Discussion in 'Community' started by Ghost, Aug 14, 2011.
How 'bout we just leave it at "thanks," mmmkay?
That's what comes to mind right now.
The Scientific Method emerges as a result of communication.
See, 'consciousness' and 'language' emerge from the same event. That event basically amounts to the ability to construct a narrative.
Narratives are factual claims strung together by a causal chain. Causation, as David Hume kindly points out, cannot be directly perceived. So all we have are data-points. And, once more referencing Hume, the is/ought gap makes it impossible for data-points to carry any moral weight. The invention of narrative also invents morality.
Moreover, thinking in narratives trains you to consider the 'meaning' and 'purpose' of everything. Thus, the 'god-shaped hole' (that is responsible for both religiosity and existential angst) is created from the event, as we begin to ask what the meaning and purpose of life is (hint: there isn't one).
Scientific Theories are narratives. Causation is inserted, despite the 'problem of causation.' This is not a weakness. This does not undermine Science - quite the opposite. But the ability to even entertain theories (in the colloquial sense) is all tied into the language/consciousness event.
It is precisely because we cannot directly perceive causation that we must always acknowledge that science is tentative. If we could directly perceive causation, we'd have knowledge of things-in-themselves (which Locke demonstrates is impossible).
That keeps being the best that I come up with.
I dig the idea of communication so far. May I take it a step further with "refined communication?" By that I mean written communication. The idea of inventing a series of written symbols to represent sounds is, I think, the greatest achievement.
I also think that Womens' beach volleyball was a pretty damn good idea too.
The invention of photography which led to many more advances, like the major motion picture. I mean, that's why we are all posting here is because of the Star Wars movies.
Keep things civil here. Next time there's attacks, it'll be an all-expenses paid vacation
I actually find that sort of a lame answer. We evolved a capacity of language. It's not like someone just "came up" with it. Thus, I'm not sure it makes sense to count that as an achievement any more than "opposable thumbs" or "a neocortex."
Yuthura, you should dial it down a notch. Everyone is welcome to post in my thread. You can argue her answer, I was expecting people to argue over each other's answers in this thread, but please do it with a more constructive and respectful attitude. Thanks.
Photography is certainly significant, but I'd put the invention of the CCD chip as 'more significant' (though the invention 'stands on the shoulders of giants' w/r/t photography). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_E._Smith
George Smith invented the CCD, which is the chip used to capture light and construct a digital image. The Hubble Telescope is a CCD camera, as are all digital cameras (from endoscopy cameras to cameras on cell phones). The Camera Phone (along with texting capabilities) is the central tool of the present round of revolutions, and arguably their invention and adoption within Africa is the central event that sparked these revolutions.
We evolved the capacity for language, and all subsequent inventions were predicated upon that evolution. In that sense, all inventions are evolutions.
Other suggestions I'd endorse:
The Printing Press
The Washing Machine (seriously, think about the significance of this one in terms of leisure time, health, feminism, etc)
Paper (written word was huge, but prior to paper it was all either written in stone - which is incredibly expensive - or in dirt - which is incredibly transient)
The Socratic Method (precursor to both The Scientific Method AND Internet Trolling!)
Here's another -
Recognize Slavery as abhorrent.
(seriously, this one happened /since/ the bible was written)
My vote goes to harnessing electricity.
Nearly everything we do nowadays involves using electricity and electronics. At one time we lived & operated without it, but now that's virtually impossible. Sure, we could live without it if we were forced to, but I think most would agree that the loss of electrical power would drastically hinder human progress. The use of electricity has touched every corner of our lives. So it's going to be something that we will always need, at least well into the future. The only question will be how it's generated.
So the birth of language and the birth of consciousness were the same event. That's another lecture. But it's the starting point of this one too.
Life was nasty, bruthish, and short. These singing monkeys quickly discovered that they were better capable of surviving when they work together. Families, clans, villages worked together. But there's no rule-book for HOW to work together. Different societies took different approaches. And they could only employ approaches that the technology of the time could sustain.
There were feudal lords. There were hillsmen. There were nomads. There were isolated families in resource-rich woods.
These structures, distributed over large distances, produced very diverse languages. In some cases, language may have been re-invented from scratch. See my lecture on the birth of language to understand how it is that a new language can be invented from scratch. Boiled down to the point, it's becuase humans that live in social environments are prone to become conscious, and living in (and thus creating) a social environment is an advantageous adaptation.
And there was some degree of trade. People from nearby villages would visit eachother, exchange stories, trade goods. There were some rifts, lines along which little information crosses. Some were due to natural geographical features (giant ****ing impassible mountains sitting between two villages). Some were due to grudges. Some were merely language barriers. Of course, a language barrier absent a grudge falls fast.
