Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Has civilization improved humanity? H01


        When considering this question, I was reminded of a video shared in my Human Geography class last year. Humans used to live nomadically as hunter-gatherers (few groups still exist today), but as population increased, agriculture and domestication began to take root, leading to civilization. 
Guns, Germs, and Steel, a non-fiction book written by Jared Diamond that later became a documentary broadcasted on PBS, delves into the question about why Eurasian civilizations have survived and conquered others. Diamond argues against the idea that Eurasian dominance is due to any form of intellectual, moral, or genetic superiority and suggests that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate because of geographical and environmental differences.  
Throughout the documentary, Diamond asserts that agriculture is “the worst mistake in human history.” Adopting agriculture also meant embracing social inequality, the idea of power, and disease. Farming is considered a more efficient way of getting a greater amount food and since these crops can be stored, people had the time to contribute to things other than just surviving. However, when studying hunter-gatherer groups today, like the Kalahari bushmen, they have plenty of leisure time, get the right amount of sleep, and work less than farmers; farming also concentrate on less diverse, high carbohydrate foods while hunting and gathering provides more variety and a better balance of nutrients. 
        The notion that a hunter-gatherer lifestyle is “nasty and brutish” is unjustifiable. Farming helped bring malnutrition, starvation- the Irish potato famine-, disease, and complex class divisions. Hunter-gatherers live off the food they obtain each day and therefore live a closely, if not completely, egalitarian lifestyle. 

7 comments:

  1. This is an interesting notion. I have actually meant many people in the past year that wish we could go back to living as hunter-gatherers. They believe it would solve all of our problems.

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  2. (H3) Many people, I think, probably are not fully aware of the true hardships of the hunter gather level of society, which is pretty much subcivilization by most metrics. Also there is the problem of social organization. They level of peace and stability an social order, and believe it or not we have a lot more of that now than ever. At the H-S level. It is probably the Band level of development, which means moderate sized groups of several families living and travailing together as they heard animals if they are lucky. More likely the Family level of society, single family units. If there was ever a war of all against all, it was at these lower stages before the tribe level of development.

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  3. I do not agree that going to back to lifestyle solves problems, as they created the lifestyle to provide security and comfort. We as a people have grown accostumed to having food available at all times, and it actually makes it easier for focus on more important issues

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  4. I do not agree that going to back to lifestyle solves problems, as they created the lifestyle to provide security and comfort. We as a people have grown accostumed to having food available at all times, and it actually makes it easier for focus on more important issues

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  5. In my opinion, civilization has lessened humanity. Has degraded it. Humans don't seek to help others as much any more and only fend for themselves. Selfishness has become a part of humans that came more heavily with civilization.

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  6. Simply bringing up the matter of the social contract reveals that the majority of people tend to fall in line and take the easiest, most traveled road, which leads to society. And civilization, as it grows slowly attempts to return as much freedom as possible to its people whilst keeping its value of ease and protection.

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  7. I have never heard this viewpoint before, but it is an interesting side to take regarding civilization. The idea that maybe if we return to this lifestyle that some of our most vain problems will be solved seems like a really great idea to me. Completely difficult to achieve, but when you look at other people like you have said, they do seem to have even better lives than we do with our technology. It raises a really interesting point.

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