I was sitting on the deck of my cabin on the side of a mountain in the hollow sipping my morning cup of coffee early one September morning. It had rained the night before and I was looking out over pasture fields where a few wild turkeys grazed with the cattle. On the mountains, rising a mile in front of me across the fields, fog was lifting from the soaked hollows toward the blue sky while the world and I awaited the rising of the sun. The morning air was cool.
As was my wont, I was listening to National Public Radio to get my morning news fix. The stories included a nominee for the Supreme Court who was now accused by several women of forcing himself on them sexually but was still supported by conservative politicians and evangelical religious people for political purposes and a bombing raid carried out in Yemen by Saudi pilots flying planes from America and directed by American advisors who had bombed a bus full of children killing many and a story about our government withdrawing from treaties to combat climate change and canceling regulations that would have alleviated air pollution with greenhouse gases as well as a headline, "Body of missing 6 year old found" and also a link to a video: "Seal slaps kayaker in the face with octopus".
I realized that my body was in an ideal pastoral setting in the real world which should have been near perfection, but my mind was in a world of political and emotional insanity due to the technology bringing me awareness of things happening elsewhere. And I thought of the evolution of modern man and the tipping points on that journey and the present state of the world in which I live.
I began to put together ideas from my present state of knowledge to try to understand this situation.
Many scientists now believe that we may be in one of the many worlds which make up the universe. I am sitting in a thin shell of atmosphere and soil and water and life, a biosphere, enveloping one of billions of rocky planets in that world. This shell is amenable to supporting life, at least at this time. There are very few places that can support life. But if there are billions of planets then it follows that there would also be many millions or billions amenable to supporting life even if only 1 percent were so amenable.
If we can assume that our planet is not special but is typical of such planets and that planets are of various ages then we could deduce, from what we know of the history of our planet, that of every 10,000 planets in the "goldilocks" zone then there may be very rudimentary life on 7700 and 140 may have multicellular life and 100 may have such things as mollusks and fishes with jaws and vascular plants and 90 may have land animals and plants with leaves and roots and 50 may have vertebrates and small mammals and flying vertebrates and 30 may have birds and flowering plants and 5 might have hominids similar to us and 1 or less might have the Homo genus. So, maybe 1 in 100,000 might have conscious, self-aware life similar to Homo sapiens. If most planets are about the same age as Earth then we could expect even more with self-aware life forms such as us or even more advanced.
As modern man evolved he developed a significant difference in his brain that gave him the ability to be self-aware of himself as distinct from his world and a consciousness of that world and that difference and to imagine things that do not exist and to engage in abstract thinking, developing languages and systems of mathematics and writing, and the ability to hold several systems of complex thought in the mind simultaneously. Some call this development in evolution the "cognitive revolution".
About 12,000 years ago man began to cultivate plants and later to domesticate animals. This development we call the neolithic or the agricultural revolution.
500 to 800 years ago, the "enlightenment" led to a new way of discovering the nature of the world we live in and we call this method, science. Science then led to discoveries which made possible the industrial revolution which was changes in the use of energy and the development of technology which made more efficient housing and food production for growing populations of humans and also more efficient warfare in which humans could harm and kill each other and more extensive explorations of the world in which they lived.
Anthropologists say that sometime during the last 200,000 years of the existence of modern man, Homo sapiens; perhaps 40,000 to 75,000 years ago, man's brain made a quantum leap in complexity so that he developed a consciousness of his own mind and the world around him and an ability to imagine things that didn't exist in his world. This probably included a consciousness of the idea of time and its passing. This probably meant he also developed a desire for things that he could imagine but couldn't have leading to the development of technology such as the wheel and then the water wheel to provide power and all the things that came after. It also meant that he now had a reason to fear future events such as his own death or loss of his loved ones. He also began to question the nature of himself and the world in which he lived; the beginning of religion and, later, science.
This development includes the ability to develop languages and systems of mathematics and writing and the ability to hold several systems of complex thought in the mind simultaneously. There is also quite a bit of variability among individual humans in the expression of these traits.
