• Tzeentch
    3.5k
    Please elaborate! (Assuming you mean ‘the actual game-plan real politic’ of WC? And not the countless philosophies that have sprouted from within… and often opposed to… western civilization?)0 thru 9

    What I mean is that concepts of Yin and Yang presuppose some form of sophistication.

    It's hard to describe the behavior of apes through a concept like Yin and Yang (at least in the context of this discussion).

    One could try, though. Does ignorance belong with Yin or with Yang? I think it belongs with neither, hence my previous remark.

    Power here = ‘hard power’? Lawyers, guns and money? (so to speak. As opposed to the concept of ‘soft power’ which relies on influence. Cooperation and convincing, rather than coercion.)0 thru 9

    Yes, but also science, politics, (what goes for) western philosophy has no other purpose than to further the pursuit of power. So both soft power and hard power.

    Power for the sake of power, with no moral groundedness whatsoever. That's the axiom of what one might generalize as "western civilization". It's the language of Washington, of Brussels, of Davos and WEF, BlackRock, the central banks, etc.

    The West has turned into a giant Nietzschean jungle.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    Ok, I’ll bite lol… Just for fun… how is the philosophy of LOTR “reactionary”? (I take that term to mean ‘wishing to maintain a status quo or return to a previous condition’). Perhaps Tolkien’s depiction of a devolving world where nothing is what once was? (Ahh… the good old days! :halo: :sparkle: )0 thru 9

    Yes this yearning for the good old days sums it up pretty much. Tolkien was coming from a world wherein Britain was the dominant world power, a perceived Victorian golden age... all of that was rapidly changing with the onset of world war one. He was also a devout Catholic in a time where the the faith was waning more and more after the dead of God. I think his writings can be seen as a manifestation of his wishes to go back to a pre-modern time, to some kind of idyllic place of authentic living (countryside England) isolated from the rest of the world that was marching on to its doom (the Shire vs Mordor).

    Alas one cannot go back, but ultimately only move on, through, to something beyond.... to something new. In that sense his critique of the modern probably still stands, but his imagined solution may be of little consequence.
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k
    What I mean is that concepts of Yin and Yang presuppose some form of sophistication.

    It's hard to describe the behavior of apes through a concept like Yin and Yang (at least in the context of this discussion).

    One could try, though. Does ignorance belong with Yin or with Yang? I think it belongs with neither, hence my previous remark.
    Tzeentch

    I think I’m understanding your point. I could blather on, but I’ll let that noted Yin-Yang master Lao Tzu substitute in response because he blathers quite nicely.

    Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu - chapter 27 (translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)

    A good walker leaves no tracks;
    A good speaker makes no slips;
    A good reckoner needs no tally.
    A good door need no lock,
    Yet no one can open it.
    Good binding requires no knots, Yet no one can loosen it.

    Therefore the sage takes care of all men
    And abandons no one.
    He takes care of all things
    And abandons nothing.

    This is called "following the light."

    What is a good man?
    A teacher of a bad man.
    What is a bad man?
    A good man's charge.
    If the teacher is not respected,
    And the pupil not cared for,
    Confusion will arise, however clever one is.
    This is the crux of mystery.

    Yes, but also science, politics, (what goes for) western philosophy has no other purpose than to further the pursuit of power. So both soft power and hard power.Tzeentch

    I’d say there’s some dissenting writers in the West thankfully. The post-structuralists, existentialists, and marxists offer various criticism of elements in WC. One day the seeds of wisdom of all the insightful radicals may sprout for the benefit of all. They came not to praise or bury civilization, but to save it from its own strength. At least, this is the faint flickering hope of the weary.

    The West has turned into a giant Nietzschean jungle.Tzeentch
    The misunderstanding of Darwin and the dumbing down into ‘just win baby!’ and ‘the winner takes all’ is at the core of our mission and misery. It is our mission because we are trained from birth to dominate and conquer nature and each other. Misery because despite the glorious achievements, there is usually some dark shadow around every triumph, leaving a few clear helpful inventions amid the many hollow and toxic ‘victories’.
  • Tzeentch
    3.5k
    I really like Laozi's teachings. They never cease to instill virtue and a sense of moral duty in would-be leaders and people in general.

    Virtuous people won't support corrupt leaders. And virtuous leaders won't abuse their power. To a society, the virtue of its people is truly more precious than gold.

