I read the commentaries on my essay by Dean Keith Simonton and Ran Baratz with interest, but have nothing substantive to add. Walter Russell Mead’s argument about the role of competition triggered a variety of thoughts, all of which are preliminary; it is not a topic that I have investigated systematically. For example, what if classical China had not coalesced into a single huge state, but had consisted of four or five smaller, competing states? Would competition have spurred those different Chinas to accelerate their technological development or invent the scientific method? It is a fascinating and not implausible possibility. With regard to Europe, Mead is surely right that rivalry spurred technological and economic responses.
Can American innovation survive the paralysis of American government?