Monday, February 17, 2014

Alright! In the part-2 of this series, we had a little fun glorifying the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and how like no other generation of homo sapiens, they managed the so-called "model life" for an individual in the sense that they

  1. were healthier
  2. were more knowledgeable and smarter
  1. were more skillful
  1. worked less
  2. had more free time for friends and family
  1. lived in sync with nature.

On an individual level, hunter-gatherer life may be viewed as a point in history where (statistically) people's personal fulfillment was at a maximum ("the model life") as long as you melodramatically stop counting your own death as your "personal tragedy" (wink, wink). But let's not go overboard with this lifestyle. Stone age life sucked in many ways because there were too many dumb tragedies everyday that led to heartbreaks. For example, breaking a leg in an accident could have turned out into a death sentence and simple things like common cold would have wiped out an entire family. Plus let's not forget politics among people in closely-knit bands. If powerful people didn't like you, they could make your life hell forever. The reason they had to stay healthy, sharp and in control was that everything in their environment was rigged against them.  Nature was handing their ass on a platter everyday of their lives. But it made the stone age person tough - at least the ones who made it.

However, on a species' level, this whole hunter-gatherer enterprise wasn't working out at all. This is a bad lifestyle - too much uncertainty, too much instability and we got an unmotivated bunch with a happy-go-lucky, I-take-life-as-it-comes attitude. The real intelligence within us is the evolutionary intelligence, the DNA intelligence. Now, DNA intelligence is all about one thing and only one thing - making copies. By this standard, 10000s of years of stone-age is a disappointment. So what people were healthy or had free time for family, on paper they showed no progress. For the entire stone age, the population of homo sapiens roughly stayed constant: about 3-5 million. The DNA is not impressed. It needs more of us. You see, the species and the DNA, what they care about is to make 7 billion copies not 7 billion "happy" copies.

No life-form can escape this overriding species-level evolutionary guidelines and best practices. May be, a departure from the stone-age was inevitable. Somewhere along the line, attempting to find a stable source of food and safe reproductive environment, some stone age genius [1] came up with the idea of agriculture. Soon, agriculture turned out to be a massive evolutionary innovation. Suddenly, agricultural societies with a stable supply of food were able to support larger groups of people. Larger communities meant better organizing and more power over neighboring territories and soon, the other hunter-gatherers were also forced to adopt to agriculture themselves just to protect their bands. Gradually, the whole humanity was ushered into an agricultural age. The dark lord a.k.a. the species is happy looking at the rising numbers. The same mechanics of change plays out every time we enter a new age like all of us were forced to adopt industrialization because industrialized countries simply held more power, started calling shots and the rest of us had to resort to that lifestyle to protect ourselves even though it meant letting go of all the sweet things about agricultural society.

The agriculture society did solve some of the stone age problems but since it's not a fix that emerged from a B-school, it wasn't exactly a win-win. Agricultural communities settled in one place made them more vulnerable to natural disasters. Not just that, as numbers in the community kept growing, so did the chance of spreading of infectious diseases. Moreover, we were forced to adopt to a very unbalanced diet. Stone age foragers ate all kinds of things they could find in the jungle - some days it was for mushrooms + fruits for breakfast, snails + frogs for lunch and an occasional steak for dinner if your friend had a lucky day at hunting and so on. That ensured a rich diet of vitamins, minerals, protein for the day. In the agricultural economy, the kings might have had a richer diet but most of the people who were peasants predominantly depended on a single source of food - like wheat, rice or potatoes which is very undernourished diet. That was the trade-off. More and more people moved away from the "model life", but the few people who still had the "model life" were able to achieve more magnificent things with art, architecture, religion, science and technology.

