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Thread: Turning Points

  1. #1 Turning Points 
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    For most of human history, we can see an endless series of chains. One king dies, and his children are appointed leaders. Some people rebel, and they are put down. Some get rich, some die poor, and the world generally remains backwards.
    All in all, it was a generally stagnant series of events.

    In the Dark Ages, this chain was at the peak of its apparence. The importance of the Catholic Church had surged, the Crusades had begun, diseases spread across Europe. The Asian and African kingdoms, however, were exempt from this chain; the Arabs flourished, Islam uniting them as a whole, and growth and learning, stimulated by Islam's edicts, which encouraged learning for all men, generally progressed at the same speed the Europeans would soon work with after the Renaissance.

    The Renaissance, I believe, was an important factor in breaking this chain; it deposed the Church as the ultimate source of knowledge about Earth, led to astonishing scientific growth in Europe, saw a sudden burst of creativity across the land, and finally saw two revolutions: the American and the French revolutions.

    This sudden frenzy for chain-breaking, I believe, culminated in the years ranging from 1900 to 1945. Socialism and communism competed with capitalism as two economic ideologies, imperialism was already in effect, colonialism likewise, and the ideas of Fascism and Nazism emerged soon therafter; nationalism had spread almost like a virus across the world. Viewed the right way, it was an exciting time with lots of 'isms'.

    The Second world War ultimately ended this state of affairs; with the onset of the Cold War, most other ideologies were scarcely noticed, and the conflict between the USSR and the USA very definitely made the political atmosphere frigid. In 1990, it finally ended, and we have seen an almost unparalleled time of growth for Asian nations, as well as the resurgence of Russia as a capitalist economic power. This may have ended last year, but it is worth noting that the 18 years between 1990 and 2008 could well have been the most prosperous years for the world economy.

    My question, however, is this: exactly what in your opinons were the major turning points in human history? Also, how was it that the emergence of Islam created an atmosphere almost opposite the one created by the Dark Ages in Europe, despite being chronologically at the same time?

    I myself believe that the Second World War was the biggest turning point in human history, as it managed to secure democracy against many of its major enemies, including Hitler, Japan's monarchs and Fascist leaders such as Mussolini.


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  3. #2  
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    Maybe it's because scholarliness doesn't appear to have existed very much among the Arabs prior to Islam. Whereas with Christianity, the scholars had been around a long time in Europe (mostly favoring the prior faiths of Greece and Rome).


    Religions have a way of wanting to be able to claim credit for the very existence of any good thing in the world. When it came to education, Islam had a way to do that. Christianity didn't.

    As for turning points, I go off inventions. The printing press gives us the renaissance. The end of WW2 coincides with the discovery of the atom bomb. Everything military had to change after that. The discovery of a new invention often changes the very rules of nature. (at least practically)


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    exactly what in your opinons were the major turning points in human history?
    The neolithic revolution.
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    Maybe it's because scholarliness doesn't appear to have existed very much among the Arabs prior to Islam. Whereas with Christianity, the scholars had been around a long time in Europe (mostly favoring the prior faiths of Greece and Rome).
    You're right, kojax. The Arabs before Islam were not among the most educated of the world. However, you cannot deny that, if not Islam, then certainly something catalysed the sudden infusion of learning that spread across Arabia. In fact, by the tenth century, the Arabs were a major power, that had even attempted to attack Constantinople. It eventually blockaded a major part of Constantinople from its Catholic counterpart, Rome.

    And I wouldn't call the European scholars scholars, as such. They were mainly mathematicians, and often were concerned with practical sciences. An example would be Archimedes. The only scholar well-known for his attempts to answer questions about the world was Aristotle, who was not very good at physics, sadly.

