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Can man become civilised

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Mark1955
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Can man become civilised

Post by Mark1955 » December 29th, 2018, 7:48 am

From an evolutionary biological perspective we are still running around the savanna hunting and gathering in small packs of ~120 people. Since we are mostly living a civilised life [and by civilised I mean the literal definition of the latin term i.e. we live in cities] can we evolve into a more suitable life form or is evolution too slow to adapt to the pace of modern societal change.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

GE Morton
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by GE Morton » December 30th, 2018, 11:38 am

Excellent question, Mark, one I've also asked. Despite the radical transformation of human societies beginning 10,000 years ago, many of us still harbor beliefs, expectations, and intuitions derived from our tribal, primate heritage, which are misapplied and unworkable in a civilized setting.

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cavacava
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by cavacava » December 30th, 2018, 11:57 am

Mark1955 wrote:
December 29th, 2018, 7:48 am
From an evolutionary biological perspective we are still running around the savanna hunting and gathering in small packs of ~120 people. Since we are mostly living a civilised life [and by civilised I mean the literal definition of the latin term i.e. we live in cities] can we evolve into a more suitable life form or is evolution too slow to adapt to the pace of modern societal change.
A long time ago I belonged to Rotary, a service club which at the time didn't allow women membership. I recall that there was all kinds of internal turmoil when women wanted to become members. One of the most persuasive arguments used in favor of having women join (I think they also sued to get in, but I maybe mistaken) was that women work harder in organizations, which was unlike most Rotarian dispositions at the time. Also, it was felt that women would civilize the club, that men would have to change their ways.

It is encouraging to see more women taking prominent roles in society, I think on a broad basis (no pun) they are a civilizing influence which may change the world for the better, given the chance.

Steve3007
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Steve3007 » December 30th, 2018, 12:53 pm

Mark1955 wrote:...can we evolve into a more suitable life form or is evolution too slow to adapt to the pace of modern societal change.
It depends how wide a definition of the term "evolution" you're using. It sounds as though you're talking specifically about biological evolution: the accumulation of change due to random genetic variation causing individuals to vary in their success at reproducing, and therefore selectively passing on genetic information over many generations. In that case, yes I think it's too slow. Also, there probably isn't a positive correlation, in modern humans, between reproductive success and ability to cope with city-dwelling lifestyles. So there'd be no evolutionary pressure in that direction.

If we were to use the wider definition of "evolution", meaning simply any form of gradual change, then maybe there are ways in which we could genetically engineer our descendants to be psychologically adapted to live in communities of millions instead of dozens, or hundreds. Perhaps we can think of ways to genetically modify some of our tribal hunter-gatherer instincts. But I suspect most people wouldn't want to do that. Too Borgy.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Alias » December 30th, 2018, 1:21 pm

Mark1955 wrote:
December 29th, 2018, 7:48 am
From an evolutionary biological perspective we are still running around the savanna hunting and gathering in small packs of ~120 people.
What makes you think this? Very few of us are doing anything of the sort, have the physical stamina, sensory acuity or information-processing capability that would fit us for like on the savanna. Even the people who actually live there are not doing it very successfully.
Since we are mostly living a civilised life [and by civilised I mean the literal definition of the latin term i.e. we live in cities] can we evolve into a more suitable life form or is evolution too slow to adapt to the pace of modern societal change.
This sounds as if you believed cities and urban life has been thrust upon us by some external will, and that "modern societal change" were a phenomenon somehow outside of human control.
Civilization is a human invention - or accretion, like the shell of a caddisfly. We invented and developed it.
It is not we who must evolve to suit our environment; it is the environment that has evolved around us, through our efforts and decisions.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

Jklint
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Jklint » December 30th, 2018, 6:36 pm

Mark1955 wrote:
December 29th, 2018, 7:48 am
From an evolutionary biological perspective we are still running around the savanna hunting and gathering in small packs of ~120 people. Since we are mostly living a civilised life [and by civilised I mean the literal definition of the latin term i.e. we live in cities] can we evolve into a more suitable life form or is evolution too slow to adapt to the pace of modern societal change.
Intelligence, even to the degree we already possess, should preempt the necessity of evolution causing the necessary adaptations to live successfully on the planet.

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Felix
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Felix » December 30th, 2018, 6:53 pm

"Intelligence, even to the degree we already possess, should preempt the necessity of evolution causing the necessary adaptations to live successfully on the planet."

An integer is missing in your equation because that is not happening....
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

GE Morton
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by GE Morton » December 30th, 2018, 7:36 pm

Alias wrote:
December 30th, 2018, 1:21 pm
This sounds as if you believed cities and urban life has been thrust upon us by some external will, and that "modern societal change" were a phenomenon somehow outside of human control.
Civilization is a human invention - or accretion, like the shell of a caddisfly. We invented and developed it.
It is not we who must evolve to suit our environment; it is the environment that has evolved around us, through our efforts and decisions.
That is true, but it is beside the OP's point. Yes, civilization is a human invention --- but one created unintentionally and without appreciating the profound implications for social dynamics and human relationships.

Jklint
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Jklint » December 30th, 2018, 7:40 pm

Felix wrote:
December 30th, 2018, 6:53 pm
"Intelligence, even to the degree we already possess, should preempt the necessity of evolution causing the necessary adaptations to live successfully on the planet."

