Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Periods of Note

Consider this hypothetical: for nearly ten thousand years, humans lived in relative harmony with their environment, expanding their populations, and living lives based around nearly constant family connections, friendship, work and play. Many of them died young, many people suffered terribly from incurable illnesses, many went hungry, and many died in stupid wars. Yet they persisted, living away life after life in the company of their kin, and believing in silly ideas about gods and spirits. Let’s call the period in which those ignorant idiots lived "the religious period."

Not too long ago, some people began telling their employees to build more and more powerful tools, and called the result science. In a few hundred years, the oceans were filled with garbage, the ozone layer fell apart, and the majority of humanity began living in crippling poverty, even the simplest employment or meanest food unavailable to them. Many of them died young, many people suffered terribly from incurable illnesses, many went hungry, and many died in stupid wars. Tribal leaders postured against one another, subtly threatening each other with weapons so powerful they could destroy the planet hundreds of times over, even as prominent figures warned of unstoppable plague, wars of finality, or extinction by environmental destruction. Let’s call the period in which those enlightened thinkers lived "the scientific period."

Given such a hypothetical situation, contemplate the following questions:

1. If you believe that one period can be in any way superior to another, which period "wins"? Why?

2. Which period produced better, more pleasurable, more meaningful lives for the people who lived in it? Why?

3. Who are more intelligent–the people of the religious period, or the people of the scientific period?

4. If your answers to (3) and (2) are different, how is that possible?

5. Would your answers to Questions 1-3 change if Russia and Anglo-America have a nuclear war that destroys humanity, and in the last second of your existence, you were asked those two latter questions?

6. Would your answer to Question 5 change if the nuclear war between BRICS and the Anglo-American Axis merely killed most of humanity, rather than all of humanity? Why?

7. Would your answers to Questions 1-3 change if you were dying of starvation and aggressive skin cancer in a blistering mega-desert after dwindling fossil fuel resources caused the end of civilization?

1 comment:

  1. This seems impossible to answer on these terms. The transition from communal/sustenance to social/surplus based life is the original Original Sin, and, much like the biblical one, it accommodates both the fall, and the possibility for assent.

    If you really need the data point, yes, on most days I find the idea of roaming the forests, spontaneously yelling, frolicking with all or most of the ladies in the tribe, just chilling after the full 4 hours or so that it takes to produce daily sustenance etc., far more humane than what I do on a daily basis. Clothes and hot showers are overrated, and yet people have been making their own shoes and pants for thousands of years, not to mention that the ancient and medieval bathhouses have been far more luxurious and rejuvenating than the current issue ubiquitous gross quickie wash up stations.

    It is hard for me to judge if science signifies more intelligence. All that science does is formulate relationships between events, presenting us with more simple, elegant, unified picture of the world.

    But so do the primitive cultures. Down with physics, up with meta-physics! (Physics can have its service role)