The main lesson of the Phaistos disk, according to Diamond, is that necessity is not the mother of invention.  Instead, innovation happens simply because people tinker and change things and stumble on new things.  They then go looking for uses for their new inventions.

In Chapter 13, Diamond is trying to argue that some areas become technologically advanced not because they are more culturally inclined to invention or because they are smarter.  Instead, they become more advanced simply because they have all the things that they need to be able to find uses for the inventions that people come up with.

This is where the Phaistos disk comes in.  People in Crete in 1700 BC didn't have much use for printing.  They did not, for example, have paper.  Later on, in Europe, printing really did catch hold.  But it was not because the Europeans of that time were somehow better than the people of Crete.  Instead, it was because they had all the things they needed to allow printing to happen.

This is the lesson of the disk.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes