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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > Why did some societies advance and other not?      Home login  
Joined: 12/19/2006
Msg: 2
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Why did some societies advance and other not?Page 1 of 8    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
North American Indians had to deal with winter, but they didn't develop in the same way as cultures in Europe. I think that it has to do with the values espoused by particular cultures rather than environmental factors. Aggressive cultures tend to expand, innovative cultures tend to develop technology, structured cultures tend to develop extensive organizations and networks.
Joined: 1/22/2006
Msg: 4
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Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/15/2007 6:49:49 PM
Well you know how some people can solve rubics cube blindfolded, and others can't stop shitting down their leg at the supper table? If you get too many of groupe 2 in the struggleing civilization then it can't advance, or it does at a drooling can't eat solid food speed.
Joined: 5/29/2005
Msg: 6
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/15/2007 10:02:44 PM
I would recommend Guns, Germs and Steel that deals with this very issue. Makes a very convincing case. To a lesser extent The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers makes some good points too. But I'm not going to try to precis either one.
Joined: 6/12/2006
Msg: 7
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/16/2007 12:44:55 AM
I second the recommendation for "Guns Germs and Steel" for those interested in this issue.
Joined: 10/5/2005
Msg: 8
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/16/2007 7:36:59 AM
It all comes down to the economy. When a nation state reaches a level of stability, secuirty and economic capacity to go beyond basic survival, it can then invest resources in the arts, letrature and scientific progress. That explains the early civilization in the middle east and egypt.

Sumerians and Egyptions built their civilizations around the agreculture around fetrile river vallys, protected by desert. The deserts give them a nice buffer zone against nomadic attacks and offered them the security to grow. Then the need for adminstration gave birth to taxation and city states were born.
Joined: 12/31/2006
Msg: 10
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Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/17/2007 10:01:28 PM
I think it has to do with cross cultural mixing of ideas, often at the point of a sword. When you run into other cultures, some of the things they do just seem like good ideas, so you do it too. Or sometimes when you're being attacked by another culture then you need to come up with something new in order to survive. The cultures who didn't advance just had themselves to deal with, so they didn't get good foreign ideas or get forced by survival requirements to come up with good ideas of their own.
Joined: 12/27/2005
Msg: 16
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Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/19/2007 5:16:55 AM
What you are asking is why did the European culture develop technology and conquer the world and other societies didn't ?
After all, the only real difference historically between us and Native Americans, Africans, or Asians has been the level of technology. There isn't anything intrinsically or morally superior about our culture in comparison to theirs.
I would say it's really just a matter of, we got to it first.
If the Africans had of developed technology and used it to spread African culture all over the world at the point of a gun, then some African would be asking today how come the Europeans didn't become " advanced ".
Joined: 1/10/2007
Msg: 17
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/19/2007 10:00:30 PM
There's also the thought of the natural resources easily available to use. Amazon indians don't have alot of metals easily found.
Joined: 7/23/2006
Msg: 20
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/20/2007 9:07:19 PM
As several people have mentioned previously, read "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond. The PBS series was lacking, but the book is pretty good. He has some very interesting theories and they do make you think.

I have read Collaspe and The Third Chimpanzee by the same author. All were quite interesting.
Joined: 6/17/2006
Msg: 22
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Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/22/2007 11:08:57 PM
I haven't read every post - just scanned some. Genetics, tropical diseases, predation, cannibalism, climate, climate change, agriculture, levels of societal aggression (protection) - all those and more have led to the diversity of cultures some advancing and other remaining unchanged for, in some examples, MILLIONS of years.

What is especially amusing are the morons who adhere to some PC drivel that we are ALL the same. I have spoken with teachers who actually believe that if all the advanced cultures of the 14th and 15th centuries got together and declared AFRICA off limits that Africa would have developed jet fighters, anthrax vaccines, nuclear reactors, lasers, VW's and that it was / is completely the fault of the white imperialist colonialists who kept Africa the way it was / is.

In Blood Diamonds, after a particularly brutal scene they are comparing notes and trying to give some reason to it all. In the end and very quickly, they give up and just mutter, "TIA."

This is AFRICA.

""The next 20 years will determine if our grandchildren speak Russian, Chinesse or English.""

Assuming of course that there ARE grandchildren ... As we poison ourselves and become genetically weaker the bugs, who we have declared war on for over a century are getting stronger and stronger. I fear Mother Nature is verily p!ssed at the most destructive infestation this planet has ever experienced and we all know what Mother Nature is capable of doing when She's pi$$ed, right?
Joined: 12/31/2006
Msg: 24
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Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/23/2007 10:40:26 AM

Someone will no doubt argue computers are such a cornerstone, however, I think this is mistaken. Computers are another method of communication and so are an advancement of cuneiform not an advancement beyond. And this is what it seems our 'civilization' is best at: advancing what is already known. Why is that?

