"linear history"

Gerold Firl (geroldf@sdd.hp.com)
10 Jul 1996 01:04:11 GMT

This is a follow-up to domingo's post "this used to be about diseases
and immunity". I tried to do a regular follow-up, but my system kept
saying something about "error 11", or some such thing, so since I
can't do a regular follow-up, I'll just address the issue of "linear
history" which was raised.

Domingo: you've stated that you detect in my writing an assumption
that history progresses in a linear fashion, or some such thing. I'm
not quite sure what you mean by that, and I hope you'll clarify. In
the meantime, I'll try to clarify my view.

History progresses, that's for sure. Is the progress progressive? I
guess that depends on what you consider progress. There is a definate
_direction_ for history; the direction has produced some things which
I like, and some of which I'm not so fond, but I won't spend too much
time on that. Personally, I find that placing a value judgement on
history is a waste of time. It happened, that's all. But lets look
more closely at the direction of history.

It helps to take an evolutionary view of history. The analogy with
darwinian natural selection is very close; human populations are
constantly jockeying for position relative to each other, vying for
advantage, learning from each other, teaching each other, invading,
conquering, and destroying each other, merging, splitting apart, going
underground and then re-emerging later on. The direction is provided
by competition: whatever works will survive. And lets not forget about
nature. Man is a part of nature, subject to changes in the
environment. The ice ages have had an enormous impact on the evolution
of man; in the shorter term, climatic fluctuations have played an
equally significant role. Man has adapted to every environment on
earth, which is another source of diversity and change. Is this a
linear view of history? I hope you can explain what that means.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf