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The Problem Is...

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on August 5, 2002 15:24:28 UTC

Hi Mario,

The problem is that when comparing the relative merits of such large entities as cultures over such long periods as millennia, it gets very complex. The question sort of nets out to be, Is a stone-age culture better than a modern industrial culture?

If the number of people is important, as in "the greatest good for the greatest number", then the industrial society wins hands down. Of course, if you net that against the total number of "agony hours", or "misery hours" suffered by people, then that conclusion is no longer clear just because of sheer numbers.

If you look at the average, or typical, or median, individual in each society to make a comparison, then I don't think the issue is clear either.

Of course, if you look at the top 1st, or 10th, or even 20th or 30th percentile of people, the industrial society again wins, hands down.

But if you consider attributes such as physical strength, self sufficiency, resourcefulness, and maybe even things like peace of mind, self satisfaction, or happiness, the stone age society just might be better. It's hard to tell.

In the face of this quandry, I think it should be the highest priority objective of the policy makers of our world, to try to define high level goals and success measures for our species as a whole which would be acceptable and agreeable to the overwhelming majority of humans. Then, if it seems better to revert to stone age culture, maybe we should follow Rousseau's dream and Thoreau's modest start and begin a transition to it. Otherwise, we should focus on the bugs in the industrial system and try to clear them out.

Just my humble opinion on the question.

Warm regards,


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