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Is Civilization Really a Good Thing?

Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
edited December 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
The popular conception of hunter-gatherer societies is that their members were savages who faced the threat of starvation on a daily basis or the risk of being mauled by the animals they were hunting.

From what I've learned recently in my Cultural Anthropology class, though, apparently life before civilization was nowhere near as bad as people believe. Hunter-gatherers were nomadic people who obtained much of their dietary needs from plants and lived in small, tight-knit communities. They could not carry many personal possessions with them as they traveled, and everyone had to contribute in the act of gathering food and tending to the needs of the community. As a result, there was little in the way of social stratification. Infectious diseases were also rare, as there were not populations of humans large enough for them to easily spread, and it is believed that the average hunter-gatherer lived a healthy life.

In light of this view of hunter-gatherer civilizations I've come to question whether modern civilization is indeed superior. Civilization breeds social stratification as man-made systems emerge that allow certain individuals to become much wealthier than others. Civilization gives individuals a way to easily take care of themselves, reducing the need for close-knit relationships. There is also evidence that people in developed countries are more likely to feel stressed and unhappy. Civilization enables infectious diseases, and some fear that such diseases will eventually become resistant enough to overcome our efforts to prevent and treat them. Pollution is another cause for disease. Take into account as well that people in modern societies often don't get the exercise they need, as they do not need to expend much effort to survive in the age of air conditioned homes and supermarkets.

So, is civilization really such a great thing? Were people better-off in a simpler time? What positive features do civilizations possess that make-up for their faults?

Hexmage-PA on
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    Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited September 2010
    better hope you don't break an ankle, or be born with diabetes

    or, you know, have a bad winter, or get scratched by a wild animal

    it was impossible to really develop sciences or the arts or crafts or really any kind of non-hunting specialist without cities and agriculture.

    and yeah there were some tradeoffs - disease and (arguably, possibly) the carbohydrate-centric diet were problems.

    but on balance, the pastoral ideal of hunter-gatherers strikes me as so much hippie bullshit. life was pretty rough and brutal, the lifestyle was unsustainable and it was basically impossible for humans to progress from it without settling down.

    Irond Will on
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    Stabbity StyleStabbity Style He/Him | Warning: Mothership Reporting Kennewick, WARegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Civilization has allowed us to land on the moon. That is all.

    Also, we couldn't sustain the huge population that we have now without civilization.

    Basically what Irond Will said.

    Stabbity Style on
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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Irond Will wrote: »
    better hope you don't break an ankle, or be born with diabetes

    or, you know, have a bad winter, or get scratched by a wild animal

    it was impossible to really develop sciences or the arts or crafts or really any kind of non-hunting specialist without cities and agriculture.

    and yeah there were some tradeoffs - disease and (arguably, possibly) the carbohydrate-centric diet were problems.

    but on balance, the pastoral ideal of hunter-gatherers strikes me as so much hippie bullshit. life was pretty rough and brutal, the lifestyle was unsustainable and it was basically impossible for humans to progress from it without settling down.

    It was sustainable just fine. It did place a cap on our ability to advance though.

    Styrofoam Sammich on
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    DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    You know what I love about modern society? Raw food adherents. Somehow, we have established that our first invention, Fire, and all that comes from it (i.e. cooked food) is a bad thing because God forbid, raw food has beneficial enzymes.

    DoctorArch on
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    Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Also, we couldn't sustain the huge population that we have now without civilization.

    But do we need a huge population? There are a few surviving hunter-gatherer societies out there that artificially limit population growth by encouraging mothers to breast feed longer (which apparently reduces the chance that they will get pregnant again).

    Hexmage-PA on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    It was environmentally friendly in the sense that the environment killed us fast enough that we didn't have to worry about ruining it from our grandchildren.

    Also: infectious disease is unlikely to ever wipe-out mankind. Fast acting viruses burn out and self-isolate, slow-acting ones can be managed and studied. The whole thing with bird-flu was a tribute to our disease response protocols in the modern age, and it was only the problem it was because China was trying to cover it up.

