European imperialists set out to distant shores in the hope of obtaining new knowledge along with new territories.
The European imperial expeditions transformed the history of the world: from being series of histories of isolated peoples and cultures, it became the history of a single integrated human society.
What made Europeans exceptional was their unparalleled and insatiable ambition to explore and conquer.
Only in the 20th century did non-European cultures adopt a truly global vision.
For modern Europeans, building an empire was a scientific project, while setting up a scientific discipline was an imperial project.