This became a pattern through the agriculture, industrial, the oil age and today, the so-called "knowledge economy" of how concentration of wealth, power and the "model life" was increasingly restricted to fewer and fewer percentage of individuals and civilizations but on a species level, humans were a phenomenal evolutionary success in terms of population-growth and power to influence our environment. Reading the history through the stories of the affluent members (or top 1% as they are now being called) would be like looking at your friend's facebook profile, looking at all those "facebook-worthy" moments uploaded and thinking her life is forever perfect with successful job interviews, birthday parties, shopping sprees and exotic vacations. I am not against looking at positive things in life but in the interest of facts,  let us not miss the larger point in our story of humanity. If you track the story of the average person instead of the affluent through our history, his story, in all likelihood, only got worse and worse. In this sense, the real "affluent society" in terms of how the western countries like to fondly describe themselves may have once belonged long before to our stone-age brothers and sisters.

The way I look at it. Every age  in history is a very complex society that had their own s**t to deal with and cannot be put in away into buckets as "perfect" or "problematic". And if that's the case, why not pick the one we are in right now ? To be fair, we have made impressive developments across the world in addition to all the science and technology revolutions. Something that is long due, the situation of women is vastly improving across the world. Laws are being passed to curb the threat of nuclear war, promote labor laws, proper treatment of animals, preservation of ecosystems and so on. Let me end on a poetic note. Honestly, I think we are in a very exciting period in human history. We are entering the age of planetary consciousness. Dr. Harari's main thesis in his "Brief History of Humankind" was that if there was any pattern in hundreds of thousands of years in human history, it is the story of humanity gradually coming together and unifying as one species on a planetary scale. We started out a small band of homo sapiens  in East Africa and we migrated for survival, formed farming communities, kingdoms, empires, colonies, countries and nowadays, the speed of change is so fast that a single theme or culture is hard to emerge and everyone's talking about how the concept of civilization as we know it is crumbling down. Perhaps as a sign of coming full circle, we are all getting together again as a single band of this global village collaborating in various economic, cultural, scientific ways to solve our common planet-level problems like climate change, sustainable business and manufacturing practices etc.

Not just history, the most exciting developments in every major vocation: economics, climate sciences, philosophy, architecture, ecological studies, environmental studies have become truly global in nature. And that includes social movements and charitable causes too. As soon as the news breaks out, people immediately come forward to help flood victims of Bangladesh or earthquake victims in Haiti. Activists like Noam Chomsky or Vandana Shiva are global celebrities for leading the efforts against unsustainable politics or business practices. Let me quote Dr. Harari here:

In the 19th and 20th century, the main division of the world was a division into nations, different nations. What was really important was if you are Chinese or you are Japanese or you are American or you are Swedish. But today, increasingly the main divisions of the world are horizontal. Into castes, or classes.

And then, there you can see that somebody who belongs to the global caste in New York, is much closer in its, in his or her way of life in interests and outlook to somebody who belongs to the global caste in Delhi. Or in Singapore, than to somebody in a, a poor neighborhood in the same city in New York. So, this is the, the new empire that is emerging, is emerging along with a new ruling class. And many people today in the world, the main question which bothers them, is whether they belong to this caste or not?

And whether they're interests, their loyalty should be given to the global caste, and the global empire, or to their own country and nation? More and more, people, professors in the university, lawyers, engineers, managers of all kinds of corporations. They ask themselves, do I owe my chief loyalty to the particular state and nation in which I was born and in which I live now? Or, does my chief loyalty belong to this global caste and empire and to their interests and values and norms? And more and more people choose the empire. More and more people feel that their chief loyalty is to the, global community. Of knowledge, the global community of values, the global community of interest. Interest again, like stopping global warming, or spreading human rights around the world.

This is the part that gives me goose-bumps as it reminds me of वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् (vasudhaiva kuṭumbakam). Seriously, I wouldn't want to be in any time else in the past. I want to see if we make the choices that do indeed bring us back closer and closer to the "model life" of hunter-gatherers in terms of general well-being and our relationship with nature or continue the trend of distancing ourselves from our ecosystem more and more and bring upon our own extinction. I wanna know the ending to this movie. Don't you? 