    Sadly, western society is way past that point on both fronts. And once that genie is out of the bottle who will take the power away from the corrupt, powerful elite?
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k
    Yes, I see and agree with your point. The situation overall has reached a point of gridlock/logjam, and stagnation. After that comes the rotting. Which might explain the horrid smell surrounding the dens of worldly power.
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k
    Alas one cannot go back, but ultimately only move on, through, to something beyond.... to something new. In that sense his critique of the modern probably still stands, but his imagined solution may be of little consequence.ChatteringMonkey

    Thanks for your reply! :up:

    My take on the LOTR and its possible implications for us… It seems to be that ‘thinking precedes doing’. Humans have many instinctual behaviors, but they are outnumbered by our many learned behaviors. Somehow, we as a civilization have come to a point where we allow and encourage treating the Earth like a limitless bank account. Take whatever resources that will make somebody some money. Because Progress! Progress! Progress! And thus teach this unconsciously to our children. (Hopefully climate change and other crises are making us rethink everything).

    We cannot go back, but we can look back. Hopefully, something critical is learned.

    The “sustainable golden rule”: Whatever we do to the Earth and to others, we do to ourselves.

    In our quest for a better life (whatever that may entail) we best remember that. Tolkien had the hero not grabbing the power, but throwing it away! Unheard of! Because that power was against that sustainable rule. It was power over the Earth and others, not power with them. Subjugation and domination was the Ring’s one absolute power. This is a game where the only winning move is not to play.

    To those who say “but there is no other way!”, I’d suggest that if no other way currently exists, then we must build it. For what the Ring represents in our actual reality is the ultimate addiction which gives a temporary high followed by complete destruction. So… throw that Ring into the fire! :fire:
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    My take on the LOTR and its possible implications for us… It seems to be that ‘thinking precedes doing’. Humans have many instinctual behaviors, but they are outnumbered by our many learned behaviors. Somehow, we as a civilization have come to a point where we allow and encourage treating the Earth like a limitless bank account. Take whatever resources that will make somebody some money. Because Progress! Progress! Progress! And thus teach this unconsciously to our children. (Hopefully climate change and other crises are making us rethink everything).0 thru 9

    Ok. I don't think pursuing progress is some whimsical arbitrary decision we made at some point, and we then consequently "somehow" came to this point. Progress is where circumstance took us as tribes came into competition in a gradually more densely populated world.... the ones that were more advanced were generally the ones that persisted.

    So what I think is missing in your story is why we came to teach these particular ideas to our children in the first place. I'd say because they made sense in their circumstances... it was progress or perish probably.

    Also, I don't think learned behaviour is a bug, but rather a feature of human beings. As eusocial language using mammals, we need a process of acculturation to unlock our full potential. That's why we have an atypical long period until full adulthood, because our instincts are underdetermined and insufficient by themselves to function.

    In our quest for a better life (whatever that may entail) we best remember that. Tolkien had the hero not grabbing the power, but throwing it away! Unheard of! Because that power was against that sustainable rule. It was power over the Earth and others, not power with them. Subjugation and domination was the Ring’s one absolute power. This is a game where the only winning move is not to play.

    To those who say “but there is no other way!”, I’d suggest that if no other way currently exists, then we must build it. For what the Ring represents in our actual reality is the ultimate addiction which gives a temporary high followed by complete destruction. So… throw that Ring into the fire! :fire:
    0 thru 9

    Yes the hero is Christ, turning the other cheek... surrendering power and therefor also life. We did try that for a while, in the West - as the only civilization on earth mind you - we had this inversion of values at the centre of our civilization.... and then we proceeded and conquered the world. So much for renouncing power!

    It doesn't work because this is against the instincts... even if we are taught to think that, we cannot help but do otherwise regardless. So I wouldn't put my hopes on people throwing away power en masse. We already had Christianity for a couple of millennia and we are where we are anyway... Maybe we should try something else lest hitting ourselves on the same stone becomes fatal.
  • Tzeentch
    3.5k
    The Lord of the Rings is quite relevant to mankind's predicament.

    Virtually everything mankind does revolves around power, or illusions thereof. Technological advances, economic planning, social engineering, politics, and obviously things like war and conflict.

    A lot of this is directly motivated by a drive for power, or indirectly through a prisoner's dilemma: "If I don't do it, the other guy will and surpass me in power (and subsequently oppress me)."


    Thus, everyone is forced into this wheel of abuse and exploitation.


    As long as there is even a single person who desires power or security at the expense of others, that wheel will keep turning.

    There are many who believe they can stop the wheel from turning through the same methods by which it turns. This is perhaps one of the most dangerous illusions of all. "Peace" through control - the central fallacy of states. Fighting fire with fire only finds 'success' after the entire house has burned down.


    For the individual, the only way out of this wheel is by relinqusihing their desire for power (ego), and their desire for security (life).

    Only if one acknowledges there are things more important than one's ego and one's life, will they be able to pursue a genuine goal of peace and coexistence. Without that, it's simply impossible. Without that, one will fall prey to delusions born of one's contradictory beliefs; the crusaders, "do-gooders", ideologues, etc.

