Bring It On!

Quote of the Day 6/5/08

June 5th, 2008 | by Paul Merda |

One thing history teaches us, is that we have learned nothing from history. - Anonymous

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  1. 16 Responses to “Quote of the Day 6/5/08”

  2. By rube cretin on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    “Do you believe,” said Martin, “that hawks have always eaten pigeons when they have found them?” “Without doubt,” said Candide. “Well then,” said Martin, “if hawks have always had the same character, why should you imagine that men have changed theirs?” “Oh!” Said Candide, “there is a vast deal of difference, for free will…”

  3. By Paul Merda on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Voltaire correct!?

    I agree with the assesment too, humans may never change and if we do it will be a slow, slow process… From what I gather you are an older guy and if you haven’t seen much progress in your life, I doubt I will in mine.

  4. By rube cretin on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    very good.

    “Resistance to change is the source of all pain.” Confucius (I believe)

  5. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Do we really want to get tangled in the questions of the freedom of the will or the invariability of human nature? :-)

  6. By Paul Merda on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    That could make for a long day Craig ;-)

    But I quoted that just because it seems true on many, many levels. After all:

    “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9

  7. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    It seems clear from my own life that people do change. I’ve gone from being for capital punishment to being against it, for example, so opinions can change. The question is, are our tendencies to violence and warfare so deeply ingrained that we, as a species, will always be at one another’s throats?

  8. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    I think we are left, then, with changeable, individual opinions about things that we will be doomed to argue about for as long as the species exists. Is this hell? ;-)

  9. By Paul Merda on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    LOL Craig! It may very well be hell…

    No I agree that people do change. But I wonder about our nature in more general terms. We as a species seem to be less barbaric, but I wonder if society came crashing down that we wouldn’t revert to our old barbaric ways… I hope never to find out!

  10. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Human beings are not hawks. Humans possess rational abilities that hawks do not. Hawks eat pigeons because of the instinctual, biological imperative to live. One would think that the ability to reason, to foresee the likely consequences of actions, would mean that human beings COULD alter their character regarding their penchant for gratuitous violence, cruelty and warfare. Perhaps we are more driven by instinctual, biological imperatives than we imagine. That, or what theologians call sin is real and ineradicable in this life. Or these things have served human beings in a way that, perversely, helps us to survive. That is, violence, cruelty and warfare have been evolutionarily selected in us and either still serves some evolutionary purpose or does not endanger our existence enough to be selected out of us.

    If we cannot even agree upon a basis for discussing the nature of human nature, how can we carry on a rational discussion about it? ;-)

  11. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    I do think society is key and that if that were to be interrupted, if it looked like it was “each one for himself”, we’d be as barbaric as all get out because it would be mere survival or perish. One of the functions of society is to build cohesiveness, a sense of belongingness that builds empathy and brings out altruism.

    We don’t seem to be able to extend that to all of humanity, however. Televisions and satellite transmission allows us to see what is going on in other parts of the world. When we see people in other parts of the world suffering, we typically and to a large extent do respond with empathy and altruistically but we still sense that they are ‘the other’ in some real sense.

  12. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    As an illustration, take the United Nations which seems like a microcosm of a heterogeneous society: various groupings of various sizes arguing in an ‘us and them’ — or even ‘us versus them’ — mode that doesn’t seem to have done much to prevent wars or genocide or international strife.

    I think that if anything can bring humanity together, if not politically, at least to build a sense that we are all in this thing called life together, whatever our differences, it will be television or whatever television evolves into. When pretty much everyone can see that pretty much everyone is pretty much the same, our differences may seem of less importance and hardly worth fighting one another over.

    Then again, maybe not.

  13. By Paul Merda on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Hear, hear Craig! I think at the end of the day, every human really wants the same out of life. A decent way to earn a living, people not messing with them or their family and friends, food, fun. In the end, we all aren’t so different from everyone else. Yes it may be fact that as more and more of us see that, we can quit having the us vs them mentality.

  14. By rube cretin on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    one of my favorite little treatises on this elusive subject was compiled by Jay Hansen. Recommend it for rumination sometime when you got a few minutes.

  15. By Ken Grandlund on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Gotta Love Voltaire! Been years since I read Candide though…thanks for the reminisce, Rube.

    Individuals do change, of course, but i think this quote refers to humanity as a whole, and it’s hard to argue the point made. As a species, we’ve advanced greatly in technological endeavors. But we’ve not evolved much in the arena of intellectualism and we are still steeped in superstition.

    Our cultural mores have been very slow to change, both due to the inertia of pre-existing patterns of behavior and a human instinct to not change what seems to be working, even when something is clearly leading towards an unsavory conclusion. An example might well be our current energy crisis. Logical study shows that fossil fuel dependency is not an infinite source of energy, but what steps have we taken to reduce or eliminate it from our culture? None. In fact, we’ve built our entire world around oil, and refuse to admit this will be a problem until its so obvious that it hurts. And then, many still refuse to accept the base problem and look for other scapegoats so they can continue as before.

    Human behavior can change as a whole, but it usually requires grand threats to do so. For such a creative and intelligent species, we sure have our heads in the sand a lot of the time.

  16. By nodsavid on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Fear not for evolution is not over. Unless the planet goes away, which could happen in view of the present state of things. To us, our intellectual behavior may seem scanty changed from several thousand years ago. But to view the result of evolutionary changes in homo sapiens will take a much longer period. For our immediate, tiny life purposes it is obvious that man, while technologically humping it, has not done very much intellectually. Rube Cretin is right. Go to

  17. By Paul Merda on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply


    If there were no Voltaire there would have been no American Revolution and we may not even be having this conversation…


    I checked the link out, very interesting indeed! I really liked the Dawkins quote near the beginning:

    “deceit is fundamental to animal communication, then there must be strong selection to spot deception and this ought, in turn, to select for a degree of self-deception, rendering some facts and motives unconscious so as not to betray—by the subtle signs of self-knowledge—the deception being practiced.” Thus, “the conventional view that natural selection favors nervous systems which produce ever more accurate images of the world must be a very naive view of mental evolution”

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