Actually computers were originally designed to do calculations, so it's an advancement of the abacus, not cuneiform.

I think because so many of the broad concepts have already been discovered. Not to say every concept has been discovered, but every random idea isn't a completely new thing like it was in prehistoric and ancient times.
Joined: 6/17/2006
Msg: 26
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Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/23/2007 8:58:11 PM
""doubt we have even skimmed the surface of radical innovation. That we think we have is more a societal problem than reality.""

Amen to that.

The Mesopotamians had worked out most of what we know now as "modern" algebra before the Egyptians learned how to lay blocks.

The Greeks ditto when it came to Geometry. Democracy had its earliest beginnings there. The Romans tried to copy it but resorted to back stabbing when any one pol won too many popularity contests.

Although there is no ancient written languages amongst the Incas, Mayans. Aztecs, Olmecs etc they appear to have discovered ways to accurately measure the distances between Hydrogen atoms or the distance to the moon. Very early Indian math appears to have had similar knowledge. It's taken 4000 yrs to return to that knowledge.

The first few Egyptian dynasties supposedly built the pyramids. The later dynasties forgot how and stuck their kings in rock crevices in gullies. Huh?

Our earliest civilizations are filled with ironies, contradictions, anachronisms. The one unalterable truth however is that from 6,000 years ago or so, we have taken a few steps forward and a whole bunch BACK - musually in the form of wars and intolerances of somebody else's ideas or beliefs. If we had continually advanced on previous knowledge, matured as societies and innovated and improved on what had gone on before we would have colonies half way across the Galaxy by now.

I've got to wonder when the next step BACK is going to be because if you think we've got it right this time you are either terminally naive or woefully ignorant.
Joined: 10/14/2006
Msg: 28
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/25/2007 1:23:38 PM
Certain areas of the world are simply more condusive to the production of more wealth, the consequent developement of greater technologies, and the growth of larger, more concentrated centres of population.

However, while many societies advanced technological, this came at the expense of culture and social cohesion. Tribal societies for instance are characteristically low-tech, but have relatively high levels of in-group solidarity, ie. social and cultural cohesion. They don't suffer from the same social ills that caused, say, the Roman Empire for instance to begin spawning cults of urban salvation, eg. Christianity, in droves.

Such cults are never found amongst rural societes, save when an urban society has devoted massive resources to exporting them there. And the reason why is obvious, they don't suffer from the very social ills such cults came into being to address.

Urban-based societies have tended to spawn such cults because, socially, they have failed miserably.

So, in asking why certain societies advanced, it is also important to investigate IN WHAT WAYS those socieities that advanced did advance, and which ways they did not.
Joined: 6/3/2006
Msg: 29
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 2/25/2007 7:01:34 PM
I often wondered that myself. I don't believe it has anything to do with differences in intelligence, because we are all human and are all capable of learning new things. I think that the differences may have arrised from religious and cultural differences. For example, my case point is India. Up until very recently, and to still to a degree, was slow to advance technologically and socially due to the very restrictive caste system. It was considered pointless to try to lift oneself up, and improve one's lot in life because one's lot in life was predestined. I guess that is one example when religion truly was the opiate of the masses.

As for other cultures around the world, I believe that mid-east, and Greek societies were advanced due to their tolerance for learning and philosophy. Greece being the cradle of civilization. That is were it began. Actually it was both Egypt and Greece. During the Hellenestic period.

As for early European societies, they did not advance until the dawn of the rennaissance. That is when a new paradigm was formed. The earth was no longer seen as geocentric, but heliocentric, that is, revolving around the sun.

Before then, religious fervor, and superstition was the day.
Joined: 9/30/2006
Msg: 33
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Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/2/2007 9:55:17 AM
ecconomic development, bottle neck, supply and demand.

Plus some folks just like to sit around.

I think it comes down to who wants to sit on thier a _ _ more?


 Jay Jays
Joined: 1/17/2007
Msg: 34
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/2/2007 10:42:06 AM
I think it's religion actually. Or more accurately how open minded people in authority used religion anyways. If you have studied the different religions of successful advanced societies, they all seem to have one common denominator...

The religions all seem to have been developed by people who had advanced knowledge of things. For example, say what you want about the Bible, but the old testament is just full of valuable information to help formulate a successful ancient society.

Like laws preventing certain foods from being eaten and the outlaw of inbreeding just to name a couple.