    The worst case scenario is still only a significant death toll - but certainly not more significant then the mortality rate before 50 of hunter-gatherers.

    electricitylikesme on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    Also, we couldn't sustain the huge population that we have now without civilization.

    But do we need a huge population? There are a few surviving hunter-gatherer societies out there that artificially limit population growth by encouraging mothers to breast feed longer (which apparently reduces the chance that they will get pregnant again).

    You need a large enough sample size to allow for specialization. Like aluminium foil.

    The industrial complex required to give me aluminium foil is staggering. I use it in my experiments have as a cheap high-efficiency UV reflector, or to light-shield Pyrex glassware. But I couldn't do that without the industrial complex, and the industrial complex can't exist just for me.

    electricitylikesme on
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    HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    No we were not not better off. Yes civilzation is a good thing. "It didn't suck as much as we think" isn't a good argument for demolishing civilzation. The benefits to us as a whole civilzation grant us far outweigh the negatives.

    HappylilElf on
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    SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    In light of this view of hunter-gatherer civilizations I've come to question whether modern civilization is indeed superior. Civilization breeds social stratification as man-made systems emerge that allow certain individuals to become much wealthier than others. Civilization gives individuals a way to easily take care of themselves, reducing the need for close-knit relationships. There is also evidence that people in developed countries are more likely to feel stressed and unhappy. Civilization enables infectious diseases, and some fear that such diseases will eventually become resistant enough to overcome our efforts to prevent and treat them. Pollution is another cause for disease. Take into account as well that people in modern societies often don't get the exercise they need, as they do not need to expend much effort to survive in the age of air conditioned homes and supermarkets.

    So, is civilization really such a great thing? Were people better-off in a simpler time? What positive features do civilizations possess that make-up for their faults?

    You and Jean-Jacques Rousseau would probably be friends, that is if Jean-Jacques Rousseau ever had any friends, and to a large extent he didn't. I didn't find his conceptualization of nascent man particularly compelling, but it may find a better home with you; find a copy of "Discourse on the Origins on Inequality" and give it a whirl.

    SammyF on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    It was environmentally friendly in the sense that the environment killed us fast enough that we didn't have to worry about ruining it from our grandchildren.

    Birth rates among nomadic hunter-gatherers are also lower than birth rates among sedentary agrarian populations.
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    Also, we couldn't sustain the huge population that we have now without civilization.

    But do we need a huge population?

    No, we don't. But we did at one point to get to where we are now.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    [Tycho?][Tycho?] As elusive as doubt Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Good, bad? Meaningless questions. It is beneficial for the human species in the biological sense, in that it lets us expand more.

    I know people who are "anti-civ", at least to a degree. They're environmentally conscious, but it comes more from a desire to be autonomous from central authority. They figure civilization essentially requires people to rule over others, for some to toil and other to benefit. Which is true, but it doesn't really get anyone anywhere.

    [Tycho?] on
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    CasedOutCasedOut Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Civilization has allowed us to land on the moon. That is all.

    Also hopefully one day it will enable us to get off this rock.

    CasedOut on
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    CasedOutCasedOut Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    No we were not not better off. Yes civilzation is a good thing. "It didn't suck as much as we think" isn't a good argument for demolishing civilzation. The benefits to us as a whole civilzation grant us far outweigh the negatives.

    This is a value judgement, some people would rather risk their lives for more freedom and autonomy. It's a risk vs reward scenario. Some people find the rewards of civilization to be lacking what they truly desire.

    CasedOut on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    No we were not not better off. Yes civilzation is a good thing. "It didn't suck as much as we think" isn't a good argument for demolishing civilzation. The benefits to us as a whole civilzation grant us far outweigh the negatives.

    If the question is "is (sedentary agrarian or industrial) civilization beneficial" the answer is "yes and no." Was nomadic hunter-gatherer life better? Yes and no. We're describing a huge variety of lifestyles with really broad brushes, and there's no reason to act as though they're mutually exclusive diametric opposites. It's entirely possible, and in my opinion likely, that as we progress we will find the aspects of nomadic hunter-gatherer life that were beneficial and introducing them into our technologically-advanced context.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    No we were not not better off. Yes civilzation is a good thing. "It didn't suck as much as we think" isn't a good argument for demolishing civilzation. The benefits to us as a whole civilzation grant us far outweigh the negatives.

