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Forum LockedWhy do Civilizations rise and fall?

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charlesbrough View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote charlesbrough Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Why do Civilizations rise and fall?
    Posted: 01-Nov-2008 at 16:30
I want to propose a theory of civilization that explains the whole process of both history and civilization.  Some claim that the continuing of biological evolution explains how we have managed to accumulate the vast cultural/technological heritage we have built up in the last 40,000 years and why we have been able to grow in such numbers as to now dominate the globe. 

Actually, our smaller brain case, thinner legs, better immunity to certain diseases that biologists claim have wrought tiny changes in our genetic heritage certainly do not explain the historical process, why civilizations rise and fall or why we manage to now dominate the world in such a relatively short time.  Evolution is generally a very slow process.

I propose that the explanation is that there is a SOCIAL evolutionary process going on.  That is, natural selection is going on between social entities.  Of course, this would have to be a different process from biological evolution because no genes would be involved.  So, what WOULD be the hereditary mechanism involved?

I propose to answer that question if others here can accept my functional definitions.  If anyone accepts them, I will happily proceed and logically show you the process that explains the rise and fall of civilizations and the course of history!

I define "society" as "a large body of people bonded into a group larger than the largest hunting/gathering groups we evolved to live in through millions of years of evolution---bonded, that is, by having a common ideological system ("religion")."   In other words, we cannot function in any grouping larger than from about 30 to perhaps 100 people maximum without there being a "religion" (a world-view and way-of-thinking system) that we can identify with and which possesses TERRITORY.  These larger social entities or societies are the social evolutionary MAINSTREAM.

Can anyone counter that?  If not, say so and I will use the above to explain history and the civilizational rise and fall process of social evolution . . .

charles
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pinguin View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Nov-2008 at 17:17
Sorry to dissapoint you, but that seems to be the theory of memes of Dawkins. Actually, it is the same concept: memes (or ideas) evolve in society as the animals do in Nature.
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

Inca Pachacutec (1438-1471)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote charlesbrough Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Nov-2008 at 18:26
No, there is really no similarity!  The "meme" theory is about units of culture such as songs, jokes, skills in smelting, every bit of culture as undergoing a natural selection process. 
Thus, better ways and jokes crowd out or select out lesser ones.  So, culture changes.  The meme theory really explains nothing except itself, however.  That is, it explains only the history of only each bit of culture.  You get a fractured view of history that is impossibly complex and leaves us understanding even less than our present recording of history shows has happened.  All this is because, in living forms, evolution has to involve some genetic-like method of retaining what has evolved.  There or no genes or anything functionally resembling them in the meme theory. 

Please show me how the meme theory explains what a civilization is, why it develops, matures, undergoes cycles of rise and fall, and then eventually declines and, as many have in the past, disappears forever (ending up only in museums and history books).  This can all be explained via social evolution---not cultural evolution.



charles
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edgewaters View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Nov-2008 at 20:58
Originally posted by charlesbrough

The "meme" theory is about units of culture such as songs, jokes, skills in smelting, every bit of culture as undergoing a natural selection process. 
Thus, better ways and jokes crowd out or select out lesser ones.  So, culture changes.  The meme theory really explains nothing except itself, however.  That is, it explains only the history of only each bit of culture.


Meme theory is far more complex than that. Meme theory also posits memeplexes, or groups of memes that organize together (kind of like the difference between a single-celled organism like a bacteria and a multicellular organism like an animal). 

Furthermore, memeplexes interact in a kind of ecosystem.

Marxist thought also embraces a concept of social evolution. In Marxism, ideology, religion, culture etc originate from economic conditions - which are themselves an expression or generalization of the root reality, which is supposed to be the "social relations of production". The rise and fall of civilizations - in other words, changes in social relations - is attributed to a process called dialectic materialism.


Edited by edgewaters - 01-Nov-2008 at 21:06
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Post Options Post Options   Quote perfectinsanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2008 at 19:13
Attempting to produce a theory which explains the course of human history would surely be impossible.

I think it is much more achievable to produce a generalisation which can suggest common characteristics of the rise and fall of civilisations, but which will provide no perfect fit to any situation.

Such a broad generalisation would surely have so many exceptions that it could not be credited as a 'law' or 'theory' of history.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2008 at 19:36
Originally posted by perfectinsanity

Attempting to produce a theory which explains the course of human history would surely be impossible.

 
 
Harry Seldon did it.  Big%20smileWink
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pinguin View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2008 at 20:06
You bet!
 
 
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

Inca Pachacutec (1438-1471)
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