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Analyzing Ancient Civilized Countries

  1. Dec 3, 2004 #1
    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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  3. Dec 3, 2004 #2
    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.


    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....
     
  4. Dec 3, 2004 #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!
     
  5. Dec 3, 2004 #4

    honestrosewater

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    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:
     
  6. Dec 3, 2004 #5

    Nereid

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2004
  7. Dec 3, 2004 #6

    Nereid

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    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?
     
  8. Dec 3, 2004 #7
    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?"
     
  9. Dec 4, 2004 #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
     
  10. Dec 4, 2004 #9
    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.
     
  11. Dec 4, 2004 #10

    Nereid

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    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)?
     
  12. Dec 4, 2004 #11

    selfAdjoint

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    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.
     
  13. Dec 5, 2004 #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 ?
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2004
  14. Dec 5, 2004 #13

    honestrosewater

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2004
  15. Dec 5, 2004 #14

    Nereid

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    Moving this to Social Sciences ...
     
  16. Dec 8, 2004 #15

    honestrosewater

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    Did everyone lose interest here? Is it just too much work?
     
  17. Dec 8, 2004 #16

    Nereid

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    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??
     
  18. Dec 8, 2004 #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?
     
  19. Dec 9, 2004 #18

    honestrosewater

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    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.
     
  20. Dec 10, 2004 #19

    selfAdjoint

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    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?
     
  21. Dec 10, 2004 #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)?
     
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