Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Norsefire, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    For me, I define "progressive" as purely technological. Social "progress" is entirely subjective. I don't think there is "backwards" or "barbaric", it's just the culture of the society.

    For instance, you could have the most technologically and economically advanced place in the world and they might still practice beheading, etc, but does that make them backward? No. "Social progress" is subjective.
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I define "progress" as transcending our pack-social hunter-gatherer instincts and using our uniquely human powers of reasoning and learning to live in harmony and cooperation amid ever-larger groups. In other words, progress = advancing civilization.

    The first rule of civilization is that no one has the right to initiate violence against another. That rule is necessary because without it we'd all have to spend much of our energy and other resources to protect ourselves from each other, and there wouldn't be enough surplus to devote to the advance of civilization.

    So yes, people who practice beheading or any form of killing are indeed backward because they are violating the most fundamental rule upon which civilization depends. The only excuse for violence is in self defense, against someone who has already opted out of civilization.

    The goal of progress is to merge all of Homo sapiens's packs or "tribes" or "nations" into a single community, so that the packs will no longer be fighting against one another.
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    It is interesting that you are apparently able to define "progress" for technology, yet you seemingly have no clue as to where to start to define it for social issues.

    I think this says far more about you than it does about the subjectivity of the idea of progress.
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  7. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    Civilization = city building.
    I don't think building bigger, more populated cities is progress at all.
    I prefer small communities in which people know each other and support each other.
    Small, privately-owned business supply goods and services.

    I think cities are a blight on society and nature.
  8. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

    I find some of the most advanced cultures to be the most backwards, in that they have their priorities backwards.

    Australian aborigines would be considered the least advanced culture on earth by most standards, but they place a high importance on art and music and story telling and living in the moment, meanwhile japanese people are making computer chips and fancy cars while living solitary in little plastic cubicles and committing suicide.

    So I agree with norsefire, only I have a feeling he has certain cultures in mind that I would not agree defy their backwards reputation, one which unfortunately seem to take the positive out of both ends of the spectrum, living in extremely rough primal conditions while also minimising fun and freedom.

    Ideally we could have technology reach a point where we can regress to a hunter gatherer good time while also being able to put it on you tube afterwards.
    It could be argued the good old notorious western world is closest to that.
  9. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    I have to agree with Dr Lou.
  10. Simon Anders Valued Senior Member

    If I understand the OP correctly you are here giving a subjective estimation of social progress regarding cities. Especially if I couple this with

    (whose post I also agree with)
  11. Simon Anders Valued Senior Member

    I am also fond of how many Native American tribes regarded leadership and power. One had a leadership position as long as people thought you were doing a good job. Consensus judged skill determined mandate periods. Tribal individuals viewed independence as very important and leadership was also often ad hoc, situation dependent. Something that formed and dissolved as need be.

    That this was inneffective against an extremely abusive (both intra and inter) civilization, does not mean it was a poor model. Not at all.
  12. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Wouldn't it depend upon if you were inside of a society that was practicing strange rituals to just think it was a part of what life was all about? If we lived during the times of the Roman Empire and were a citizen of Rome at that time, wouldn't we just think that the things that were going on like the killings at the Coliseum during the games that were held there were just the way society was behaving at that moment in time? Or that the torturing and murdering of citizens that torturing and murdering of people because they didn't go along with what the Catholic religion was telling everyone to do was just a part of the well being of life in that country?
  13. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    I agree that "social progress" is subjective. Progress implies forward movement and, in this context, a movememnt towards something better. What's "better" and what's "worse" will vary to some degree from persopn to person within a society.

    There are, however, broad areas of agreement amongst large sections of the population. "Subjective" does not mean that everyone completely disagrees with everyone else, and people's subjective views on what counts a progress is shaped by the culture and upbringing. As such, people's preferences are often consistent with one anothers'.

    Even technological progress has a (potentially semantic...I've had no sleep) element of subjectivity. For example: Do we really need the Bloomfield/Nephalem generation of processors? They are more technically sophisticated, but is increasing complexity the proper measure of "progress." For most of us, current chips do the job well enough and the only reason we might need Bloomfield or its relatives is that software designers are and will be writing programs for them, but had they not existed the programmers would have written other things and we'd have been just about as happy.

    Another example, I, like everyone else in America have a camera built into my cell phone. I never needed it before, and wanted to find a good phone *without* a camera, only to discover that there aren't any. I also have a razor blade with 5 blades, and cannot tell the difference between it and my old three blade razor. Is 5-blades progress? Would 10-blades be "even more progress assuming the razore worked?" If I invent a combination salad dressing/weight loss supplement/foot ointment, is that progress? Even if no one ever buys it? It may well be a technical innovation, but if the market doesn't buy it it will vanish, so, in short, is the market the decider of what is "real progress" or is it determined solely on technical grounds?

