I seek therefore I shall find.

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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on January 28th, 2020, 5:55 pm 

JohnD » January 28th, 2020, 2:47 pm wrote:Clarification: earlier when I said most garbage is recycled this isn't exactly so. All garbage goes to the tip (land fill) however it goes presorted by households into different bins. No one really knows what happens to it when it gets there.

Yes, there have been a lot of scandals around that. Toronto, for example, brought in recycling in 1982 - I think garbage collection was still a municipal enterprise at the time - thinking they'd phase it in gradually as people accepted the idea. They were shocked - and the facility was instantly overwhelmed - when they had 80% compliance the first month. People were on board right away; the city's capability to process that much paper/plastic/glass lagged behind, but they were doing quite well for a time, even brought in a successful composting and mulching program.
But the recycling industry hasn't expanded as we hoped it would. Partly due to the costs I mentioned, and partly because of glut - just too much stuff being thrown away.
I have been to our local and seen the separated bays for the different classifications of rubbish but what happens beyond that point depends on what contracts are in place.

...and that's another bug-bear on which I'm good for a forty-minute rant...
we should be more efficient long before it gets to end user stage.

Maybe stop stop wrapping individual bites of candy or cheese - cheese, ffs! - then putting them in a plastic bag in a cardboard box with a cellophane wrapper...? Or putting meds for chronic conditions in a new plastic container each time the perscription is refilled... never mind bubble-packs!
I make them re-fill my same vials. There was some reluctance the first time, but I had a nice chat with the senior dispenser about plastic and dolphins and once she was OK with it, the others followed.
My bulk-food store not only lets us bring containers to refill, but offers a discount for doing it. I found the most efficient routine was to keep bringing back the store's own hard plastic containers - for which the cashier already has the tare programmed.
We take the carton back to our egg-supplier, as well. (Living in the country has some perks)
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on January 30th, 2020, 2:04 am 

Ways certainly need to change. The other week I was in the meat eisle at the supermarket and they had single cuts of meat in a plastic container that was four times bigger than the meat. Even small thumb drives in containers that could house 10 of the same. The list goes on... There used to be a lot of bulk stores here at one time however outside of those selling coffee most have disappeared and our health department has strict guidlines for food outlets.
Certainly, a return to these shops would be a blessing as it would reduce waste tremendously. Supermarkets don't see the need to travel down that road instead they have packaged these same goods in 250g and 500g packages at a lot higher cost to the consumer than the bulk version.
When the hoo haa first got air time in the media I wasn't sure whether to accept it however, I thought that anything that would change people's ways and encourage conversatism is worthwhile supporting. It seems now to be flagging under the weight of the non-believers.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby davidm on January 30th, 2020, 4:21 pm 

I am afraid that changing our ways is not going to accomplish anything, except to let us pat ourselves on the back. I am afraid that the problems we face are too multi-faceted, too interlocking, and fundamentally too intractable, for changes in personal behavior to make any difference. Of course, if such changes were undertaken by everyone, everywhere, that might make a difference. But we know that won’t happen. In fact, the trends are going in the opposite direction. More and more people in the developing world are clamoring for MORE energy, MORE beef, MORE cars, MORE urban development, MORE luxuries, and on and on.

Overpopulation is the ticking time bomb at the heart of it all. We are arguably well beyond the earth’s human carrying capacity. As Lynn Margulis said, the fate of every successful species is to wipe itself out. See: State of the Species.

Resource depletion is obviously accelerated by unsustainable, and currently still rising, human population. The more people, the more resources need to be expended to feed, house, and clothe them, and power their transportation, etc.

About 20 years ago, social theorists like James Kunstler and others were arguing for Peak Oil, the idea that global oil production was about to peak and go into irreversible decline. The idea was never that we were going to run out of oil, or coal or natural gas, or uranium or rare earths, for that matter. It was (and is) that these materials, oil first, will eventually become prohibitively expensive to recover, since all the easy oil (and coal, etc.) have already been recovered — the low-hanging fruit, as it were, have already been picked from the trees. When it costs so much to wring fossil fuels from the ground that profits from doing so go negative, the stuff will obviously be left in the ground.

The dire predictions of Kunstler and others have not been borne out, but I think it obvious that they only got the time line wrong. New technology and fracking (with its own environmental costs, of course), largely unforeseen two decades ago, have yielded unexpected returns. But the earth, of course, is finite, and eventually peak everything will have to be reached.

Climate change, of course, is a result of transforming fossil fuels into carbon waste. Interestingly, the can of Peak Oil may be kicked several more decades down the road by the melting of the Arctic ice cap. Apparently untold reserves of cheap, easily recoverable oil lie under that cap, waiting only for it to melt for the offshore oil rigs to swing into action — and indeed, the U.S. and Russia, among others, are aiming for oil-drilling supremacy is this High Frontier, when the ice is gone. Welcome to the next great global conflict! I believe the Russians have even planted their tricolor flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, sort of like marking one’s territory by pissing on it, I guess.

Unfortunately, as noted earlier, our problems are multi-faceted and interlocking, and probably intractable. It’s all well and good, for example, to suppose that if the Arctic ice cap melts, we are all going to enjoy a new bonanza of cheap oil — after the (nuclear?) war between the U.S. and Russia, perhaps, over oil rights!

