Next Generation Emulation banner
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Knowledge is the solution
Joined
·
7,484 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Aw cmon, I know you missed these ones :)

This (sic)week's topic is called "A return to the Middle ages?" and it will revolve around our current society's apparent scientifical curiosity stagnation.

Throughout the ages, humanity has seen a continous improvement in the technology it uses. And with this technological advance, it has been almost common for a social and mental adjudment to this tech changes to appear in the immediate future. This social balancing is necessary because of the moral challenges that the various industrial revolutions have forebringed.

Not all has been nice and clean though. It has been a constant that the research community in every human sociaty represents a minimal fraction of the total population of said society. While this has been an innevitable fact because of the need to satisfy first our primal necessities (to eat, to have somewhere to live, and hence agriculture, and the industry are regarded as more important) it is something to worry nevertheless, given that this lessens our importance as 'intelligent' race. But even if such a problem has always appeared, it has not seriously hampered the evolution of humanity as a technologically species.

However, a problem that seems reminiscent of the era that preceeds the downfall of ancient big civilizations has taken place. And this problem takes the form of an apathy, or even antipathy towards the intellectual tasks of life. Science is losing ground against religion and other type of beliefs in this time and age. Research and investigation is starting to be saw as mere "menial tasks" in front of a pragmatism that is being taken to dangerous extremes in the world's economy.

I have personally seen this in my university, when even the school advisors are uninterested in promoting the study branches/subjects where you actually study to understand the basis and fundament of what is being taught in other subjects. It can also be seen in the same undergraduates in their sole interest of winning money, or in the "best" case scenario, merely "enjoying what they do"

However, maybe apathy is the least of our worries right now. Anthagonist have appeared that try deny all the progress that is struggling to be made, by trying to bind us to a dubious "natural essence", returning to our roots, claiming that modern research goes against our very nature and things like that. Trying to bind us to morals that no longer apply to the society that is proposed, instead of evolving those morals like the situation would demand

Ok, enough introduction, discuss :p
 

·
Transcended
Joined
·
1,421 Posts
Proto said:
Aw cmon, I know you missed these ones :)
I don't like discussing with intellectual discussion retards :p

Proto said:
However, a problem that seems reminiscent of the era that preceeds the downfall of ancient big civilizations has taken place. And this problem takes the form of an apathy, or even antipathy towards the intellectual tasks of life. Science is losing ground against religion and other type of beliefs in this time and age. Research and investigation is starting to be saw as mere "menial tasks" in front of a pragmatism that is being taken to dangerous extremes in the world's economy.
Odd... I was under the impression the Religion is giving way, except in life-death matters. Especially with the formal embrace of science since Vatican 2.

Pragmatism today, total ignorance back then... not much of a difference.

Of course, unless you were referring to the Renaissance period... but then, people were fresh out of ignorance and were raring to get things started. I'd think that was more the exception than the rule.

You see, it's pretty obvious that we've had much more scientific progress now than we've ever had before... heck, there's now even budget for science whereas there didn't used to be much government intervention. Maybe you have specific fields/areas of concern?

If you're using a the change of morals/beliefs as a yardstick for scientific progress, I think it HAS slowed down. But then, maybe becuase Morals/Beliefs have given up so much ground (due to proof of incorrectness/passe-ness (what a word..)) that the last scant remnants strike too deep to be changed easily.

Proto said:
I have personally seen this in my university, when even the school advisors are uninterested in promoting the study branches/subjects where you actually study to understand the basis and fundament of what is being taught in other subjects. It can also be seen in the same undergraduates in their sole interest of winning money, or in the "best" case scenario, merely "enjoying what they do"
It's called Money. There's no money in purely intellectual pursuits. That is partly the reason, perhaps. If you can substatially prove that you can replace money with what preoccupied the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, then perhaps we have something to agree about.

You see, it's obviously not a perfect world. if you're just one person looking to take up the subject, it really is hard to allocated funds for it. In my university, the only reason Game Programming and 3D Programming took off was because of greater interest. Nobody wants to learn Theory of Computation with Turing Machines and Langauage anymore, so there's little interest in pushing it beyond what is required in the curriculum... ToC is quite fundamental to CS, but it goes out the window nonetheless.

