Re: Traditional China as a counterexample to "spikism"

From: Steve Davies (
Date: Sat Apr 21 2001 - 16:39:01 MDT

-----Original Message-----
From: <>
To: <>
Date: 21 April 2001 15:46
Subject: Traditional China as a counterexample to "spikism"

In a message dated 4/4/01 2:11:42 PM Central Daylight Time,

> Greg Burch wrote,
> > This long history of stasis stands as the
> > most important counter-example to the kind of self-sustaining social
> > technical progress that lies at the heart of modern Western culture.

, I think the example of
China's stasis stands for the power of culture in human affairs. Larry
Niven's "ARM" is an example of a similar idea in SF. The long sweep of
China's history stands for the proposition that humans CAN have a "high"
culture that does NOT inevitably result in a self-sustaining "take-off" into
accelerating scientific and technological progress.

       Greg Burch <>----<>

The real story of technology in China is more chilling (and much more scary)
than either of these scenarios. For most of history China was the most
dynamic and inventive civilisation on Earth. Under the Sung (11th-13th
centuries) they had an economy which had all the features you describe
(rapid innovation etc). So what happened? After the Mongol invasions, the
Ming Emperors systematically destroy many technologies and create a static
society - "Chinese stasis" only really exists after that. Steve Davies

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