25 June 2010

"Engineering Culture Launched Modernity"

Cato Unbound | Jack Goldstone | How an Engineering Culture Launched Modernity

18th century English chemist Joseph Priestley:
Nature, including both its materials and its laws, will be more at our command; men will make their situation in this world abundantly more easy and comfortable, they will prolong their existence in it and grow daily more happy. . . the end will be glorious and paradisiacal beyond that our imaginations can now conceive.
This was a radical departure from the belief of almost all civilizations (including that of the classical and medieval West) that humanity’s golden age lay in the past. Instead the new engineering culture proclaimed that an earthly paradise lay in man’s future, and that it would be brought about by mankind’s own progress in developing and applying new scientific knowledge rather than by divine redemption.
I think human folly will always be with us, so there's no paradise in our future.  But it has also always been with us, so there's certainly no golden age in our past.  If technology can improve our lives and we can simultaneously become no more wicked than we are (which is what I see happening) then things get better over time, though never perfect.

No comments:

Post a Comment