    This is a typical dynamic. Because, as a lingering effect of religion, man is still aware that their desire for power is inherently undesirable and the cause of most, if not all, of man's trouble. So it hides in the subconscious under a facade of good intentions, where it's arguably even more malicious because of its hidden nature.


    It's no coincidence that Frodo is a Hobbit. Hobbits are content with a simple life (suggesting a lack of ego), and have no aptitude nor desire for violence (suggesting a lack of convulsively clinging to life).
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    My last reply maybe makes it sound like I disagree a lot more than I actually do.

    I know this narrative that claims the real issue is that Western culture is to much out to control or out to dominate nature, whereas ideally we should look more to be a part of and live in harmony with nature (like indigenous people used to do for instance).

    All of this is somewhere tied to the notion that we as human beings hold a special place in the world and are not really part of nature (Ironically this setting humanity apart from nature is also part of the Christian tradition, but that's maybe besides the point here).

    I think all of this is true to some extend. What I would say, and the point I want to make, is that this is only part of the story that focuses solely on the cultural aspects as if these are the prime cause.... and consequently, if we want to solve our problems we should aim to change this culture. This is what I object to. I claim that it's not the culture that needs to change in the first place, but the incentives, the circumstances... and then culture would follow along.

    To make this a bit more tangible an example can help maybe. Take for instance the large scale mono-culture farmer vs the regenerative farmer. The latter is what we should do to improve our soils, preserve bio-diversity, procedure healthier food and sequester CO2 at the same time. At this point we kind of know this, or at least anyone who wants to know it, knows it. Yet very few go that route. At the end of the day, I don't think the main driver for this kind of behavior are our cultural values, but rather the fact that it just makes more sense in our current context to do large scale mono-culture. Because oil and gas, energy in general, has been dirt cheap for a couple of centuries, we can afford to fuel big machines to work large swats of land, we can afford to procedure in large quantities and drive food-surplus around all over the world and we can afford to use huge amounts of fertilizer made from natural gas etc etc...

    What would tip the scales in favour of regenerative agriculture is energy prices going up, that is material conditions changing, not merely a cultural change.
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k

    :smile: Thanks very much for your thoughtful replies, they’re much appreciated!
    Without any replies, this discussion becomes just me talking to myself lol.

    Speaking of which, I have a running debate in my head.
    One side is deeply pessimistic.
    Not about life or existence, but about the tenets and foundations of our civilization.
    Almost a desire to start civilization over, while keeping knowledge gained through history.
    (This is just a fantasy, of course. But it reflects the state of mind).

    The other side of my mental debate is more moderate, tweaking or adjusting this or that aspect of our culture in my mind to make things better.
    Am I correct to say that you’re closer to this moderate viewpoint, rather than the radical one?
    (Sorry, only two polar choices. Vanilla or chocolate lol).

    If so, please convince me that this once glorious looking civilization is not rotting at the roots, and has been hollowed out by greedy termites who manipulate global markets.
    (Obviously, there are many individual parts of our culture which are good, and still work).
    Your comments so far are a good and well-reasoned start.
    But unfortunately I (though not suffering from depression anymore) remain leaning towards the deeply pessimistic and skeptical.

    So please help me, @ChatteringMonkey (and anyone else)… convince me not to go radical!
    (Non-violent radical, of course :flower: ).
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k


    No, I think you should go radical ;-), but not in the typical way perhaps.

    I don't think little tweaks will do it. Climate change, bio-diversity loss and related issues will not be solved with little tweaks to the system. Our entire global economy is set up around cheap fossil fuels. Swapping those out for processes that wouldn't have this negative impact, essentially means re-inventing the whole system. Regular politics cannot go there because there are always vested interests that stand to lose to much from that amount of change.

    That's also the reason I'm not that high on the type of radical activism, or revolutionaries, that demands all kinds of drastic changes to be implemented, not because I don't think we should do them, but because I just don't think it will work. As a whole we will generally not decide to sacrifice short term tangible conveniences for some relatively far off intangible good. We are bad at long term planning, but reasonably good at short term reactive action. And so that is what I think will happen, because these problems ideally demand relatively long term planning and action, we will be late in solving them.

    So where does that leave us one might ask :-)? I think some kind of crisis, or multiple crisis, will force our civilization to change. That is both the bad and the good news I suppose. Change will come, but probably not in the way we would draw it up.

    What I do, is try to come to terms with that, manage my expectations, and try to develop some general skills that might be useful in a variety of uncertain circumstance. That is something I can do something about. To illustrate this maybe, one can look at this whole history as a gigantic failure of humanity to live up to some kind of ideal moral standard, what we could have done otherwise in some imagined counterfactual world etc etc... and eventually become a misanthrope. Or one can look at this bizarre history of a naked ape coming out of the savanna and consider it half a miracle that we even got this far. No other species voluntarily avoids overshoot either and eventually runs against the limits of its ecosystem when it has overcome its competition... we are not that different. The latter perspective is a bit more humbling and less judgement it seems to me.

