Analyzing Ancient Civilized Countries

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As we all know, Egypt , China, India, Babylon and Greece are ancient civilized countries in the world. By judging
1. Pyramids and Mummies (Egypt)
2. Mummies (like Egypt) and inventions from paper to rocketry (China)
3. Some mathematical achievements ( India )

and many others from these countries, people from these countries can be regarded as the intelligent people. However, today, these countries are far behind the Western countries in terms of Science and Technology. Do you know why? Can these countries become powerful countries as they did in the past again?
 

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  • #2
Can these countries become powerful countries as they did in the past again?

I'd say yes. First of all, no one can predict the future of human civilization... at least not yet. History shows that economic centers of human civilization drift from region to region over time. The same is true for power structures. I don't think they'll maintain the same national identity, as culture constantly evolves. They may revisit their respective "classical" periods as often happens during transitions of social paradigm.


today, these countries are far behind the Western countries in terms of Science and Technology. Do you know why?

I'm guessing, but I'd say economics. The control of the "survival tokens" determines power. Being that we humans are born primates, we tend to think in terms of "weak" and "powerful". Right now, the nations with the most money have the most power. This will change, and America can't sit on top forever.

Who knows? Maybe we humans will evolve to the point where we realize that power is an illusion. Maybe then, we won't need governments or economies...

Yeah right....
 
  • #3
I think that the level of knowledge of science,economics and technology is so great now that rich countries can stay on top and largely because the best scientists go and live in the rich nations.But what I think will happen is that the poorer nations will gradually get a standard of living that approximates the richer nations closely.
I would hope that at some time in the future, the concept of money has died off and
that people offer each other goods and services on the basis that it is their moral duty to help each other.But this may only come about after a lot of genetic engineering of human behaviour!
 
  • #4
honestrosewater
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EngTechno said:
As we all know, Egypt , China, India, Babylon and Greece are ancient civilized countries in the world. By judging ...people from these countries can be regarded as the intelligent people.
How does that follow? Intelligent people used to live there, therefore the people now living there are intelligent.? You are assuming the general intelligence of a country's population at one time depends solely upon the general intelligence of the country's population at previous times. You are also assuming, among many other things, that general intelligence is the sole cause of a country's accomplishments. You then make an observation which contradicts these assumptions.
That said, the philosophy of science and math cannot answer your question. You will need to seek answers in the social sciences. Maybe a mentor will move it for you. :smile:
 
  • #5
Nereid
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EngTechno said:
As we all know, Egypt , China, India, Babylon and Greece are ancient civilized countries in the world. By judging
1. Pyramids and Mummies (Egypt)
2. Mummies (like Egypt) and inventions from paper to rocketry (China)
3. Some mathematical achievements ( India )

and many others from these countries, people from these countries can be regarded as the intelligent people. However, today, these countries are far behind the Western countries in terms of Science and Technology. Do you know why? Can these countries become powerful countries as they did in the past again?
These are fascinating questions, and have been the subject of a great deal of research (Joseph Needham, for example, set out to gather the data which would form the basis for research on these questions - wrt China - many decades later, his team is only now beginning to see the end of data collection ... analysis has barely begun).

If you're satisfied with 'sound bite' answers, you could say it's a mixture of economics (capitalism is by far the most efficient means of allocating scarce resources, and as science can produce extraordinary returns, once barriers to entry are sufficiently low, the engine of rapid growth can get going), warmaking (imperialism and colonialism enabled the west to exploit resources beyond their borders; the 'guns and steel' the colonisers possessed all but assured defeat for all they met), and the scientific revolution (the key elements of science as we know it today didn't really exist until the time of Newton; this includes the vital 'independence from religious and state authority' as well as the better known consistent application of the scientific method - which was, after all, in use way before the Renaissance).

'Native intelligence' is something that all large groups of people have, in abundance ... the number of 'smart' people in any modern country with a population of 10 million or more is probably greater than the number of 'smart' eduated people in the whole of Europe in the 17th century.
 
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  • #6
Nereid
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honestrosewater said:
That said, the philosophy of science and math cannot answer your question. You will need to seek answers in the social sciences. Maybe a mentor will move it for you. :smile:
Hmm, a bit of a dilemma ... it's about a mix of things, including (to some degree) HPS. If I moved the thread to Social Sciences, we may get quite intense about the 'intelligence', and overlook all the other factors.

What do others think?
 
