View Poll Results: Does our species have control of it's own history?

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  • Yes - full control

    0 0%
  • No - not at all

    2 33.33%
  • Some - a lot of control

    0 0%
  • Some - a little bit of control

    2 33.33%
  • Unclear

    2 33.33%
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Thread: Does our species control the arc of it's own history? If not, what does?

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    Does our species control the arc of it's own history? If not, what does?

    The question is - do human beings have either partial or full control over their own history? And if not, what dictates the over-arching direction of the same history?

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Yes, in that it is produced by our objects and desires. No, in that those objects and desires are largely a product of our environment and circumstances, over which we exercise little real control either as individuals, classes, or as a species.

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    Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    I voted 'unclear' because we have no real cohesion as a species. There are two many divisions, political, religious, ideological, etc, standing in the way of controlling our future. Not to mention how the environment shapes the decisions we make.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Yeah, people 'control' the arc of history the same way that a tug-o-war team 'controls' the direction that the centre of the rope moves in.

    If enough people decide to pull hard enough in a given direction, then they can make things happen. But generally you can't get them to do that, and if you do, they won't do it for long.

    The difference is that the possible directions for a tug-o-war are twofold - but the possible directions for history are countless. Which makes the problem a LOT harder.

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    the baby-eater
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    I think individual humans have negligible control over history, and if we want to understand why history unfolds as it does, we need to model the behaviour of human populations.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfield View Post
    I think individual humans have negligible control over history, and if we want to understand why history unfolds as it does, we need to model the behaviour of human populations.
    I agree. Individuals like to try, but are invariably the victims of unintended consequences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Yes, in that it is produced by our objects and desires. No, in that those objects and desires are largely a product of our environment and circumstances, over which we exercise little real control either as individuals, classes, or as a species.
    I once heard someone on Twitter mention something along the lines of:

    "Human history is a sub-set of ecological history"

    When you think about it it's obvious, but I think unintuitive to most due to the common misconception that we're masters of our environment. Many people think there is some smart group of people, somewhere in the distance, quietly protecting us from disaster. Unfortunately that group of people doesn't exist.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Yes, in that it is produced by our objects and desires. No, in that those objects and desires are largely a product of our environment and circumstances, over which we exercise little real control either as individuals, classes, or as a species.
    I once heard someone on Twitter mention something along the lines of:

    "Human history is a sub-set of ecological history"

    When you think about it it's obvious, but I think unintuitive to most due to the common misconception that we're masters of our environment. Many people think there is some smart group of people, somewhere in the distance, quietly protecting us from disaster. Unfortunately that group of people doesn't exist.
    Well, when I say "environment" I do not exclusively mean the natural environment. If asking questions of desire and volition, common culture seems to me a more significant factor. But then, culture itself and natural ecology are in a complex, reciprocal exchange of cause and effect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Yes, in that it is produced by our objects and desires. No, in that those objects and desires are largely a product of our environment and circumstances, over which we exercise little real control either as individuals, classes, or as a species.
    I once heard someone on Twitter mention something along the lines of:

    "Human history is a sub-set of ecological history"

    When you think about it it's obvious, but I think unintuitive to most due to the common misconception that we're masters of our environment. Many people think there is some smart group of people, somewhere in the distance, quietly protecting us from disaster. Unfortunately that group of people doesn't exist.
    Well, when I say "environment" I do not exclusively mean the natural environment. If asking questions of desire and volition, common culture seems to me a more significant factor. But then, culture itself and natural ecology are in a complex, reciprocal exchange of cause and effect.
    That's an interesting point. In one perspective, I'd wonder how you would delineate between the 'natural' environment and our culture. Is our culture not just a (complex) part of our natural environment?

    And on the other hand, the point would still stand - ecology provides the conditions for culture. The resulting culture can be highly variable, but things like food security / climate etc have huge impacts on how those cultures must look.

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