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Is Civilization Really a Good Thing?

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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    It's not as though a decent standard of living is some sort of global phenomenon even today. Infant mortality rates in favelas and other 3rd world slums are still atrociously high, I doubt much better than your average hunter-gatherer or semi-nomadic pastoral group. It's not like they have access to medical care or anything like that, either. And a huge chunk of the world population still lives like this. It is gradually getting better, at least as of right now, but it still an enormous problem.

    In fact, the only reason we're able to live as luxuriously as we do in our own societies is because of this situation, since those people are willing to work to make the goods we consume for very little money. So there is obviously a cost.

    Not to mention the destruction we've wreaked on the natural environment.

    Also, I should say that there are forms of societies between "hunting and gathering" and "civilization" (ie, states), which is often overlooked.

    Duffel on
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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana 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.

    Life before civilization was a bad thing for large numbers of people too. Pretty much everyone really.

    Quid on
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    Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Just to clarify, I'm talking about modern civilization, as of this year.

    Hexmage-PA on
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    emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Quid wrote: »
    Oh you got us there. Civilization isn't perfect. A fantastic insight.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgDF2xfcbv8

    emnmnme on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    It's not as though a decent standard of living is some sort of global phenomenon even today. Infant mortality rates in favelas and other 3rd world slums are still atrociously high, I doubt much better than your average hunter-gatherer or semi-nomadic pastoral group. It's not like they have access to medical care or anything like that, either. And a huge chunk of the world population still lives like this. It is gradually getting better, at least as of right now.

    In fact, the only reason we're able to live as luxuriously as we do in our own societies is because of this situation, since those people are willing to work to make the goods we consume for very little money. So there is obviously a cost.

    Not to mention the destruction we've wreaked on the natural environment.

    Also, I should say that there are forms of societies between "hunting and gathering" and "civilization" (ie, states), which is often overlooked.

    Alternatively, what we currently understand civilization to be may be a period of unknown length characterized by fast technological, economic, and population growth that will slow down and reach equilibrium at some indeterminate time in the future.

    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.

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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    In fact, the only reason we're able to live as luxuriously as we do in our own societies is because of this situation, since those people are willing to work to make the goods we consume for very little money. So there is obviously a cost.

    I disagree with this assessment. Our lifestyle isn't supported by these people, and it's highly questionable what would happen were we not involved. That America and others are unwilling to regulate the labor practices of their corporations is a problem, but if it all stopped tomorrow I think the standard of living in the west would probably go up: we'd break the idea of the yearly model replacement, and automation and quality would take over from quantity and manual labor.

    It currently doesn't, because people are still cheaper then machines.

    electricitylikesme on
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    CommunistCowCommunistCow Abstract Metal ThingyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.png

    We as a society may be unhappy while dealing with the top two parts of the pyramid while hunters and gatherers were dealing with the bottom 2-3.

    CommunistCow on
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    shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I'm a fan of medicine, so I'm going with "Yes".

    shryke on
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    japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Quid wrote: »
    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.

    Life before civilization was a bad thing for large numbers of people too. Pretty much everyone really.

    Not quite as large numbers in absolute terms, what with them living considerably shorter lives, dying more frequently, and the lack of food supplies capable of sustaining large numbers of people.

    japan on
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    LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Quid wrote: »
    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.

    Life before civilization was a bad thing for large numbers of people too. Pretty much everyone really.

    One primary difference is that in a nomadic, pre-agrarian, pre-civilization culture the folks who didn't thrive in that culture died off.

    In modern, agrarian, civilized culture it's possible to not thrive yet still live long enough to complain about how much society sucks.

    Plus, you know, have the language and communication methods to do so in a way that leaves a historical record.

    Lawndart on
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    CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    The hierarchy of needs is such bullshit.

    Couscous on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    In many respects I think Feral's observation that we might become nomadic again is accurate, just from a different perspective: eventually technology will break our dependence on centralization. That's the dream of nanotech: 3D printers and self-assembling/self-repairing structures, non-invasive automated medicine and the like. It's all focussed on ultimately making every human near self-sufficient, or capable of participating in society without needing geographical stability of population density.

