Are we evolving in a promising direction?

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Doane McTork, Nov 24, 2001.

  1. Doane McTork Registered Senior Member

    Are we evolving philosophically? Do we live by our beliefs or do we beg Socrates' forgiveness? Do we think too much to know anything or do we know too much to think anything? Is mankind doomed or can it elevate itself from the stagnation of life's mysteries?
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  3. kmguru Staff Member

    Are we evolving in a promising direction?

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  5. Twilight Registered Senior Member

    What makes us so sure we are, in the long term? I believe politics have a great deal with that. What's the point of evolving in a philosophical way if any time someone can just throw a bomb on us? Is our system stable? That's what should concern us.

    It's maybe a bit early to post this question but:
    What is that promising direction we are evolving in ?
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  7. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    Good thread...

    I'll throw this out. Man's evolution will not wait for him. Rather man and technology are intertwined. Where we go we bring this with us. It will affect our future because before we can evolve we will change ourselves on our own and interfer with our destined path. So the question is not if we are headed on the right path but what path will we choose?

    Welcome to Sciforums, Doane McTork.
  8. Congrats Bartok Fiend Registered Senior Member

    Every path we choose is the right one since the only definer in terms of right or wrong is the path itself. There is no perfect path for mankind to follow in reality. Whatever way we end up heading down, it'll make sense, and it will completely fill out the frame of reference for mankind.

    There is no comparison if the sum total of everything we do is all we do.

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    We should appreciate everything we do as humans, unless it kills us off.
  9. orthogonal Registered Senior Member

    Thanks for the thought provoking questions Doane.

    Is mankind doomed?

    In the broad sense that mankind shall one day become extinct, or perhaps evolve to such a degree that we may as well be considered a new life form, then my answer is; very likely yes.

    In the short term, I expect we will continue to exercise our ubiquitous human cleverness in solving the technical problems required for survival. However our population in the near future will likely fluxuate wildly unless we master an increased degree of reason, tolerance, and benevolence. Our survival in the short term will depend upon both our moral behavior as well as our technological solutions. Be also mindful that it is believed that over 99% of the species which have existed on this planet have by now become extinct. We are here without a safety net beneath us. Our short term survival is for all practical purposes, entirely in our own hands

    In the very long term the odds are against our continued survival. An analogy was given by Richard Dawkins in his book The Blind Watchmaker;

    "If we...lived for a million years...we should not make a habit of crossing roads...for if you crossed a road everyday for half a million years you would undoubtedly be run over".

    Survival in the very long term runs afoul of statistics. It may be a killer asteroid, or perhaps a variation in the sun's energy output that will end our world. We might escape in an intergalactic spaceship before the first axe falls, though it is clear that life is cautiously treading forever through a vast minefield. Given the length of the minefield, our caution pales as compared with the patience and number of the mines.

    Are we evolving philosophically?

    My answer is both yes and no. Unfortunately, humanity enmasse never has taken to heart Socrates assertion that, "The unexamined life is not worth living". Our philosophical evolution appears to result more from the works of isolated thinkers of great stature. This is in contrast to the technical fields in which steady advances result from the combined efforts of the masses.

    While the understanding of Euler and Einstein was more complete than that of Archemedes and Newton, it is difficult to characterize the music of Mozart as superior to the earlier Bach, or the philosophy of Sartre as superior to that of Schopenhauer. To quote Andre Comte-Sponville in his book titled, A Small Treatise On The Great Virtues,

    "Science lives in the present and is always forgetting its first steps. Philosophy, to the contrary, is always trying to retrace its first steps and has been from the very beginning. What physicist rereads Newton? What philosopher does not reread Aristotle? Science progresses and forgets,; philosophy ponders and recalls".

    Thus, progress in philosophy comes in fits and starts, occasionally appearing to be in retrogression.

    To move from the exceptional intellectual to the average man-on-the-street; Is the aesthetic sensibility of an average mall shopper today improved upon that of his or her direct ancestor, perhaps a European agrarian peasant of the Middle Ages? Successively consider both descendent and ancestor their ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology.

    I do not believe the average mall shopper has an improved aesthetic appreciation over that of the earlier peasant. (another thread perhaps

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    Despite the horrors of the 20th century, I do believe that the sense of ethics among the masses is improving, albeit painfully slowly.

    Despite the continued and widespread belief of the religious superstitions of the past, the vast number of irrefutable scientific successes has made inroads. A crack has formed in the once sound monolithic support of religious dogma among the masses.

    The above observation applies equally well to epistemology.

    Do we live by our beliefs?

    My answer is a simple and unequivocal yes. Humans have always done exactly so. However, the actions of a man of few personal beliefs will often appear to us with strong beliefs to be random and amoral.