    Anyway, maybe this is not exactly what you were looking for, but it's what I got. And yes, it's by no means an easy thing to deal with, take care.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    Other. :chin:

    Cite an example of a "civilization" which was not unbalanced.
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k

    :flower: Thanks for your post!
    (I hope you don’t mind the formatting.
    I’m trying for a less ‘block of text’ look to the post. It was discussed here).

    I don't think little tweaks will do it. Climate change, bio-diversity loss and related issues will not be solved with little tweaks to the system. Our entire global economy is set up around cheap fossil fuels. Swapping those out for processes that wouldn't have this negative impact, essentially means re-inventing the whole system. Regular politics cannot go there because there are always vested interests that stand to lose to much from that amount of change.

    That's also the reason I'm not that high on the type of radical activism, or revolutionaries, that demands all kinds of drastic changes to be implemented, not because I don't think we should do them, but because I just don't think it will work. As a whole we will generally not decide to sacrifice short term tangible conveniences for some relatively far off intangible good. We are bad at long term planning, but reasonably good at short term reactive action. And so that is what I think will happen, because these problems ideally demand relatively long term planning and action, we will be late in solving them.
    ChatteringMonkey

    Definitely, developing and using what are still called alternative sources of energy the main sources is huge, though I’m on the fence about nuclear energy.
    I read about plants using nuclear waste as fuel, which is great.
    You may be very correct about an entire new system needed to implement new energies.

    But the skeptic/cynic in me wonders what kind of calamity it would take to dislodge the ‘elite’.
    (By which I mean the robber barons and tycoon tyrants).
    Would have to be a heck of an upheaval to separate that dog from his bone!
    I probably could easier envision agonizingly slow adaptation of bio-fuels as long as they are profitable for corporations and their elected pals.
    Difficult to say really, at least for me.

    Well, I’m not an activist really… more into the ideas and thinking that underlies everything we do.
    You know that point where a roof can’t take another layer of tiles and needs a complete teardown?
    It feels like civilization is at that point, but first comes a re-evaluation of ideas, traditions, and habits.
    Then comes the practical manifestation of those ideas that are deemed sustainable, worthy, etc.

    I wonder if we were raised on a steady diet of bullshit, about who we are and what is possible.
    If not bullshit, then we are metaphorically feeding on a mixture of gourmet food and broken glass.
    (And besides the metaphor, the standard diet offered to humanity wouldn’t nourish a rat).
    Welcome to the machine, my child… may you ride the glorious contraption to the heavens!
    (Try not to get in the way of the machine though because it crushes everything in its path).

    Every culture molds its young to fit in with the group, whole or tribe.
    Which is fine and natural, unless the culture happens to be close to insanity.
    The average person follows their orders with body exhausted, mind confused, and heart aching.

    So where does that leave us one might ask :-)? I think some kind of crisis, or multiple crisis, will force our civilization to change. That is both the bad and the good news I suppose. Change will come, but probably not in the way we would draw it up.ChatteringMonkey

    Yes.
    Unfortunately, you may be right about more crises forcing the change traumatically.
    I hope there’s a surprise happy ending somehow.

    What I do, is try to come to terms with that, manage my expectations, and try to develop some general skills that might be useful in a variety of uncertain circumstance. That is something I can do something about. To illustrate this maybe, one can look at this whole history as a gigantic failure of humanity to live up to some kind of ideal moral standard, what we could have done otherwise in some imagined counterfactual world etc etc... and eventually become a misanthrope. Or one can look at this bizarre history of a naked ape coming out of the savanna and consider it half a miracle that we even got this far. No other species voluntarily avoids overshoot either and eventually runs against the limits of its ecosystem when it has overcome its competition... we are not that different. The latter perspective is a bit more humbling and less judgement it seems to me.ChatteringMonkey

    I’m not completely convinced by the arguments listed here… sorry to say.
    We could and should develop all our potential, and be positive amid the storms.
    Desparate times call for a cool head, and a warm heart.
    Not sword-swinging warriors who take no prisoners (another toxic role we’re taught).

    I don’t view history as gigantic failure of humanity, and the phrase ‘ideal moral standard’ is somewhat problematic, in my opinion.
    Of course, becoming misanthropic is a sign that something is dreadfully wrong.

    I theorize that when one tries to follow the contradictory, toxic, and impossible advice and standards of our civilization, instead of training the mind with clear awareness and vision, we will live in something akin to what TS Eliot called ‘The Waste Land’.
    The waste land is here now (I’m not the first to say), where the good are uncertain, and the bad filled with energy and are ready to battle.