But the melting of the ice cap will be a symptom of irreversible global warming, which is likely to destroy civilization even before we can get the new, cheap Arctic oil to market to help sustain it. And even if civilization survives the melting of the ice cap (after, one must absurdly hope, an orderly evacuation of our drowning global metropolises, and a peaceful (!) resettlement of billions of refugees among their inland neighbors, who, no doubt, will welcome them with open arms, lol), the new, cheap oil derived from under the Arctic Ocean will further exacerbate climate change — and thus hasten the end of civilization even if, somehow, we have miraculously avoided collapse to that point.

Environmentalists say the solution is a Green New Deal, a carbon-zero economy. I wish I could believe that, but I do not like wishful thinking. Specifically, while I do think that a carbon-zero economy will mitigate the worst effects of climate change, I see no reason to believe that such an economy will sustain even a fraction of our current industrial, high-tech civilization — still less allow it (and human population) to grow.

How is this carbon-zero civilization supposed to run? Solar power, wind power, hydroelectric plants, hydrogen technology, nuclear power plants, and anything else you can think of, all currently run on a robust fossil-fuel infrastructure. Take away that carbon infrastructure, and you will kick out the foundation from under a house of cards.

Can solar panels be used to make more solar panels? Can hydroelectric plants make more hydro plants? Can windmills make more windmills? Can nuke plants make more nuke plants? Certainly not right now — and I’m not aware of any way in which this could be done. IOW, to sustain a non-carbon economy, you will still need a robust carbon economy, even with a (somewhat) reduced ecological footprint. If the entire global car and truck fleet magically, overnight, converted to electric, vast amounts of petrochemicals will still have to be used to build and sustain these things.

And, of course, the ever-growing human population demands MORE and MORE — which even the carbon economy cannot adequately sustain. How will this fanciful non-carbon economy meet these needs? It won’t. I doubt it will ever even exist. It is not scalable.

I leave it to you to assess our true prospects. Fortunately, I won’t be around for what is coming.

Since I believe that human overpopulation is at the root our interlocking problems, and since it is obvious that humans (like every other animal) will continue to try to recklessly maximize our numbers amid dwindling resources and an ever-more befouled environment, then I think, per Margulis, that nature will solve the problem for us, as it does for all other species. It won’t be pretty, but nature rarely is — except for cute puppy dogs, kitty cats, and Monarch butterflies, I guess.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on January 30th, 2020, 8:07 pm 

How is this carbon-zero civilization supposed to run?

Very, very differently: on different principles, with different organization, different lifestyle and a much, much smaller population with much more modest requirements.
You're right about everything else.
I think our only hope of survival is a global economic collapse, before they get a chance to lob the nukes at each other. That way world-wide depression, coupled with climate catastrophes will wipe out enough of the old to make way for a new that's at last not radioactive... but it's still be a long, hard slog.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on January 31st, 2020, 3:53 am 

Things will change not only because they have to but because our current situation as you say is unsustainable and unfortunately, though we all wouldn't want to think about, will happen. Through science and medicine we are trying extremely hard to make sure our worst fears aren't realised but my pessimistic heart says they will. The population is far too big already and is about to get bigger. Cities are not just a melting pot but beakers ready for input. As can be seen at present in China when a virus is released in a big city infection spreads faster than containment.
As far as the oil, if enough people around the world have the opportunity to switch to electric cars then it would make drilling new wells implausably expensive with little return.
This is why the present government in Australia while saying they are working to reduce emissions and are for a green environment are doing their utmost to forestall the wider introduction of electric cars. The Australian government has a vested interest in oil and gas production through their surcharges and taxes. Something they're reluctant to loose.
Things can be achieved and as difficult as it might seem it can be done.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on January 31st, 2020, 11:22 am 

JohnD » January 31st, 2020, 2:53 am wrote:Things will change not only because they have to but because our current situation as you say is unsustainable and unfortunately, though we all wouldn't want to think about, will happen.

It always does. I often get the response, "Well, Y2K didn't happen and we're still here." the underlying assumption is that if a disaster has been averted*, all disasters will be averted; since I haven't died, I must be immortal.
(*I happen to have known several programmers who worked their asses off through 1998-99 to prevent the worst of it. It's also convenient to forget the many near-crashes prevented by quick-thinking personnel who also get no credit.)
In fact, dozens of civilizations have collapsed and been forgotten. Ten years before their collapse, each of those civilizations was guided by the principle of "Don't listen to the doom-sayers! just throw another virgin on the barbie; everything will be fine."

Through science and medicine we are trying extremely hard to make sure our worst fears aren't realised but my pessimistic heart says they will.

Against religion, militarism and concentrated wealth, Science contends in vain.

As far as the oil, if enough people around the world have the opportunity to switch to electric cars then it would make drilling new wells implausably expensive with little return.

Cars are part of it, but the vested problem is so much bigger. All those immense ships schlepping all those giant containers of unnecessary consumer 'goods' around the world; all those massive trucks trundling all those crates of food exported from places where the farmers are barely subsisting and imported to places where the farmers are deep in hock to the seed monopoly and chemical fertilizer industry....
The whole system is screwy.