… and now I am thinking how probably everyone across history thought the same thing - how they were living in "a truly exciting time" and how they are better than the preceding generations. Suckers all of us.


[1] Clifford D. Conner's "A People's History of Science: Miners, Midwives, and Low Mechanicks" argues that it could have been women who were primarily responsible for invention of agriculture.  


Huge thanks to Dr. Yuval Noah Harari and his "A Brief History of Humankind" course for changing the way I look at many things. Also, if something I have written sounds stupid, I assume full responsibility for it.


smanu said...

As is evident from Part II and Part III, there are always both sides to a problem and the solution. But what I'm quite not happy(personally ofcourse) about both the posts is that we are seeing development or evolution only in terms of how much humanity has advanced. The points on nature come up sparsely...Its not about optimal journey of human beings vis-a-vis nature.

I agree humanity is at a very impressive stage today as u express it here: "To be fair, we have made wonderful progress across the world..." But, I have a point to add to here. If this impressive is at the cost of looting somebody be it nature or even one set of fellow humans and if there is something that is certainly flawed, it needs to be corrected, before me make that big leap into the Cosciousness/Planetary age being discussed here.

If u have time for this, can you go through this post of mine:
where we are talking about the development of human beings in tandem with "concern" for nature and then come up with a Part IV? If you think it is worth a perspective/discussion, that is!

Twilight Musings said...

I am not entirely sold due to the following inherent assumptions I see:
1. There was no global society before this age. (Akbar sent some gifts to Elizabeth I and king of Siam sent some to British Emperor, Silk road and admixtures -- look here )

1a. Corollary - single global expansion of modern humans out of Africa (Neandrathel (European) and Devonasian (SE Asian) admixtures are still present in some).

2. Save ecology of Earth. (On truly global planetary time scale, Earth will get into equilibrium by itself. For all our efforts, a single supernova in galactical neighbourhood could lay waste of every carbon-based life-form, let alone one more medium-comet impact. Even on modern human time scale, extinction of large mammals from American continent, Easter Island - nobody was "one with nature" anyway)

3. This is the first time a global exchange is underway with exciting developments in all fields. (What if we lost some due to warming after last glacial ice age? If we lose all satellite functioning due to solar winds -- no internet or airplanes--, how long can we remain a global society? Basically, global society is so fragile, we might have had it and lost it several times.)

We don't know what we don't know about some of these things other than to feel happy that we are doing great within "recorded" history. There are some things between 10k BC to around 1K BC that point to different things (pyramids, undersea structures, recorded astronomical events) which leaves me agnostic about all this rah-rah.

Sash! said...

@smanu: may be the leap into planetary age will "correct" it somewhat ... but on a personal level, i am not very much hopeful because evolutionary forces are not very nice process and are often brutal and unsparing ... but, the thing about us humans is that we can partially convince ourselves and can stop doing something because "it's immoral", animals don't have that kind of wiring ... so, that makes us a very interesting player ... so let's see :)

@ twilight: ok ...

#1: i am not arguing that we are the first global age but rather than our age is the culmination of a centuries-long effort to be a global society ... and that we can revel in that for a little while ... even if akbar sent gifts to elizabeth (or "lisa" as i fondly call her :P), akbar never thought he was a global dude ... his identity was still a mughal king ... today, we actually have a rising class of people whose identity is solely their profession and not related to a lat-long any more than for family, legal and passport requirements. From investment bankers to GMO activists like vandana shiva, the whole world is of concern to them ... this recognition of a planet-level issues is, I think, and connection of the individual to the planet is the first and to me, incredibly fascinating ...

#2 is not an assumption at all in the first place. perhaps, what is an assumption is that "trying to coexist sustainably along with rest of the animals and plants is a decent idea". I don't think we are capable of saving anything ... :)

#3: as long as we can be a global society, lets revel in that for now ... so what, if solar flares block our cell phones for ever and we are stuck on our little islands again ...

as you say, this could all very well be in cycles of global connectivity and break up ... we keep tearing down those walls and come back up and so on ... that's even more a cool plot :)

but hey, in far-off abstraction, one can argue that all this is very human-centric and who gives a damn about humans from the point of view of the universe ... well, i agree and i can't fight that argument :)

smanu said...

