Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
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09-02-2013, 03:24 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?

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).

Is this as good as it ever gets?

Again, I am talking about the potential maximum of longevity and not the average.

Only an idiot would not know how much the average increased.

However, what I would like to know is the following.

Suppose a baby is born of 100% healthy parents (if there is such a thing), who have a family history of long lives going back generations (good genes) and raised, from day one, in ideal circumstances health-wise (not in an artificial environment but with a healthy life-style) -- what is the maximum he can hope to stay alive?

Has any experiment, study, etc., been performed in this direction?

How would it compare with maximum life-spans in pre-industral-revolution times that we know of from History and Anthropology?

We know that some of the ancient Greek philosophers lived to a respectable old age 2000 years ago.

I am sure we have not doubled it yet.

Still, it would be interesting to know the facts and an analysis of the contributing factors: plus and minus.

Anyway, the longevity question is just one of many of a much larger picture.

How about cognitive ability (as in maximum IQ) and all the other factors?
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Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense? - Zat - 09-02-2013 03:24 PM
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