Things can be achieved and as difficult as it might seem it can be done.

They could, but they won't.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 1st, 2020, 8:32 pm 

As I write this the coronavirus is very much in the news and the usual suspects of mania, histeria, and racism is rising to the surface.
Along with this there is the continual debate about our recent bushfires with some calling for the clearing of the bush as being the most logical answer.
Then in America they're looking at declaring the impeachment of Trump a farce with no logical outcome.
In the meantime the environment has taken a seat at the back of the hall with ministers and past ministers repeating old paraphrases of "we only produce just over 1% of the world's pollution and our efforts will not change the world situation." The absolute stupidy of this argument is only surpassed by the common man's acceptance of it as being the way to go. Greed must be good because our government is lauding it.
Nothing is wrong as such with self-interest after all we are individuals and we will always think of ourselves first however when that self-interest undermines the common good then self-interest needs to be limited. We have blown that balance at present with so much self-interest worldwide and there is no doubt that even if we find a cure for all that ails the world people will continue to act with self-interest in mind.
All I hear in the news these days is bad politics meant to deceive rather than inform. It beggars belief that people don't see what I can see or worse do see but choose to believe what they're being told because they don't understand their options and the benefit of those options to their lifestyle and income.
Makes me want to divorce myself from the world and live the rest of my life in isolation.
Edited for grammar and flow.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 1st, 2020, 9:40 pm 

Makes me want to divorce myself from the world and live the rest of my life in isolation.

Welcome to the misanthropy club!
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 3rd, 2020, 4:05 am 

I've just been to the supermarket to buy some mouthwash. What an amazing adventure, the 500ml was $3 and the 1 litre $8. Isn't that a wonderful way to save the environment?
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 3rd, 2020, 4:06 am 

I've just been to the supermarket to buy some mouthwash. What an amazing adventure, the 500ml was $3 and the 1 litre $8. Isn't that a wonderful way to save the environment?
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 3rd, 2020, 10:14 am 

Save the environment! Gargle with whiskey!
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 3rd, 2020, 3:43 pm 

Even then it's hard to get a refill unless you make your own. :)
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 3rd, 2020, 7:05 pm 

JohnD » February 3rd, 2020, 2:43 pm wrote:Even then it's hard to get a refill unless you make your own. :)

Too big a challenge for me. I've made wine - with mixed results: parsnip, carrot and elderberry were good; coffe was... interesting. All other fruits, including grape: You can live on it, but.... it tastes like mouthwash.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 3rd, 2020, 7:10 pm 

Gaahhh!

We were in town today. I've got the pharmacy staff browbeaten so they'll refill the same vials and do not put it in a little bag, with a sheet of instructions stapled on to something we've been taking for years.
And the bulk food store has a $2 coupon for bringing own containers and cloth bag.
Tiny victories in small skirmishes in a huge war - but at least there's more people on our side.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 4th, 2020, 2:42 am 

Yeah. There was an article in the news this morning about a school that has banned all plastic and has employed a cook to prepare all lunches to be served on actual plates with actual cutlery. All of which are washed daily. No rubbish at this school.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby TheVat on February 4th, 2020, 11:31 am 

Much as I am enjoying this colloquy, and much as I am fiercely committed to elimination of plastics in all aspects of my life, I am not certain how this remains a philosophy thread. Does anyone remember what the topic was (am too scattered this a.m. to dig down) -- if so, suggestions on how to circle back to that?
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 4th, 2020, 12:46 pm 

JohnD » September 20th, 2019, 8:35 pm wrote:
I don’t possess the practical knowledge of a scientist however I know to ask the question and not to believe all that is stated as fact. The strongest most obstinate question in any language is “What if?”...
... Consider the possibility that with the axis shifting the existing movement of winds around the planet will be altering direction leading to confrontations. Polar ice melts as it shifts to a new location and will eventually reform at the new location.

I think that was adequately answered by posters far better informed than I.
But I do like the "What if?" component: it's been the driver of all my political engagement.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 5th, 2020, 3:43 am 

Hi everyone, yes we have somewhat drifted however the main gist of the post has always been "what if?"
Personally I thought that it was fundamentally philosophical however if you don't agree who am I to argue. The world is full of politics and argument and not much philosophy, maybe the question not asked enough is this one. I'm open to both your direction and anyone else's input.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 6th, 2020, 5:47 am 

In many circles especially the media there's an air of 'fait accompli'. There's less and less avenue for people to ask questions and debate issues. It seems one has to have a degree or at least be recognisable to the general public. This is so even when the views or supposed 'facts' are far from reality.
On this forum, and rightly so, one is required to present supporting documentation when making a statement but it seems this isn't necessarily so in the news media which is widely viewed by those who don't have day-to-day access to the facts or the background knowledge to be able to interpret what they see and hear.
How do we know? We hear so many stories especially when it comes to the environment and the actions that should be taken and at times it seems there is so many deliberate misrepresentations. Take these two articles I found when I entered a search into Google "electric cars kilometre range":
https://www.google.com/search?ei=htk7Xu ... CAs&uact=5
So, yes my question is what if? I realise not all can be considered fake news, some is outdated and should either be updated or deleted, but it is still there confusing everyone and being quoted by public figures.
Not all information is publicly available and that which is either very costly or one needs to have a worldclass library nearby.
Even then there is a possibility that the information is outdated and/or is not easily understood by someone without a degree. This makes ordinary people even more vulnerable to those with education.
Knowledge is power. When it is common to all it is power for good however, when those that have it misuse it in order to take advantage of those that don't it becomes a deadly weapon. A way of making a quick fortune by twisting words to mean something very different than intended.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 6th, 2020, 11:32 am 

Knowledge is power. When it is common to all it is power for good however, when those that have it misuse it in order to take advantage of those that don't it becomes a deadly weapon. A way of making a quick fortune by twisting words to mean something very different than intended.

