Godfrey Baldacchino

This conversation is closed.

Are we really 'better' and 'more successful' because we can extract termites with a shovel from the ground, rather than with a stick?

Development is a disease and an addiction that has become difficult to cure - all because we are now assuming that we have to be better than the previous generation; and the environment pays the prices for our excesses.

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    Aug 7 2011: You might like Marshall Sahlins' essay "The Original Affluent Society" in which he makes a case that hunter-gather societies are more affluent than us. It hasn't convinced me to give up the trappings of modern life, but it's an interesting read and shouldn't be too hard to find online.

    Here's the opening:

    "Hunter-gatherers consume less energy per capita per year than any other group of human beings. Yet when you come to examine it the original affluent society was none other than the hunter's - in which all the people's material wants were easily satisfied. To accept that hunters are affluent is therefore to recognise that the present human condition of man slaving to bridge the gap between his unlimited wants and his insufficient means is a tragedy of modern times."
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    Aug 5 2011: you are free to go back to the cave, and collect food with hands.
  • Aug 10 2011: replace "better" with different...more specialized...and more apt to find new discomforts to propel further change... until all our desires become sated and we get bored and die... and then new desires are born... alternating currents...
  • Aug 9 2011: Godfrey-
    These are my favorite types of questions - loaded ones. It really all depends on how you define 'better.' Has the industrial age improved (or even changed) human nature? Probably not.

    But -
    Is the internet a *better* form of communication than runners? Yes.
    Does your air-conditioned office feel *better* than the heat of the outdoors? Yes.
    Is the vehicle a *better* mode of transportation than the horse? Yes.

    The fact is, if hunter-gathering were so envious, then hunter-gatherers would have continued to do so. Something tells me they viewed agriculture as *better* - that something being the events of history.

    Mark - interesting work but a lot of unfounded assertions. Even the opening sentence is a gigantic leap of faith - "in which all the people's material wants were easily satisfied." That either needs to be qualified with "in areas of natural abundance, for limited periods of time" or it needs to be backed up with direct data. Again, that the participants themselves saw value in agriculture is telling.

    It is also worth stating that our population would be a fraction of what it is today if we were to depend on hunting-gathering. That is not a *better* or preferable alternative, IMO.

    SEP
  • Aug 9 2011: HI! Godfrey!
    Your topic is great, though not very popular :-)
    I guess it's because, people still think, that the price for a shovel is adequate.

    Btw, how do you define disease?
    If it is the lost of balance, yes, you are perfectly correct in your statement.
    Development of the right wing for the sake of the of the left is an unreasonable luxury nobody can afford, only humans,but not forever. It's time to face the music, and I guess, we are already here.
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    Aug 5 2011: Agree with you godfrey. Short sightedness is to be blamed. But this is what we have been taught at schools. Study well to become successful individual. Individual oriented ideas are cause of this lack of virtue I believe. And sadly this is what we continue to teach. I think shift from Individual approach to a "Global human" approach may be the answer.
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    Aug 5 2011: I guess it depends on how you define success and improvement.
    What language has enabled us to do is to expand human knowledge alltogether and to broaden the horizon of our understanding.
    Now, whether this achievement that comes at certain costs was worth it, is of course debatable.
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    Aug 9 2011: Well said Seth

    Jared Diamond has some scathing comments to say about the agricultural revolution.

    I have one problem with your line of reasoning: hunter-gatherers would not have been able to glimpse the full implications of sedentary agriculture . . .including the population explosion.
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    Aug 9 2011: Indeed! And yet we believe, and behave as if we, are an intelligent species.
  • Aug 7 2011: I guess there will always be people that pine for the days when life expectancy did not exceed 30 years.
  • Aug 7 2011: language is just a tool for expressing our ideas,not the tool for creating new ideas.
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    Aug 5 2011: Would not societies with a strong collective identity, like Japan, exhibit a similar 'short sightedness'?
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    Aug 5 2011: Actually, we are not. Our health and safety laws would prevent us from doing so.
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    Aug 5 2011: Yes - agreed - moreover language is not something exclusive to humans - we know that various other living things communicate, and there may be others that we may not know too - and yet this faculty has not led to "an expansion of knowledge' or a "broadening of understanding".

    A debate on the virtue of knowledge, rather than wisdom, would be a wise thing to do!
    Danke/Thank You Sabin