Proto said:
However, maybe apathy is the least of our worries right now. Anthagonist have appeared that try deny all the progress that is struggling to be made, by trying to bind us to a dubious "natural essence", returning to our roots, claiming that modern research goes against our very nature and things like that. Trying to bind us to morals that no longer apply to the society that is proposed, instead of evolving those morals like the situation would demand
Now that's a tricky thing. It's now harder to delineate who is overstepping the bounds. Is it science? Or is it those that try to check it's development? Science is a double edged sword, but so is what tries to keep in it check.

Of course, I'm not a tree-hugger who denies science, and am quite unfamiliar with the concept you present, but the general nature of your statement can be interpreted to mean anything that challenges science due to his/her beliefs. I don't want this t turn into the nth Science vs Religion thread, so I caution you to thread carefully with qualifying the concepts as you might end up hitting Religion's nose while swinging your fists, so to speak.

Maybe we can't see the bigger picture now since we are directly involved in the happenings of our times. It is perhaps with hindsight that we can see with the best of our ability what's really happening. You weren't alive back then, so you wouldn't really know the full extent of the conflict. Perhaps, it's the same, perhaps not.

What we need is empirical proof that the problem you raise is truly a real problem unique to our age, or at least comparable to the problems which brought down those civilizations of old, in terms of scientific development. Otherwise, who are we to say that this conflict, which may appear to you as causing stagnation, is actually part of the normal process, and that the huge leaps and bounds development which signaled the demise of the Dark Ages is actually the exception?

Hm... did I say anything substantial at all? Oh well...
 

·
Knowledge is the solution
Joined
·
7,484 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't like discussing with intellectual discussion retards
Aw cmon, think of it as social labor :yawn:

If you're using a the change of morals/beliefs as a yardstick for scientific progress, I think it HAS slowed down. But then, maybe becuase Morals/Beliefs have given up so much ground (due to proof of incorrectness/passe-ness (what a word..)) that the last scant remnants strike too deep to be changed easily.
Indeed. While I agree with you that investigation in its most strict sense has gained quite a bit of presence in many countries' budgets, this fact by itself does not mean anything significant. By definition science is a tool for increasing our understanding of the universe, but in a deeper sense it is also a tool for aiding in our evolution as a society and as a race. Unless we actually use and understand the results that come from studying, no real improve is done is done. That is why I see extreme conservative position to be a real treat to our improvement as a race. Our current condition as humans is far from being perfect, that is why we strive for being better. Choosing to stagnate, choosing to reject the path new reserches show without fully understading this path is what I was referring with as a sign of decay.

It's called Money. There's no money in purely intellectual pursuits. That is partly the reason, perhaps. If you can substatially prove that you can replace money with what preoccupied the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, then perhaps we have something to agree about.

You see, it's obviously not a perfect world. if you're just one person looking to take up the subject, it really is hard to allocated funds for it. In my university, the only reason Game Programming and 3D Programming took off was because of greater interest. Nobody wants to learn Theory of Computation with Turing Machines and Langauage anymore, so there's little interest in pushing it beyond what is required in the curriculum... ToC is quite fundamental to CS, but it goes out the window nonetheless.
That is what is worrying me. However, "investigation is useless because it doesn't make money" is just a symptom of a a bigger problem, which takes the form in us being the slaves of economy, instead of the other way around as it was conceived. True, money is important, however money was thought as a tool, not as an end. As such, today's society has become the slave of this giant economy structure, where every effort, every action is done towards the end of further powering this machinery. True, investigation will probably be a direct tool for making money, however I think that the problem is with our mindsets, rather than with our methods.

Now that's a tricky thing. It's now harder to delineate who is overstepping the bounds. Is it science? Or is it those that try to check it's development? Science is a double edged sword, but so is what tries to keep in it check.
IMO knowledge, or pure investigation by itself should never be restrained by any moral chains. True, it is their application that we must be wary about, but as the author Isaac Asimov said "If truth creates a problem, it is not through ignorance that we will solve it".