That's a possible starting point. How did knowledge come to be power? to be wielded? and power become concentrated? and the benefit of one become the detriment of other humans? Why are the young against the old? Women and men at one another's throats? Leaders betraying their followers? How can every tribe be at war within itself?

If I were to discuss this on a philosophical basis, I would go back to basic principles.
The reason our present situation is so bereft of hope is that our societies are founded - are foundering? - on the wrong principles.
What do you suppose the right ones might be?
What if we believed....?
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 12th, 2020, 6:03 am 

How did knowledhge come to be power?
It quite possibly began when we first ventured into the wilderness with an enquisitive mind. One person or group would learn about something and then when they mixed with another group a conversation would start and information exchanged. It would be simplistic to suppose that such information exchanged would have been considered of equal value. More human to think that a barter occured.
Of course, as soon as a barter occurs then opportunity arises for such knowledge to be used as leverage and as we all know leverage is power. When one person or one group are able to gather enough knowledge they are looked upon as being more capable of understanding and able to instruct on the best way to handle upcoming situations. Now power becomes concentrated and the few are able to sway the many.
This is how kingdoms have come about and how they have lasted for so much time. Some say they were born out of the blood that was spilt however I believe they were born long before with the spread of an idea.
Ideas are knowledge and knowledge can bring about the worst of fears in those that see themselves as having something to lose, while those close to the source of the knowledge see a gain from staying close to the source.
Divisions within sociaty are built from this scenario. Every tribe as you put it has divisions those that are in power and those that would be and so there is a constant battle. One factor of course is that the latter version of knowledge isn't always the more powerful, sometimes power is so entrenched with the old regime that they are able to ward off most newcomers. People become entrenched in doing things in a particular way and have to be shaken to the roots before they try something different.
Examples lie in the many buildings on the planet such as the pyramids, Rome, Paris, Germany, etc... Every country has its monuments to history telling everyone that the past is more important than the present. These are all examples of the entrenchment of power that seems to go on past the present generation. Whether we're talking governments, scholastic institutions, or businesses, power is entrenched in all of them. That power is the knowledge they hold and share reluctantly at great cost to anyone who would want it.
This is where our society is today, we are concerned more about what we will lose rather than what we can gain. Those in power can make things happen sooner rather than later but they won't because they're afraid they'll lose what they have and so lose control.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 12th, 2020, 11:49 am 

JohnD » February 12th, 2020, 5:03 am wrote:...when we first ventured into the wilderness with an enquisitive mind.

We cannot have ventured into the wilderness. We were made in the wilderness, part of it. That first inquisitive mind belonged to a lungfish or some other ancestor.
At the time of early hominids, discoveries were freely shared with one's troupe. Even, if we look at the very few remaining pre-civilized human societies, information is freely shared and passed on to the young, as a matter of course - because a group is made stronger and more cohesive through sharing, and the welfare of the group is indistinguishable from the welfare of its members.
It would be simplistic to suppose that such information exchanged would have been considered of equal value.

Are you sure? Have you been to a dinner party, a barber shop, a seminar, a book club, a scout camp... or even looked at You Tube? I know you participate in a forum. Have Hyskos, Toucana or The Vat ever asked anything in return for the high quality information they've cited?
In my experience, people enjoy passing on information - from idlest gossip to serious news to major breakthroughs. People love to instruct other people: it is one of our most satisfying social interactions, right up near the tip of Maslow's pyramid. Religious have risked death for spreading their gospel, schoolmarms, fired for teaching the wrong children to read; scientists have been jailed for sharing discoveries with their colleagues, never mind what regularly happens to journalists and witnesses.
Secrecy and information-hoarding are not universal human traits; they are characteristic of a specific personality type. I'd like to say personality disorder, but that would be an excuse - I'm afraid most sociopaths are quite sane, and that makes them so much the more deadly.
Of course, as soon as a barter occurs then opportunity arises for such knowledge to be used as leverage and as we all know leverage is power.

But do you want power? If so, why?
Can you name seven scholars in history who have contended for a throne? I bet you can name seven generals who did it successfully.
When one person or one group are able to gather enough knowledge they are looked upon as being more capable of understanding and able to instruct on the best way to handle upcoming situations. Now power becomes concentrated and the few are able to sway the many.