    Last edited: Nov 25, 2001
  10. kmguru Staff Member

    There is an interesting movie made for TV in Sci-Fi channel last week called "Epoch". Anyone seen it?
  11. Doane McTork Registered Senior Member

    Whenever I think that we are becoming individually sovereign I see another tongue ring as a show of individuality and freedom - a tired ironic plea. We flaunt the fallacy of cool and deny truths because we like to entertain ourselves with a heavy mix of hearing the midrange of obviousness - and feel smart.
    Technology has evolved. Intelligence has evolved. Physically we are evolving. But philosophically I don't think we've come as far. We may be coming together on a few more ethical points but many just seem earmarked as 'politically correct' thinking. We may be getting closer to understanding the properties of subatomics particles but does that knowledge help our prioritizing what is important for humanity?

    Perhaps my question should have been - "Is philosophy outdated by the specialization of knowledges?"

    I'm not too sure that generalized philosophy is a usable discussion. Each field has its own veritable quandaries.

    Michael Orthogonal the Vermontian- Excellent spectrum analysis.
  12. MuliBoy psykyogi Registered Senior Member

    Evolution is complete. Time/space is a system and the linear timeline is a solid artifact or entity which the human form is located within

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    Intelligence is nothing. It just makes you a sharper machine. Wisdom is the currency of a humane society.

    Funds are very low....

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  13. SeekerOfTruth Unemployed, but Looking Registered Senior Member


    I saw most of it, unfortunately I missed most of the ending. So what made the torus decide to spare Humanity? I saw the last thirty seconds or so in which the main female character walked up to the main male character and told him she was pregnant.

    Was that why humanity was spared? Was her baby suppose to be the next evolution in humanity?
  14. kmguru Staff Member

    The ending was like Abyss, humans were trying to blow up torus, so it responded in kind. When the male and female tried to disarm the nuclear device, torus thought may be humans need another chance. Which means we are evolving in the right direction. Otherwise, the torus would have started another ice age.

    There are a lot of holes in the story. But, the idea from a human stand point is interesting and applicable to the topic at hand.
  15. orthogonal Registered Senior Member

    Is philosophy outdated by the specialization of knowledge?

    The end of hope for a broad individual expertise followed some time after man began to accumulate ideas in the form of symbols. The enormous volume of such information today effectively prevents one person from attaining other than a narrow expertise in any given field. For example, I read that Jules Henri Poincaré might have been the last mathematician permitted the claim that he was acquainted with all the known mathematical fields of his day. The usual quip today is; "We know more and more about less and less".

    Edward O. Wilson eloquently considers the problem of bandwidth limited expertise (my words) in his book; Consilience: The Unity Of Knowledge.
    He writes;

    "Reductionism and analysis is the breaking down and dissection, (which is) as crucial to science as is the synthesis and integration tempered by philosophical reflection on significance and value".

    Scientific analysis though difficult in itself, is rather straight-forward as compared with the synthesis necessary to arrive at a more complete knowledge, as opposed to a mere collection of facts. As quoted above, this synthesis requires philosophical reflection.

    Every thinking man is said to have his personal "philosophy of life". Such a philosophy is a source of comfort. In fact, the need for philosophical speculation is derived from emotion rather than reason. The scientific method is an incredibly useful tool that involves the measured application of human reason to a problem. The nature of human emotion and reason provides insight into the origins of philosophy and science.

    In his book titled; Within Reason, Donald Calne writes of the fundamental nature of emotion and reason;

    "Reason is a facilitator rather than an initiator; we engage reason to get what we want, not choose what we want."

    "Like reason, science is a tool for reaching goals, not for setting them."

    "The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to actions while reason leads to conclusions."

    "Emotions provide motivation because they entail needs that crave satisfaction. Unlike emotions, reason does not entail needs that crave satisfaction. If reason did crave satisfaction, it would be an emotion."

    That we do science at all is exclusively a function of our emotions. Emotion orders that the tools of science be used in the first place. It is again emotion, which must fashion the facts resulting from the use of these tools into an agreeable system of thought. A consistent philosophical understanding makes use of reason in the form of logic. But the enterprise itself is inescapably bound up with all the messy subjectivity and human fuzziness that we historically expect from philosophy.

    Philosophy is more fundamental to humans than is science. Both philosophy and science however, are required in our attempt to arrive at an acceptable understanding of the world as we find it.

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2001
  16. SeekerOfTruth Unemployed, but Looking Registered Senior Member

    See, I missed the part about the atomic bomb being disarmed. When I left the story, the male and female were going into the torus to try and disarm it, when I got back at the very end, the male was lecturing on the torus and when he finished the female walked up and informed him that she was pregnant. I concluded that the torus took a different route in creating a new species for the planet by either impregnating the female or somehow modifying the genetic characteristics of her featus.
  17. Doane McTork Registered Senior Member

    Orthogonal, that was yet another 'keeper' post. Fine selection of quotes, too. Thanks.