A lot of grudges still persist today. Some are driven by the fundamental structure of the social environment we have unwittingly constructed.
There were brilliant people in these times. They didn't have the advantages we have - there were no giants for them to stand on the shoulders of.
Ended that one with a proposition. Deal with it.
And these people didn't have much for entertainment. There was no television. No radio. No books. They ingested almost no media - just propaganda from the church, and propaganda from the state.
Don't get me wrong, they found plenty of ways to entertain themselves. And they didn't have much free time to speak of.
But there's only so much you can do at night. Sure, they had to sleep, but they were all intimately familiar with the night's sky.
And they noticed that almost all the points of light in the sky are fixed, relative to eachother. They played 'connect the dots' with the stars, and invented narratives to explain the shapes. Sometimes they shoe-horned existing narratives into the stars.
But there were seven celestial objects that moved, relative to the fixed background of stars. The Sun, the Moon, Venus, Mercury, Saturn and Jupitor.
And they invented the idea of the 'week', which they defined as seven days. They named the days after the seven 'classical planets' ('planet' comes from the word 'wanderer'). Sunday. Moonday. Martes (spanish; derived from Mars). Mercredi (french; derived from Mercury). Veneris (latin; derived from Venus).
Okay, it kinda falls apart there. I mean, 'Thursday' is named afterThor. And Wednesday is closer to Venus than Mercury. Language changes over time, so the origin is a bit occluded. But enough of the pattern remains that we can make out the origin. 7 days in the week. 7 classical planets. The names of the week in many languages match more than a few of the classical planets.
They were already using the stars to decide when to plant and when to harvest. They'd predict the full moon, and prepare for it - see, that's a time when they can continue to harvest long into the night. So they'd predict the full moon closest to harvest (without going over - Price is Right rules apply). And they'd look to the constellations to decide when to plant. They identified 12 dominant constellations. They figured the moon waxes and wanes about twelve times a year. And they could have 4 weeks (of seven days each, thanks to the seven Classical Planets) per month, 12 months a year, and better plan their agriculture.
So now we have:
*Communication/Language (Kawphy, Darth_Yuthura)
*Plant/Animal Domestication (Jabbadabbado)
*Science (Darth_Yuthura, shanerjedi)
*The Internet (Darth Geist)
*The United Nations (SithLord_Darth_Vader)
*Defeat of the Axis Powers in WWII (MasterDillon)
*Creation of the United States (MasterDillon)
*Survival since Nuclear Weapons (firesaber, Gonk)
*Religion/Christianity (Obi-Zahn Kenobi)
*The Washing Machine (Kawphy)
*Recognize Slavery as abhorrent (Kawphy)
*Harnessing Electricity (darthdrago)
What do people think about the pro's/con's of each being "the best thing that humans have ever done"? Most people provided an argument for their case. I'll go through this list myself later, along with any new ideas that people come up with.
Maybe there are some that could be combined too? For example: Photography, Writing and the Internet are all basically forms of communication.
I'm a little surprised there aren't more specific, historical events/achievements on the list.
I continue to object that language is invalid. This was an evolved capacity, and even given humans in isolation, they will develop it, so long as they have normal hearing and functional vocal cords. While it's fair to credit particular applications of innate abilities (ie using one's physique to become a good athlete) it is completely outrageous to credit the ability itself. Humans quite literally had no participation in this, conscious or otherwise. It's not an accomplishment of ours.
Are you talking about the way in which we can relate basic thoughts and ideas through verbal cues? Or the capacity to stir, motivate, undermine, or otherwise alter human history through use of that tool?
Landing on the surface of the Moon. To actually be able to leave Earth and land on another world is a monumental achievement. It's one of the few things that humanity can say is one of its unique achievements. Plus, if we're going to survive as a species it's something we need to invest into more.
A) Does it matter?
B) Are they even different?
Abstract thought has always been a motivator for incredible feats of human endurance, creativity, and triumph. When we share those ideas with one another, we have the ability to inspire greatness. But while our use of language has become more complex over time, there has never been some sort of point in the development of rhetoric that represented a huge and fundamental breakthrough. Instead, people's ability to talk about things seemed (and seems) primarily limited by what they chose to think about. When new thoughts come, ways have typically been found to express them.
This is what I thought of.
I'm going with harnessing electricity--many of the other examples are processes of evolution, like communication/language, which other animals have to a degree, or agriculture, which could be seen to have came about as a symbiotic environmental relationship.
Harnessing electricity, or genetic engineering, or rocket propulsion were intentional discoveries and inventions that happened in a historical heartbeat, relatively speaking. They required characteristics crucial to the concept of humanity, individualism and curiosity, that actually go against evolutionary purposes.
But there IS electricity in the natural world.
Yes, but that doesn't mean we could do anything useful with it.
Like you can't use lightning to power your iPhone.