Again, only if that one had an agenda at odds with the interest of the tribe. Otherwise, the shaman has special knowledge that he uses to heal other members and is duly revered for that ability. The elders have knowledge of game migration patterns, terrain, finding water, how to pack efficiently, how to preserve food for winter, how to make tools, what to feed a constipated baby - and they are respected for putting all their accumulated knowledge at the service of the tribe.
Indeed, some tribes (don't ask me for specifics; old brain is dotted with lacunae) made a cultural icon of discouraging self-aggrandizement in any form.

This is how kingdoms have come about and how they have lasted for so much time.

I have not seen either of those statements borne out by history: they tend to come out through aggression and last until someone stronger contests them.
Some say they were born out of the blood that was spilt however I believe they were born long before with the spread of an idea.

Can you provide an example of a kingdom-creating idea?
Ideas are knowledge

No, they're not. Knowledge may begin with an idea, but without the painstaking collection of data and methodical testing, an idea is ephemeral; I've had many that fizzled out of existence before morning light.
If you mean the idea at the center of an ideology, that, too, must be worked out in the pages of a Das Kapital or Rights of Man. And that doesn't make them knowledge; it only makes them creeds, which can, indeed, unify groups of people in their belief, in their aspiration, in a common effort - but confers power on nobody, until they choose a leader. That leader won't be chosen for his knowledge of the creed - in fact, the writer is never the leader, AFAIR - but for his courage, zeal, military might or charisma.
and knowledge can bring about the worst of fears in those that see themselves as having something to lose, while those close to the source of the knowledge see a gain from staying close to the source.

Consider the mechanism whereby such losses and gains would occur.
That's not a function of knowledge; that is a function of social organization; by whom and according to what criteria values are assigned.
Come to think of it: Can you name a country besides the US whose supreme leader is a stable genius? How many great rulers in history have gathered sages to advise government, compared to regimes that persecuted intellectuals?
Divisions within sociaty are built from this scenario. Every tribe as you put it has divisions those that are in power and those that would be and so there is a constant battle.

Not in my readings. There is a reason tribal society lasted 30,000 years, while 'kingdoms' have a life expectancy of a few hundred at best. (Though the ancient Chinese seem to have kept their dynasties going longer than most.) The main reason for the collapse of a civilization is conquest by another civilization. The second most common reason is internal strife - sometimes between ruling families, more often from peoples they had previously conquered and subsumed. (The universal Yugoslavia problem: tribes are jealous of their identity; don't like to be subsumed.)
Examples lie in the many buildings on the planet such as the pyramids, Rome, Paris, Germany, etc... Every country has its monuments to history telling everyone that the past is more important than the present.

Those monuments were built in the present of the people who built them: kings and emperors put up their triumphal arches immediately after the victory; the statues to generals were commissioned in their own times. If at some later period the nation feels its comparative importance and prosperity waning, they can look back on a glorious past as promise that they will someday reclaim that glory. (they can't)
These are all examples of the entrenchment of power that seems to go on past the present generation. Whether we're talking governments, scholastic institutions, or businesses, power is entrenched in all of them.

If the regime lasts, its monuments last. Otherwise, statues are toppled, libraries are burned, churches desecrated, graves and museums are looted.
That power is the knowledge they hold and share reluctantly at great cost to anyone who would want it.

If all they need is knowledge to entrench power, what are all those expensive weapons for?

The societies you describe are vertically organized, with status to be gained by doing others down; a power-seeking, competitive political institution, rather than a co-oerative. In a horizontal society, knowledge spreads outward from each innovator, from every scholar, writer, scientist, craftsman, explorer and healer to include all their fellows. Like a school of fish bobbing for pond-skaters, we create overlapping ripples on the surface.
So, that's my proposition for a philosophical first principle:
Organize society horizontally; knock down anyone who tries to erect a statue to himself.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 13th, 2020, 3:24 am 

All societies are vertically organised and all have produced great advances in knowledge. However, the knowledge was always maintained within the existing society. Knowledge has always been spread either by those who migrate out of the society or those that visit it, otherwise by invasion.
In indigenous societies there is also a hierarchy and knowledge belongs to the elders, chieftains and shamans. Titles are dependent on the society being considered. However it never was equally distributed, rather accepted that a particular person or group had the required knowledge.
When a society is invaded the people are incorporated in the new society, knowledge is transferred and thus society is made stronger. The Romans gained knowledge of iron from the British and traded knowledge of road building, aqueducts, etc. in return. Of course many of these were put in place to favour the Romans and the Roman hierarchy.
The dark ages, Khmer Rouge, etc... were not empires, they mostly sent society backwards. Alexander the Great, Egyptian Pharaohs, Roman Empire, British Empire, Chinese Dynasties among many others encouraged advances of knowledge that was never equally shared. Let's not forget the research conducted by Mendel on Jews was examined by American bureaucrats and scientists for many years though to my knowledge never openly and freely available.
It is always so, after the swords and guns are put away the rulers need to contend with the people.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 13th, 2020, 12:15 pm 

JohnD » February 13th, 2020, 2:24 am wrote:All societies are vertically organised and all have produced great advances in knowledge. However, the knowledge was always maintained within the existing society. Knowledge has always been spread either by those who migrate out of the society or those that visit it, otherwise by invasion.