    Or is it publicity? If I invent a quantum computer tomorrow, but tell no one and take my secret to the grave, was that progress (perhaps, at least, while I was alive)?
  14. DeepThought Banned Banned


    Death is necessary for progress.

    Evolution demands it.

    There would have been no New World without ethnic cleansing. When America spread her wings she touched the surface of another world. The greatest predator lays waste to all before it, creating a blank canvas on which to project its will.

    A backwards, dead culture is one which does not seek to destroy, overcome and create.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2008
  15. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    Why is that good? Certainly for the average and sane man, such are the goals of society. But it depends on how you get there.

    Sure. That isn't what I was referring to.

    A rule in your opinion....

    What about executions and gladiator combat?
    That's mainly what I was talking about.

    A civilization can be extremely educated, peaceful, and free and whatever...and still have things like the death penalty and gladiator arenas. Liberals say otherwise, but they're liberals so it doesn't matter.

    And how "progressive" do we want? To a point where all human beings are treated fairly and humanely? Sure, that's great.....but it is also open to interpretation. Are criminals human?

    Of course I can define it for technology, because the more advanced or complicated technology comes, it usually means it's becoming more powerful We have no such measure for a society.
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The problem with that, throughout history, has been that those same charming people who adore their village-mates absolutely HATE outsiders. They may be able to make a wary peace with the nearby villages and trade with them, but when it comes to the people a few hundred miles away who speak an incomprehensible language, worship a different god and practice other strange social customs, those guys are the enemy and they have to be conquered and/or exterminated.

    War, conquest and slaughter or enslavement was the modal condition during the centuries when humans still lived in tribal cultures but had invented metal weapons. It was only when civilizations expanded to cover wider areas that the people within those areas learned to live in harmony and cooperation with each other. Yet they still made war upon the other civilizations.

    That's still the way it is today. The "tribes" have become enormous but they still make war on the rival "tribes" over their cultural differences, particularly the most troublesome difference of all which is religion. The only hope for enduring peace is for the tribes to continue growing and merging until there is only one and nobody's left to be the enemy. Of course getting rid of religion would also help but that ain't gonna happen.
    How convenient that you picked a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer people who never had a chance to advance into the Neolithic Era. Of course they lived in peace: they had not invented metallurgy so they had no weapons with which to make war. Australia, like Africa, is an unusual environment because its geography did not foster the invention of the technology of agriculture, which is a prerequisite for building permanent settlements, which is a prerequisite for inventing more advanced technologies like metallurgy. Look at Eurasia and the Americas, where agriculture was invented long ago, followed by metallurgy, and you find that those "sweet peaceful primitive people" made war on each other long before they built the huge cities you find so stifling. A few thousand people was a really big city back in those days.
    What we'd end up with is a privileged class of people who keep the civilization running, and a vast underclass of people who depended on them.

    Besides, speak for yourself. I've lived in cities and I've lived in small towns and I've lived out in rural areas. Cities rule. Music is my life and because of civilization I can have electronically reproduce music 24/7, and because I live in a city I can hear professional quality live music as often as I want. You can have the damn 19th century with its traveling bands of mediocre musicians who came through town once a month.
    The European colonists did not need to exterminate the Indians. Most of the tribes were relatively sanguine about the new arrivals, and many of them embraced their new technologies and started building towns just like the ones they visited. They could have built a happy, prosperous community together. The Europeans were accustomed to an environment in which none of the "tribes" trusted each other, and they brought that hatred and warfare with them.

    It was a bit different in Central and South America, where the Aztecs and Incas, respectively, were already on their way to a culture of war and conquest. But we could have learned a lot from the aboriginal North Americans, who were still in the early Neolithic Era. It's a shame that the Europeans who were running away from their civilization and the Indians who hadn't built one yet couldn't have collaborated and found a new way into the future.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2008
  17. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

    Excellent post Fraggle.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    I agree.
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I suggest as a starting point: the more advanced and complicated society becomes, it usually means that it's becoming more powerful.
  19. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    What is "advanced" and "complicated"? Furthermore, a society can be advanced and complicated and still practice beheadings and stonings.
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    In terms of morals and ethics? I'd say having a long history of deep philosophical thinking and debate on the topic - preferably one removed from religious mythology.

    Not in a moral sense.
  21. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    Technological progress is, most certainly, entirely subjective.
    Progress implies a goal, therefore requires a direction.
    If you are standing at the edge of a cliff, progress could very well be defined as a step backward, as opposed to forward.
    Without a goal, progress can not be defined and quantified.

    Furthermore, I would argue that the implied goal of technological advancement would go hand in hand with subjective social progress.
    "Is this technologicval advancement a benefit or detriment to our social goals and ideals?"
  22. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    Why not in a moral sense?

    As one raven pointed out, we need goals. So what is the goal of society? In my opinion, the goal is utopia and order.
  23. Carcano Valued Senior Member

    Thats how the native americans see it....the traditionalists at least.


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