    Between the ability to fabricate anything from local, simple elements, havest energy from water or the sun, and communicate with the entire species from anywhere, a new nomadic lifestyle seems inevitable.

    electricitylikesme on
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    JepheryJephery Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Between the ability to fabricate anything from local, simple elements, havest energy from water or the sun, and communicate with the entire species from anywhere, a new nomadic lifestyle seems inevitable.

    So, Space Nomads. Awesome.

    Jephery on
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    FallingmanFallingman Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Couscous wrote: »
    The hierarchy of needs is such bullshit.

    I'm pretty sure it was created to refer to aristocratic noblemen. Maslow would be spinning to see how it's used these days.

    Fallingman on
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    edited September 2010
    In many respects I think Feral's observation that we might become nomadic again is accurate, just from a different perspective: eventually technology will break our dependence on centralization. That's the dream of nanotech: 3D printers and self-assembling/self-repairing structures, non-invasive automated medicine and the like. It's all focussed on ultimately making every human near self-sufficient, or capable of participating in society without needing geographical stability of population density.

    I largely agree.

    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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    LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    In many respects I think Feral's observation that we might become nomadic again is accurate, just from a different perspective: eventually technology will break our dependence on centralization. That's the dream of nanotech: 3D printers and self-assembling/self-repairing structures, non-invasive automated medicine and the like. It's all focussed on ultimately making every human near self-sufficient, or capable of participating in society without needing geographical stability of population density.

    Between the ability to fabricate anything from local, simple elements, havest energy from water or the sun, and communicate with the entire species from anywhere, a new nomadic lifestyle seems inevitable.

    Why would that encourage a nomadic lifestyle? None of those technological advances require or even really provide an incentive to forgo accumulating property and wander the Earth.

    If you mean such technology would allow voluntary nomads to still, if they wish, participate in and take advantage of the benefits of centralized culture and society, than that's probably true.

    Lawndart on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Irond Will wrote: »
    better hope you don't break an ankle, or be born with diabetes

    Yeah, because outcomes for people born with diabetes are great right now.

    I mean, yes, you can live longer than you could before modern medicine, but you're going to struggle with illness your entire life, which is a tradeoff, especially if we're talking about someone dying as an infant which is (to my mind) not significantly different from an abortion (my argument here is that when we talk about death being bad, we're basically invoking Theory of Mind, and arguably a 6 month old doesn't have many of the pre-requisites for conventional definitions of mind), and it's something that family members are capable of shrugging off.

    What I'm saying is that you're presenting a clear longevity bias -- not that longevity isn't something to be valued, but I don't think it ought to be an unquestioned value. Yes, we live longer. Ceteris paribus, that's a good thing probably, but it ain't fucking ceteris paribus.
    or, you know, have a bad winter, or get scratched by a wild animal

    Yes, some things were harder back then than now. Some things are harder now than then! Like, ah, being happy! Having friends, close-knit families, religion (which, say what you will, makes people happy), etc.
    it was impossible to really develop sciences or the arts or crafts or really any kind of non-hunting specialist without cities and agriculture.

    Er, they had arts. Evidence of art far predates agriculture. Also, we could get into the discussion of pre-broadcast art vs post -- i.e., even in civilization, pre-industrial though, you had tons of people involved at a local level in creating and performing art. Arguably, the broadcast era, while giving us 20,000 songs on our HDDs has also essentially removed any strong likelihood that the average person will ever seriously engage in artistic activities themselves. Which is more rewarding? I don't know, but I wouldn't be cut-and-dry about it.

    And yeah, science is pretty rad, but on the net I'm not sure it's made life any more enjoyable.
    and yeah there were some tradeoffs - disease and (arguably, possibly) the carbohydrate-centric diet were problems.

    Oh this is a cop-out. It goes deeper than that. See below:
    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.

    First of all, I don't know what you mean by "unsustainable," and we'll deal with "progress" in a second, but was it really brutal? By what criteria?

    For instance, many hunter-gatherer societies actually did relatively little work. The !Kung people (one of the few remaining h/g societies) work an average of 20 hours a week. This is actually something that persisted into peasant agriculture (in permitting climates/crops -- not in rice-farming, for instance).

