End of class discussion

Today at the end of class we ran out of time discussing whether we would rather live now or 100 years in the past, and i would like to re open discussion. Personally, i believe that modern times are a much safer and more agreeable time to live than 100 years ago. With advances today in things such as medicine, security systems, firearms which can be used for protection, research, time saving, and so many others. Only 100 years ago, cars were only beginning to emerge, and other things we take for granted such as the factory system, television, and refrigeration were barely even conscious ideas in the heads of great innovators. Modern times are definitely better than 100 years ago.

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9 Responses to End of class discussion

  1. sophie says:

    Andrew, I agree with you in that I would much rather live now than 100 years ago. However, in class, I couldn’t help but connect our discussion to a story in the Bible which we just read in English. In the story, when Adam and Eve eat from the middle tree in the Garden of Eden, they gain knowledge and soon realize they are naked. Sure, now they know more, but with knowledge comes evil. As technology and our knowledge of the world grows, we become more powerful, which is sometimes good, but can also be bad. What I am trying to say is that as time goes on, more technology will come and we will be able to do so much. Science can only go so far as that we have to make our own decisions on how we use our knowledge. So relating this back to the time of the Scientific Revolution, do you think people were better off not knowing what was actually going on in the universe?

  2. afriedlander2015 says:

    I think that people are definitely better off knowing more about what is going on in the universe. This helps people to solve modern day problems and the discovery of things regarding the universe, other galaxies, planets, celestial bodies, and so on and the pursuit of these things is what has helped to evolve our society as much as it has. However, some things have not benefited our society. The creation of the nuclear bomb, chemical and biological warfare, and other things where the sole purpose if for destruction have not benefited our society and more directly relate to your metaphor of the garden of Eden. I was referencing more of the positives which i mentioned above.

    • Benjamin says:

      Andrew and Sophie, I’ve found both your posts very insightful and agree that technological knowledge is often a double-edged sword. While I think the discussion on specific pros and cons has a few more avenues, what I’m wondering now is whether there are deeper implications on modern society’s unrelenting search for knowledge; would we, as a society, truly be “better off” having a complete understanding of our universe. Could it be, for example, harmful to our internal moral compasses if scientific inquiry could definitely conclude whether or not God (and the afterlife) exists. While I certainly do not support the Catholic Church’s 17th century policy of academic suppression, I can understand why it would not want its members to be asking (and attempting to answer) such profound and unnerving questions about the nature of life. I speak for myself when I say often I have been absolutely overwhelmed when ruminating on questions such as what happens before time, and whether or not the universe has a finite limit. Thoughts, anyone?

      • mcleverley2015 says:

        Why hold back philosophical inquiry? We’re here on this earth, we exist and we can’t agree why, so the only thing to do is seek an answer that doesn’t need belief. Would you prefer to be comfortable in ignorance or open your mind to the truth of the universe? The truth, whatever it is, will be hard to find and harder to accept, but it certainly seems better than never knowing.
        I think about these things a lot. You don’t have to bear them all on your own shoulders, and you don’t have to answer them all at once. It would probably be better for us to keep pushing to figure it out, because then we can know it, and if we don’t want to, we can deny it. We’re good at denying things that are true.

        • Benjamin says:

          I see what you’re saying Sam (and your views aren’t too far from my own), but for the sake of discussion let me play devil’s advocate here. Firstly, I think on a deeper level this is a really interesting (and big) question, however in the interest of time here are my thoughts on some of its practical applications. So, right off the bat, I do feel that much of human ethics is grounded in some type of spiritual belief. That’s not to say everyone has perfect faith in the deity of their religion or even belongs to a religion, but do I believe when that one really traces back the reasons for our many moral rules, some conception of a higher power is often an important factor. That’s also not to say that religion should be a major factor in our ethics, but that for whatever reason, we as humans are more dependent than it than one would think. Why, for example, does one give charity to the needy? Well, there a few reasons, but ultimately most come back to the fact that helping others in need is just intrinsically good. What happens, I wonder, if some form of science or religion concludes that divine justice is all hogwash and that whether one’s a war criminal or saint, the same fate befalls them. I’m certainly not saying the day such a discovery would be made all society would collapse, but I truly believe that little by little, good act by good act goodness grows more and more absent without some type of spirituality. Now, I’m not totally satisfied with that answer and it covers a tiny fraction of all the arguments that could be made in support of a divine system, but I hope it shows that one shouldn’t so quickly forget about the potential dangers of overly-zealous philosophical inquiry.

          • mcleverley2015 says:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism
            A lot of different things drive different people to do what we do.
            To be completely honest, I doubt we’ll ever see the end of debate between religion and science, simply because one cannot defeat the other. Science stands on fact, and many claims of religion are scientifically impossible – yet religion is apt to retreat into belief, which cannot be disproven. If science were to disprove the possibility of an entity beyond space and time, then religion would adapt to praise a God present in every space between atoms, or something equally fantastic. At the same time, religion cannot disprove science because it holds no facts, and science can only be disproven.
            It’s like rock-paper-scissors, maybe. Science is a rock, hard like the facts. Religion is paper, thin in reality but often covering rock. But it can only cover it up, never eradicate it, so in todays world the two are at a stalemate, though everyone seems to love arguing it anyway.
            Hey, that was a good metaphor. I should write that down.
            Religion will always find a way to have faith, no matter what scientific discovery changes the world. No worries, I think.

    • dharbeck says:

      Although we obviously have more technology now than 100 years ago, I would not say we are anything special, 100 years from now people will be thankful that they did not live in our time, and that cycle will just repeat. We can not constantly refer to ourselves as the most put upon people in history, our generations technology is nothing special, everyone generation will think they are the most advanced at their time.

      • afriedlander2015 says:

        Never was it said, that we were the most advanced generation who will ever exist. The statement was that we are more technologically advanced than we were 100 years ago. While in 100 years, they will be more technologically advanced, we were not debating whether we would want to live now or in the future, but rather now or 100 years ago. Also, each generation will think they are the most advanced at their time, because the ARE the most advanced AT THEIR TIME. Never has human society regressed, so therefore, as time continues we are becoming more and more advanced. Again, while this cycle will repeat, currently we are the most advanced human society has been.

  3. Dr. K says:

    These are great comments, but I want to bring it back the original question we discussed in class, which was essentially this: do you share the Enlightenment’s faith in progress, science, and human knowledge? I asked my question (“Are people better off today than they were 100 years ago?”) because I wanted to see if people believed that progress has happened. If you think that it has, the next question is, will it continue to happen, and why or why not?

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