An integer is missing in your equation because that is not happening....
Since there's more than an integer missing from your post, don't bother responding if you can't or won't make yourself clear....

barata
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by barata » December 30th, 2018, 11:26 pm

you are already civilized. how can you say it ? that can men still be civilized ?

how ? when you are already civilized ? i dont understand it. and now you are confusing me.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Alias » December 31st, 2018, 12:01 am

GE Morton wrote:
December 30th, 2018, 7:36 pm
That is true, but it is beside the OP's point. Yes, civilization is a human invention --- but one created unintentionally and without appreciating the profound implications for social dynamics and human relationships.
But that makes it an impossible question.
Evolution is a process of selection for traits that best equip and individual to thrive and reproduce in a given environment. Species can't select for environments that they themselves are changing. They could only ever be prepared to function in the environment of their parents' time, and thus be always, inevitably, maladapted to whatever it's changing into.
He might as well have asked: Can we grow feet that match a pair of Zanotti shoes?
I say, designers make shoes for human feet, not the other way around. And, no, we can't even design babies that will be perfect for their own time, because their time is still in the process of being made; not only can we not select for it, we can't even make an accurate guess at what it will be.
Civilization is not a given. It's a byproduct of humans living their lives: it adapts to and is continually adapted by the way humans live their lives. How it is organized, how it works and what happens to it are the ongoing processes of human interaction.

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Felix
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Felix » December 31st, 2018, 6:55 am

"you are already civilized. how can you say it, that can men still be civilized?"

That's debatable, and I believe the point of this thread. As someone once said: "The question is not where civilization began, but when it will begin."

"civilization is a human invention - but one created unintentionally"

Created unintentionally? So man did not intend to become civilized, he just kind of fell into it?

"Evolution is a process of selection for traits that best equip and individual to thrive and reproduce in a given environment."

No so. Evolution, unlike civilization, is not an intentional process. The most versatile species, able to adapt to a variety of environments, are most likely to survive and reproduce, while environmental specialists, well adapted to the environmental niche they inhabit, are liable to die out when their niche does.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

GE Morton
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by GE Morton » December 31st, 2018, 11:08 am

Felix wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 6:55 am
"you are already civilized. how can you say it, that can men still be civilized?"

That's debatable, and I believe the point of this thread. As someone once said: "The question is not where civilization began, but when it will begin."
You are probably confusing the connotative meaning of "civilized" with the denotative meaning, which the OP intended. A "civilized" person, in the latter sense, is simply a member of a society characterized by cities ("civilized" being derived from the Latin "civitas," for "city"). The connotative meaning is a varying and idealized list of traits and habits presumed to be characteristic of such persons, and to be desirable. So a person may be "civilized" in the first sense, but not necessarily in the second sense.
"civilization is a human invention - but one created unintentionally"

Created unintentionally? So man did not intend to become civilized, he just kind of fell into it?
Yes. And so far has not adapted to the transformation he unwittingly initiated.
"Evolution is a process of selection for traits that best equip and individual to thrive and reproduce in a given environment."

No so. Evolution, unlike civilization, is not an intentional process. The most versatile species, able to adapt to a variety of environments, are most likely to survive and reproduce, while environmental specialists, well adapted to the environmental niche they inhabit, are liable to die out when their niche does.
Those two propositions do not contradict. Evolution is driven by adaptations to an organism's actual environment, but some of those adaptations may also adapt it to other environments. If it does, that species' survival prospects are improved.

GE Morton
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by GE Morton » December 31st, 2018, 11:28 am

Alias wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 12:01 am
GE Morton wrote:
December 30th, 2018, 7:36 pm
That is true, but it is beside the OP's point. Yes, civilization is a human invention --- but one created unintentionally and without appreciating the profound implications for social dynamics and human relationships.
But that makes it an impossible question.
Evolution is a process of selection for traits that best equip and individual to thrive and reproduce in a given environment. Species can't select for environments that they themselves are changing. They could only ever be prepared to function in the environment of their parents' time, and thus be always, inevitably, maladapted to whatever it's changing into.
But they can adapt to changes wrought in the past, even those of their own making, if those changes persist for long enough. While social evolution, like all evolution, is a never-ending, ongoing process, the replacement of tribal societies by civilized society was a radical transformation that shows no signs of being reversed or supplanted by an even newer social form. We'll adapt to it eventually.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by h_k_s » December 31st, 2018, 11:37 am

Mark1955 wrote:
December 29th, 2018, 7:48 am
From an evolutionary biological perspective we are still running around the savanna hunting and gathering in small packs of ~120 people. Since we are mostly living a civilised life [and by civilised I mean the literal definition of the latin term i.e. we live in cities] can we evolve into a more suitable life form or is evolution too slow to adapt to the pace of modern societal change.
You are very correct -- civilized simply means living in cities.

It connotes law abiding as well and also ethics abiding but those are collateral associations.

Aristotle and his ethics writings talk about the magnanimous man (megra-animos in Greek) as the highest virtue for humankind. Of course in ancient Greek society that meant males, not women, children, nor slaves or foreigners.

I tend to agree with him. It is a goal worth seeking.

If we each truly seek it we can indeed find it, in my opinion.

I seek it every day and night.

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