    If the question is "is (sedentary agrarian or industrial) civilization beneficial" the answer is "yes and no." Was nomadic hunter-gatherer life better? Yes and no. We're describing a huge variety of lifestyles with really broad brushes, and there's no reason to act as though they're mutually exclusive diametric opposites. It's entirely possible, and in my opinion likely, that as we progress we will find the aspects of nomadic hunter-gatherer life that were beneficial and introducing them into our technologically-advanced context.

    So like we have to drive around town to find our favorite taco van?

    Styrofoam Sammich on
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    CommunistCowCommunistCow Abstract Metal ThingyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Irond Will wrote: »
    better hope you don't break an ankle, or be born with diabetes

    or, you know, have a bad winter, or get scratched by a wild animal

    it was impossible to really develop sciences or the arts or crafts or really any kind of non-hunting specialist without cities and agriculture.

    and yeah there were some tradeoffs - disease and (arguably, possibly) the carbohydrate-centric diet were problems.

    but on balance, the pastoral ideal of hunter-gatherers strikes me as so much hippie bullshit. life was pretty rough and brutal, the lifestyle was unsustainable and it was basically impossible for humans to progress from it without settling down.

    Please to be explaining this to my hippie fiance without her getting mad at me. Kthxbai

    CommunistCow on
    No, I am not really communist. Yes, it is weird that I use this name.
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    emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    My favorite Civilization quote is, "The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy."

    emnmnme on
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    Captain CarrotCaptain Carrot Alexandria, VARegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    SammyF wrote: »
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    In light of this view of hunter-gatherer civilizations I've come to question whether modern civilization is indeed superior. Civilization breeds social stratification as man-made systems emerge that allow certain individuals to become much wealthier than others. Civilization gives individuals a way to easily take care of themselves, reducing the need for close-knit relationships. There is also evidence that people in developed countries are more likely to feel stressed and unhappy. Civilization enables infectious diseases, and some fear that such diseases will eventually become resistant enough to overcome our efforts to prevent and treat them. Pollution is another cause for disease. Take into account as well that people in modern societies often don't get the exercise they need, as they do not need to expend much effort to survive in the age of air conditioned homes and supermarkets.

    So, is civilization really such a great thing? Were people better-off in a simpler time? What positive features do civilizations possess that make-up for their faults?

    You and Jean-Jacques Rousseau would probably be friends, that is if Jean-Jacques Rousseau ever had any friends, and to a large extent he didn't. I didn't find his conceptualization of nascent man particularly compelling, but it may find a better home with you; find a copy of "Discourse on the Origins on Inequality" and give it a whirl.
    If that's the same thing I read in Political Theory, it's basically one big lump of "unf unf noble savage unf unf".

    Captain Carrot on
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    GoodOmensGoodOmens Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    What benefits does civilization provide? Pardon me for being rather pedestrian here, but civilization provides the structure for advancement and knowledge that allows us, living in widely dispersed areas, to come together and debate the value of civilization. The hunter-gatherer lifestyle has benefits, to be sure, but there's something to be said for knowing about the world beyond the next hill.

    GoodOmens on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    Good, bad? Meaningless questions. It is beneficial for the human species in the biological sense, in that it lets us expand more.

    I know people who are "anti-civ", at least to a degree. They're environmentally conscious, but it comes more from a desire to be autonomous from central authority. They figure civilization essentially requires people to rule over others, for some to toil and other to benefit. Which is true, but it doesn't really get anyone anywhere.

    I'm somewhat "anti-civilization." I've had my Tyler Durden visions of men in furs laying venison to dry along an abandoned interstate. I consider that simple critical thinking - to look at a state of affairs and imagine, "What if we didn't have all this?"

    But you know what? I like it that women don't die during pregnancy. Yes, I get the flu because I'm indoors around other people all the time, but at least I know that I won't have my entire family group destroyed by smallpox or rabies in the blink of an eye. I'd rather struggle against obesity than struggle against starvation.