  • #7
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I think that industrialized society is not necessarily the most evolved way to live on Earth.

India has an extremely ancient society, their vedas go back 175,000 years according to they way they keep time. Yet we don't chose to believe that; out of disrespect for all things non-western. They discuss Rama coming here in his ship, and enslaving the monkey men on this world, and etc. There is a lot of ancient history, that is erased totally, when the world occasionally rights its self, to distribute mass, and the ice caps are suddenly forming where the new top of the world has come to be. Things can be completely erased here.

This last one hundred years, has been a relative doozy, in terms of radical change in our species size and use of planetary resources.

I think if a truly advanced civilization came here, they would live as the Greeks did, without the squabbling. They would find a climate as mild as the Mediterranean, and grow grapes and tomatoes, make wine, and frolic. They would not change the face of the Earth, they would realize the wonder of what is here.

We are such clods. The industrial revolution, was a huge mistake. I know how people used to live, and how people now live, and how they used to live in ancient societies, the senseless aggression, of ancient monarchies. We are failing each other, and the current aggressiveness on the part of our nation, is encouraging this same behavior all over the world. All of our resources now go to making war, and they are trolling the high schools, looking for more kids to ruin. Teaching celibacy on moral grounds, to young people they plan to maim and murder for heavy industry.

We are not that civilized. We struggle to keep habitat for other animals, struggle to keep the seas alive, all in the face of an economic system that hasn't figured out, that we live in a finite system. We have to find balance, why can't it be a civilized thing? When I hear things like why are we so smart relative to everyone else, or every other civilization? I think, well, the answer is that we just aren't.

We is all of us, on this world. This world is an Island in Space, there is no us, and them. There is only us. We are responsible for all success and all failings, all through the timeline of our species. We are as dumb as the dumbest member of our species, and as smart. We are as evil as the most evil human that ever lived, and as good as the best. As good as we have had it in this nation, relative to the least comfortable of human conditions; we still behave appallingly. We have to become responsible for everyone, everywhere. And everyone, everywhere has to do the same.

It is not, "Are we the most intelligent?", it is "Are we the most wise, and compassionate, and joyful, and serviceful?"
It is, "Are we proper conservators of this world, and everything in it?"
 
  • #8
honestrosewater
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Nereid,
What is HPS?
Everyone,
If I was too hasty, I apologize. The motivation behind my suggestion was getting the question posed to the people best equipped to answer it. If the question can be answered just as well here, great.
I'm working on an answer, but, since the question covers so much ground, I'll have to finish it later. Has anyone tried a theoretical approach yet, as opposed to observing what the realities have been? That is, first figuring out what is required for a country to be successful in science & technology, for instance, scientific liberties/freedoms, access to & quality of education, research funding, division of labor, etc.?
Happy thoughts,
Rachel
 
  • #9
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Seems to me there is some confusion here about the meaning of the terms 'civilised' and 'intelligent'. One could argue that the Kalahari bushmen have a more civilised society than the Babylonians, the Greeks or the British. It all depends how you define civilised. Similarly 'intelligence' is a very vague term with no absolute meaning.

It seems unlikely to me that the nation with the greatest economic wealth is ever the most civilised one. If there is any correlation at all between economic wealth and civilisation it appears to be a negative one, since the acquisition of economic wealth requires uncivilised behaviour. I'll cite the the British Empire, just to give the USA a break. But in the end it all depends how one defines the terms. Defining 'intelligence' in an objective way is just about impossible, and 'civilisation' is proabably just as difficult.

Btw, Marshall Salins (Uni. of Chicago) writes a lot of good stuff on this topic.
 
  • #10
Nereid
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honestrosewater said:
Nereid,
What is HPS?
History and Philosophy of Science
Everyone,
If I was too hasty, I apologize. The motivation behind my suggestion was getting the question posed to the people best equipped to answer it. If the question can be answered just as well here, great.
I'm working on an answer, but, since the question covers so much ground, I'll have to finish it later. Has anyone tried a theoretical approach yet, as opposed to observing what the realities have been? That is, first figuring out what is required for a country to be successful in science & technology, for instance, scientific liberties/freedoms, access to & quality of education, research funding, division of labor, etc.?
Happy thoughts,
Rachel
It's an excellent question Rachel/honestrosewater ... this topic is so broad, and potentially could draw in so many different academic disciplines that it's hard to put it neatly into one box.