This ability gives man an advantage over other animals in that, among other things, he can coordinate actions among much larger groups of people. Where, in the past, maximum group size was limited to about 150 people, now thousands or even millions can act together because they have a common set of beliefs and knowledge. Some of the things that this brain development make possible are more complex languages, writing, math, and development of entities that do not exist in the real world. These include such things as:
This increased brain ability has resulted in wealth inequalities and social stratification meaning that men think of themselves as belonging to various levels of worth due to being in a social class. It has also resulted in destruction of the environment on Earth that enables complex life to exist as man has invented technology to, in his perception, make life easier. There is some question as to whose life is made easier and whether the actual trade-off was human population growth in return for more suffering and unhappiness among humans.
Later, about 12,000 years ago, his interactions with plants and animals evolved to animal husbandry and horticulture; the dawn of agriculture, which led to large permanent settlements, towns, and a more complex social structure and the slow beginnings of a population explosion which led to his world dominance among living beings or, at least, among large mammals.
So man came to live in crowded habitations and with a desire always for more and better and with a need for social approval and with a fear of his future.
Man has managed in about 200 years to take much of the carbon, that had been sequestered in the Earth by living things in the past 3 billion years, out of the Earth and emit it into the atmosphere where it is changing the climate in ways dangerous to life. He has managed after the advent of agriculture to transform the ecology of entire continents. Modern man's actions have already caused the extinction of well over half the genera of larger mammals that have existed on Earth during his tenure as well as unknown numbers of genera of less complex organisms.
It may be that there were similar developments among species other than modern man but obviously not to the extent this occurred in man.
Again, about 200 years ago, man's science and technology led to an explosion in his need for and use of energy that we now call the industrial revolution. This meant that he now had a vastly increased ability to change, for the better or for the worse, the nature of the planet that supported his existence.
A subjective thing exists only in the individual's imagination such as a child's imaginary friend or our beliefs or world view.
An inter-subjective thing exists in the imagination of many people such as the Catholic church or the United States of America or the local Lion's Club.
We are surrounded all our lives with evidence of the existence of such imaginary things. These include such things as flags and pledges of allegiance and churches and crosses and stars of David and swastikas and Amazon logos. This is to prevent us realizing that these cultural constructs are not real and could be changed or destroyed if enough of us decided that it was in our best interest to do so.
Administration of city-states with increasing populations led to the need for number systems and data processing and this led to writing as an expression of language.
Looking at human culture at a perspective of millennia one can note a decrease in the number of religions, monetary systems, political entities and languages. This could indicate that the future may be an Earth with a world government with one form of money and one language and perhaps even one or no religion.
It seems that our world now contains many greedy and/or egotistical criminals and con men. This is indicated by the existence of religion and patriotism and social strata and vast wealth inequalities. It is unknown to what extent this situation is caused by the cognitive or the neolithic revolution but some think it may be caused by people living in large impersonal cities and by the idea of property ownership and wealth accumulation.
Many of the inter-subjective institutions we have developed seem to have as their main function the suppression of dissent and the elevation of conformity to protect the power and wealth of the ruling classes and to further enrich them. This is particularly true of churches and governments. In some cases, such as the Catholic church which enforces celibacy of its clergy, another function seems to be to hide sexual assault of believers and of children.
It seems to me that we may be "woke" as far as having a conscious mind but we are far from woke as to ultimate enlightenment and peace of mind.
To what extent could we roll back the industrial revolution and the agricultural revolution and the cognitive revolution and what would the world be like then?
What would we like to keep?
If we did not do this rollback as a society, to what extent could we, or would we want to, do it as individuals?
"I have found a planet called Earth and it is overflowing with aggressive peoples who have developed nuclear weapons."
A look of horror crossed the leader's face. "Oh my God!", he exclaimed, "Are they and their weapons then a danger to us?"
"No.", answered the scout, "Because they are pointing their weapons at each other."
Are there, or could there be, many people like this?
60s vs 2018 Earth Studies People's expections of humanity wealth, truth, empathy gaps ignorance, greed and fear are primary problems with our society.