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Is man hard-wired to fail?
Posted: 27 October 2008 02:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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dougsmith - 27 October 2008 02:19 PM
VYAZMA - 27 October 2008 02:05 PM

Again this mainly centers around comfy sofas,air-conditioning and improvements in healthcare.None of these are really standards that are relative to the betterment of Mankind on a humanistic level.In fact,most of these are improvements which are enjoyed by relatively few Earthlings.So,these “advancements"have just widened the gulf between the wretched and the industrialized.

No VYAZMA, these advances are worldwide, with the exception of sub-saharan Africa. See e.g. the Wiki page on measuring poverty: “The percentage of the world’s population living on less than $1 per day has halved in twenty years.”

I wouldn’t ridicule air conditioning either. Something on the order of 35,000 people died in the 2003 European heat wave. This is no joke.

VYAZMA - 27 October 2008 02:05 PM

Longer lives is not a standard.It could also be viewed as a detractor.
With the lessening of disease,what is accomplished?Less mortality,less pain?Sure,but there are other sources of pain and suffering which are far more easy to prevent.Hunger,war,poverty-all within our means of remedy.But these are not being remedied.New diseases continue to crop-up…AIDS,Bird Flu,etc…

That’s a rather paternalistic attitude. Most people would love to lead longer, healthier lives, and to have comforts like good beds and air conditioning in the summer heat, running water, sanitation, clean food, et cetera. It’s easy to pooh-pooh these amazing advances given that you enjoy them every day. The fact that the entire world does not yet enjoy them is of great concern, however that does not argue that they were not great advances.

As to the other sources of pain and suffering that you note, I have been focusing on two of them: hunger and poverty, both of which have declined in the last couple of centuries. War, it is true, is a threat to us all. At least we have been so far able to avoid a worldwide calamity in the last six decades or so.

That is my point,Doug.I’m not pooh-poohing these advancements.People 150 years ago didn’t yearn for air-conditioning or electricity.Yet,they too thought they were better off than their forefathers.
On another sidenote,I know people like polls,Americans were recently asked whether they thought they were going to live better lives than their parents.You know what the answer was,for the first time ever?I think you know.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 02:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Doug,another thing you may have to be careful with,if I may be so bold,is to cite the European heatwave example.This could obviously lead to supportive arguments for me.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 02:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Perhaps your point is that we haven’t made any advances on what really matters to our future as a species, that is our innate human tendencies to greed, status, hatred, violence, et cetera.

In that sense I agree with you completely, however one must view both sides of that coin. Humans have tendencies to both love and hate, caring and violence, charity and greed, empathy and disdain. (Status will always be there as well). I don’t believe in a Star Trek future simply because it assumes we basically no longer remain human, and I doubt that that will happen, or at the very least it won’t happen in the foreseeable future.

Increases in knowledge due to science, however, have made the world a better place, and have allowed us to increase the carrying capacity of the globe. They have also had side-effects which we must now deal with, and which we will also need more scientific information to deal with effectively.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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VYAZMA - 27 October 2008 02:33 PM

Doug,another thing you may have to be careful with,if I may be so bold,is to cite the European heatwave example.This could obviously lead to supportive arguments for me.

How do you mean? I am not disagreeing with your point that there are bad things that occur; I’m simply saying that there have been clear advances, and that those advances are nearly worldwide.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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dougsmith - 27 October 2008 02:40 PM
VYAZMA - 27 October 2008 02:33 PM

Doug,another thing you may have to be careful with,if I may be so bold,is to cite the European heatwave example.This could obviously lead to supportive arguments for me.

How do you mean? I am not disagreeing with your point that there are bad things that occur; I’m simply saying that there have been clear advances, and that those advances are nearly worldwide.

I mean that,possibly that heatwave was the result of human induced global warming.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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VYAZMA - 27 October 2008 02:42 PM

I mean that,possibly that heatwave was the result of human induced global warming.

Sure. That’s also what I was saying before about side-effects of our advances. There are always tradeoffs, costs and benefits. But on balance we are better off—assuming we can have the political will to do something about global warming and overpopulation, and avoid killing each other in massive wars, we will continue to be better off.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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I feel we are all together in our condemnation of war.
But some are arguing on another plane - material, physical and scientific progress.
This is quite a different argument.

I was originally speaking on man and his improvement as a living being.
He kills for the worst and most absurd of reasons and these reasons have most all been formulated in the most recent millenniums.

How then, is this progress?

How are we to live together in peace and harmony in spite of nature and yet in harmony with nature.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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dougsmith - 27 October 2008 02:39 PM

Perhaps your point is that we haven’t made any advances on what really matters to our future as a species, that is our innate human tendencies to greed, status, hatred, violence, et cetera.

