Stagnating civilisation


by wolram
Tags: civilisation, stagnating
wolram
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#1
Oct4-05, 01:49 PM
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Through out the centuries civilizations have waxed and waned, the Roman
empire, the Aztecs, the egyptian pyramid builders, the Henge builders, why
is human progression not linear, is it mostly war, or are other things, drought
and plague more to blame, or is every case unique ?
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0TheSwerve0
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Oct4-05, 03:21 PM
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There is a general pattern -cycling chiefdoms

Civilizations also seem to inevitably 'get too big for their britches' and they contract into smaller, marginally independent societies. Due to too much pressure on the environments that support them resulting in famine/flood/etc or natural disasters, decline due to competing societies in trade/war, endemic warfare and internal power struggles. The ideology and institutions may collapse, but usu the main structures of the culture are maintained. Every case is unique, but it seems to be inevitable. It's a cycle of expansion and contraction.

...it's an open system and seems to operate like metabolism does - things don't remain in a balance very long and accumulation can only go so far.

note: There are a lot of societies which aren't always clearly chiefdoms or civilizations, in fact, archaeologists can have a hard time clearly defining what each one is. Usu it has to do with number or people, degree of centralized control, degree of social stratification, and coordination of subsistence
practices.


In typical Western fashion - Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Andre
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Oct4-05, 03:38 PM
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Blame climate, overdressed Wolram

There are several cronicles of major disasters. Take for instance the well documented history of the sea people. A reasonable hypothesis seems to be that the sea people were refugees from Europe after an major change in climate.

0TheSwerve0
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Oct4-05, 03:47 PM
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Stagnating civilisation


Also, you can think of culture as an extended phenotype, subject to natural selection like any other trait.
wolram
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Oct4-05, 03:59 PM
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Joy is me, some interest, but can any one show why human human evolution
is not linear through out the ages ?
0TheSwerve0
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Oct4-05, 04:40 PM
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Is there any reason it should be?

btw, I thought we explained the "why." The very nature of life, and even physics that govern the stars, limit linear progression in this universe. Movement seems to be cyclical.

And do you mean physical evolution or cultural evolution? For the former, this is because evolution has no destination, the only direction is in survival and what it takes to survive changes through time. Same goes for culture.
wolram
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Oct5-05, 08:17 AM
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Quote Quote by Andre
Blame climate, overdressed Wolram

There are several cronicles of major disasters. Take for instance the well documented history of the sea people. A reasonable hypothesis seems to be that the sea people were refugees from Europe after an major change in climate.
Andre, can climate change be matched with declines in civilization, is there some graph that shows where weather patterns could cause a decline ?

England, Spain, France etc have all had empires, ok they get to big for their
birches, could some analyst predict when an irreversible decline will start ?
wolram
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Oct5-05, 08:25 AM
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Quote Quote by 0TheSwerve0
Is there any reason it should be?

btw, I thought we explained the "why." The very nature of life, and even physics that govern the stars, limit linear progression in this universe. Movement seems to be cyclical.

And do you mean physical evolution or cultural evolution? For the former, this is because evolution has no destination, the only direction is in survival and what it takes to survive changes through time. Same goes for culture.
Yes you did, sorry. I mean cultural , mental evolution, and quality of life, can
any one predict where and when the next decline will start ?
Astronuc
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Oct5-05, 09:31 AM
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Quote Quote by wolram
. . . can any one show why human human evolution
is not linear through out the ages ?
What does one mean by "not linear"?

It would appear that besides climate - i.e. too cold, too hot, or too dry (drought), or perhaps plague and disease, that two other critical factors might play a role: arrogance of leaders and complacency of the population.

Then of course there are invasions - as in the European invasion of the Americas.
wolram
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Oct5-05, 10:01 AM
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Quote Quote by Astronuc
What does one mean by "not linear"?

It would appear that besides climate - i.e. too cold, too hot, or too dry (drought), or perhaps plague and disease, that two other critical factors might play a role: arrogance of leaders and complacency of the population.

Then of course there are invasions - as in the European invasion of the Americas.
Linear, some thing like, cave, mud hut, log cabin, brick house.
or, stick, spear, bow, gun, A bomb.
or, individuals, tribes, communities, nations
or, stone, iron, bronze, steel, carbon fiber

one example of non linear is when the Roman empire collapsed, in some
lands, art, literature, culture simply vanished.
selfAdjoint
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Oct5-05, 10:10 AM
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Quote Quote by wolram
Linear, some thing like, cave, mud hut, log cabin, brick house.
or, stick, spear, bow, gun, A bomb.
or, individuals, tribes, communities, nations
or, stone, iron, bronze, steel, carbon fiber

one example of non linear is when the Roman empire collapsed, in some
lands, art, literature, culture simply vanished.
Yes, non-linear, and more complex than you think. It's currently fashionable to blame some hypothetical climate disaster for the dark ages. But I remember looking at the pictures of Roman portraiture in the Encyclopedia Brittanica 14th edition - under "Portrait" as I recall. Portaiture was important to the Romans as it keyed into their ancestor worship, and for centuries the representations of faces just got better and better. But in the third century a (ugh!) paradigm shift occured and the portrait of Constantine the Great looks like an icon, conventionalized, hugely caricatured eyes and all. That's a pure culture change, and supports Gibbons' theory that it was Christianity that brought the empire down.
BobG
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Oct5-05, 02:39 PM
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Quote Quote by selfAdjoint
Yes, non-linear, and more complex than you think. It's currently fashionable to blame some hypothetical climate disaster for the dark ages. But I remember looking at the pictures of Roman portraiture in the Encyclopedia Brittanica 14th edition - under "Portrait" as I recall. Portaiture was important to the Romans as it keyed into their ancestor worship, and for centuries the representations of faces just got better and better. But in the third century a (ugh!) paradigm shift occured and the portrait of Constantine the Great looks like an icon, conventionalized, hugely caricatured eyes and all. That's a pure culture change, and supports Gibbons' theory that it was Christianity that brought the empire down.
Then why was it only the Western half of the empire that fell? The Eastern empire had many of the same 'problems' as the West and Christianity was even stronger and more prevalent in the East than the West. But the East was still a powerful empire for a few hundred years after the Western empire fell.