    But I agree with you that humans are not completely different from animals in every way.
    Thinking that we are the center of all is one of our main misjudgments (human exceptionalism).
    Humans at the top of the universal pyramid is as misguided as a flat earth as the center of all.

    It’s time for humans to belatedly rejoin the family tree of nature.
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k
    Cite an example of a "civilization" which was not unbalanced.180 Proof

    Thanks for your reply. :smile:

    I’m most familiar with our current civilization naturally, and even so it still makes my head spin.

    But as an example of a balanced civilization, I’d offer the Australian Aborigines.
    65,000 years of continuing existence in the same place is a damn fine record.
    If we are wise, we’d learn as much as possible from them, despite differences in technology.

    Starting with the cool didgeridoo, since it’s impossible to be uptight and domineering while listening to one.
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k
    Question: what could we possibly learn from people such as the Australian Aborigines?
    Their culture (before European colonization) was radically different than ours.

    A fair question.
    As mentioned above, the fact that they’ve existed for countless millennia is reason for investigation.
    They live simply, so it’s probably easier to sustain their existence.
    We live in more complex environments, so it’s more difficult.
    If it proves to be indeed non-sustainable, then obviously adjustments are necessary to make it so.

    These are not simply human laws our civilization as a whole keeps violating with gusto (although it does break many of its own laws too).
    These are the laws of nature: energy, biology, physics, gravity, toxicology, animal populations (of which we but one), and so on.

    If we were able to see which of our habits, traditions, and technologies were tending towards the sustainable, and which were not, then that would be an excellent start.
    But with vested interests everywhere, that is extremely difficult or likely impossible.
    If someone doesn’t get paid, generally they can’t afford to survive.
    If getting paid means selling toxic food, medicines, or information… then that will happen over and over again.

    Round and round we go, locked in a loop with diminishing returns.

    Our civilization has a terrible record concerning living alongside cultures with different priorities.
    Our actual doctrine is ‘if we need it, we will take it’.
    So much for neighborliness, lawfulness, and ‘the golden rule’ (all esteemed parts of society).

    If our culture can at least begin to imagine how to stand on its own two feet in its own space and be sustainable, and not need the entire planet, along with precious minerals from outer space, that would be a good first step.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    Definitely, developing and using what are still called alternative sources of energy the main sources is huge, though I’m on the fence about nuclear energy.
    I read about plants using nuclear waste as fuel, which is great.
    You may be very correct about an entire new system needed to implement new energies.
    0 thru 9

    Nuclear energy is fine. The waste is not that big of a problem, certainly not compared to other issues we have with carbon emissions. The only downside with nuclear is that it is hard to build... it's expensive, needs a lot of skilled people and takes a while. Because of that we couldn't really built them fast enough - even if we wanted to - to phase out fossil fuels in time to stop further warming.

    But the skeptic/cynic in me wonders what kind of calamity it would take to dislodge the ‘elite’.
    (By which I mean the robber barons and tycoon tyrants).
    Would have to be a heck of an upheaval to separate that dog from his bone!
    I probably could easier envision agonizingly slow adaptation of bio-fuels as long as they are profitable for corporations and their elected pals.
    Difficult to say really, at least for me.
    0 thru 9

    Well there will always be elites, right. The question is what kind of elites. Now they are able to float over and between nations and communities because of our globalized world. They can go "shopping" with different governments to get the best tax deals, etc... and are completely unmoored from any particular community because of the sheer scale of things. Globalization like we have it today, might be one of the things that has to go... and then, yes who knows what will happen.

    I wonder if we were raised on a steady diet of bullshit, about who we are and what is possible.
    If not bullshit, then we are metaphorically feeding on a mixture of gourmet food and broken glass.
    (And besides the metaphor, the standard diet offered to humanity wouldn’t nourish a rat).
    Welcome to the machine, my child… may you ride the glorious contraption to the heavens!
    (Try not to get in the way of the machine though because it crushes everything in its path).
    0 thru 9

    We certainly are raised on a steady diet of bullshit, but then that isn't new exactly... since the dawn of civilization ideologies have been created to serve as propaganda for the ruling class. This is maybe a bit of a tangent, but it's not that surprising nor will it change any time soon I'd think, because it seems that reason has developed as a means to justify ourselves to our peers... or put another way rather than truth or reason strictu sensu, 'rationalization' is what we seem to be geared for.

    Every culture molds its young to fit in with the group, whole or tribe.
    Which is fine and natural, unless the culture happens to be close to insanity.
    The average person follows their orders with body exhausted, mind confused, and heart aching.
    0 thru 9

    It's a fine line. It seems to me we do need a culture, some kind of group that share a story and we feel a part of... but then it can easily flip to dehumanization and aggression because of in-group out-group dynamics. This is also one of the things we dropped the ball on in the West.