    But I'm also pretty sure that the future of mankind is going to involve lower birth rates, a more mobile population (skilled and information work allow people to be economic nomads), and less reliance on highly environmentally-controlled factory farming and more reliance on regional/seasonal eating. I share Will's skepticism about the modern diet, and I find aspects of the paleo diet interesting.

    Adapting some of the positive aspects of pre-neolithic society doesn't mean we have to wear furs and dry our venison along the interstate, though.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    What was beneficial about nomadic life to the individual? Unbridled navel gazing time?

    mrt144 on
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    JepheryJephery Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Civilization arose because people figured out how to grow grain and turn it into bread and beer. I concur with our bread and beer consuming ancestors that civilization is a good thing.

    Jephery on
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    "Orkses never lose a battle. If we win we win, if we die we die fightin so it don't count. If we runs for it we don't die neither, cos we can come back for annuver go, see!".
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    FallingmanFallingman Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I have a kind of social contract with society that makes me happy.

    I don't have to spend my day "hunting or gathering". In return, I perform a function that someone needs in return for "currency" that I can then spend on basic necessities. The economy of scale that civilisation provides means that I also have some left over so that I can choose to do things I enjoy, and buy goods that I want rather than need.

    I also understand that some people don't get as much out of this social contract - but I like it just fine.

    Like most people, I enjoy the idea of a hunter gatherer society as kind of a cool idea, but I imagine the realities would wear thin pretty fast.

    Fallingman on
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    CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Civilization gave us Civilization IV.

    Couscous on
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    SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    SammyF wrote: »
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    In light of this view of hunter-gatherer civilizations I've come to question whether modern civilization is indeed superior. Civilization breeds social stratification as man-made systems emerge that allow certain individuals to become much wealthier than others. Civilization gives individuals a way to easily take care of themselves, reducing the need for close-knit relationships. There is also evidence that people in developed countries are more likely to feel stressed and unhappy. Civilization enables infectious diseases, and some fear that such diseases will eventually become resistant enough to overcome our efforts to prevent and treat them. Pollution is another cause for disease. Take into account as well that people in modern societies often don't get the exercise they need, as they do not need to expend much effort to survive in the age of air conditioned homes and supermarkets.

    So, is civilization really such a great thing? Were people better-off in a simpler time? What positive features do civilizations possess that make-up for their faults?

    You and Jean-Jacques Rousseau would probably be friends, that is if Jean-Jacques Rousseau ever had any friends, and to a large extent he didn't. I didn't find his conceptualization of nascent man particularly compelling, but it may find a better home with you; find a copy of "Discourse on the Origins on Inequality" and give it a whirl.
    If that's the same thing I read in Political Theory, it's basically one big lump of "unf unf noble savage unf unf".

    Oh, now, be fair. It's far and away better written than anything penned in part or whole by most political writers nowadays.

    I'm not referring specifically to the theory it contains.

    Just the ability to consistently link a subject with a verb.

    SammyF on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    mrt144 wrote: »
    What was beneficial about nomadic life to the individual? Unbridled navel gazing time?

    A lot more free time was one benefit, yeah. And of course the side benefits of this like less stress.

    Hexmage is right that you had fewer endemic diseases like influenza. However, if you contracted a communicable disease, it was likely to kill your entire community group because... hey, less developed immune systems.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    This is a bit of an unusual question. Are "we" better off in the sense of having longer life expectancy and what have you?

    Yes, I am. Me, a white American male of sufficient means living at one of the top tiers of the global ladder in the early 21st century, can expect those sorts of things.

    I'm an aberration, historically speaking. As someone with an academic interest in both types of societies, I can say quite confidently that we would probably be quite a bit happier living a semi-nomadic lifestyle (ie Bedouins, some pre-contact Native American groups, and other societies that were not quite at the "organized state" level - "civilization" is a loaded term) as opposed to living at the bottom of the social ladder in, say, a factory town in mid-19th century England, or pre-revolution France.