    Religions have a way of wanting to be able to claim credit for the very existence of any good thing in the world. When it came to education, Islam had a way to do that. Christianity didn't.
    What is it about religion that seems to cause such controversy? Most historians agree that Islam was one of the main factors in the sudden "intellectual revolution" that spread through Arabia. The Church's growing influence was equally a contributing factor to the Dark Ages. Besides, the Catholic Church certainly didn't claim responsibility for the Renaissance, or the American and French revolutions. Likewise, none of the other religions did.

    As for turning points, I go off inventions. The printing press gives us the renaissance. The end of WW2 coincides with the discovery of the atom bomb. Everything military had to change after that. The discovery of a new invention often changes the very rules of nature. (at least practically)
    Meh, I don't know. It's plausible, but inventions by themselves don't change history. They simply lead to further advancement of the sciences and better living conditions for the people.

    The neolithic revolution.
    Never heard of it. What was it?
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    Quote:
    The neolithic revolution.


    Never heard of it. What was it?
    Farming, basically, which led to permanent settlements, which led to civilization, and on to everything else including the printing press, democracy and Hitler.
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    Oh, thanks, Bunbury.

    Well, that would be a major turning point, certainly. After all, without farming, where would we be today? And it's not a local change, after all; this was global.

    Nice one. :-D
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    Colonialism, and international trade of basic goods. That related to farming and cities only circumstantially... it saw a rise in non-permanent settlements, rather like advanced decentralized foraging. We moved whale oil, timber, clay, even piles of rocks around the globe.

    It made the city kinda obsolete, as a city's essentially about efficient movement of goods and workers, by proximity.
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    I'll agree with you about international trading. But colonialism eventually ended after the Second World War, when the Allies were in no position to maintain their colonies. What exactly would you say were its achievements, apart from allowing the Europeans almost free access to Asian and African goods?

    In my opinion, colonialism's main contribution was simply the number of freed nations after WWII. What do you think?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liongold
    As for turning points, I go off inventions. The printing press gives us the renaissance. The end of WW2 coincides with the discovery of the atom bomb. Everything military had to change after that. The discovery of a new invention often changes the very rules of nature. (at least practically)
    Meh, I don't know. It's plausible, but inventions by themselves don't change history. They simply lead to further advancement of the sciences and better living conditions for the people.
    Or worse conditions.

    What an invention changes is the way your society is structured, because almost every invention has a military application, and military applications change who answers to whom and why.

    Before flintlocks, it was extremely hard to assassinate a belligerent or oppressive noble person. Once that rule changed, the nobles probably figured out really quick that they couldn't just do whatever they wanted and get away with it. So... you start seeing the peasants being treated a little better.

    With the printing press widespread education became possible (it really wasn't before then). The common people no longer needed to depend so heavily on an elite few educated people to guide and organize them. They could organize themselves.

    It's been widely argued that the end of slavery world wide coincided with the latter end of the industrial revolution. It's simply not practical to have slaves when you've got farm machinery. It's better to have professional machine operators who don't need a supervisor with a whip watching them all day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liongold
    I'll agree with you about international trading. But colonialism eventually ended after the Second World War, when the Allies were in no position to maintain their colonies. What exactly would you say were its achievements, apart from allowing the Europeans almost free access to Asian and African goods?

    In my opinion, colonialism's main contribution was simply the number of freed nations after WWII. What do you think?
    I guess it's the shipping really. Prior commerce was merely select luxuries, at elite prices. No real social or economic impact. But with global markets for... say, scissors, wool blankets, salt fish... everybody could join in, including industry. That's when "globalization" appeared and it's still very relevant.
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    It's been widely argued that the end of slavery world wide coincided with the latter end of the industrial revolution. It's simply not practical to have slaves when you've got farm machinery. It's better to have professional machine operators who don't need a supervisor with a whip watching them all day.
    Good point. But I still feel that inventions by themselves are not enough to be turning points. What about the ideas, the beliefs of people across the world? In order to invent, you would first require scientific knowledge, and in order to get scientific knowledge you have to accept the current beliefs of the scintific community. If these beliefs did not exist, then machines surely would not have come about. What do you think?

