Re: [unrev-II] Garden of Eden

From: Rod Welch (
Date: Thu Jun 08 2000 - 14:13:05 PDT

  • Next message: Yee Su Ling: "[unrev-II] Re: 6/1/2000 OHS minutes"


    Very perceptive analysis that bears on efforts to augment human intelligence
    with a DKR based on understanding foundations of civilization, and environment
    that shaped the evolution of the human brain. I do not have time to address the
    substance of your remarks, as well as those by Eric, Paul and others who have
    contributed strong points on other dimensions of this subject.

    Bringing things forward, there may be a useful corollary between your Garden of
    Eden construct, and our modern day methods of conducting daily business, which
    leads directly to the need for a different kind of technology.....


    John \"sb\" Werneken wrote:
    > What Garden of Eden.
    > I think it wonderful that you are a romantic; celebrating feelings I think
    > is generally a good thing, and perhaps it would be better if more
    > technologically expert people did so more often.
    > Major collision with the Earth would leave more evidence. The rock creating
    > the Gulf of Mexico certainly did, probably including the major extinction
    > that trimmed away the dinosaurs and began the advance of the mammals. I
    > doubt anything remotely similar has happened since.
    > People's drive to categorize, explain, and predict things clearly is a
    > survival trait, and I think it equally clear that we tend to come up with
    > explanations even in the absence of evidence. Creation myths are I think a
    > good example. The tendency of mythological gods to resemble simply human
    > beings with more strengths and powers is another.
    > There is some evidence I think for two "Edens", neither of which recommend
    > themselves to me as desirable states. Some genetic evidence suggests less
    > than 10,000 humans at one time, somewhere in the range of 50 - 200,000 years
    > ago. Probably entirely in East Africa. Perhaps 20 tribes altogether. These
    > people clearly did not have our relationship to the world, they were of it
    > and not its masters. Their lives were short, difficult, without much in the
    > way of artistic culture, and with a material culture that changed only
    > slowly, over multiples of 100,000 years.
    > One theory holds that the last major genetic endowment acquired by human
    > beings was that of fully expressive language, both in the sense of
    > inter-personal communication and in the sense of thoughtful analysis. The
    > indirect evidence for this includes the facts that four things occurred in a
    > very short time frame, especially considering that proto-humans had been
    > around for a time an order of magnitude longer with none of these things
    > happening: (1) The material culture began to change rapidly, adding the
    > means for living in and subduing most of the world's environments; (2)
    > artistic culture began to flourish; (3) genetically modern human beings came
    > to inhabit all the world's continents; and (4) the number of human beings
    > increased by at least two orders of magnitude, perhaps to 2,000,000.
    > Eden Number One was a dead end, with nothing to recommend it, other than the
    > fact that humanity might have then been exterminated by a single disease or
    > a single natural catastrophe, and the fact that the world at the time would
    > have little noticed man's demise.
    > Modern human beings were around for tens of thousands of years before the
    > next major change, which seems to have first occurred independently in four
    > different places: Central America; northern China; southern China; and the
    > Middle East in the mountains from Palestine through Turkey and into Iran.
    > This was of course agriculture.
    > One theory holds that as the last ice age lifted, the mountains of the
    > fertile crescent became an environment with better rainfall, warmer
    > temperatures, and quite a variety of vegetation growing at different
    > altitudes. There is evidence that people built relatively permanent
    > settlements that lasted for 100's of years, before the first crops or
    > domestic animals. They may have lived a hunter-gather lifestyle that could
    > be idealized as an Eden, finding adequate food supplies in the wild game and
    > in the vegetation ripening at different times at different altitudes.
    > Probably subsistence required on the order of two days or less full time
    > labor per week. Probably diet allowed a more robust stature than that of
    > their agricultural descendants. But to characterize this as Eden is to
    > ignore the benefits of science and medicine, of writing and law, of economic
    > advance, and of such concepts as individual liberty.
    > Perhaps the little ice age of the Younger Dryas saw climate dry and cool
    > enough to force those people to develop agriculture if they were to sustain