@Sash: "..animals don't have that kind of wiring.." I guess that is what differentiates humans from animals - that "sense" of discretion, I call it the C-Sense. If evolution has evolved in such a fashion that it gave a certain place for humans, why must humans de-evolve or collapse to the level of animals? Are we evolving higher or collapsing back to a past state?

But I still don't know if animals have that kind of wiring, you know! Let's just think abt rape. Maybe promiscuity is equal in male and female species in animals, because they are wired that way, but I doubt if a male animal would rape a female animal in a sense that certain male bastards are now doing in the society. I doubt if female/male animal species are so vociferous that they exhibit and rub off their prowess onto the other gender forcibly. I think "Man" is the only animal that has been gifted with some discretion YET wants to abuse without as much as thought abt the female without her consent (and perhaps vice-versa too in many different kind of scenarios). I rest my case here.

smanu said...

And anyway I forgot to make a point explicit, it is the female species which is (genetically or physically, I don't know how exaclty) supposed to be more powerful across many animal species all through out the evolution...Infact that's how nature started off they say...

And if I talk in terms of mysticism, Shiva - the male aspect of the Universe is nothing but the eternal nothingness, the absence of Shakti.

Twilight Musings said...

I don't know if we are first ones to think of "global society".
There is "ummah" of muslim brotherhood that spans the whole world and so are Catholics with their whole identity based on Pope and not necessarily some location, and then there were Mongols and Genghis Khan. They were certainly not bound to some nation/land/territory other than "feeling" that they own the world. (It is kind of ironic that Akbar was the first dude who wanted to have his identity tied to subcontinent, just as Lisa (as you call her) was the first dudette to make English realize their identity as one nation instead of Normans or Saxons or Catholics or Protestants).

So, again, I don't know if we should be the first ones to think that "professional class" and global castes are somehow better than global religious castes. Christian missionaries acted just as concerned irrespective of their origin (Mother Teresa?). Their concern was also on planetary scale and were willing to go anywhere for that.

I am not going to pass any judgement about how successful/good was any of these global movements. Or somehow the current global movement was different than previous global movements (on paper) just because it is based on a different ideology and skill-set.

smanu said...

@Sash: "..i am not very much hopeful because evolutionary forces are not very nice process and are often brutal and unsparing..." If they were so brutal and unsparing, I guess man would become "easily" extinct whenever the evil rises. I guess it is due to their discretion and benevolence that we continue our life here...

I was actually waiting for your Part IV to come up, I am still... :)

Rohan said...

I agree with the concept of the emergence of a global citizen and it has a lot to do with the advancement of technology. It literally made the concept of a global village come true. This is seen during times of calamities where the global citizen comes together to help out the affected.
While at the same time a counter-culture is also arising. A global citizenship based on religion which considerably reduces one's field of vision. A narrow mindedness in thoughts. An incident happens in corner of the world and a response occurs in another corner.
A truly global citizen should be open to the differences among the various communities and the communities should consider themselves part of humanity as a whole. Then the planetary age will prosper. .

Sash! said...

@ twilight: i don't care if we are the first ones in thinking of global society or global castes ... and i certainly don't think global caste is somehow better than global religion ... also, enabling more economic activity due to more connected global caste is bad news for fresh air spaces, the frogs, the honey bees and humans all alike ... so ... :)

it's just seems to me like things have reached a certain critical mass and we might be past the point of no return with respect to these trends ...

besides,why do people care so much about being the first one to do something ... history shows that the one who gets there on the 3rd iteration is the winner ... kidding :P

@ smanu: there is no 4th part ... i don't know what else to write quite honestly ... and besides, too much optimism and positive thinking distorts reality ... :)

@ rohan: well said ... the religions need to update themselves if they want to stay relevant, people need it badly but its sorrowful that they insist on taking us back to past solutions which worked for a certain age and economy. The planetary age thrives on diversity and symbiotic relationships which necessitates ideologies of cultural tolerance and collaboration ... anyway, lets see ... how we deal with it ... :)

smanu said...