    As for the flintlock, I'm not very well versed in weapons, but do you mean the gun?
    But shouldn't that make it easier to control peasants, by limiting the gun to the noble's guards?
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    I guess it's the shipping really. Prior commerce was merely select luxuries, at elite prices. No real social or economic impact. But with global markets for... say, scissors, wool blankets, salt fish... everybody could join in, including industry. That's when "globalization" appeared and it's still very relevant.
    I've already acknowledged international trade to be a major factor.

    But shipping existed well before colonialism. How can you say it developed shipping?
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liongold
    It's been widely argued that the end of slavery world wide coincided with the latter end of the industrial revolution. It's simply not practical to have slaves when you've got farm machinery. It's better to have professional machine operators who don't need a supervisor with a whip watching them all day.
    Good point. But I still feel that inventions by themselves are not enough to be turning points. What about the ideas, the beliefs of people across the world? In order to invent, you would first require scientific knowledge, and in order to get scientific knowledge you have to accept the current beliefs of the scintific community. If these beliefs did not exist, then machines surely would not have come about. What do you think?

    As for the flintlock, I'm not very well versed in weapons, but do you mean the gun?
    But shouldn't that make it easier to control peasants, by limiting the gun to the noble's guards?
    Ideas lead to invention, sure. The Catholic church probably forced the printing press into existence, as it was the only means to spread an idea they objected to in a way where it would reach people before you got burned at the stake.

    I suppose they kind of feed into each other. Maybe the notion of social freedom made people start wanting to invent labor saving devices instead of just accepting their lot in life as farm workers.


    As for flintlocks: The basic idea is that assassinating a noble, with their guards around them, was pretty hard using swords, bows, and cross bows unless they were foolish enough to venture into the right kind of clearing. And, even then you'd have to be a really good shot in order to be sure you didn't miss.

    With a flintlock, you could conceal a weapon in your coat, walk up to within a few feet of the noble, and fire before the guards had a chance to do anything about it, and it would likely pierce their armor.

    It was actually a major concern. All of a sudden peasants who got sufficiently angry could actually kill their oppressors. Before then, it was possible only in theory, because most weapons were not potent enough to be sure of a successful assassination unless you could literally sneak into the castle or something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liongold
    I guess it's the shipping really.
    I've already acknowledged international trade to be a major factor.

    But shipping existed well before colonialism. How can you say it developed shipping?
    On reflection I've totally retracted colonialism. Brain-fart.

    Of course shipping enabled colonialism, among other things. One could even argue colonial interests rather tagged along and discouraged (free) trade as much as they permitted their own exclusively.
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    I guess the trouble, when comparing technological evolution with social change is... that... many changes only happen after they become technologically possible. There's no way to know whether specific social circumstances played a role or not, unless you can find counter cases where the technology was present but the decision went another way (and even then it might be because they didn't realize the possibilities were open to them).

    So, naturally colonialism only happened once it was technologically possible. Should we consider Europe's decision to engage in colonialism, once they had the ability to do so, to be a trait of European culture, or should we see it as the natural course that any culture would have followed, if it had been available to them?
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    I would think a significant turning point for the fate of the West would have been the failure of Xerxes to hold Greece. It is unlikely that classic Hellenism would have developed as we know it (if at all) and even if the Romans would have still been able to cobble together the same empire, it most likely would have been more traditionally Roman than it ended up being.

    Perhaps another would be the turning inward of the Chinese in 1450's in reaction to the Mongol threat. China had established herself as the maritime power with no worldwide equal 100 yrs before the European Age of Exploration began.
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  18. #17  
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    Not previously mentioned:
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    2. The wheel
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    :? We (and I) have strayed from the original question, which was turning points not developments, in recorded history.

    Europeans' failure to find a northwest passage to Japan was literally a turning point.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Maybe it's because scholarliness doesn't appear to have existed very much among the Arabs prior to Islam. Whereas with Christianity, the scholars had been around a long time in Europe (mostly favoring the prior faiths of Greece and Rome).