I think that the people who came up with these rules for the success of society, and enforced them through the use of religion, must have been people who were far more intelligent than the norm. And sometimes one or two exceptionally gifted people is all it takes.
Joined: 5/19/2006
Msg: 39
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/6/2007 3:47:30 AM
The notion of developed or advanced in itself a rehetorical question as its assuming it either eclipses or is relative to western culture.
The clear answer is that each culture just is.
Each culture in itself is beautiful, intriguing.
Is an Elephant more advanced that an Eagle and if you decide in either the positive or
negative you are standing in judgement of an existing culture which is impossible as each and
every culture is forever changing, enlightened and growing.
You choose the measuring stick at your peril.

what a wonderful post, wonderful additions, thankyou all.
Joined: 9/25/2006
Msg: 40
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/6/2007 4:30:35 PM
Because some are inferior to others.

No, seriously, I have what's called a gold-digging theory- whoever gets to it first has all the advantages. European and Asian cultures were the first to come up with technology as we know it today (electricity, steam engines, and the like). Therefore, everything ballooned from there.

You have to remember that the amount of time we've had technology is a millisecond in comparison to the amount of years we've inhabited the earth. So it shouldn't be a far stretch to hypothesize that had we started it all over, other civilizations may have reached it first.

I also think the Punic wars had a very large effect. When Rome beat the sh-t out of Carthage, it probably had major effects on who was able to do what. It's kind of hard to invent new technology when you don't have a strong military presence, or prosperity. Rome's ability to have both while taking it away from Hannibal and co. was crucial to European development. Just look at the strong presence of the Roman empire in our everyday culture.

Put short, whoever reaches technology first really depends on being in the right place, at the right time, with the proper resources.
Joined: 5/19/2006
Msg: 42
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/6/2007 11:37:15 PM
sancho, well said and understood, I suppose my point was that seeing that each and every culture falls, at least in the perspective of which they are acknowledged by the world ie; The Eygyptian, Inca Spannish and Roman Cultures. In the sense of what they are known for, they failed. I believe ours will too I dont mean for a minute that it will occur soon or its a doomsday prediction but it will. So in effect what we do judge cultures on is the imparted properties they have afforded us all. I very humbly believe that evolution is perfect, I dont mean to eyr anyone but believe that to accept eveolution and accept that it is natures detergent, global warming is natural and pure evolution. It is unstoppable and we have no choice in accepting its beauty as we have accepted it its best forms. Maybe this is best left for another post. But we want it both ways, us highly developed and reducing sickness and poverty, the magnificence of living Coral and the means to enjoy it thoroughly, the cost and subsequent consequences is a changing of the guard and all it glory.
Evolution didnt stop once we had noticed it existed.

Wonderful reading thanks all...!
Joined: 12/31/2006
Msg: 46
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Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/8/2007 1:32:27 AM

There is an ancient Chinese Political Philosophy that addresses this. If I remember correctly, its called the "Dynastic Cycle". It basically goes like this:

1. Revolution to overthrow a currupt leadership
2. Rebuilding that civilization with a new vision and leadership
3. Golden years of prosperity
4. Prosperity turns to curruption
5. Leadership gets overthrown by revolutionaries and a new dynasty is formed.

It starts all over again and every dynasty which is formed is bound to follow the same cycle. You can apply it to the fall of Rome and a lot of other societies as well.

I think this is valid, but pretty much only for China. When the Chinese govt gets overthrown, the people who overthrow it end up being Chinese within a few generations, and it's buisness as usual. When Rome was overthrown there wasn't a new Rome to replace it (well ok, If you count Julius Cesaer and Augustus overthrowing the senatorial system, but not after the "real" fall of Rome)
Joined: 2/8/2007
Msg: 48
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/11/2007 5:59:29 AM
In hunter gatherer cultures, individuals spend maybe around 15 or so hours a week to satisfy their nutritional needs, and the rest of their time is more or less their own. They it seems choose to sleep, socialise, chatter, visiting friends or other groups etc. to fill up the vast amount of free time they have Their technological requirements to sustain this lifestyle are so easily replaceable that they do not value material good at all. Farming required far more time to provide nutritional needs, and free time was generally between harvesting and planting where socialising could, if the harvest was adequate, occur. But there were variables, flooding, drought, infestation, disease could seriously interfere with both the social and private life's of groups and lead inevitably to disputes and even wars. In order to reduce the probability of famine farming communities solved problems in practical ways through technological innovations. So with settled communities as in today’s civilised farming, town and city folks, work and travelling times interferes with social interactions. We are all when said and done, a very social species, and work interferes with our social interactive nature. Technology has stepped in and although commitments can separate us from our chosen social groups the phone for example can make it seem we are with friends or family although in reality we are not actually with them, which I hope highlights the human dilemma. We have over time, due to circumstances now beyond our control developed a social system, which runs contrary to our evolutionary social nature. In order to have a personalised and chosen social life labour saving technologies have allowed us, in theory, to claw back personal time. This has unfortunately been counteracted by the population increase which puts further pressured on food production and civilised living, taking us yet again a few steps backwards in the private time access game, so each technological advance gives an illusion of added freedoms for a time, while reality inevitably overtakes us again. All technological progress is for the dream of a better and safer world, we all have swallowed and religiously believe and participate in the dream, ritually working to sustain our needs and finding all the time the dream remains just that, a dream. So its heads down, shoulders to the social and economic grindstone, smile please while inflationary whips, and economic pressures keep the deluded but inspired slaves in a near perfect behaviourally ordered societies. If you find this pill a little hard to swallow the clever and knowing ones for thousands of years keep us in line by informing us all that if you can' get it in this life, then as promised by most world religions or philosophies there is no need to worry, you are guaranteed to get it in the next one. And how can we all be certain that this is a real and accurate truth, well no one has yet to return to complain it is not true, so they are obviously right, silly me!
Joined: 3/12/2007
Msg: 50
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/18/2007 3:58:53 AM
I gotta hit they hay, so I didn't read all three pages. But incase it hasn't been said yet:

Necessity is the mother of invention.

A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem. This saying appears in the dialogue Republic, by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

Some Greek or Roman guy invented a small metal ball that spun, powered by steam flowing out of it. Scaled up, it could be harnessed for labour. They used flowing water instead, to power bread mills; and horses to pull chariots. They didn't need steam power.

The main reason steam and electricity were not harnessed is that there was an abundance of slaves to move heavy loads.. Whatever needed doing could be done by slaves or domesticated animals.

The Sumerians invented the wheel for chariots, bronze armor and weapons. They used phalanx fighting formations 2,000 years before the Greeks. They had walled cities, the first empire in history, and participated in siege warfare. They were forced to innovate because they were constantly attacking eachother, or being attacked by their more populous and powerful neighbors. (By the way they lived between the Tigris and Euprates, so it was prime realistate. And very hard to defend.) Meanwhile American Indians go their entire history from birth to death, without ever using metal tools or weapons. If the Indians were being attacked by powerful groups armed with the latest in bronze age technology, they would certainly want to improve their armor and weapons too.

Judging by our own Western/Modern history, it would seen that large scale war really boosts technology. How many things would we not have if it weren't for international conflicts? Plenty of deadly stuff for sure, but plenty of everyday stuff too.
Joined: 6/29/2006
Msg: 53
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/19/2007 10:30:19 AM
Funny how people are racist and not even know it.

The term 'advance' in this thread's title implies that one society is..... ahead of, better than, another society. It implies that as time goes on, eventually the 'other societies' would 'catch up' to the 'advanced' one.

Different world views, different ideologies....lead to different value systems and energies being devoted to different things. It does not mean that one is more or less 'advanced' than the other .

By your simply using the word 'advance' it shows that you see your culture as superior....and thus deep down inside (perhaps even subconciously) you are racist

This is not meant as an attack, but simply to bring this into your awareness.
Joined: 4/28/2004
Msg: 56
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/31/2007 7:06:00 PM
geography is a factor. geography is one reason that has been offered for an explantion for the disparity in advancement between eastern and western europe.

there is also the effect of conquest. ie: if a less technologically advanced people are conquered by a more technologically advanced people, there is an exchange of knowledge that often has a lasting impact and influece upon the conquered. but when the reverse happens, ie: rome, you have a loss of knowledge. sowell wrote a great book called "conquests and cultures," which discusses in depth the spread of knowledge and the development of nations through out history. it s a fascinating read that i could not put down.

religion and cultural values also play a major role. one says what is allowed, and one says what is important. these set parameters as to what knowledge can and should be explored.

Joined: 3/28/2007
Msg: 57
Why did some societies advance and other not?
Posted: 3/31/2007 7:43:43 PM
This is an interesting question but lacks in some contextual framework.

What do you mean by society? What do you mean by "advance"?

As a culture, Western civilization has advanced to large scale pollution threatening all life on the planet (which much no dount piss off some guy at the top of the Andes who upon watching say, the nuclear destruction of say, Brazil under a mushroom cloud must winder to himself "what did I do to deserve this?"), war on a scale (biological, chemical, nuclear) that is utterly terrifying, food we can't really eat and water that's unfit nearly the world over. Not to mention the pap that passes for "TV", consumerism and I swear the general drop in IQ and common sense. We live in a society that had forgotten the pharmocopia known for thousands of years because they're not patentable.

Compare and contrast this to a culture that lives in harmony with its environment. They haven't "advanced" ? Perhaps they don't need to.

Take a map of the world and put a pin in the places where all great technological improvements have taken place. You'll find they're all in cold countries.

I'm not sure future historians will be very kind to what we today call "civilization".

I also agree Jared Diamonds books are the People magazine of science and history - pulp science bordering on fiction.
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