In that sense I agree with you completely, however one must view both sides of that coin. Humans have tendencies to both love and hate, caring and violence, charity and greed, empathy and disdain. (Status will always be there as well). I don’t believe in a Star Trek future simply because it assumes we basically no longer remain human, and I doubt that that will happen, or at the very least it won’t happen in the foreseeable future.

Increases in knowledge due to science, however, have made the world a better place, and have allowed us to increase the carrying capacity of the globe. They have also had side-effects which we must now deal with, and which we will also need more scientific information to deal with effectively.

Yes sir.I want to have a discussion.I didn’t want argue around each of our points.In response to the threads “question"I think humankind basically stays the same.
I love the human propensity for good.I see it in all the advancements you spoke of and more.Yes what you stated in this latest point was my angle of opinion.That is why we were circling around.I’m now going to look up the definition of “paternalistic”.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Socrate’s pupil - 27 October 2008 02:51 PM

I feel we are all together in our condemnation of war.
But some are arguing on another plane - material, physical and scientific progress.
This is quite a different argument.

I was originally speaking on man and his improvement as a living being.
He kills for the worst and most absurd of reasons and these reasons have most all been formulated in the most recent millenniums.

How then, is this progress?

How are we to live together in peace and harmony in spite of nature and yet in harmony with nature.

Yes Soc.Pupil.Again,I totally agree with you.I understand the level you are addressing.And I feel it is by far the most important level to address.If that can’t be reckoned with(and it probably can’t)then we are not going forward,and will probably decline.Definitely.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Yes, Doug - you are going in the right direction of my thinking when you say “Perhaps your point is that we haven’t made any advances on what really matters to our future as a species, that is our innate human tendencies to greed, status, hatred, violence, et cetera.”
I think the ancient cave-men had just as much the capability of love and tenderness and even compassion as we do today.

But be careful with science, though, for some scientists are quite arrogant which is quite inconsistent with what the original scientists from Meletus had in mind. Fanatics are found everywhere!

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Posted: 27 October 2008 03:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Thank you, Vyazma - yes, if we get too far afield we will create confusion, disgust, frustration, anger and discouragement - what the press adores!

PS - being an old man, I’m going to bed and will get back to tomorrow!

[ Edited: 27 October 2008 03:24 PM by Socrate's pupil ]
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Posted: 27 October 2008 03:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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There are too many sub-threads here to respond to many of them.  However, I believe that we have made great advances in species efficiency.  We have been much less successful in advancing ethics and being humane. 

Although our efficiency in killing, as well as in improving human happiness and diminishing pain (in general) has increased, I think we are a little less blood-thirsty (of course, with many counter-examples) as a species than we have been in the past.

While I agree with the pejoratives “greed, status, hatred, violence”, I do not accept “innate”.  Because as nasty as we seem to be now, when I look back just a few centuries, it seems to me that caring and being honest and ethical was almost unheard of then. 

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Posted: 27 October 2008 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Paternalistic: Benevolent but sometimes intrusive.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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OK, so we seem to be agreed that in material terms, humankind is better off now than previously. The real issue seems to be about our ethical side. Are humans more ethical now than they were previously? I think so. I believe that civilization has done a great deal to tame the beast. Allow me to present some actual historical facts, as opposed to speculation, as to how people behaved in the past:

Killing animals, not just for food, but for fun, was acceptable until quite recently. Consider, for example, the massacre of the Great Plains buffalo at the turn of the previous century. People shot thousands of buffalo for the pure fun of killing. That was only a hundred years ago. Or how about the pleasure people have taken in killing others? Gladitorial contests, Indian torture of prisoners, the popularity of the auto de fe’s, the viciousness of the Paris mobs in the French Revolution—these are but a few of the historical examples of behavior that is impossible to imagine except in some of the most depraved places on the planet. Have you seen some of the images of what soldiers did to civilians during the wars of religion? They would make most modern people vomit. Just a hundred years ago a common form of execution in China was to scrape the flesh off the bones of the living victim; now it’s a bullet in the back of the head.

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Posted: 28 October 2008 01:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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It seems ‘Abiding Puck’ who provoked my questions has been absent for several months!
But a few others have helped me to explain myself more coherently and I thank you.
(The spelling check does not seem to work?)

This is directed to Chris Crawford and his excellent reply of yesterday. I would only like to add that the word ‘ethical’ is a relatively new word and had no meaning 3000 or 4000 years ago. Daniel Quinn’s friend, Ishmael, is speaking to modern men - city-dwellers.
So, since these modern cultures, most especially the Hebrews and the Greeks, we have started to use these words quite commonly as we do today. As I see it, “the taming of the beast” has been going on since the rise of these two peoples. And, we have had several enlightened rulers in these last 2500 years. And, in our Democratic societies of today, most especially Great Britain and their North American colonies, Canada and the United States, we have made great progress. I like to think of the years of the Hippies as a high period, as opposed to today to where the present administration has drug us, as the high and low of man’s potential.
So, have we made any progress is still a valid question today to my way of thinking.

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