Migration, sure. Invasion doesn't spread knowledge unless it's successful enough to conquer another society and establish a lengthy occupation. And in that case, it destroy - deliberately, methodically - as much knowledge as it brings to replace it.
In indigenous societies there is also a hierarchy and knowledge belongs to the elders, chieftains and shamans.

That, right there, is the crux!
Consider the application of that knowledge. First, it's not a vertical hierarchy: the specialized lore in medicine, tracking, tool-making, etc. does not repose in one elder, but several; the responsibilities are spread over a group of men and women who have equal rank, though they are deferred-to by the younger members. However, these positions are by no means assured by status alone: the council of elders is selected, or elected by the tribe, on a rota. As soon as one starts losing his or her grip, or does something dishonest and loses respect, they also lose their status. It has to be earned - daily.
But the main point is: all that knowledge is all the time, used for the welfare of the whole group, never to benefit the elder at the expense of the tribe. If an elder tried to leverage or barter a piece of information, he would immediately lose respect.
(Incidentally, in modern indigenous nations, Canadian Natives are working hard to reclaim their original cultures and tribal organizations. We do find some corruption - particularly in the handling of money - invariably at the interface of Indian and settler cultures.)
Titles are dependent on the society being considered. However it never was equally distributed, rather accepted that a particular person or group had the required knowledge.

I don't think that covers hereditary thrones. Or that kings have ever been subjected to so much as a literacy test, let alone an entrance exam. And I don't see wisdom/knowledge as a major component in the qualifications for top office in any modern government, whether nominally democratic, theocratic or aristocratic.
And you haven't shown me any examples of philosopher-kings. There were a few enlightened rulers, male and female, but in civilized nations, they're the exception. In primitive societies, too, warrior chiefs are the norm - strong men, not smart men. They don't control information; they lead hunts and battles. Only in primitive societies, when the chief can't hack it anymore, he steps down for a younger, stronger man. Mad, stupid, depraved and syphilitic kings do not; when they finally die, you're stuck with whatever kind of offspring they produced.
When a society is invaded the people are incorporated in the new society, knowledge is transferred and thus society is made stronger.

The conqueror is. Temporarily. But when the empire falls apart (chronic Yugoslavia syndrome), the remnants of the conquered nations are worse off than before the conquest: their institutions are in ruin, their resources depleted, their priests killed and sacred places desecrated, their women prostituted, men humiliated, children scattered. They have to spend considerable time working out what to keep from the occupation and how to regain what the occupation has destroyed. The original integrity of the tribes is lost forever; they have to reinvent themselves and build a new culture. During this transition period, the ex-colony is vulnerable to external aggression as well as ideological suasion and takeover by a home-grown demagogue.

The Romans...Alexander the Great, Egyptian Pharaohs, Roman Empire, British Empire, Chinese Dynasties... among many others encouraged advances of knowledge that was never equally shared. Let's not forget the research conducted by Mendel on Jews was examined by American bureaucrats and scientists for many years though to my knowledge never openly and freely available.

All vertical societies, within the last 6000 years.*

It is always so, after the swords and guns are put away the rulers need to contend with the people.

No, not always, just in the last 6000 years - recently.
Yes, rulers do hoard information, do try to control what knowledge is available to their subjects, who gets it and in what form; do spy on one another and punish their subjects for sharing what's forbidden. None of that negates - or even alters, in spite of the threats - the human impulse, the very strong, unifying desire - to share knowledge. And so, rulers have adopted a more effective strategy than force: propaganda. This is the function of organized religion, of mass advertising and of partisan news organs. Bolstering the legitimacy of kingship, [in the first instance, Constantine's] is also the political reason Jehovah got promoted to solitary ruler of all Heaven and Earth. (Ironically, the science that HRC proved unable to suppress, gave their god a huge boost in his ascent.)

This is the philosophical question:
* Where did we go wrong?

If the central tenet of civilization is The Power of Knowledge, and
If civilization is rapidly heading for a cliff, then
?
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 20th, 2020, 5:17 am 