I don't want this t turn into the nth Science vs Religion thread, so I caution you to thread carefully with qualifying the concepts as you might end up hitting Religion's nose while swinging your fists, so to speak.
Sorry, my intention wasn't to point at religions (well, at least not conciously :p) but rather towards close mindsets

What we need is empirical proof that the problem you raise is truly a real problem unique to our age, or at least comparable to the problems which brought down those civilizations of old, in terms of scientific development. Otherwise, who are we to say that this conflict, which may appear to you as causing stagnation, is actually part of the normal process, and that the huge leaps and bounds development which signaled the demise of the Dark Ages is actually the exception?
Well, I don't think this is a problem unique to this time, but rather (a bad) part of a historical cycle. Past civilizations has seen the prelude to their demise when they ceased to care about going further, and they became content with what they had at the moment. True, right now science is still making great progress and no apparent signs of such stagnation are apparent. However, my main worry right now is with the populace mindset. First it starts with an intellectual stagnation, then it continues with a volitive stagnation, in the sense that most people are content with just achieving a weak stability in their lives, and just being "happy" in a very reduced sense if you ask me.
 

·
Transcended
Joined
·
1,421 Posts
Proto said:
Aw cmon, think of it as social labor :yawn:
So shouldn't it be applicable to all? Besides, I've always had an anti-social streak once in a while. :)


Proto said:
...edited for brevity...
Choosing to stagnate, choosing to reject the path new reserches show without fully understading this path is what I was referring with as a sign of decay.
Agreed.


Proto said:
That is what is worrying me. However, "investigation is useless because it doesn't make money" is just a symptom of a a bigger problem, which takes the form in us being the slaves of economy, instead of the other way around as it was conceived. True, money is important, however money was thought as a tool, not as an end. As such, today's society has become the slave of this giant economy structure, where every effort, every action is done towards the end of further powering this machinery. True, investigation will probably be a direct tool for making money, however I think that the problem is with our mindsets, rather than with our methods.
Precisely. It was in the back of my mind, but I didn't want to go into the problem of economics. However, it seems it's a primary consideration in phenomenon you raised. Well put.

Proto said:
IMO knowledge, or pure investigation by itself should never be restrained by any moral chains. True, it is their application that we must be wary about, but as the author Isaac Asimov said "If truth creates a problem, it is not through ignorance that we will solve it".
Ah... another good point. It seems I've mistakenly equated investigation and it's application together.


Proto said:
Sorry, my intention wasn't to point at religions (well, at least not conciously :p) but rather towards close mindsets
So in case the thread is in danger of derailment, we can always point back to this post. :)

Proto said:
Well, I don't think this is a problem unique to this time, but rather (a bad) part of a historical cycle. Past civilizations has seen the prelude to their demise when they ceased to care about going further, and they became content with what they had at the moment. True, right now science is still making great progress and no apparent signs of such stagnation are apparent. However, my main worry right now is with the populace mindset. First it starts with an intellectual stagnation, then it continues with a volitive stagnation, in the sense that most people are content with just achieving a weak stability in their lives, and just being "happy" in a very reduced sense if you ask me.
Is it intellectual before volitive and not the other way around? If we backtrack back to the dawn of man, where there was hardly anything intellectual to speak of, wasn't it the will which pushed for intellectual expansion, in effect, prompting man to will for more? Of course, we could rule the the 1st significant intellectual stimuli as accidental and not willful so that it goes the other way around. But heck... it's just a moot point.

Anyway, back on track... it HAS been a worry in my head for some time already. We've become subject to economics, no matter what political system is in place, apparently. Maybe this is due to the want to find efficiency. We seem to have found a point of equilibirum, and are unwilling to break from it even if it carries with it the hope of a better way (but is there?) without concrete, PROFITABLE, proof thereof. It's perhaps a matter of efficiency. It is admittedly easier to prove the efficiency of something functioning under the present system than it is to prove the efficiency of something w/c needs to break the system it's being presented under.... or something like that.

I'd love to work on the problem, but I'm facing a blank wall. I have no fricking idea how to resolve it. Just as the subjects of slavery broke free eventually, I'm afraid it might need some drastic measures to reverse this problem we currently ponder upon. People are close minded because they do not see profitability from it... or can someone expose an even bigger, nastier underlying problem?
 

