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Thread: Could human hystory move faster?

  1. #1 Could human hystory move faster? 
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    Could human history move faster in sense of technology and social development? Could humans avoid Middle Ages, for example, if not some accidental historic interruptions? Could Ancient Greeks or Romans invent combustion engine and proceed to Capitalism? Or it was predetermined and humans passed all the stages of history required?


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    Or it was predetermined and humans passed all the stages of history required?
    I doubt it.

    After all, the ancient Mediterranean cultures had excellent sewage arrangements and even central heating. If the idea of "progress" through history had any validity then the Middle Ages in Europe would have been a paradise of warm, hygienic and comfortable housing. It wasn't. Many suburbs of Sydney had no connection to a sewage system in the 1970s. Los Angeles and many other US cities had good public transport in the first half of the 20th century. The idea of "progress" would suggest that those systems would have been maintained, extended and improved to the benefit of the residents of the region. They weren't. General Motors streetcar conspiracy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Even now, double glazing and proper insulation are regarded as novelties or extravagances or things only cranks insist on in much of the English speaking world despite the fact that they make life much cheaper and more comfortable for the inhabitants.

    Every generation has to make decisions and choices about whether to maintain, enhance and improve whatever they've inherited from their predecessors or to neglect or discard or destroy it. There is no guarantee that those choices will be good ones.


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    Carl Sagan had some choice words on the Library of Alexandria, the hoarding of knowledge and religious over-zealous absurdity in "A Personal Voyage: Cosmos."
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    I think we move as we move, and HAVE moved through history.

    Like little snails.

    Don't think it is changing anytime soon.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Could Ancient Greeks or Romans invent combustion engine and proceed to Capitalism?
    They could have done if they had had all the necessary technology and science that preceded it (some of which they did have in crude form). It is partly a matter of time to build up the required knowledge and technology, partly having enough peple with free time and money to investigate things, etc. There is nothing inevitable about technology arising at any time in history.

    Or it was predetermined and humans passed all the stages of history required?
    That would be a kind of Technological Whig History
    Whig history - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    (And therefore wrong.)
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    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Could Ancient Greeks or Romans invent combustion engine and proceed to Capitalism?
    They could have done if they had had all the necessary technology and science that preceded it (some of which they did have in crude form). It is partly a matter of time to build up the required knowledge and technology, partly having enough peple with free time and money to investigate things, etc. There is nothing inevitable about technology arising at any time in history.

    Or it was predetermined and humans passed all the stages of history required?
    That would be a kind of Technological Whig History
    Whig history - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    (And therefore wrong.)
    You beat me to it with the observation about the Whig view of history.

    But it seems to me that actually the ancients could NOT have produced a working internal combustions engine etc, simply due to the enormous number of little inventions and discoveries that go into such a machine. So your "if" is a very big "if" indeed.

    A thing that like relies on so much that we all take for granted: little details such as seals, gaskets, bearings and lubrication, pumps (oil, fuel, water), machining to fine tolerances, use of different alloys to avoid catastrophic wear of sliding parts, etc, etc. So indeed there has to have been a long history of engineering and science, before such a thing could even be contemplated.

    Perhaps it's a bit like considering why the first life forms on this planet were not mammals.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    But it seems to me that actually the ancients could NOT have produced a working internal combustions engine etc, simply due to the enormous number of little inventions and discoveries that go into such a machine. So your "if" is a very big "if" indeed.
    I agree completely. Materials science and precision engineering were some of the background technologies I thought of as well. Also chemistry to refine the fuels and build a battery, electrical theory and engineering, and on an on. And, of course, an existing transport infrastructure such as roads within and between towns.

    Plus, importantly, there would have to be a need. If there was no problem raising and keeping the number of animals required for transportation in the ancient world, what benefits would there be in having an automobile. It became a necessity in modern cities because of the cost and lack of space for keeping horses, and because of the problems of getting rid of vast quantities of "manure" produced by the many horses that were using the roads.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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