Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Sorry to have been away from the blog for a few days. "They" -- the enigmatic repository of all knowledge -- say you shouldn't disrupt your blogging schedule or your readers will all switch their allegiance to Instapundit, but sometimes I've just got problems of my own.

Looking back and looking ahead, as we are all supposed to do at this time of year, I find we have come to a historical moment as substantial as any that has come before. Thinking of the few Great Transformations that humans have experienced, I might list the emergence of Homo sapiens as the ape that talks and the great cultural takeoff of somewhere around 100,000 years ago; the agricultural revolution, of course, and the rise of complex societies. Literacy came along with that very quickly, but for 10,000 years or so further development was evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and even took a big step back in Europe after the fall of Rome. Then came the Enlightenment and quickly thereafter the Industrial Revolution, which destroyed the old structures in a process that culminated in World War I and the establishment of the current system of nation-states, the basic foundations of global finance, and near universality of the industrial system of production fueled by carbon sequestered in the earth in ancient times. (The Great Depression and World War II were not fundamentally transformational, rather they were a sort of adolescent crisis of the new order.)

Now, on a time scale roughly another order of magnitude faster, we confront another Great Transformation, in which we will either achieve a self-aware, responsible and effective global society, or enter a new Dark Age. We will have to overcome multiple challenges including developing a new technological basis for civilization, and perhaps most important, achieving the universality of science and reason as the basis of understanding and the ground for action. That means the grip of religion on human societies will have to end, and with it the childhood of our species. In the year ahead, I will am committed to spending more time on the latter problem.

On a personal note, this is also a time of transition for me, in various ways. I'll let y'all in on some of it, as seems appropriate, but if posting gets a little erratic, I hope you'll understand. I'll do my best to keep it up.


kathy a. said...

can't speak for others, but i strongly suspect i'm not the only one who will decline to drop this blog off the bridge and go to instapundit, should your blogging become less regular.

best to you with the transitions you are working through.

roger said...

what kathy said!

i hope your personal stuff goes better than the agenda for mankind you've laid out looks to be going.