I don't think Christianity was a major contributor to the fall of the Roman Empire, but it is a kind of interesting train of thought. Christianity was popular because of 'community benefits' like help for the orphaned, widowed, elderly, and others. It was the Roman times equivalent of Social Security, Medicaid, Welfare, and Unemployment. A lot of fiscal conservatives would probably look at the traits of Christianity during Roman times and agree with you - the Church was starting to be a drain on the economy, what with all of its building of new churches and social welfare programs.
wolram
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Oct5-05, 04:12 PM
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Quote Quote by selfAdjoint
Yes, non-linear, and more complex than you think. It's currently fashionable to blame some hypothetical climate disaster for the dark ages. But I remember looking at the pictures of Roman portraiture in the Encyclopedia Brittanica 14th edition - under "Portrait" as I recall. Portaiture was important to the Romans as it keyed into their ancestor worship, and for centuries the representations of faces just got better and better. But in the third century a (ugh!) paradigm shift occured and the portrait of Constantine the Great looks like an icon, conventionalized, hugely caricatured eyes and all. That's a pure culture change, and supports Gibbons' theory that it was Christianity that brought the empire down.
What a fascinating thought, i know huge amounts of labour was being used to
"advertise", christianity, could it have been so disastrous ?
Astronuc
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Oct5-05, 08:20 PM
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Quote Quote by selfAdjoint
But in the third century a (ugh!) paradigm shift occured and the portrait of Constantine the Great looks like an icon, conventionalized, hugely caricatured eyes and all. That's a pure culture change, and supports Gibbons' theory that it was Christianity that brought the empire down.
Constantine politicized Christianity and made it the state (imperial) religion. That certainly compromised Christianity from the standpoint of foundation and initial direction.

An excellent history of Christianity can be found in James Carroll's "Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews -- A History."

Later the Popes wrestled control from the Emperors and later European Nobility. That often lead to instability.
wolram
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Oct6-05, 10:43 AM
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Quote Quote by BobG
Then why was it only the Western half of the empire that fell? The Eastern empire had many of the same 'problems' as the West and Christianity was even stronger and more prevalent in the East than the West. But the East was still a powerful empire for a few hundred years after the Western empire fell
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Roman_Empire

The Eastern Empire was largely spared the difficulties of the west in the 3rd and 4th centuries (see Crisis of the Third Century), in part because urban culture was better established there and the initial invasions were attracted to the wealth of Rome. Throughout the 5th century various invasions conquered the western half of the empire, but at best could only demand tribute from the eastern half. Theodosius II expanded the walls of Constantinople, leaving the city impenetrable to attacks. Zeno I ruled the east as the empire in the west finally collapsed in 476. Zeno negotiated with the Goths, ending their threats to the east but leaving them in control of the west
selfAdjoint
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Oct6-05, 04:26 PM
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Also look at the map. There's a land road from central Asia straight down into Italy, but the Slavs constituted a barrier to invasion through Thessaly, and the Armenians did the same for the land bridge between the Black Sea and the Caspian. East and South of the Caspian was the Persian Empire which was the chief foe of the Eastern Empire until the rise of Islam.
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Oct6-05, 09:57 PM
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There's a land road from central Asia straight down into Italy, but the Slavs constituted a barrier to invasion through Thessaly, and the Armenians did the same for the land bridge between the Black Sea and the Caspian. East and South of the Caspian was the Persian Empire which was the chief foe of the Eastern Empire until the rise of Islam.
It would be nice to put some timelines together on this period.

Certainly the East and Central Asian tribes (e.g. Huns and Mongols) had a significant impact on Central and Eastern Europe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huns - 3rd-5th centuries CE
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongols - 13th century CE

The Byzantine Empire (330 ADľ1453 AD) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire

The Persian Empire(s) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Empire

1. The first Persian state: Achaemenid Persia (648 BC-330 BC)
2. Hellenistic Persia (330 BC-170 BC)
3. Parthian Persia (170 BC-AD 226)
4. Sassanid Persia (AD 226-650)
5. Islam and Persia (650-1219)
6. Persia under the Mongols and their successors (1219-1500)
7. A new Persian empire: the Safavids (1500-1722)
8. Persia and Europe (1722-1914)
9. Persia in World War One (1914-1918)
10. Persia after World War One (1919-1935)

The Ottoman Empire was a rival to Europe (primarily Southeastern Europe and the Meditteranean) from 1299 to 1922 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire.

Oct 7 1571:
The Ottoman Empire was decisively defeated by the Christian West for the first time, as a multinational fleet led by Don John of Austria crushed the Turkish navy near the Gulf of Corinth in the Battle of Lepanto (painting by Paolo Veronese).
from Wikipedia
selfAdjoint
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Oct6-05, 10:58 PM
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Quote Quote by Astronuc
The Ottoman Empire was decisively defeated by the Christian West for the first time, as a multinational fleet led by Don John of Austria crushed the Turkish navy near the Gulf of Corinth in the Battle of Lepanto (painting by Paolo Veronese).


"Don John of Austria is going to the war!"

From Lepanto by Chesterton

http://www.chesterton.org/gkc/poet/lepanto.html


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