    American education is being streamlined to process youth into productivity and economic involvement. It's under a lot of pressure to develope people to exist on their own with the fundamentals. The arts are being scrutinized and philosophy is being moved to the cellar of thought training. It is constantly ridiculed as perplexing and directionless and unproven of worth. "It doesn't pay well, why teach it?" The sciences on the other hand are presented as "The Golden Brick Road" and the path to future success of fame and fortune. ...(Self-edited here was a long piece about professional sports idolotry. Y'all just dodged a rant)... Will philosophy ever make a rebound or is it just becoming a practice of old golfers and chess players and readers of the Saturday Evening Post?
    Oppenheimer became very philosophical AFTER the bomb was used and I believe both of his endeavors may have saved us. Where would the world be if the Nazis created the first A bomb? Where would we be if Oppy didn't speak up for the control of arms?
    I just feel that the reasons we do what we do are being gleaned over by a distracting materialism. I see adverts that (virtually) say "spend and keep America strong". That is an obtuse philosophy as it says "Freedom" can be bought. Not my idea of a strong belief to kill and die for. As Orthogonal stated through the Wilson quote "...personal...philosophy is a source of comfort." Apparently, so is HDTV. (So I'm told)

    Now, about them huge corporations and their subliminal thought control schemes...(rant self-edited for your comfort).
  18. kmguru Staff Member

    Elsewhere in the sciforum, we discussed on Consilience. It is not true that "broad individual experience" is dead. I make a decent living by solving complex problems in the business world. I have been doing this for 30 years and lately I am using more and more my inter-disciplinary skill set - that is because in the age of specialization, generalists are hard to find. An economic battle can not be won without a good general(ist).

    The time is here for the Renaissance man.
  19. Greg Bernhardt Registered Senior Member

    no because the level of technology is surpassing the level of society

    which leads to trouble
  20. kmguru Staff Member

    I think, it is the amount of information that growing at an exponential rate and a lot of people are taking advantage of that while others are not. That is causing serious problems.

    Same old thing - Education....or assimilation of knowledge as we move from an agarian society controlled by priests to an information based society
  21. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    From what I've percieved, The human race is being Challenged by technology to Evolve far faster than it's natural evolution perimeters state.

    How do I mean... Well once upon a time, mankind was ravished by dwelling with savage beasts. A few men might go out hunting deer or Antelope and find themsleves on the meal end of a Sabretooth tiger. Natural evolution deduced that Man would soon work out a method of dealing with this beasty threat, and eventually made Mankind a partial blame of the Sabretooths extinction.

    To look at now aday man, We've create a society that evolves around work that doesn't grow food produce, or create clothing due to Currency. As human beings we are suppose to know more because of news coverage of events that go on around the world at distances a primitive man could not walk in their life, and occasional travel distances at speeds that could not have been drempt of.

    As globalisation takes a hold, countries that still seem "Basic" still have "Advances" that are growing with ever day.

    With the use of the Globalised internet, The world can now communicate with keypresses or Microphones at an ever increasingly cheap rate, and as the evolution of Chipsets and data storage refines, more and more information is available to such a network.

    No longer will people be given qualifications of merit of what they HAVE learnt, they will be given certificates to prove their skills at RESEARCH. To get answers from all available sources.

    I would guess that our evolutionary step is to move to Cybernetic Mneumonics, where we no longer remember information, but program organisers to remeber for us, or have implants to access databases.

    Technocratism, seems the only Destiny.
  22. SeekerOfTruth Unemployed, but Looking Registered Senior Member


    This thought intrigued me as it seems to imply that technology, or perhaps abstract thought, is a force more powerful than that of evolution.

    For if evolution were as powerful as technology or abstract thought, wouldn't the sabertooth have 'evolved' a method of dealing with mankind's method of dealing with the sabertooth?

    Perhaps technology, or abstract thought, works on a timescale that is so much faster than that of evolution that evolution no longer applies once an organism develops either the capacity for rational thought or technology?
  23. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

    We humans didn't get clas, armour, anything like that. We got a kick-arse brain. Our claw is TOOLS. At the top of every food chain on Earth is some creature with strength and speed, claws, huge fangs, whatever. And then there's us. We have tools. Technology is our claw, our armour. We have evolved and grown over the ages with that claw.

    That being the case, it is not possible to say that our technology is exceeding our species. It IS part of us.

    I would say that, put very simply, the purpose or progression of natural selection is for a species to arrive at a state in which it is safe from the common threats of its environment/conditions. If that is a fair thing to say, then many human societies are currently at that ultimate state of natural selection, except for a few minor bits of tinkering for various diseases/infections.

    Given all that, I think we can safely make choices about how we wish to evolve from this point on without messing up any possible future benefits of natural selection; after all, natural selection won't have that much effect anyway after a certain stage of development. And since technology is a part of us, our claw and armour and more, it will probably always be a part of us, and as we learn more that integration may improve. And given the current research into biological computer hardware, fake muscle (I'm talking about the carbon nanotube muscles made recently at the University of Woollongong), and other such things, I suspect that one day there will be no difference in the human world between biology and technology.

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