It might be an idea to start defining our terms, as Canute suggested, that way we'd at least be talking about the same thing (more or less).

I'll start: the science and technology part is perhaps the easiest - the technology is 'tools' and 'tool-making', the science is 'codified, systematic approaches to studying the physical universe' or 'extent to which technology advances by application of the scientific method'. Of course there are a myriad methodological issues - how to determine the extent of tool use from only non-perishable artifacts? how to infer codification and systematics of approaches from only artifacts?' 'what about medicine, mathematics, economics, linguistics, ...?'

Another big question is the timeframe we want to examine - is it just recorded history (say, 5000 years)? or homo sap's time on Earth (say, 180,000 years)? or that of the 'higher primates' (say, 15-20 million years)?
 
  • #11
selfAdjoint
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Nereid said:
Another big question is the timeframe we want to examine - is it just recorded history (say, 5000 years)? or homo sap's time on Earth (say, 180,000 years)? or that of the 'higher primates' (say, 15-20 million years)?

I would say since recording of data, since we don't have any hard knowledge of earlier times. Recording of data could include, of course, scratched tallys on bone.
 
  • #12
Gokul43201
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I think this is a social sciences question (at least the first question is). I can't answer this question reasonably in a manner that would be pertinent to this Subforum. Perhaps it can be split into two threads ?
 
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  • #13
honestrosewater
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Nereid said:
Another big question is the timeframe we want to examine - is it just recorded history (say, 5000 years)? or homo sap's time on Earth (say, 180,000 years)? or that of the 'higher primates' (say, 15-20 million years)?
selfAdjoint said:
I would say since recording of data, since we don't have any hard knowledge of earlier times. Recording of data could include, of course, scratched tallys on bone.
Wow, I didn't know PF required mentors to be sadists :uhh: :biggrin:
Since the question asks why the countries listed have fallen behind the West, I think we should begin when they started to fall behind. Barring that, we at least shouldn't go further back than the emergence of western civilization. IMO.
 
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  • #14
Nereid
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Moving this to Social Sciences ...
 
  • #15
honestrosewater
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Did everyone lose interest here? Is it just too much work?
 
  • #16
Nereid
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honestrosewater said:
Did everyone lose interest here? Is it just too much work?
Would you care to offer some definitions of key terms? Suggest a framework for how we could discuss the topic? Make an outrageous statement that will enrage at least one PF member to respond with an insightful and pointed reply??
 
  • #17
selfAdjoint
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Let's try the outrageous approach. Here is an explanation that was seriously proposed in the twentieth century: "Those nations (China, Egypt, Babylonia, Egypt) were great in early times but declined later because in early times their blood was pure, but as time went on it was corrupted by impure blood from lesser peoples, till we see them as entirely lesser breeds today."

Comments?
 
  • #18
honestrosewater
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selfAdjoint said:
Let's try the outrageous approach. Here is an explanation that was seriously proposed in the twentieth century: "Those nations (China, Egypt, Babylonia, Egypt) were great in early times but declined later because in early times their blood was pure, but as time went on it was corrupted by impure blood from lesser peoples, till we see them as entirely lesser breeds today."

Comments?
Yep, this thread is dead. :rofl:

Okay, sorry. The biological basis for race has been dealt with in many places, you can google for lots of info. If you accept that the environment can only act on the surface and modern humans have a common ancestry and have been around for about 200,000 years, the genetic basis for intellectually superior races loses any steam it had. Even if you believe the Adam and Eve story, that is still a common ancestry and was less than 200,000 years ago. There is not enough genetic diversity to justify a classification into races or subspecies.

The explanation assumes that performance depends on race. This is difficult to reconcile with the current diversity in performance despite the existence of only one "race". Of course, you could argue that a race can perform within a certain finite range, and that is what's happening now; We are performing within our range. Now you have to argue that the range of the current race is bounded above by the range of the Ancients. That is consistent with the rest of your argument since we would all be part of the "lesser breed".
What that explanation is really saying is that no one alive today can perform as well as the Ancients. I don't know how one could refute that yet. But it doesn't help us explain the current diversity in performance.
If it sounds like I'm rambling, sorry, my cold medicine is messing with me.

I think we need to figure out exactly what factors effect a country's S&T output. I would start with scientific freedom; The freedom to practice science openly without government or other social interference.
 