    Yes.
    Unfortunately, you may be right about more crises forcing the change traumatically.
    I hope there’s a surprise happy ending somehow.
    0 thru 9

    There's no ending I would say ;-).

    I’m not completely convinced by the arguments listed here… sorry to say.
    We could and should develop all our potential, and be positive amid the storms.
    Desparate times call for a cool head, and a warm heart.
    Not sword-swinging warriors who take no prisoners (another toxic role we’re taught).

    I don’t view history as gigantic failure of humanity, and the phrase ‘ideal moral standard’ is somewhat problematic, in my opinion.
    Of course, becoming misanthropic is a sign that something is dreadfully wrong.
    I theorize that when one tries to follow the contradictory, toxic, and impossible advice and standards of our civilization, instead of training the mind with clear awareness and vision, we will live in something akin to what TS Eliot called ‘The Waste Land’.
    The waste land is here now (I’m not the first to say), where the good are uncertain, and the bad filled with energy and are ready to battle.
    0 thru 9

    Framing things in term of good and bad is a moral way of looking at it. That's fine, if you want... I'm just saying one can take different perspectives on these things, and also be just as (partially) right. The things is, any story we are going to tell ourselves about the totality of this vast amount of things that have happened in history, always has to be focusing on a few aspects and leaving out the majority of things not focused on... it's necessary only partial, a perspective.

    But I agree with you that humans are not completely different from animals in every way.
    Thinking that we are the center of all is one of our main misjudgments (human exceptionalism).
    Humans at the top of the universal pyramid is as misguided as a flat earth as the center of all.
    0 thru 9

    And I'd say, even in this misjudgment we are probably not exceptional. Doesn't every organism think itself to be the most important thing?
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    I’d offer the Australian Aborigines.
    65,000 years of continuing existence in the same place is a damn fine record.
    0 thru 9
    For me, 0 thru 9, this example stretches the notion of 'civilization' into incoherence.
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k
    Well there will always be elites, right. The question is what kind of elites. Now they are able to float over and between nations and communities because of our globalized world. They can go "shopping" with different governments to get the best tax deals, etc... and are completely unmoored from any particular community because of the sheer scale of things. Globalization like we have it today, might be one of the things that has to go... and then, yes who knows what will happen.ChatteringMonkey

    :up: Yes, that is a large part of the situation.
    It’s as though as relatively small group of power-hungry beavers have dammed the river almost completely, and only a trickle of water comes out on our side.
    The circulation of energy and resources is anemic and slow.
    But all is well with the system; we must stay the course and bite the bullet!
    The ‘invisible hand’ of the market… is giving us the finger.

    We certainly are raised on a steady diet of bullshit, but then that isn't new exactly... since the dawn of civilization ideologies have been created to serve as propaganda for the ruling class. This is maybe a bit of a tangent, but it's not that surprising nor will it change any time soon I'd think, because it seems that reason has developed as a means to justify ourselves to our peers... or put another way rather than truth or reason strictu sensu, 'rationalization' is what we seem to be geared for.ChatteringMonkey

    Oh yes… reason has devolved into a myriad of rationalizations.
    I hope / think the pieces may be falling into place regarding this and your previous comment about the elites.
    It is a desperate hope for a last minute reprieve, for sure.
    We have access to more information than ever, if we want it and sort through the piles of words.
    We can communicate almost instantly with info, video, etc.
    The ‘elites’ want us fighting against each other instead of confronting them, and we oblige them.
    Everyone is there little niche, defending their turf as the parasites suck the last of our blood and the life of the Earth.
    We can change our course away from disaster by putting “on trial” those leading us there.
    The time for casual empire building is over.

    Framing things in term of good and bad is a moral way of looking at it. That's fine, if you want...ChatteringMonkey

    I didn’t intend to frame the situation in stark terms of ‘good and bad’, because that’s too simplistic.
    Yin and Yang are much more subtle, as is that study of the Way of Life, the Tao Te Ching.
    That last line was a variation on the quote ‘the good people are silent, and the bad are filled with energy’, or however that goes.

    And I'd say, even in this misjudgment we are probably not exceptional. Doesn't every organism think itself to be the most important thing?ChatteringMonkey
    Well, I’d love to be able to communicate with animals, and for wild birds to perch on my finger like they did with St Francis.
    I don’t know what animals think, but I know every being values its life immensely.
    However, humans are the only species smart and powerful enough to disrupt major ecological processes.
    We will see if we care enough to devise a way to stop.
  • 0 thru 9
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    For me, 0 thru 9, this example stretches the notion of 'civilization' into incoherence.180 Proof

    How so? Because they didn’t have pyramids? Because they are saddled with the pejorative ‘primitive’?

