We always make a decision. I type these words and you will decide what they mean to you. It doesn’t have to be deliberate. We are conditioned if we aren’t instead mindful. It will happen one way or another.
Let’s take a step back from science… Someone noted that religion gave us something better than the pre-existing barbarity. Lets’ run with that. I personally agree with that in part.
Even archaeologically many of the innovations we attribute to advanced society came not from science as many claim today, but were inspired and motivated by religion. The world’s oldest cities were formed not because they served any practical purpose, but quite to the contrary. They had some seriously impractical effects on people. Disease being a big one.
They were religious centres without the rise of large communities, and it was religion that guided things like agricultural practices and related knowledge. Without large communities, the cosmopolitan era, the age of empires would never have emerged. All those great philosophical thinkers would be having their thoughts in some small village and likely just muttering to themselves. Ever try to share a deep insight at work? The Greek schools of philosophy would never have formed.
I saw a show recently that said that when a city doubles in size, the average salary goes up something like 11%. In fact, every thing increases 11%…more stores, theatres, museums…better standard of living for every time the population doubles. Indeed, and there are researchers who are even now studying this hive effect. It seems we naturally perform very well in cities and they are trying to devise ways that cities can be optimized both for social and practical prosperity as well as environmental balance, sustainability. They are anticipating a zero emissions city in the near future. It’s being built in the middle east.
If you think about it, the internet is like a world wide city with all the benefits of that 11% growth. Indeed. Second Life would even give us the space and natural structure so that internet contact feels like a community or city, even allowing us communication like public image and body language in a more intuitive way.
What transitioned our cities out of their original state, as religious and cultural centres, was a changing view of society. Originally, religion was seen as the cornerstone of societies stability. Humanity and nature itself was thought to only maintain it’s harmony and well being through the order and communion or community provided by religion in the cities. And in fact, society did prosper under this social cohesion. The Pax Romanum was a religious as well as a philosophical force, and it worked so well that cultures come into contact in such a way that the respective societies weren’t prepared for what they would experience and learn. The Roman Empire was remarkably wealthy, and we tend to think of them as being technologically primitive, scientifically backward, but this is very far from the case. Their grasp of technology and engineering was rather advanced in ways that we haven’t really improved on even in the modern era. Damascus steel was devised by the Muslims who were very keen on learning as much as they could from Egypt and Africa. They understood electricity enough to engage in electroplating. They even had the means and understanding to can food like we do now. Many of the technologies they didn’t invent they spurned more on philosophical grounds than on whether or not they were possible. Canning food in metal containers was seen as a waste of time.
Yes, all these things were invented out of necessity, not curiosity. Well, the luxury of curiosity had it’s chance to emerge during this time, and in fact it did. Also, this wide spread cultural contact lead people to question their own societies beliefs. Many migrated and even “went native.” The figure we would come to know as King Arthur seems very likely to have been one such example. The very first knight as we know them was in fact a Roman Centurion and an African who had earned his citizen status under the Roman government. Unfortunately, they can only really speculate as regards King Arthur, but this knight I spoke of is substantiated, and I offer his as an example of the point I made earlier. Cultural hybridization shifted cities from community and religious centres to centres of exchange, ideas as well as trade goods. This is what lead to the rise of a strong merchant caste and the ultimate sublimation of feudalism as a mode of government.
Yes, it is also true today. Cities as centres for exchange of ideas.
Even those countries, that do in fact still govern themselves in a feudal manner, have to adapt it to cope with the current state of affairs world wide. It was all this idea exchange, and free time leading to tinkering, that gave us a chance at industrialism.
In the renaissance, it was the rich merchant families that funded cultural endeavours. Indeed, and the still rich nobles as well who were perhaps more of a social elite (and to some degree still are) forming the “old money” element of society. This is in fact why the old money families disdain the newly rich.
A threat to their power. Their culture as a people was already established well before the industrial era made the mercantile tyrant possible. Even the American mafia was a carry over of Italian feudalism. Even the KKK call themselves knights. There are still orders of knighthood today, even if they aren’t in fact military bodies.
Kings and knights were really just the toughest warlords, thugs. Yes, toughest or most shrewd. Some did hold onto their political power through the art of diplomacy.
They used to raid villages, rape women, and kill priests, then the church came out with a code of conduct for knights. Chivalry as a form of self protection for the priests. Yes, and the clergy was mostly composed of lesser ranking members of noble households. That’s why they killed them. They didn’t so much care about their religious standing as that they were the second son of Baron so and so.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.