·
Knowledge is the solution
Joined
·
7,484 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Is it intellectual before volitive and not the other way around? If we backtrack back to the dawn of man, where there was hardly anything intellectual to speak of, wasn't it the will which pushed for intellectual expansion, in effect, prompting man to will for more? Of course, we could rule the the 1st significant intellectual stimuli as accidental and not willful so that it goes the other way around. But heck... it's just a moot point.
Yeah I agree with that precedence. And it's because that volition is the basis of intellectual desire that this intellectual desire is the first to go when an individual/society starts to stagnate, followed later by the loss of the will to improve(or to merely change). In a sense I guess that this is only natural (or primitive, it depends on the POV), like an instinct to protect whatever you may have now, even if it is little, because of the fear of losing it.

Anyway, back on track... it HAS been a worry in my head for some time already. We've become subject to economics, no matter what political system is in place, apparently. Maybe this is due to the want to find efficiency. We seem to have found a point of equilibirum, and are unwilling to break from it even if it carries with it the hope of a better way (but is there?) without concrete, PROFITABLE, proof thereof. It's perhaps a matter of efficiency. It is admittedly easier to prove the efficiency of something functioning under the present system than it is to prove the efficiency of something w/c needs to break the system it's being presented under.... or something like that.

I'd love to work on the problem, but I'm facing a blank wall. I have no fricking idea how to resolve it. Just as the subjects of slavery broke free eventually, I'm afraid it might need some drastic measures to reverse this problem we currently ponder upon. People are close minded because they do not see profitability from it... or can someone expose an even bigger, nastier underlying problem?
Indeed, this is a problem that has haunted our race since its beggining. IMO one of its roots is our current inability to completely satisfy our primary needs (to eat, a house to live, or if you have those, personal security, financial security etc.) It is this insecurity that leads to a frantic grasp of the present, of any fear to change, which eventually leads to stagnation. (and to further fuel the present mental slavery- economical system).

Now that I think it, this intellectual halt has also been acompanied by a slow but steady economic depression the world has seen over the last years. Maybe this depression has acted as some sort of vicious cycle, where continous decline of our economy has lead to increased fear, increased stagnation, decline of the economy of this stagnation ad infinitum.

The solution? It is far from being simple. As we can see we are excesively bound to our own system, to the point that every variation in the economy system can lead to dissastrous changes in our society. A detachment of the system is an obvious solution, however as to how we can achieve that is not. One answer can be automatization, in the sense that, as humanity has been doing, different labors have to be easied by the use of technology, to the point that these tasks no longer require of human supervising and can be efficiently done while humans can dedicate to other works, with their primary needs solved in a satisfactory way. However such a solution creates a series of problem of its own, one of them being that with machines domining the menial work field, a large group of people would be left unemployed, completely traumatizing our current economical system.

Different answers have been given to the above emerging problem, one of them being a social welfare system financiated by the surplus that would result from the more efectively managed industry. However, the question that if this is going to be enough still remains...

One thing is clear though. Our current social system is almost exclusevely made as a system to exploit the present, with an eventual tendence to forget the future as soon as the system starts going wrong. While it is true that the current machinery has done its work for a few centuries now, it is obvious that we should evolve from it, at the risk of continue falling if we do not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,585 Posts
Why do you insist on calling these threads "weekly", if the previous one was last active about a year ago, Proto? :p



I think both of you make very good points, but it all sounds too pessimistic from where I'm standing. ;)




First of all, as has already been pointed out, the problems Proto seems primarily concerned about, have made their appearance in every age that was, including the Middle Ages. There is an assumption to make out of this: This might be a natural phenomenon to our species.

Primary needs have always been the main concern to the vast majority of people. If evolutionary psychology can correctly explain this, then doesn't that mean that we have kept on progressing despite our selfish needs? If recent discoveries of a still evolving brain over these past generations is true, then doesn't that mean that we're growing more capable of resolving these problems (which grow in complexity as well), as a species, and perhaps always have? So in addition to that the expressed concerns might be part of natural phenomenon, there has been given rise to the thought that no such natural phenomenon has come without a counteractive phenomenon.

Has any past human civilization acquired the knowledge and technology, and thus our ease of today's living? No. So as a species, we have gone forward. This leads to the indication that the above assumed natural phenomenon is no permanent deterrent to the species on the long term, quite possibly due to the above assumed counteractive phenomenon.