    You asked for an example of a balanced civilization. Would substituting the word ‘culture’ make a difference? That’s fine, if so. :sparkle:
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    I think it's more intelligible not to conflate culture with civilization than to conflate them.
  • 0 thru 9
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    Ok, that’s fine. Fair enough.

    The larger point of ‘what can we learn from them?’ is what I began to address in this post.
  • 0 thru 9
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    You mentioned that you voted ‘other’ in the poll. Could you possibly elaborate on that? :smile:
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    My question suggests that civilization is inherently unstable; once they reach stability – equilibrium – they tend to (suddenly) collapse. Analogously, IMO (on geological scale), cultures are like ecological niches and civilizations are like pandemics.
  • 0 thru 9
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    Oh I think I see what you are saying: civilizations are unsustainable because of their size.
    Cultures are at least potentially sustainable.
    Is that the comparison between the two terms that you’re making?
    That sounds reasonable.

    Where does leave us with our mega-civilization?
    (No pressure. Just need the solution to everything in 50 words or less. :grin: )
  • 0 thru 9
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    The Lord of the Rings is quite relevant to mankind's predicament.

    Virtually everything mankind does revolves around power, or illusions thereof. Technological advances, economic planning, social engineering, politics, and obviously things like war and conflict.

    A lot of this is directly motivated by a drive for power, or indirectly through a prisoner's dilemma: "If I don't do it, the other guy will and surpass me in power (and subsequently oppress me)."


    Thus, everyone is forced into this wheel of abuse and exploitation.


    As long as there is even a single person who desires power or security at the expense of others, that wheel will keep turning.

    There are many who believe they can stop the wheel from turning through the same methods by which it turns. This is perhaps one of the most dangerous illusions of all. "Peace" through control - the central fallacy of states. Fighting fire with fire only finds 'success' after the entire house has burned down.


    For the individual, the only way out of this wheel is by relinqusihing their desire for power (ego), and their desire for security (life).

    Only if one acknowledges there are things more important than one's ego and one's life, will they be able to pursue a genuine goal of peace and coexistence. Without that, it's simply impossible. Without that, one will fall prey to delusions born of one's contradictory beliefs; the crusaders, "do-gooders", ideologues, etc.

    This is a typical dynamic. Because, as a lingering effect of religion, man is still aware that their desire for power is inherently undesirable and the cause of most, if not all, of man's trouble. So it hides in the subconscious under a facade of good intentions, where it's arguably even more malicious because of its hidden nature.


    It's no coincidence that Frodo is a Hobbit. Hobbits are content with a simple life (suggesting a lack of ego), and have no aptitude nor desire for violence (suggesting a lack of convulsively clinging to life).
    Tzeentch

    :100: :smile: :up:
    Yes. Very well said, completely agree. Thank you very much for your post.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    All things being equal, we're probably fucked (e.g. anthropic climate change).

    An excerpt from a thread on "The Future"...
    In a century, civilizational collapse on a global scale – population crash to below 2 billion – due mostly to catastrophic climate instability and consisting mostly of failed states and "floating" transnational corporate enclaves.180 Proof
  • 0 thru 9
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    Can’t imagine, don’t want to imagine…
    but that scenario has to be taken seriously as a very real possibility.
  • 0 thru 9
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    Thoughts and questions about the topic of this thread:

    Is climate change (the umbrella term for a constellation of myriad environmental conditions) thought of as a symptom of an even deeper problem?
    It seems so, that while no one is glad for climate change (CC), it at least ‘opens the door’ for consideration of societal change.

    But sometimes, I get the impression that CC (even when taken very seriously) is thought of as a rather physical situation that intersects with us only through the carbon we give off or something.
    And with some brilliant mechanical tinkering, it can be fixed without too much self-reflection as individuals or collectively.
    As if nature were a car that has been running poorly and making clunky noises, but paying a trusted car mechanic will fix it.

    There is another thread for the details of CC, so I’m more interested in the thinking that underlies everything we do.
    And especially the ‘non-thinking’, which takes two forms:

    The first meaning of non-thinking is the stuff we ignore or don’t think about in any way.
    The second meaning concerns the unconscious mind, the part of our minds that doesn’t manifest itself directly, but has a tremendous influence over our consciousness.
    (I’m thinking here of Freud’s iceberg model of consciousness and Jung’s collective unconscious).

    Is our civilization churning out well-adjusted individuals mostly?

    Or is the ‘stamp’ that our culture deeply ingrains in each of us very problematic?
    Now if an individual has access to constant amusement and distraction, any problems lodged in the unconscious may be mostly dormant as long as the distractions continue.

    But if the ‘toys’ are taken away leaving the only basic necessities and the person to face themselves, will the person tend to have a painful identity crisis with much anxiety?

