Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
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09-02-2013, 06:31 PM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
(09-02-2013 06:29 PM)Chas Wrote:  'Average' was specifically excluded by the OP; he was asking about maximum.
Damn right, I was! Big Grin
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09-02-2013, 07:02 PM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
Hey, Chas.

Quote:'Average' was specifically excluded by the OP; he was asking about maximum.

And I very clearly explained that I don't think that there is any such thing as an absolute maximum.

Quote:Who is casting science as the ultimate good guy?

Well there's Bill in accounting and Dikembe in Botswana.....

Quote:You appear to be conflating science and the uses to which results are put. It is the uses that create ethical problems .

I understand the difference between pure and applied science. I just see a connection in practice and understanding that you are denying. Furthermore I do see very serious ethical issues with the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Animal suffering, the quantification of the biosphere and toxic byproducts come to mind.

Quote:And what, precisely are the 'serious limitations' of science? Science has its arena - physical reality.

You and I have probably had that discussion a dozen times. If you don't know by now then you're just not listening to a word I say.

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09-02-2013, 07:31 PM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
(09-02-2013 03:24 PM)Zat Wrote:  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?
Yes, I would say comparing the past to the present there has been an increase in all of those areas, with the exception of human cognitive ability. I simply do not know if IQ's have increased or decreased due to the test only being available for such a short period of time, and it's inability to measure things like musical, artistic or social intelligence.

A maximum will be reached when discoveries in science stop, when that is or if that will happen I don't know.

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09-02-2013, 08:16 PM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
(09-02-2013 03:24 PM)Zat Wrote:  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?
Apparently you have not much exposure to medical history, and/or medical technology.
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09-02-2013, 08:24 PM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
Well, I know our feet and heads got bigger- I can't fit a lot of vintage items, sometimes not even the mens, and I am a small (for caucasian) size. But, I don't think that's maximum.

I think we still have great potential if some groups of people didn't keep trying to throw us back into the dark ages.
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09-02-2013, 10:57 PM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
Quote: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?
Zat,

I can't quite believe you asked this question. Now...I can't say if the "Best" of lives have become "Better", but I can say that on average things have gotten a lot better for everyone.

Slavery is no longer accepted as "...an alternative lifestyle".

People no longer die en masse from "Bacterial Infections".

There are no more "Plagues"

Wars to create "Empire" are no longer seen as correct.

Humans are no longer sacrificed to "Gods".


Must I go on?
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10-02-2013, 02:11 AM (This post was last modified: 10-02-2013 02:31 AM by Zat.)
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
(09-02-2013 10:57 PM)Julius Wrote:  I can say that on average ....
...
Julius,

I specifically, repeatedly, said I was NOT talking about the average.

You misunderstood the OP. Smile
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10-02-2013, 04:49 AM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
Regardless of what you may feel about the maximums and minimums of society, it is not those that measure the march of progress. It is the collective knowledge of mankind that has progressed, and it's this global treasure, our knowledge, that allows us to improve the lives of billions.

Pierre Fermat was one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived. Without his work the progress of society would be much delayed. And yet, he had the mathematical knowledge of a modern day fifth grader. A fifth grader. He could be surpassed in mathematical knowledge, if not, perhaps, ability, by any modern middle schooler. Isaac Newton, inventor of calculus, discoverer of the laws of motion and gravity, inventor of the reflecting telescope. He was brilliant. And yet his knowledge would be eclipsed by any of the tens of thousands of undergraduate physics majors that will get their degrees this year.


Asking to compare the minimums and maximums of humanity, things which cannot be known or quantified, on any objective basis is absurdity and pointless. These are not the things that show how we've progressed. The inherited knowledge of man kind is our best objective measure. And if you don't value knowledge, well... Try living in a world without engineers. Somalia's a good place to start.

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10-02-2013, 06:25 AM (This post was last modified: 10-02-2013 06:58 AM by Zat.)
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
(10-02-2013 04:49 AM)Phaedrus Wrote:  Regardless of what you may feel about the maximums and minimums of society, it is not those that measure the march of progress.
...
I was NOT talking about progress either.

It is the wording of the title that must be confusing you.

I did not ask if there was any progress.

Only an idiot would say that there was no progress.

The rest of us KNOW that there was tremendous progress in many areas.

I asked:

Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?

The absolute sense refers to the maximums as I repeatedly emphasized.

Maybe the wording was not the most fortunate (obviously it confused some) but the rest of the OP made it crystal clear what I meant.

I even went further to explain what I meant:
Quote:Still, you can't help but wonder: incredible advances were made in medical science, in biology, in science in general -- wouldn't you expect it to affect at least the maximum longevity of the human species in 2000 years?

Don't you think that the effect of pollution, radiation exposure, stress levels, etc., etc., might be responsible for offsetting the advances we made in other areas?
...
It is a reasonable and (for me) fascinating question.

Hopefully this covers it.

(10-02-2013 04:49 AM)Phaedrus Wrote:  And if you don't value knowledge, well... Try living in a world without engineers. Somalia's a good place to start.
...
It is possible to ask questions before jumping to unwarranted conclusions -- something like: "did you mean to say that...?"

I would have gladly answered them. Rolleyes
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10-02-2013, 08:10 AM
RE: Has there been progress in human history in the 'absolute' sense?
Read about the Dark Ages and then ask that question.

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