    Duffel on
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    LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    Good, bad? Meaningless questions. It is beneficial for the human species in the biological sense, in that it lets us expand more.

    I know people who are "anti-civ", at least to a degree. They're environmentally conscious, but it comes more from a desire to be autonomous from central authority. They figure civilization essentially requires people to rule over others, for some to toil and other to benefit. Which is true, but it doesn't really get anyone anywhere.

    I'm somewhat "anti-civilization." I've had my Tyler Durden visions of men in furs laying venison to dry along an abandoned interstate. I consider that simple critical thinking - to look at a state of affairs and imagine, "What if we didn't have all this?"

    But you know what? I like it that women don't die during pregnancy. Yes, I get the flu because I'm indoors around other people all the time, but at least I know that I won't have my entire family group destroyed by smallpox or rabies in the blink of an eye. I'd rather struggle against obesity than struggle against starvation.

    But I'm also pretty sure that the future of mankind is going to involve lower birth rates, a more mobile population (skilled and information work allow people to be economic nomads), and less reliance on highly environmentally-controlled factory farming and more reliance on regional/seasonal eating. I share Will's skepticism about the modern diet, and I find aspects of the paleo diet interesting.

    Adapting some of the positive aspects of pre-neolithic society doesn't mean we have to wear furs and dry our venison along the interstate, though.

    I doubt the "paleo" diet combined with regional/seasonal eating will be anything more than a luxury diet for first world yuppies barring a reduction in world-wide population that would make Malthus swoon.

    Lawndart on
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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Is Civilization Really a Good Thing?

    Yes.

    Quid on
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    Captain CarrotCaptain Carrot Alexandria, VARegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    SammyF wrote: »
    SammyF wrote: »
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    In light of this view of hunter-gatherer civilizations I've come to question whether modern civilization is indeed superior. Civilization breeds social stratification as man-made systems emerge that allow certain individuals to become much wealthier than others. Civilization gives individuals a way to easily take care of themselves, reducing the need for close-knit relationships. There is also evidence that people in developed countries are more likely to feel stressed and unhappy. Civilization enables infectious diseases, and some fear that such diseases will eventually become resistant enough to overcome our efforts to prevent and treat them. Pollution is another cause for disease. Take into account as well that people in modern societies often don't get the exercise they need, as they do not need to expend much effort to survive in the age of air conditioned homes and supermarkets.

    So, is civilization really such a great thing? Were people better-off in a simpler time? What positive features do civilizations possess that make-up for their faults?

    You and Jean-Jacques Rousseau would probably be friends, that is if Jean-Jacques Rousseau ever had any friends, and to a large extent he didn't. I didn't find his conceptualization of nascent man particularly compelling, but it may find a better home with you; find a copy of "Discourse on the Origins on Inequality" and give it a whirl.
    If that's the same thing I read in Political Theory, it's basically one big lump of "unf unf noble savage unf unf".

    Oh, now, be fair. It's far and away better written than anything penned in part or whole by most political writers nowadays.

    I'm not referring specifically to the theory it contains.

    Just the ability to consistently link a subject with a verb.
    Yes, Rousseau is quite eloquent, but that was never the question.

    Captain Carrot on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    mrt144 wrote: »
    What was beneficial about nomadic life to the individual? Unbridled navel gazing time?

    A lot more free time was one benefit, yeah. And of course the side benefits of this like less stress.

    Hexmage is right that you had fewer endemic diseases like influenza. However, if you contracted a communicable disease, it was likely to kill your entire community group because... hey, less developed immune systems.

    The thing is, influenza just isn't a problem. It does kill people these days, but that's in exceptional cases.

    electricitylikesme on
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    CasedOutCasedOut Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    This is a bit of an unusual question. Are "we" better off in the sense of having longer life expectancy and what have you?

    Yes, I am. Me, a white American male of sufficient means living at one of the top tiers of the global ladder in the early 21st century, can expect those sorts of things.

    I'm an aberration, historically speaking. As someone with an academic interest in both types of societies, I can say quite confidently that we would probably be quite a bit happier living a semi-nomadic lifestyle (ie Bedouins, some pre-contact Native American groups, and other societies that were not quite at the "organized state" level - "civilization" is a loaded term) as opposed to living at the bottom of the social ladder in, say, a factory town in mid-19th century England, or pre-revolution France.

