Skip to comments.The Story of Civiliation
Posted on 05/15/2012 4:08:34 PM PDT by GeronL
I am going to take a stab at describing how morality might have evolved. I am trying to aim this at atheistis and others so I tried to refrain from using any religious frame of reference. What separates us from the animals?
So try not to be offended.
In the beginning humans were just another animal. They were no different than any other beast of the forest. They had no deep thoughts, they had no higher skills than a wolf or an otter. They hunted for food, sometimes hunting each other, killing another of their own kind didn't mean anything. They ate whatever was at hand, they killed for food and grouped together and killed for security like wolves, they mated with whatever they could catch.
Somewhere along the line humans developed the ability to understand the idea of cause and effect, and from there they learned to predict. If they did this, then that would occur. Just a very basic version of it at first. If we did not kill or eat the baby it would grow up to be another hunter or another child bearer, this was useful knowledge.
They were able to predict that certain animals would have their own young at certain times of the year, that herds of animals migrated on certain routes and in certain seasons. The seasons themselves were predictable. They soon shared this information with future generations by painting them on the walls of caves.
Someday one or more of these primitive humans noticed that certain activities impacted the human condition in negative ways. They decided to pressure others not to do these 'bad' things. They realized that some behaviors were more productive than others and they began to pressure others to do these 'good' things.
They soon realized that human nature was still animalistic, the default setting was not good but bad, and all of their efforts to improve the human condition would have to come in opposition to this basic human nature. Today the religious might call this the sin nature. This sin nature inside all of us might be what we call the devil, or Satan.
If humans had never tried to fight this nature of the beast they would never have become civilized. We look back from today and we say that this dictator or that warlord was uncivilized, but go back farther and all humans were much less civilized. We see the Holocaust or the Killings Fields as uncivilized by our modern standards because of how far we have come in fighting our basic human nature.
Every step on the ladder of civilization has raised our expectations of the future. Might we someday truly conquer crime and poverty? Shouldn't we continue to try? Those are civilized thoughts, we want to make the human condition better than it is. Some of us.
Today, though, the forces of regression have become quite strong. They chisel at the very foundations of civilization, they tie dynamite around the planks that keep it above water. Certainly many of them are not intentionally trying to bring down civilization itself, they just want to give away to their own lusts or ideas and then they want it normalized for everyone. The result is the same thing, a return to primitive barbarism or even to animalism.
If one percent of the population is homosexual, that would not impact humankind to a great degree but when governments and powerful forces encourage it, normalize it and praise it, then it becomes a force against civilization. It is the same with child sex, crimes, idleness (welfare). When a tiny portion of humans are doing it, there is no real problem. When culture or government encourage these things they come to do a great deal of harm to civilization.
Just a stab at it. Call it a rough draft that was written as stream of consciousness.
You left out the important parts: the singing monolith, the invention of beer, discovery of iron, and the Conan vs the Lawyers paradigm.
Capitalism -- the free market -- is the best compromise. It allows the individual to earn to his maximum potential and his survival is measured by his value to the collective. So it takes the best of both worlds while discarding the worst.
“they mated with whatever they could catch”
Could be a little rough if they caught a sabre tooth tiger that day....
Most important. And you know it wasn't a liberal that invented it, because it's too much work for a liberal.
That is a good point.
I think this is how morality might have “evolved”. Those things that benefitted humankind were seen as ‘moral’ and those than hurt mankind were ‘immoral’.
As I said, our nature is immoral. Fighting that basic nature is what brings civilization. Civilized in moral terms. Civilization in technological/physical terms is exactly as how you described.
“that certain activities impacted the human condition in negative ways”
Here is the gap in your logic: the introduction of the notion of “the human condition.”
Why would the animal-man, under the analysis you describe, change his concern from being focused on his own survival and comfort to that of “the human condition” generally?
The answer is he wouldn’t.
Furthermore, there is an unstated and unjustified premise in your reference to “the human condition” and the “improvement” of the human condition, namely that there could be a common understanding of what “improving the human condition” means.
There isn’t. Nazis might believe it would “improve the human condition” to kill all the Jews.
Muslims might believe it would “improve the human condition” to kill all the infidels.
The same unstated and unexamined assumption is at work in your use of the term “civilization.”
Again, muslims might consider it a higher form of “civilization” if all the infidels were dead or slaves.
In point of fact, I would argue that your logic, by referencing ideas such as “improving the human condition” and “civilization” implicitly rests on the Judeo-Christian absolute (and not relative) claim that all human life has value because it was created in the image of God.
If one discards the Judeo-Christian idea that all human life has value, then from the point of view of one individual, “improving the human condition” and advancing “civilization” might mean wiping out all the other humans on earth except for that individual’s clan group, in order to have more of nature’s bounty to themselves.
Both Kant and Nietzche recognized that there can be no absolute claim to morality without the conception of God.
“Without revelation, the people perish” - Proverbs 29:18
I totally agree.
Like I said this is a rough draft, and totally incomplete.
Couldn't be worse than my second ex-wife.
Very good job, GeronL.
When anti-truth, anti-freedom, anti-life collectives infest any civilization from inside or outside, plunder and death result. Our task at hand as civilized people, is to identify these collectives and to rid them from the body politic and our lives.
I do not think that illegal plunder, such as theft or swindling which the penal code defines, anticipates, and punishes can be called socialism. It is not this kind of plunder that systematically threatens the foundations of society. - Frederic Bastiat 1801-1850
truth - freedom - life
live - free - republic
I should add in as well a reference to the environmental wackos of our day.
Some of them believe it would advance the human condition and be a higher form of civilization if we all went back to living in caves and foraging for our food, so as to reduce our “carbon footprint.”
“human condition” is out.
I get it.
Can you condense it a bit, todays readers have a short attention span, you know. Say maybe thirty words or less?
“...to reduce our carbon footprint.
It is no coincidence that “civilization” (farming, communities, etc.) happened soon after the last ice age.
In the early 400s A.D., Augustine of Hippo asked a scholar, Paulus Orosius, to summarize what historians of that day claimed, in order to argue against the pagans.
Orosius wrote: "Indeed, these historians with their very limited insight would have us believe that the origin of the world and the creation of man was without beginning... as if forsooth the human race had existed up to that time in the manner of beasts and then, as though shaken and aroused, it awoke for the first time to a wisdom previously unknown to it."
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