    One of the other tradeoffs you don't mention is the social tradeoff. We have, at present, probably the loneliest, most depressed society that's ever been. Yes, we have modern medicine and abundant food (well, except for the homeless and the desperately poor, because we also have massive wealth inequality and all the attendant suffering of poverty, which in a real sense doesn't exist in h/g societies where status stratification is far more mild and limited by the inability to store wealth), but we also have very few friends, often live far from family, and spend most of our day at work with people we probably don't really know that well.

    Child-rearing is expensive and labor intensive, and lasts longer, than in h/g societies, where children are themselves productive, and child-rearing is usually a distributed effort.

    But, on the other hand, in many h/g societies, you had a pretty good chance of being killed by being bludgeoned to death, so there's that too (although civilization didn't do much to solve that problem until very recently).

    Also, the idea that the human race has progressed sort of hinges on how we evaluate it vs this (and other) lifestyles, no?

    I tend to think we've barely had any progress at all in human history. Generally it's a story of fucking up, and then when we un-fuck our mistakes, we say that we've achieved progress, as if in some linear fashion where we did not first experience a decline.

    Civil rights is a good example. How could that not be progress? Well, we didn't need it until people decided to found a country on slave labor, and then subsequently systematically discriminate against the descendants of those slaves. First, we fucked up, by creating the problem, and then we un-fucked it later (and frankly are still in the process of doing so). The problem did not simply exist irrespective of history, time, and location. It was not exogenous to "progress" and "civilization."

    The same goes for, say, the labor movement. We didn't need a labor movement until the industrial hell of the 19th century and agrarian peasants went from 20-hour workweeks, and 3 months off a year (in winter) to 80 hour workweeks in dangerous factories for no apparent benefit, as they were still poor and covered in poo. We fucked up, and then we un-fucked that mistake later (and, again, we still aren't back to the amount of leisure time people once had; this is a recurring theme -- the un-fucking is rarely total in nature).

    Also we get into questions of subjective vs objective well being. Look at healthcare. Columbia, by nearly any objective measure, is a much less healthy place than America. Infant morality, life expectancy, etc. Yet, when asked to rate themselves on a 10-point scale (for healthiness), Columbians on average rate themselves a 6, Americans a 3. So, I feel one has to question how much good our "superior" healthcare if we don't actually feel healthy?

    At the end of the day, I'm not a primitivist -- I think h/g lifestyle had all sorts of horrible drawbacks, most of all violence. But I think that we are not, in aggregate, probably much (if at all) happier, on a day-to-day basis, than they were/are. And frankly most cross-national studies of happiness seem to support the idea that absolute material prosperity and objective measures of well-being (e.g. life expectancy, GDP per capita, etc) have a very ragged at best correlation to subjective well-being.

    Fartacus on
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    emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Enkidu the Wild Man was pretty happy living with the beasts and running through fields until a woman gave him cooties. Then Gilgamesh had to drag his mopey ass to get anything done.

    emnmnme on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Again, you can have agriculture and other methods of food production (production, as opposed to procurement, ie hunting-gathering) without having the state-level societies we generally consider "civilizations".

    Civilization is a sliding scale. People don't just stop hunting-gathering and construct a city with a government and what have you.

    Duffel on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS 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)

    Yeah, both of those things you listed? Hundreds of thousands of Americans worry about those things.

    Fartacus on
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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Civilization is all good, but I prefer Age of Empires.

    Styrofoam Sammich on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Couscous wrote: »
    The hierarchy of needs is such bullshit.

    And it really only exists in pop-psychology at this point. No one in an academic setting really takes it seriously.

    Fartacus on
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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    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)

    Yeah, both of those things you listed? Hundreds of thousands of Americans worry about those things.

    So your complaint isn't that civilization is worse than a hunter gatherer society, just that its not civilizationy enough.

    Styrofoam Sammich on
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    TarranonTarranon Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Couscous wrote: »
    The hierarchy of needs is such bullshit.

    And it really only exists in pop-psychology at this point. No one in an academic setting really takes it seriously.

    It's still mentioned in survey courses, but usually with a ton of qualifications and mentions on its datedness

    Tarranon on
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    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    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)

    Yeah, both of those things you listed? Hundreds of thousands of Americans worry about those things.