    Have we become out of touch with the natural world and even ourselves and our minds?
    Are we at war with nature and ourselves?
    Is this schizophrenia?

    The average person could not survive very long in the deep forests, even if the weather were comfortable and they were given tools and maps.
    On a psychological level, would many have a mental breakdown if the constant flow of distraction, information, and entertainment stopped even temporarily?

    What comes first: the unbalanced civilization or the unbalanced person?

    Or do they arise together, fall together, and even possibly become re-balanced together?
  • 0 thru 9
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    (The following is an example of societal imbalance: our exultation of the “Mono” life, and our search to find The One Right Way to Live.
    Monopoly, monogamy, monotheism, monoculture, monolithic, monomaniacal…in satirical yet serious form of some fictional ‘expert’ explaining why he thinks this way is just fine):

    Monotheism.
    The whole big world is rather confusing, so long ago some very wise people (it doesn’t matter who or why, it’s complicated) simplified everything into the One.
    One may ask about God or Gods or Goddess or Titans or Deities or Celestial Beings.
    The answer turns out to be quite simple, thankfully.
    There’s only one God, period.
    Therefore, it’s logical to worship Him in a socially approved manner, and avoid wasting time and energy by thinking too hard about it.
    If you do ponder about God too much, you might go insane (that’s why we said it’s complicated).
    There is only one God, which is easy to remember.
    He is male (of course) and loves when people die and kill for Him in a sanctioned and sanctified manner.
    Best of all, understanding God as completely as we do (no small feat!) gives us the courage and authority to organize the rest of society.
    Such as the use of nature for purely human benefit…

    Monoculture.
    We’ve raised the animals for you to eat.
    We gave them jobs and their own office in one of our high-tech factory farms.
    They weren’t doing anything else important, and if they had a small fraction of our immense intellect they’d be proud to serve us (hamburgers).
    We’ve harvested the wheat for you, ground it into flour, taken out all the stuff that will make it too brown and chewy, and served the delicious paste to you at minimal cost.
    Monoculture has allowed us to dominate Mother Nature (who doesn’t realize our superiority and secretly is trying to kill us).
    Mother Nature is not too bright, and one wonders what the Omnipotent God saw in her in the first place… maybe He was a little drunk and horny.
    (One can’t be Omnipotent without being horny sometimes).
    She is rather beautiful though.
    Speaking of mating and marriage…

    Monogamy.
    Some animals mate with several different partners, but this is exactly because they are animals.
    Animals with no sense of self, and hence no self-control.
    Humans, despite rumours to the contrary, are definitely not animals in any way.
    (The few people still spreading that fake news have been thoroughly discredited).
    One man, one woman… the way was meant to be in order to raise a herd of children.
    This cluster of children will make wonderful consumers of the many fine products that our clean and efficient factories produce non-stop.
    Which leads us to the topic of work…

    Monotony and Monopoly.
    Factories and money are the natural way to monopolize the raw material that is the earth.
    Do your job.
    Do it well, and do it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over (Printer: repeat until the page is full).

    Monarchy
    There may not technically be a “monarchy” anymore, at least not one that’s just for fancy clothes and galas.
    Rather it has slightly expanded to include legislatures, congresses, parliaments, ministries and ministers (both Prime and sub-prime), judges, security forces, bureaucrats, etc.
    The point is that it is all settled and centralized for the convenience and safety of all.
    Just like the earth is the center of the galaxy, and humanity is the center of all creation, the Monarchy is at the center of society.

    (Those of a less “spiritual”, and more of a “scientific” inclination may give their devotion to Family, Job, Culture, and our benevolent and tireless leaders instead of God per se, but please keep it to yourself).

    This is The One Right Way to Live.
    (You’re welcome!)

    Use this wisdom wisely.
    (Or risk suffering The Many Wrong Ways To Die… we warn because we care).
  • 0 thru 9
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    One perhaps envies a child growing up today because of the sheer power and ever-growing number of ‘tools’ for information, communication, expression, experience, creation, learning, etc.
    In a nutshell, all the abilities the average smartphone gives one.

    What is less likely to be envied is the extreme pressure they must feel, as soon as they become aware of the basics of the situation.
    Pressure to be noticed, to be liked, to perform, to achieve, to stand out, to make money (despite still being a child), to gain a following, and so on and on…
    Not just compared to the rest of their friends and classmates as has been happening for millennia (and not without its own problems), but compared to the whole freaking world.

    Pondering this might raise a headache, along with many questions, including this one:

    Question: are there human entities (persons, groups, corporations) that are intentionally trying to make humanity more afraid, more powerless, more unhealthy, and more isolated? In a word, more unhappy?

    If so, then who, how, and why?

    If not, then are these entities doing so unintentionally or accidentally or because ‘the market’ is forcing them to?

    Or… ?
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