TED Conversations

  • Keith W
  • Chicago, IL
  • United States


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If the Industrial Revolution did not begin in Western Europe, could it have or would it have began somewhere else?

I read "Guns Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond and it really made me think. He said once "If another continent was blessed with environment and resources like Europeans, than they would have built skyscrapers and Helicopters" or something to that effect. I dont want this to turn into a racial/cultural debate by any means. I am merely asking if Technology was inevitable? I believe Diamond was correct in much of his assumptions he made in his book, but i do believe he was being overly deterministic? Anyway, is modern society just a fluke? What would have happened if the Industrial Revolution did not begin when it did?


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    Apr 17 2013: It would have i think most inventions are a result of us and the world we live in and id go even further and say that even scientific discoveries can be seen as direct result of shifting worldviews in the world, the persons immaterial because of the process we describe with "the time has come" "the time is ready" this becomes fairly obvious when you check history and see how often a discovery was made by 2 persons (independant of each other) within a timeframe of a few months.

    In the end the process of discovery is not centered on people but on groups of people (a country, a cultural group) where many many individuals fail, or go ahead trying to find a way and fail. The person making the discovery reaching the goal is simply the one having learned from others mistakes and putting together the indivdual puzzle pieces (maybe there will be some exceptions).

    From this point of view its also immaterial to discuss what would have happend if an invention hadnt been made in europe as youd have to change the whole flow of history and culture inorder to create a sound world in which said discovery couldnt have been made.
    The importance of culture become even more obvious as they found out that in ancient egypt there was an inventor who had allready discovered steampower however it wasnt used for anything else then small gimmicks/toys, its potential just couldnt be realized in said culture.

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