Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
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15-09-2011, 04:51 PM
 
Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
I know there has been a tremendous progress in the ‘average’ sense, but I am not so sure whether the maximums of human potential increased at all.

Now we know a lot more and can do a lot more, but those are only tools for achieving human happiness. Have we increased happiness in the maximum sense?

If we compare today’s western empire with, say, Alexander’s in ancient Greece, I have the feeling (without proof) that:

Our oldest is not older
Our healthiest is not healthier
Our smartest is not smarter
Our stupidest is not less stupid
Our bravest is not braver
Our kindest is not kinder
Our meanest is not less mean
Our funniest are not funnier
Our happiest is not happier

Did I miss anything important?

Do you agree?

Is this as good as it ever gets?

PS. Just to illustrate what I mean: for example, if the oldest human being alive today was 200 years old, it would be progress in the ‘absolute’ or ‘maximum’ sense (I am reasonably sure, without proof of course, nobody lived that long back in Alexander’s time).
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16-09-2011, 07:51 AM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
Alexander's whole kingdom (before his glorious depredations) was the population of - what? Philadelphia? - and in a clement climate with good soil and little access for foreign pathogens. What's not to be healthy, old and happy?

If we'd kept the numbers manageable, we'd have made a lot more progress*. As it is, the best we have is shared by the same number of rich and powerful elite as the entire population was then; trickle-down is absorbed by a middle-class that's ten or twenty times the entire population of then, which leaves not much to spread over billions of poor

*I doubt longevity would be much more than 130 years anyway, without turning into cyborgs. Which is a viable option.

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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16-09-2011, 09:00 AM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
I agree, population boom has actually caused a lot of our problems. We still have that mentality where 'we MUST have children!!! There is not enough children'... which is not really needed these days.

If only everyone knew to wrap it up... we might have a chance.

Ever read the book, 'plague ship'? It's a dime store action book, but I kinda sympathized with the antagonists. What if there was a virus that gave people nothing more than a cold, but totally wiped 2/3 of people's reproductive capacities?

In less than 100 years, over population would cease to become a huge problem in the world, more money for less people. If such an event were to happen, and after said even we practiced safe sex limiting people to only 2 children, perhaps our population could finally stabilize.

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16-09-2011, 05:30 PM
 
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
The point I was trying to make: is there a glass ceiling for human beings?

Maybe progress means bringing as many up to that ceiling as possible (a noble goal to be sure) but we will never be able to break through our biologically determined limitations in age, intelligence, compassion, ability to co-operate and co-exist.

What do you think?
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16-09-2011, 06:04 PM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
(16-09-2011 05:30 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  The point I was trying to make: is there a glass ceiling for human beings?

Maybe progress means bringing as many up to that ceiling as possible (a noble goal to be sure) but we will never be able to break through our biologically determined limitations in age, intelligence, compassion, ability to co-operate and co-exist.

What do you think?

I agree with you zatamon.......I do wonder at the unknown discoveries though and if some of these were answered, how would it shape the way we "play the game"???

The nature of reality for example......the guys at the LHC in CERN might one day shed some light on the madness of quantum physics.....which may in turn lead to free energy.........also providing proof of "god" but without the rules......making agnostics smug Tongue

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16-09-2011, 07:07 PM
 
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
(16-09-2011 06:04 PM)bemore Wrote:  In the age of infinity we are so young.

This is pure poetry, bemore!

Smile
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16-09-2011, 09:10 PM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
(16-09-2011 05:30 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  The point I was trying to make: is there a glass ceiling for human beings?

Maybe progress means bringing as many up to that ceiling as possible (a noble goal to be sure) but we will never be able to break through our biologically determined limitations in age, intelligence, compassion, ability to co-operate and co-exist.

What do you think?

That's two different ceilings. The biological one, there is no reason we should break. Everything else has a lifespan and then dies. We can prolong it a bit, maybe turn ourselves into partial machines, but we won't and shouldn't achieve immortality.

Intelligence is probably limited to not much more than what we have now - which is formidable, by terrestrial standards, and has already made us quite dangerous enough to one planet. Why threaten the galaxy?

The social skills, however, we can improve quite a lot. Once the pressure for survival is relieved - population controlled, enough for everyone; shot at security and education for all. One huge benefit of that: we won't waste 90% of the intelligence, talent and creativity of our species as we do now.

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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17-09-2011, 03:38 PM
 
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
(16-09-2011 09:10 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  Intelligence is probably limited to not much more than what we have now - which is formidable, by terrestrial standards, and has already made us quite dangerous enough to one planet. Why threaten the galaxy?

The social skills, however, we can improve quite a lot. Once the pressure for survival is relieved - population controlled, enough for everyone; shot at security and education for all. One huge benefit of that: we won't waste 90% of the intelligence, talent and creativity of our species as we do now.

Unfortunately, intelligence and social skills are closely related. Unless we have a breakthrough in one, we can't really expect a breakthrough in the other.

The cycle we have to break is the same cycle that brings shit to the top, invariably.

As long as idiots keep electing the bastards, we have not got the chance of a snowball in hell.
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17-09-2011, 04:14 PM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
I'm not sure breaking a ceiling and breaking a cycle are the same, or even related. Cycles have been interrupted before, and breakthroughs made, without skipping any evolutionary steps.

We have the intelligence, right now, to solve most of our problems - not all, right away, but enough to buy a little time. Most of the solutions have already been published, in several versions and languages. The problem is implementation, which is a political problem.

The only two ways, so far, that we've devised to break political cycles are violence and system failure - and the former tends to precipitate, accompany or follow the latter. There is a major system failure in the works right now. How much violence it entails, nobody knows yet. Probably a lot, since there is already a considerable amount of violence taking place, and more brewing, and an atmosphere conducive.

Like the thick, heavy, dark air before a really big storm. I don't want to participate or even live through the next half century, but i sure wish i could know how it turns out.

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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17-09-2011, 04:45 PM
 
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the ‘absolute’ sense?
(17-09-2011 04:14 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  I'm not sure breaking a ceiling and breaking a cycle are the same, or even related.

I am sure they are.

Yes, we have been breaking cycles for thousands of years and then the cycles start all over again. Biological evolution is not relevant in a few thousand years -- when the dust settles the same forces still operate, the same ceiling in average intelligence (what is it -- 100?) will make the same mistakes: the shit rises to the top again, with enthusiastic cheering from its victims.

I know it sounds pessimistic, but history proves me right.

There is no reason that it should play out differently during the next few thousand years -- unless our advanced technology puts a permanent end to the story, which is the most likely outcome.

The problem is the following: while our biological evolution was practically unnoticable during our recorded history, our science and technology developed exponentially, with full potential now to destroy the whole planet or, at the least, our species: we are holding our collective breath, waiting for the super bombs, the super storms (climate change) or the super bugs that we have unleashed on ourselves.

When we reach the glass ceiling, we will be riding the shock-wave of self-destruction.

Never mind me, I am in a pessimistic (that is to say realistic) mood today.
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