  • #19
selfAdjoint
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hpnestrosewater said:
I think we need to figure out exactly what factors effect a country's S&T output. I would start with scientific freedom; The freedom to practice science openly without government or other social interference.

Well as far as China is concerned, they had a series of invasions and responses to invasions and aftermeths of invasions that resulted, from the 18th century on in a rigid, backward-looking culture. They didn't lose any of their discoveries but they didn't make any new ones either. In the middle east, after a brillian run as a creative civilization, Islam rejected the rational consideration of the universe beause it violated Allah's freedom to make anything happen at any time. Stories of Africa being hypercivilized are myths. Centtral and South America had their civilizations crushed by the conquistadors. Have I missed anybody?
 
  • #20
Nereid
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India (maybe twice)? Egypt? Babylon (well before Islam)? Greece? Rome (there was, after all, that minor interlude, what was it called? the grey ages?)? various central asian civilizations (most barely make even good 'history' books; there could be one or two as yet quite undiscovered)?
 
  • #21
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Have I missed anybody?

This one perhaps?

http://www.medioambiente.cu/museo/exmari.htm

That this is not a natural phenomenon seems to be proven here:

http://www.marsearthconnection.com/cuba.html

Dr Paul Weinzweig: ".... In our Cuban site the granite monolithic stones are foreign to the local marine and terrestrial geology."
...
Although a peer reviewed article would have been better of course. Anyway,
It has been taken seriously:

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=31&art_id=qw1097554324900B252 [Broken]

The reason why this civilisation declined seems to be obviously not conquistadores. But 700 meters below sea level is a tad difficult to explain :smile:
 
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  • #22
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Indians did not only make some mathematical advances. They had an advanced system of mdecine. Not only medicine but also surgery. The britishers stole the art of plastic surgery from indians. They made a lot of literary works. Mahabaratha is longest most interesting war story in the world. Also the languages are very advanced. They created Hinduism, which I can definitely say is the best.
 
  • #23
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I will of course argue that the best civilizations were the most capitalistic ones. :biggrin:

Regarding the ancient civilizations, most (all?) were horrendous compared to the world of today. Varying degree of genocide of the losers were common in war, look for example at Rome conquests and crushing of rebellions, like Julius Caesar in todays's France. Slavery were common in China, Korea, India, Islamic states, Rome, Greece and Egypt. In general in all parts of the world, including Africa and America before the colonization. Estimates of percentage in slavery vary but are usually huge, like up to half the population in Korea, 10% in England 1086, 30% in Rome and Athens. (From Britannica 2005)

This is not surprising. Since GDP per capita was essentially http://www.minneapolisfed.org/pubs/region/04-05/figure3.cfm [Broken] until the industrial revolution (=capitalistic revolution), some sort of free time to develop philosophy, science and culture was not possible without the hard labor and slavery of many others.

Note also that when the ancient societies abandoned the small parts of capitalism present, they collapsed like Rome.

Arguable, the same thing took place in China where comparatively small number of nomads again and again where able to conquer the much stronger mainland when cyclically to state expanded and crushed the free market.
 
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  • #24
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I have a theory to this matter.

It seems to me that civilizations cycles through stages and when they reach there peak they start going backwards because of lack of need or desire.

A good example of this is the roman empire. once, the greatest empire ever. a place under oppression that triumphed to maintain an empire over europe. After the thousands of years they got defeated by barbarians from the east.

Another recent example could be england. they once had a very great empire but all there greed of just merely taking resources from other countries with machine guns made them weaker in my opinion. Now after there struggles against germany they lost there empire to the americans who later became the world reserve currency who have a devastating economic empire that reaches the world over and weakens the other countries ability to progress.

The reason there are so many third world countries in the world today that have is because after the ones that were colonized which is basically the rest of the world were given freedom they had nothing and no development and had to start from scratch. Its no wonder they often succumb to the corruption from western influences.

I guess that china will become worlds biggest power in the future soley due to its growth unless there is a war or something. The Euro should eventually rise above the american dollar.
 
  • #25
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Aquamarine said:
This is not surprising. Since GDP per capita was essentially http://www.minneapolisfed.org/pubs/region/04-05/figure3.cfm [Broken] until the industrial revolution (=capitalistic revolution), some sort of free time to develop philosophy, science and culture was not possible without the hard labor and slavery of many others.

That graph does not prove anything. It does not show enough detail when at the earlier points, as the lines are all so close to 0.
 
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