Then there's Proto's personal observations on people leaning towards primary needs exclusively rather than progressing research, which is, however the way you see it, only a conclusive assessment on individual levels. Taking in account the unpredictability invoked by individuality (and other things nature, and anything external), there is no way to conclude whether a solution will be developed before or after our current systems' downfall. Frankly, the consequences of previous stagnations have been solved both before or after they posed a problem.




So now we have: the phenomenon of stagnation and downfall, another phenomenon with a contrary effect, no permanent deterrent, and last but not least, stagnation != problems. So what to make of all this gibberish?

I'm saying that our species has always found a way to overcome society-crushing endeavors, and I have no reason to believe that, when our materialistic and economical system has reached its destructive end, things will be different. So what makes me so sure things will not be different?

It's because of the counteractive phenomenon, caused by the same thing which causes the phenomenon of stagnation and downfall. Human need. It's because human need has always prevailed. It will do so again, when within those needs is to form yet another working system for society to prosper on. If a new system is required for society to work, our self-preservative characteristics will make it a need, for the simple fact that each and every one of us needs a working society to be majorly beneficial, individually.


Proto, you yourself have named technology as a solution. This is not surprising, because it so happens to be that technology has always provided the solution for catastrophic downfalls and mere stagnations within societies, as by definition, it has allowed new applications (or exploitations) of factual knowledge each and every time, solving the practical problems (to be) faced by societies.



So to summarize: Even if our nature causes these stagnations, we would have never gotten out of those before without that same nature. Why would it be any different this time?
 

·
Transcended
Joined
·
1,421 Posts
Given the cyclical nature of the problem as you've excellently discussed, I think the pressing issue is the reality that it WILL happen. Not that humanity will perish, but that the down cycle will seem to always happen, and seems to be getting pretty close.

You've also shown, Gaurav, that we may be able to solve the problem before the crisis causes a downfall cycle. Can a solution, technological (Proto) or ideological (me), or both, really stop this cycle? To assume that a single advancement (or set thereof) can halt this problem, then it means that there is a Holy Grail of sorts that we're gunning to achieve. Now, to assume that such a Grail can solve all our cyclical problems forever implies that humanity will never change to the point that we can outlive the solution. So, in effect, we stagnate too. Of course, it's also possible that we find new solutions for each emerging problem as we go along... but can we really assume that we can find a solution before we crash?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,585 Posts
Kraelis said:
Given the cyclical nature of the problem as you've excellently discussed, I think the pressing issue is the reality that it WILL happen. Not that humanity will perish, but that the down cycle will seem to always happen, and seems to be getting pretty close.
That is something to be pessimistic about, perhaps. :laugh: However, I adopt to the stance where worrying about the unevitable is a waste of (my) time, and my previous post lacked that explanation to my second sentence. There is little I can do to argue such a POV, as there are many parameters that form such a stance, which generally is to each his/her own.


Kraelis said:
You've also shown, Gaurav, that we may be able to solve the problem before the crisis causes a downfall cycle. Can a solution, technological (Proto) or ideological (me), or both, really stop this cycle? To assume that a single advancement (or set thereof) can halt this problem, then it means that there is a Holy Grail of sorts that we're gunning to achieve. Now, to assume that such a Grail can solve all our cyclical problems forever implies that humanity will never change to the point that we can outlive the solution. So, in effect, we stagnate too. Of course, it's also possible that we find new solutions for each emerging problem as we go along... but can we really assume that we can find a solution before we crash?
We can't, indeed. I've tried to indicate that neither side to this question could be anymore than an assumption. It is because of earlier-mentioned unpredictability that we can't. Then there is the typical human nature that results in the by-Proto-mentioned apathy until change becomes crucial, which suggests that the chance of having a solution before such a 'crash' is relatively small, compared to coming up with something afterwards. But even then, anything that builds on this is no less of an assumption either.


It is my belief I hold no influence whatsoever (hence my earlier-mentioned stance), nor that I am knowledgable enough on technological advances, nor that anyone can count on idealistic-inspired actions (due to the unpredictability of individuality) .. so to me, that's where all credible indications to these matters end, and thus the line where reasonable and verifiable argumentation changes into idealistic dreams and aspirations. That's usually where I stop talking, as you might have noticed.


Unless someone can give me information I can reason further on, I remain useless to the subject's most pressing issue. :p
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top