1. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    Culture in relation to technological advancement

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Ged, Jan 3, 2011.

    What allows technology within a culture to thrive and in another to remain stagnant? Any idea goes.

    Setting is medieval, slightly Renaissance-ish.

    What I have up to now: language differences. My advanced culture has a language of its own. I see where this might lead to in terms of information, but what about devices?
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the past the one thing the more advanced cultures nearly always seem to have is an Empire to some degree it may be a very localised empire - slavery and or a large number of servants help (the Roman Baths for example required slaves/servants to operate, building of pyramids etc). War tends to be the biggest driving force in improving technology - we now have mechanised farming because of the two world wards etc.

    A more insular peaceful society is less likely to have any need to grow. Societies that move forward tend to be reasonably tolerant and open (not by our standards by those of the day they are in).

    Reading the Contiuum Concept is an interesting book for this shows how children develop in a primitive tribe. Baby Wisdom by Deborah Jackson is also very good it covers the raising of children in various cultures and times.
     
  3. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    That's a bit problematic for me, because it's entirely the other way around.

    I have an insular society with a university of sorts -- given that the god they worship is the god of knowledge and stuff, and they don't do wars. This society basically has smarter people -- but does that necessarily entail better technology?

    And on the other hand, I have an expansive kingdom that doesn't have much in terms of education. They're good at waging wars and conquering lands.

    The insular society is not part of that kingdom. You might ask why the big kingdom hasn't already conquered it. It's because of a peace treaty between the mages of the two societies, and the intricate past the two countries share.


    Oh, and, don't worry. It's not one of those good guys versus bad guys story. It's a story about the kingdom coming to the aid of the insular society because of the things the insular society has contributed to the kingdom, minimal (actually not quite minimal, but my characters don't know that) or otherwise.


    Sorry if this all seems like a jumbled pile of words. It's a fanfiction story based on a game.

    PS: I'm going to look around for those books you mentioned.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Think of the tribes that have retained 'primitive' behaviours they have no outside contact - they have no need to evolve life is working for them - they have the technology they need to survive and do what they need. Even somewhere like North Korea the only real technological advances they have seemed to have made in their isolation are in warfare to attack others.

    If people are content and life is meeting their needs change doesn't occur.
     
  5. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    Yeah, I understand. But I never mentioned that there's no outside contact -- I just said that there's no war.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    In which case they may ape the culture and technology of others. Or you need to create a reason why they have evolved.
     
  7. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    Just a small thing here... Hope I don't come across as incredibly stupid, but...

    Well, then how do you explain the Renaissance?

    As I said, I'm not talking about a setting that is Early Medieval, but something nearer to the Renaissance/Age of Exploration.

    Let's just say I have the reasons necessary for people to seek more knowledge.
     
  8. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    War is not the only catalyst of technological development, merely the more obvious one. Internal pressures such as plague, famine, natural disasters, ect could spur advancement.
    However - echoing what's already been said - innovation thrives only as long as it is necessary.

    If most of the culture is influenced by whatever caused them to value technological innovation in the 1st place, I imagine that said cause has either been a relatively continual issue (constant famine ellicits constant tech development to compensate, for example), or perhaps a more singular event that indelibly impressed the importance of technological advancement upon the society (a major earthquake leads them to develop more earthquake resistent architecture, & thereby instills an appreciation for technology).

    That's what comes to mind at least, sociologically/anthropologically. Hope it helps.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Think where did the Renaissance begin? What had the Italians had until the 1400s? Well technically it lasted until 1914. Not to mention the Roman Catholic Church can be viewed as a kind of empire.

    They were replacing the previous glory in a way. There is also a reason why art is more often associated with the Renaissance than techological advances - Da Vinci may have designed a tank but he didn't build it if there had been a war he may have gone further with his inventions.
     
  10. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    Ahhh. I get it. Thank you very much. :D
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like Anonym says doesn't have to be war that is the most frequent reason. Basically replacing or fulfilling a need is the main reason. Famine is not really a good one though - it can bring about innovation but is the least likely throughout history - in modern society it is more likely to be a reason.

    Anything like natural disaster or famine the servants and people actually doing the work were the most likely to die first being less protected. They die off and the means to accomplish most advances before the Industrial Revolution die with them. These are more likely to reduce a civilisation to a primitive people.

    It started with sheep they were a farming advance that required less labour, and now with the industrial revolution advances replace labour so it is less of an issue.
     
  12. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    So, if there were a lot of illnesses about -- killing a lot of people in the process, would that encourage the development of medicine?

