Science and Technology in World History

Monday, July 5, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

Technological history is a unique point of view that always caught my eye.  David Deming of the American Thinker gives us a brief synopsis of his latest contribution in this genre.  Keep in mind how integral Christianity was to the recovery of Europe after the barbarian invasions and the safekeeping of knowledge by the monastic system that allowed Europe to recover and blossom into what we now call Western Civilization:

Both Greece and Rome made significant contributions to Western Civilization.  Greek knowledge was ascendant in philosophy, physics, chemistry, medicine, and mathematics for nearly two thousand years.  The Romans did not have the Greek temperament for philosophy and science, but they had a genius for law and civil administration.  The Romans were also great engineers and builders.  They invented concrete, perfected the arch, and constructed roads and bridges that remain in use today.  But neither the Greeks nor the Romans had much appreciation for technology.  As documented in my book, Science and Technology in World History, Vol. 2, the technological society that transformed the world was conceived by Europeans during the Middle Ages.

Greeks and Romans were notorious in their disdain for technology.  Aristotle noted that to be engaged in the mechanical arts was “illiberal and irksome.”  Seneca infamously characterized invention as something fit only for “the meanest slaves.”  The Roman Emperor Vespasian rejected technological innovation for fear it would lead to unemployment.

Greek and Roman economies were built on slavery.  Strabo described the slave market at Delos as capable of handling the sale of 10,000 slaves a day.  With an abundant supply of manual labor, the Romans had little incentive to develop artificial or mechanical power sources. Technical occupations such as blacksmithing came to be associated with the lower classes.

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Delayed Adulthood: Preliminary Thoughts

Thursday, August 27, 2009 \PM\.\Thu\.

I have written a bit over the last year about my problems with technological progress and consumerist ideology. One of the most serious consequences of these trends that I have yet to touch upon is delayed adulthood.

Commentators and social theorists are observing that my generation is not growing up. Young adults now take five years on average to get a bachelor’s degree. Marriage, children, home ownership, and a career that can support them all are each coming much later. In the meantime, my generation is living at home with mom and dad, if not all the time, at least some of the time – I myself have had to move in and out of my parent’s home a few times since I graduated.

Only in modern day Western societies, where the struggle for daily existence has been abolished for the majority of the population, could the phenomenon of delayed adulthood arise. It isn’t just that there are too many college degrees and not enough jobs, though that plays an important role. Prolonged education is a part of delayed adulthood. Millions of young people have absolutely no idea what they want to do, what sort of goals they should set for themselves, or what it is that makes life worth living. Meaningful religion has been scrubbed from most of their lives, replaced with some version of Cafeteria Christianity, New Age occultism, or far more frequently, agnosticism, cynicism, relativism and nihilism.

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The Future of American Elections: Online Voting?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 \PM\.\Wed\.

It seems that technological development has made its mark on all sectors of daily life. Why not the democratic process?

The arguments seem reasonable.

The city of Honolulu, Hawaii implemented an “all digital” election in recent local elections, i.e. the ballots were cast either on the Internet, or by phone. This experiment hasn’t made a statement either way for other levels of government. But what would it mean, if millions of people voted from the comfort of their own home — how much hassle and money, in terms of state and federal spending, could be saved if we employed a “digital democracy?”

There are more than 500 million units of fixed-line and mobile telephones in a country of about 305 million. And some 223 million Americans enjoy internet access, the majority of which is broadband.

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-20-2009

Friday, March 20, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1.  Seems like priests and their habits have been ruminating around the blogosphere as of late.  Now Fr. Z has followed up this with insight concerning those for and against this trend.

For the link click here.

2.  Speaking of religious, after enduring the many innovations following the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, vocations have rebounded:

“Nearly 70 percent of Catholic religious communities have seen a jump in vocation inquiries in the past year”

The vast majority of those entering the religious life are tradition-minded adults under the age of 40.

For the link click here.

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Better Living Through Robotics?

Friday, January 2, 2009 \AM\.\Fri\.

In direct defiance of the advice I gave last month, I gave my wife a vacuum cleaner for our 26th wedding anniversary, and I am not eating from a doggie dish.  Of course, being a veteran husband, I took the elementary precaution of asking her first if she would like such a gift, and only proceeded after being given the spousal green light.

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