It’s said that information is power. But are we more advanced than our forebears?
In a way, our method of becoming more advanced has made us more primitive. It seems we have become collectively advanced and more individually primitive because most citizens are “advanced” merely by proxy. My physical world / life / standard of existence, relies on people who know how to invent, make, maintain and repair the tools with which I participate in this society.
If the Blackberry I’m using to write this breaks down, I haven’t the faintest idea of how to repair it
(I can just about manage to put the battery in the right way and that’s about it).
Furthermore I’ve been driving a car for twenty five years and have very limited knowledge of what goes on under the bonnet / hood. Compare this example of techno-civilisation (me) to the primitive Indians of the Brazilian rain forest or the primitive Bushmen of the Kalahari. They have the technology they need to survive conditions that would kill me in a matter of days. They know how to find water to drink. They know how to track and kill for food. They make the weapons to kill game. They know which plants are edible and which are poisonous and how to prepare poisonous plants to make them fit for eating. They know how the technology they need works; how to make, maintain, repair and replace it. They live with the system that sustains them (nature) rather than destroying it as we seem hell-bent on doing.
Clearly, these primitive people, our contemporaries, are far more advanced and sophisticated than we are. Why? One possible answer is that they received inspiration from their ‘tacit knowledge’ of the world. I believe to a large extend we, with our technological understanding, have lost ‘tacit knowledge’: def. knowledge that enters into the production of behaviours and/or the constitution of mental states but is not ordinarily accessible to
Science does not make us necessarily more enlightened than them, superior to them, better than them as it is depending on how we use that information and the power it bestows us. But like a foreign correspondent in a war zone I’m both horrified and entranced by the brutality of what’s real and how the sharpness of things becomes strange, blunted almost, by mere circumstance.
After all, history displays the terrifying and wonderful truth that the human race eventually achieves anything it can imagine; certainly anything concrete, though world peace and the eradication of bigotry seemingly forever beyond our grasp, possibly because that’s beyond the realm of a Blackberry mobile phone*.
Perhaps our civilisation could do with a greater ‘tacit knowledge’ of compassion, which I suspect is the spark of enlightenment to a better world in which to live. But is there an App for that?
*Legal disclaimer: having owned the aforementioned mobile device for less than 12 months, I cannot and do not speak with any lasting authority of Blackberry’s capabilities the radically change the human race. For all I know I might be holding the solution to world peace etc, in the palm of my hand.
If this be the case then I offer my sincerest apologies to Research In Motion in the hope that these luddite ramblings haven’t in any way dented their projected sales figures. In any case I eagerly await a due spanking in the company’s boardroom.