    > their populations. Work as we know it came in to the world. And so in a few
    > thousand years did civilization itself, as the early farmers began to expand
    > from original hilly terrain into the plains.
    > I don't understand the apparent hostility to civilization that seems
    > implicit in any idealization of any early Eden. It is only through
    > civilization that the vast majority of us are enabled to survive. It us
    > civilization that makes possible the higher arts and sciences, including the
    > DKR project as well as the livelihoods of all of the individuals who
    > participate in it.
    > It is civilization and its wealth and freedom which makes possible the
    > holding of different views on such matters as our origins or what way of
    > life is desirable, with little fear of violent retaliation from those whose
    > views differ. This is a very new thing under the sun, and I believe it is an
    > achievement we should hold as precious.
    > Government exists primarily to protect us from each other; secondarily to
    > provide rules or frameworks enabling us to pursue our different goals with
    > some measure of autonomy and with some predictability for at least the
    > limits of the actions of others; and thirdly to undertake some tasks of
    > common benefit.
    > Government is capable of attempting to direct the life-goals and
    > life-pursuits of individuals. When used in this way, government of necessity
    > limits freedom and progress and exposes the people so governed to a
    > demonstrable practical disadvantage as compared to peoples with better and
    > more limited governments. I would thing that if the twentieth century has
    > taught us anything at all, it would be that government is the wrong vehicle
    > for our higher aspirations.
    > This is so for two reasons, moral and practical. There is no moral
    > difference between the overwhelming majority legislating for you what you
    > should do, and me as an individual enslaving you to my will. Violence and
    > the threat of violence are required to these ends. The ends never justify
    > the means; the ends ARE the means.
    > The practical reason is simply that individuals do not have perfect
    > knowledge. This is more obvious, more certain, and its implications are more
    > profound in the case of one individual's imperfect knowledge of the needs
    > and wants of another. The Free Market uses the actual knowledge that all the
    > individuals have of their own needs and wants to make its decisions on what
    > goods and services to produce. This collected knowledge will inherently be
    > superior to any collective decision-making by planners and authorities.
    > There is a simple solution to the problem that some things are without
    > ownership and hence tend to be treated poorly by the markets - such as
    > species diversity, clean air, or unspoiled vistas. Give them owners. Then
    > they will be given value in the market place and will be conserved, as all
    > valued properties are.
    > Business is nothing but the desires of all individuals, expressed
    > autonomously and honestly in their purchasing decisions. Government in
    > contrast reflects the decisions of a smaller group. In Government decisions
    > are not made autonomously by individuals, they are made collectively by
    > groups. And government decisions are fundamentally dishonest, in three ways.
    > First, the leaders are actually acting mostly out of perceived self-interest
    > (how could it be otherwise?) yet cloak their decisions in expressions of
    > intended benefit for others.
    > Second, the decisions about the intended benefits to others are being made,
    > not by the beneficiaries, but by the leaders, who must know less about the
    > true desires and true impacts involved than the intended beneficiaries do.
    > Third, in voting one gives of something which has to him no cost - he can
    > vote for as many benefits for himself as he likes. There is no feedback
    > mechanism to prevent the voting in of some mandatory utopia, with all its
    > well-known consequences. The opposite is true of decisions to buy: one knows
    > limits to one's purchasing power, and hence must decide amongst
    > alternatives. There is thus a feedback mechanism to select more beneficial
    > alternatives over time.
    > That is what the profit motive is all about: selecting the more beneficial
    > alternative. I fail to grasp the problem here.
    > ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    > ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    > Community email addresses:
    > Post message:
    > Subscribe:
    > Unsubscribe:
    > List owner:
    > Shortcut URL to this page:

    IT Professionals: Match your unique skills with the best IT projects at

    Community email addresses:
      Post message:
      List owner:

    Shortcut URL to this page:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jun 08 2000 - 14:53:46 PDT