    So your complaint isn't that civilization is worse than a hunter gatherer society, just that its not civilizationy enough.

    :lol:

    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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    TarranonTarranon 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.

    Did they really have more free time? I was under the impression that free time was a more modern invention, since back then everyone was pretty focused on trying to stay alive all the time

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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Tarranon wrote: »
    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.

    Did they really have more free time? I was under the impression that free time was a more modern invention, since back then everyone was pretty focused on trying to stay alive all the time

    From what I've read they indeed did. Hunting large animals and checking traps took significantly less time than farming, it just hit a peak in possible production much faster than farming.

    Styrofoam Sammich on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote:
    One of the other tradeoffs you don't mention is the social tradeoff. We have, at present, probably the loneliest, most depressed society that's ever been. Yes, we have modern medicine and abundant food (well, except for the homeless and the desperately poor, because we also have massive wealth inequality and all the attendant suffering of poverty, which in a real sense doesn't exist in h/g societies where status stratification is far more mild and limited by the inability to store wealth), but we also have very few friends, often live far from family, and spend most of our day at work with people we probably don't really know that well.

    I think this is the thing I hate the most about modern society. Yeah, it's relatively easy to acquire wealth and comfort unthought of even 150 years ago.

    You usually do it at the cost of moving 500 miles away from your home into some nameless 'burb and working with a bunch of anonymous strangers. Used to, a 1st cousin was a relatively close family relation, someone you probably thought of like a sibling. You had your aunts and uncles and your godparents and what have you. Now? A cousin is somebody you might see on holidays or at a family reunion. People have no deep connections or roots to the place they live or most of the people they know.

    I am also not a primitivist, but the society we've constructed took a lot of sacrifices, and frankly, some of them I'm not crazy about.

    Duffel on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010

    So your complaint isn't that civilization is worse than a hunter gatherer society, just that its not civilizationy enough.

    I know this was intended as snark, but this is actually probably my argument for preferring civilization. While I don't believe that, on average on a day-to-day basis, we're any happier than our h/g ancestors, I think the one redeeming thing about society is that we might potentially reach a point where we really start working out all the kinks.

    And, hell, maybe it's flat-out impossible. Maybe the evolved human capacity to acclimate to whatever lifestyle we're familiar with presents a real and absolute limit on how happy we can ever really be. Maybe not. We'll probably find out at some point!

    I figure that we probably can make things better in theory -- my evidence for this being that we are not all equally happy and satisfied with our lives. Some people, and (more significantly) some groups of people are happier than others. Civilization does offer the tantalizing possibility that we might someday figure out what the important variables are and construct a society that effectively tunes them to optimal levels, which the arbitrary nature of paleo life does not.

    edit: I'd also like to point out that I never did state in any of my posts that civilization is worse than h/g life.

    Fartacus on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Tarranon wrote: »
    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.

    Did they really have more free time? I was under the impression that free time was a more modern invention, since back then everyone was pretty focused on trying to stay alive all the time

    Nope. Most studies of h/g societies have revealed that they tended to work about half as much as we do, or less. However, this obviously varied by climate, geography, time of year, and so on.

    Fartacus on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Tarranon wrote: »
    Did they really have more free time? I was under the impression that free time was a more modern invention, since back then everyone was pretty focused on trying to stay alive all the time
    When all you're doing is getting enough materials to stay alive, warm and clothed, it doesn't always take all that long, hours-wise, to get it - provided it's there to get.

    The problem is when those resources tap out. Then you have to go somewhere else, and if that place doesn't have food or has other people that don't want to share it, then you have very serious problems.

    Duffel on
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    ArchArch Neat-o, mosquito! 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.

    bam

    Arch on
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    edited September 2010
    Subscribing to Duffel and Fartacus's newsletters here.

    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
    Fartacus wrote: »

    So your complaint isn't that civilization is worse than a hunter gatherer society, just that its not civilizationy enough.

    I know this was intended as snark, but this is actually probably my argument for preferring civilization. While I don't believe that, on average on a day-to-day basis, we're any happier than our h/g ancestors, I think the one redeeming thing about society is that we might potentially reach a point where we really start working out all the kinks.