    I really like that you pointed this out, everyone seems to be arguing about how civilization is now in america as opposed to how civilization has typically been historically speaking. I mean think about all of the slavery and wars etc.

    Civilization was perhaps better for the plantation owners, but I doubt anyone would argue it was better for the slaves.

    CasedOut on
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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Oh you got us there. Civilization isn't perfect. A fantastic insight.

    Quid on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    I doubt the "paleo" diet combined with regional/seasonal eating will be anything more than a luxury diet for first world yuppies barring a reduction in world-wide population that would make Malthus swoon.

    You might be right about the paleo diet, mostly because grains are a cheap way to feed a lot of people.

    You're dead wrong about regional and seasonal eating. Not having seasonal and regional eating is a luxury.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    CasedOutCasedOut Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Quid wrote: »
    Oh you got us there. Civilization isn't perfect. A fantastic insight.

    So it clearly isn't a good thing for a large number of people.

    CasedOut on
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    JuliusJulius Captain of Serenity on my shipRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    emnmnme wrote: »
    My favorite Civilization quote is, "The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy."

    Oh yeah man. I need to install Civ4 on this computer again.

    Julius on
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    HavelockHavelock Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    The popular conception of hunter-gatherer societies is that their members were savages who faced the threat of starvation on a daily basis or the risk of being mauled by the animals they were hunting.

    From what I've learned recently in my Cultural Anthropology class, though, apparently life before civilization was nowhere near as bad as people believe. Hunter-gatherers were nomadic people who obtained much of their dietary needs from plants and lived in small, tight-knit communities. They could not carry many personal possessions with them as they traveled, and everyone had to contribute in the act of gathering food and tending to the needs of the community. As a result, there was little in the way of social stratification. Infectious diseases were also rare, as there were not populations of humans large enough for them to easily spread, and it is believed that the average hunter-gatherer lived a healthy life.

    In light of this view of hunter-gatherer civilizations I've come to question whether modern civilization is indeed superior. Civilization breeds social stratification as man-made systems emerge that allow certain individuals to become much wealthier than others. Civilization gives individuals a way to easily take care of themselves, reducing the need for close-knit relationships. There is also evidence that people in developed countries are more likely to feel stressed and unhappy. Civilization enables infectious diseases, and some fear that such diseases will eventually become resistant enough to overcome our efforts to prevent and treat them. Pollution is another cause for disease. Take into account as well that people in modern societies often don't get the exercise they need, as they do not need to expend much effort to survive in the age of air conditioned homes and supermarkets.

    So, is civilization really such a great thing? Were people better-off in a simpler time? What positive features do civilizations possess that make-up for their faults?

    Way too much noble savage up in here.

    If I had to pick between wiping with leaves and wiping with Quilted Northern, I'm picking the Quilted Northern.

    Havelock on
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    CommunistCowCommunistCow Abstract Metal ThingyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    Oh you got us there. Civilization isn't perfect. A fantastic insight.

    So it clearly isn't a good thing for a large number of people.

    People living in 1st world countries even at the poorer end of the economic spectrum probably have a better lifestyle because they aren't worrying about starving or freezing during winter. Social safety net FTW (which could be better in the US)

    CommunistCow on
    No, I am not really communist. Yes, it is weird that I use this name.
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    CasedOutCasedOut Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    Oh you got us there. Civilization isn't perfect. A fantastic insight.

    So it clearly isn't a good thing for a large number of people.

    People living in 1st world countries even at the poorer end of the economic spectrum probably have a better lifestyle because they aren't worrying about starving or freezing during winter. Social safety net FTW (which could be better in the US)

    yes in the modern day, but look at civilization throughout history

    CasedOut on
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    GalahadGalahad Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I enjoyed watching this talk the other day, and I think its fairly appropriate here:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/jeremy_rifkin_on_the_empathic_civilization.html

    Summary: Civilization is the bees knees.

    Galahad on
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