Thanks @Sash for all the three parts you wrote. I'd expect to see Part IV in reality, how things manifest, based on this understanding of the current context, in the days to come...

Sash! said...

@smanu: as a person who works in understanding risk and probability, I am fundamentally opposed to "prediction" ... so :)

smanu said...

"Prediction"? No! I didn't mean prediction initially! I meant all the three posts were more human centric in describing the journey of evolution. So I gave the link to my post which was perhaps more nature-centric. So I thought if you could come up with Part IV that can be "unbiased" from either sides, I thought that would be really great.

Since you said there is no 4th part, I said all that is left for me, is to see the "reality"! :)

Trinh Phương said...

dấu hiệu mọc răng của béNhiều trường hợp, bé sốt là do mắc chứng bệnh truyền nhiễm: bé sốt liên tục, ít hoặc hầu như không kèm theo các dấu hiệu mọc răng. cách trị trẻ sơ sinh bị táo bónĐồ uống mát có thể làm dịu những em bé quấy khóc trong thời gian mọc răng. Với trẻ trên 6 tháng tuổi, sự lựa chọn tốt nhất là nước. Một số bà mẹ thường cho bé uống nước ép trái cây pha với nước. trẻ con ra nhiều mồ hôi trộmCho trẻ ăn đủ chất như bột, đạm, béo và vitamin, khoáng chất, bổ sung nước, nên ăn những thực phẩm có tính mát như các loại rau xanh, hoa quả, hạn chế các thức ăn cay nóng (dễ làm cơ thể tiết nhiều mồ hôi, nổi mụn, mẩn ngứa). bé ra nhiều mồ hôi- Việc ra mồ hôi trộm lúc đêm ngủ, khi bú gặp rất nhiều ở trẻ em. Nguyên nhân của hiện tượng này không hẳn là do thiếu canxi (chỉ gặp ở một số cháu) mà là do rối loạn hệ thần kinh thực vật, cụ thể là biểu hiện của rối loạn hệ giao cảm, phó giao cảm hoặc cả hai. collagen maihada mua o dau sai gonDựa vào những lý do chính đáng nêu trên chắc hẳn rằng bạn đã hiểu vì sao chung ta nên bổ sung thuốc uống đẹp da hiệu quả collagen. sửa tắm dành cho nam axe Thực ra, có nhiều người vẫn đang nghi ngờ về tác dụng làm đẹp của collagen và luôn tự đặt ra cho mình những câu hỏi hoài nghi như: có nên uống bổ sung collagen? collagen nào tốt nhất? hay collagen có tác dụng gì? Đối với những người chưa bao giờ bổ collagen trắng da thì chắc chắn sẽ không cảm nhận được tác dụng của collagen với da là như thế nào. Do đó, cũng không thể nào tránh khỏi sự ngờ vực, cho nên để bạn tin tưởng và dễ dàng lựa chọn sản phẩm collagen tốt nhất chúng tôi xin giới thiệu đến bạn một số tác dụng của thực phẩm chức năng collagen đang được ưa chuộng trên thị trường hiện nay. cách rơ lưỡi cho trẻ-Dùng rau ngót: Rửa sạch rau ngót, đun sôi cùng nước muối loãng. xích linh chi hiệu mikei nhật bản Khi nước nguội, nghiền lá rau, chắt lấy nước. Dùng nước này rơ lưỡi cho trẻ đều đặn mỗi sáng, mỗi tối Bộ dầu gộ và xả chăm sóc tóc Kerasys .

Post a Comment

Go Ahead. Blurt it out ...


Copyright 2010 F L A W S O P H Y .