    Religions have a way of wanting to be able to claim credit for the very existence of any good thing in the world. When it came to education, Islam had a way to do that. Christianity didn't.

    As for turning points, I go off inventions. The printing press gives us the renaissance. The end of WW2 coincides with the discovery of the atom bomb. Everything military had to change after that. The discovery of a new invention often changes the very rules of nature. (at least practically)

    I am of the belief, that if they let you use the printing press they can shut it down.
    If they cannot precisely, target a certain area or certain type of communication. Then they shut it down, by whatever means. Or introduce something that actually cuts off the old method of communication, for a cooling off period.

    I do not believe we have radio, TV, or Internet. We have some makeshift thing that lets us say something. But with all the screen names and nonsense, you never even know if you said anything to anyone.

    I believe you are real. Ha-ha.

    Sincerely,


    William McCormick
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  21. #20 Re: Turning Points 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liongold
    For most of human history, we can see an endless series of chains. One king dies, and his children are appointed leaders. Some people rebel, and they are put down. Some get rich, some die poor, and the world generally remains backwards.
    All in all, it was a generally stagnant series of events.

    In the Dark Ages, this chain was at the peak of its apparence. The importance of the Catholic Church had surged, the Crusades had begun, diseases spread across Europe. The Asian and African kingdoms, however, were exempt from this chain; the Arabs flourished, Islam uniting them as a whole, and growth and learning, stimulated by Islam's edicts, which encouraged learning for all men, generally progressed at the same speed the Europeans would soon work with after the Renaissance.

    The Renaissance, I believe, was an important factor in breaking this chain; it deposed the Church as the ultimate source of knowledge about Earth, led to astonishing scientific growth in Europe, saw a sudden burst of creativity across the land, and finally saw two revolutions: the American and the French revolutions.

    This sudden frenzy for chain-breaking, I believe, culminated in the years ranging from 1900 to 1945. Socialism and communism competed with capitalism as two economic ideologies, imperialism was already in effect, colonialism likewise, and the ideas of Fascism and Nazism emerged soon therafter; nationalism had spread almost like a virus across the world. Viewed the right way, it was an exciting time with lots of 'isms'.

    The Second world War ultimately ended this state of affairs; with the onset of the Cold War, most other ideologies were scarcely noticed, and the conflict between the USSR and the USA very definitely made the political atmosphere frigid. In 1990, it finally ended, and we have seen an almost unparalleled time of growth for Asian nations, as well as the resurgence of Russia as a capitalist economic power. This may have ended last year, but it is worth noting that the 18 years between 1990 and 2008 could well have been the most prosperous years for the world economy.

    My question, however, is this: exactly what in your opinons were the major turning points in human history? Also, how was it that the emergence of Islam created an atmosphere almost opposite the one created by the Dark Ages in Europe, despite being chronologically at the same time?

    I myself believe that the Second World War was the biggest turning point in human history, as it managed to secure democracy against many of its major enemies, including Hitler, Japan's monarchs and Fascist leaders such as Mussolini.
    America was not founded as a democracy. It was founded as a republic. Although representatives may be chosen, the leader of the congress or Senate, was to be chosen by the other congressmen. Later a vote was created, or sold to the masses to hold their revolutionary spirits down, while they waited to see how the new peoples vote worked. It obviously did not work.

    The idea was when the congressmen picked their own leader of the congress or Senate, you could go down and shoot them if they were losers. And the fools that picked them.
    The idea was that you did not have to blame your own vote for the sorrow in your country. Voting is more of spinning a roulette wheel, or picking the short straw, everybody gets the short straw. It makes little difference. What or who you vote for.

    Once the other law makers could blame their poor leadership on the peoples choice, a man that was really a figure head. With little power. The law makers went wild.



    Sincerely,


    William McCormick
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