    And, hell, maybe it's flat-out impossible. Maybe the evolved human capacity to acclimate to whatever lifestyle we're familiar with presents a real and absolute limit on how happy we can ever really be. Maybe not. We'll probably find out at some point!

    I figure that we probably can make things better in theory -- my evidence for this being that we are not all equally happy and satisfied with our lives. Some people, and (more significantly) some groups of people are happier than others. Civilization does offer the tantalizing possibility that we might someday figure out what the important variables are and construct a society that effectively tunes them to optimal levels, which the arbitrary nature of paleo life does not.

    edit: I'd also like to point out that I never did state in any of my posts that civilization is worse than h/g life.

    No snark was intended. I think you're making a value judgment that we don't have much evidence to base our decision on. If we look at objective measures, I'm not sure how we're worse off now. We live longer, starve less, die violently less and know more. We can wax poetic about "losing human connection" but that is hardly an objective measurement.

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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »

    I think this is the thing I hate the most about modern society. Yeah, it's relatively easy to acquire wealth and comfort unthought of even 150 years ago.

    You usually do it at the cost of moving 500 miles away from your home into some nameless 'burb and working with a bunch of anonymous strangers. Used to, a 1st cousin was a relatively close family relation, someone you probably thought of like a sibling. You had your aunts and uncles and your godparents and what have you. Now? A cousin is somebody you might see on holidays or at a family reunion. People have no deep connections or roots to the place they live or most of the people they know.

    I am also not a primitivist, but the society we've constructed took a lot of sacrifices, and frankly, some of them I'm not crazy about.

    Yeah, I think post-war society pretty much completely fucking broke domestic/interpersonal life as we know it. I think that's what spawned second-wave feminism, actually (home life went from being a socially-engaging, intellectually-demanding way of life to boring, sterile, and isolating -- although with the caveat of really only for the college-educated, suburban middle/upper-class white women who lived that lifestyle. Hence the relative (and continuing) lack of poor women and WoC in American feminism).

    What's problematic about this also is that public policy is completely not oriented to address this. The modern concept of policy and governance revolves solely around objective measures of well-being -- the idea that policy should target feelings is super alien to us, and as a result I doubt that we'll really get around to addressing these issues in any productive way for several decades.

    Fartacus on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    No snark was intended. I think you're making a value judgment that we don't have much evidence to base our decision on. If we look at objective measures, I'm not sure how we're worse off now. We live longer, starve less, die violently less and know more. We can wax poetic about "losing human connection" but that is hardly an objective measurement.

    It can be totally objective. The study I mentioned above about subjective feelings about health is an example of how you can be empirical about feelings.

    Also, we can objectively state that people have far fewer friends, smaller families that they spend less time with, more stress, more hours spent working, greater wealth inequality, and all manner of negative things that didn't exist back then.

    Fartacus on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    Subscribing to Duffel and Fartacus's newsletters here.

    Yeah, I think we're sort of on the same page on this one.

    Fartacus on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Yep, subscribing to Fartacus's newsletter so hard here.

    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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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Basically, I think the ideal situation is where civilization reaches a point where we start directly modifying our feelings through the liberal application of pharmaceuticals and otherwise brain-altering technology (the electrodes they put in Parkinson's patients heads are just the beginning, hopefully!). Basically, I tend to think that Brave New World is probably something to aspire to, and really the absolute best case scenario we can hope for.

    Fartacus on
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    jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Civil rights is a good example. How could that not be progress? Well, we didn't need it until people decided to found a country on slave labor, and then subsequently systematically discriminate against the descendants of those slaves. First, we fucked up, by creating the problem, and then we un-fucked it later (and frankly are still in the process of doing so). The problem did not simply exist irrespective of history, time, and location. It was not exogenous to "progress" and "civilization."

    Civil rights issues likely appeared the moment that people had to interact with other people that they hadn't known their whole lives, which was well before the formation of what we consider civilization. Tribalism has always been a part of human society. We merely started caring about it when our sense of morality became developed enough that we realized that we probably shouldn't go around committing genocide on other people. And after that, we realized that we probably shouldn't go around enslaving other people. And then, we realized that we shouldn't be institutionally discriminating against other people.

    Civil rights is something that was created almost entirely by civilization itself.

    jothki on
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