    It makes sense, I guess. Thanks for the knowledge, Elgaisma and Anonym. :)
     
  13. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    A few other things that may limit or slow technological development could be religion or the ideals of society.

    For example, in modern society there is alway the big debateof whether we should clone people or not. Will a cloned person have a soul? Would it be humane to create and kill the clone? Etc.
     
  14. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    Or quicken, in my case. :p

    Anyway, I still have a question.

    Okay -- I get it.

    Wars encourage the production of new defences and weapons.
    Illnesses encourage the production of medicine.

    But what about culture? I don't think you'd get poems and sculptures and music when everyone is busy getting their heads chopped off or having their internal organs bleed to death.
     
  15. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    In the real world, it's been:

    1. Religious capitalism (RC).

    2. Intellectual capitalism (IC).

    The problem with religion, RC, is that it's a human invented set of ideas to explain the absurdity of life and to provide social and political ethics, again in a world of randomness. It's like a virtual reality system.

    The scientific method is a philosophy and it directly competes with metaphysical (above physical reality) explanations. Religion is attempting to create a political system to run a society and "science" challenges every reason why people should follow the religious system. Thus, religious leaders who want to retain power will oppose it, because it makes their role useless. Also, religious leaders who believe that have a moral system is better than knowing about the location of the sun will oppose science, because they think moral are more important whether they're real or not.

    So, the religious power and social role are like money, and those who have it will desire to keep and control it.

    Intelletual capital is something you will find in universities. Before the modern era, there were many ideas about physics, human behavior, evolution, creationism, etc that were taught at all the top universities in the world. Now, we know that all of that info was bogus, and so Harvard was bogus at one time. Someone like Darwin had a tough time with his theory because everyone else was operating under a "Post Hoc Analysis" or the creatures on Earth. That means that you look at how they are today, and assume that they were like that at the beginning. In full, that's the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy, and it's still extremely popular. Anyway, it made it look like all animals fit into a niche from the beginning, which spoke to design.

    All of the so called intellectuals of the time did not want to give up their position on the topic because it would invalidate their power and postion. Thus, their theory was a form of money/capital, and they attempted to block anyone with a counter theory, no matter how much sense it makes.

    Currently, I'm following the progress of this company whose founder claims to have found a process for creating power that violates the current laws of physics. As of today, he had Harvard and another uni validate his process and they got results. Last year everyone was calling him a fraud and that seems to be quickly changing. If so, then we will soon be in a time when everything taught in physics is wrong and this guy is right. If that comes to pass, I'll bet the change will come very quietly in academics.

    All of that is a long winded way of saying that if powerful people have a hold on something, it won't just be a hold, but a strangle hold. Such people aren't interested in the world benefit, just their own benefit.
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Religion can indeed advance as well as hold back the Ottoman Empire is an example.
     
  17. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    The clone thing amuses me.

    If we made a human clone, people would see the cute baby, exclaim it's a cute baby, and all of the discussion would end, mostly. Meanwhile, the bizarre ideas surrounding the process have completely stopped the anxiety breaking moment when a clone is actually created. If that happened then the religious people, especially Christians, would then be challended to love and accept the baby.
     
  18. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends but WW1 and 2 produced amazing music, and poetry. Not to mention moving photography. There is the Bayeux Tapestry etc Les Miserables comes to mind for the French Revolution.
     
  19. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    @Allegro Van Kiddo: That was a fascinating read, I'm going to bookmark the post.
     
  20. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    Thanks!

    I enjoyed writing it.
     
  21. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Necessity is the mother of invention.

    Invention is the key to advancing technology.


    Example: Who is more likely to develop bigger, better and more sophisticated farming technology?

    A people living in rich fertile lands where food naturally grows in abundance (all you have to do is just walk around and pick it up)...

    ...or a people who live in a land that is frozen 6 months out of the year, where the soil is rocky and sandy, game animals are scarce and the brief "fertile window" for growing crops determines who lives and dies?
     
  22. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Farming first developed in the fertile river valleys of Egypt. Why? Because the Nile flooded every year, leaving large amounts of mud on the fields, which was perfect for growing crops.

    Technological advancements are driven by necessity, but first the necessary prerequisites need to be fulfilled. To discover farming, a people needs land which is so fertile that they can sustain on it, and plants which are suited for farming. To tame animals, there needs to be herd animals which are easily tamed, and something people can feed them with. To discover firearms, they already need to have mining, blacksmithing, basic chemistry, and so on - and also have the necessary minerals available in a pure enough form.
     

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