Self-centric thinking.
Our difference seems to me to be how we measure vertically inclined groups. You look at a singular society with one ruler and I look at the many groups that together make up a society, each in its own context a vertical society. Yes rulers have a court to summon for their combined knowledge which isn't commonly available to all. That is the power of rulers not that they themselves have unique possession of knowledge but rather control of those that do. Today this is much more accentuated when looking at the structure not only of governments but of industry and even social groups.
The Romans where an inclusive society made up of captured states, yes they disposed of those that rebelled or didn't want to be a part of Rome but many statesmen where actually residents of captured states.
Greeks were renowned philosophers, Alexander the great built libraries, Muslim conquerors built temples with arches that still astound architects today. In all these cases, rulers let it be known they were here to stay. They made themselves a part of the society they conquered.
Your depictions sound more latter day empires belonging to the English, French and Spanish. These three ignored the local population altogether and in the case of Australia told everyone they didn't exist. We were taught at school that indigenous people were nomadic tribes with no borders yet a look at an indigenous map shows 500 different civilizations with strict codes, languages and borders. White men came along and they couldn't understand the language nor reading the indigenous paintings to know where those borders were. So, when the local indigenous tribes challenged them they took it as an act of war.
Democracy is a wonderful way to govern a country but as Plato found out as soon as you get more than one person thinking and acting in a similar manner they form a political faction that if strong enough will dominate a debate. This is the same whether we talk about western or native culture. It is natural that we look for those that think like us.
Where did we go wrong? It's in the essence of who we are. We're explorers and when we explore we look to conquer. We explore because we believe we have already achieved and desire to know what else is out there. When we do we look for those that show themselves to be equal to us and if they're not our desire quickly wanes and we look to our companions instead. Ask any tourist what food they ate or people they spoke to and most will cite those that are close to what can be found in their own society. Very few will venture beyond this and actually get to know the people and culture of the country they're visiting.
Fact is, most of the world's people are biased and don't want to consider anything that is outside of their normal lifestyle. They may go to an Asian restaurant but ask them to go to Vietnam and live on a house boat scratching out an existence and they'll quickly go back to their usual lifestyle. We want change but how much are we willing to let go? We desire to learn but how much of life's lessons do we take on board and how much do we dismiss and for what reason?
In my experience, it is more about people wanting to learn than people wanting to share information. Those that have usually will only part with it when they see a gain for themselves. A teacher doesn't teach purely because he/she wants to rather because they're being paid to do it. When they do they follow a curriculum that lists what is to be taught and when. In mythology of course you have the willing teacher imparting knowledge as it is required onto a willing student until such time as the student knows as much as the teacher however this isn't the case today. Limitations have been put in place with the issue of certification. Years ago a person who studied carpentry or sheetmetal work may also know about wiring and electrical work, not today each has its own certification and thus a person's knowledge is limited. We put people in boxes and now because of the dire situation we find ourselves in we say 'go on, change' expecting that everyone will just pick up what's needed and do what is required.
What if...?
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 20th, 2020, 12:45 pm 

JohnD » February 20th, 2020, 4:17 am wrote:Self-centric thinking.

? We are animals; we can't help looking outward from behind out eyes.

Our difference seems to me to be how we measure vertically inclined groups. You look at a singular society with one ruler and I look at the many groups that together make up a society, each in its own context a vertical society.

I wasn't looking at one group or a single ruler. I was looking at stratified vs non-stratified societies.
An "efficient" civilization divides labour.
8. Peasants and soldiers are at the very bottom: oppressed and expendable; often from the same class, so that, for a farm-boy to be sent off to kill other farm-boys is a social step up. 7. Servants and urban labourers marginally better off (in that they have some mobility and choice). 6. Then come white-collar workers - 6. clerks, essentially; still poor (indeed, often paid less than a navvy), but socially "better" than men with callouses on their hands. (Craftsmen and tradesmen are sequestered by neighbourhood so that, while there is a micro-hierarchy within each guild, their social mobility as a class is very limited. They may be classed as 6, 5 or even 4, depending on the society's attitude to artifice.) Then 5. rank-and-file clergy and civil service (often the same thing), then 4. merchants and traders - the class with the greatest latitude of both physical and social movement; arguably, the class in and through which the majority of social change occurs. 3. bankers, 2. landowners, aristocracy (the classes which supply officers for the army, bishops for the church and top administrators for government) then 1. royalty. Each layer has more influence over policy, more privilege, more resources to control, more power to reward and punish - and use - the levels below
That's a vertical arrangement.
A horizontal arrangement is egalitarian, where all members have a say in the selection of leaders and the decisions which affect them all; where the contribution of each is valued and respected.
Democracy is ideally a horizontal arrangement: one man, one vote, equal opportunity, etc. But this is never the case in practice, because democracies are established in pre-existing vertical societies. The classes are already entrenched, as are the attitudes, institutions and wealth distribution.

Yes rulers have a court to summon for their combined knowledge which isn't commonly available to all.

Why should this be so? What's in it for the society?
The Romans where an inclusive society made up of captured states, yes they disposed of those that rebelled or didn't want to be a part of Rome but many statesmen where actually residents of captured states.

Also rigidly stratified - except that the army was so big and active as to facilitate social mobility within the ranks, as well as in the administrative structure of vassal states.
Greeks were renowned philosophers, Alexander the great built libraries, Muslim conquerors built temples with arches that still astound architects today. In all these cases, rulers let it be known they were here to stay.

Yes, a few rulers did that. Of course, Alexander wrecked and plundered and burned hundreds of cities; terrorized populations and destroyed long-established civilizations before he commanded one library to be built. He also named everything after himself.
Ditto the Muslim empires. Some real nice buildings, yes - but they're on the rubble of the previous rulers' nice buildings.
They made themselves a part of the society they conquered.

Hardly. They remade the society they conquered in their own image.

Your depictions sound more latter day empires belonging to the English, French and Spanish.

No, it's been going on much longer. All empires have common features. They just keep getting bigger, because the human population keeps growing and transportation improves.

Democracy is a wonderful way to govern a country but as Plato found out as soon as you get more than one person thinking and acting in a similar manner they form a political faction that if strong enough will dominate a debate. This is the same whether we talk about western or native culture. It is natural that we look for those that think like us.

How different can be the thinking of people who share the same fate? Certainly, there can be disagreements and factions, but if one point of view dominates, it generally carries the vote. That's not a problem, so long as a robust constitution - or a cultural more - guarantees the protection of minorities.
Anyway, Plato's was a very limited franchise; many voices were never heard at all.

Where did we go wrong? It's in the essence of who we are.

A crazy species. Yes. Probably destined for self-termination.

We're explorers and when we explore we look to conquer.

That doesn't necessarily follow. It follows testosteronally, territorially and economically, but not logically.
We explore because we believe we have already achieved and desire to know what else is out there.

There, you have two interesting concepts. Achievement can use some scrutiny, but the more philosophically interesting one is "out there". Whence the idea of in/out?
When we do we look for those that show themselves to be equal to us and if they're not our desire quickly wanes and we look to our companions instead.

I don't get this.
Ask any tourist what food they ate or people they spoke to and most will cite those that are close to what can be found in their own society. Very few will venture beyond this and actually get to know the people and culture of the country they're visiting.

Ask Shirley Valentine to serve you up a nice egg&chip. Yes - explorers are, in reality, a very small segment of any society. We do not all achieve, explore and conquer.
What makes the exceptional personalities that do?
We want change but how much are we willing to let go?

Change is most often thrust upon us. The question in world upheavals is not how much you're willing to let go of, but what can you save?
We desire to learn but how much of life's lessons do we take on board and how much do we dismiss and for what reason?

We each have our own capacity and need; our opportunities and receptive moments.
In my experience, it is more about people wanting to learn than people wanting to share information.

Seems like, it's harder to make a You Tube video on how to build a greenhouse (there are dozens) than to search for one.
Those that have usually will only part with it when they see a gain for themselves.

You can always construe whatever people like as a 'gain'. The old bore who chews you ear off about naval history through an unbearably long dinner party is gaining - what? The pleasure of imparting his knowledge.
A teacher doesn't teach purely because he/she wants to rather because they're being paid to do it.

They're not paid so much as to make that a primary motivation. Which is why a lot potentially brilliant math teachers are playing the stock market or blackjack tables. That leaves the ones who don't have a wide choice of occupations and the ones who desire to teach.
When they do they follow a curriculum that lists what is to be taught and when.

A fair amount of educators' thought, knowledge, experience and care goes into devising curricula. I don't say they're all good at it, and i don't always agree with their priorities, but I don't dismiss them out of hand.
In mythology of course you have the willing teacher imparting knowledge as it is required onto a willing student until such time as the student knows as much as the teacher

That would make advancement, or a well-rounded citizen, impossible. Should not a child learn many different things from many different adults?
Limitations have been put in place with the issue of certification. Years ago a person who studied carpentry or sheetmetal work may also know about wiring and electrical work, not today each has its own certification and thus a person's knowledge is limited.

OTH, you can learn to do all those things for yourself: the knowledge is freely and publicly available.
Division of craft guilds - and qualification of journeymen - goes back a few thousand years.
We put people in boxes and now because of the dire situation we find ourselves in we say 'go on, change' expecting that everyone will just pick up what's needed and do what is required.

That, in a nutshell, is you vertical society - AKA civilization.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 21st, 2020, 12:46 am 

What I've been trying to get at is:
What single, central, fundamental principle (tenet of belief, ideal, creed, commandment) would we need to form a sustainable society?
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby JohnD on February 21st, 2020, 4:57 am 

There's a picture that plays in my head. An old man sits on a chair looking at his hands and pondering his life's work. Just prior to this there was a cataclysmic event that changed everything. He is pondering the worth of all his effort if he is to lose everything he has.
What would we say to him? Everything you did was wrong? Never mind we'll build a new world?
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 21st, 2020, 10:40 am 

JohnD » February 21st, 2020, 3:57 am wrote:There's a picture that plays in my head. An old man sits on a chair looking at his hands and pondering his life's work. Just prior to this there was a cataclysmic event that changed everything. He is pondering the worth of all his effort if he is to lose everything he has.
What would we say to him? Everything you did was wrong? Never mind we'll build a new world?

He knows he must lose everything.* We all die. Whether we leave behind the bomb-craters of Dresden or the Eiffel tower, we do have to leave it.
And somebody behind us will have to decide whether to build it up or tear it down.
I don't tell him anything.
I'm asking him:
What have you learned? What should we do differently?

* This is not a long leap for me to imagine.
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Re: I seek therefore I shall find.

Postby Serpent on February 21st, 2020, 12:38 pm 

I just thought of another way some people think about the cataclysmic event and what they'll leave behind. The ones who are fully conscious that somebody will have to start over and build a new world.
https://www.croptrust.org/our-work/svalbard-global-seed-vault/
https://www.denverpost.com/2018/09/30/fort-collins-seed-vault/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimdobson/2019/02/23/a-doomsday-vault-in-india-holds-frozen-storage-for-the-survival-of-future-generations/#c3def1e1cec2
This is a good idea, but only until the web tatters
https://openlibrary.org/
and this is a brand new endeavour
http://www.libraryofcollapse.org/what-is-the-library-of-collapse/

But there's not much point in rebuilding the same mess, is there? The survivors will have their own ideas, but I hope the prevailing idea that keeps them going is better than "explore, conquer, consolidate power; grow"
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