Without the contact between the New and Old Worlds, the New World may still be living in the past
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New World (West) - North and South America
Old World (East) - Europe, Asia, and Africa
Hypothetically speaking, if the West had never contacted the East in any way, shape, or form, then their civilization would likely never change. Remember, this is only hypothetical!
- Geography - How did the geography of the West impact the civilizations?
- Available resources
- Relationship with neighboring tribes/colonies
- Social structure
- People's expectation
Knowledge and new technology spread East and West much easier than North and South
- PRO's condition for OW-NW contact is "never is any way, shape, form;" but all FP populations in the NW migrated from Asia.
- If PRO's hypothesis had been true there would not have been any pC civ and the question of changeability moot.
- PRO defines OW as Eu, Asia, & Africa which allows for cultural transmission via intermediary pop.
- Credible evidence exists for pC NW-Polynesian contacts:
- "The origin and domestication of sweet potato occurred in either Central or South America."
- "Sweet potato has been radiocarbon-dated in the Cook Islands to 1400 CE. A common hypothesis is that a vine cutting was brought to central Polynesia by Polynesians who had traveled to South America and back, and spread from there across Polynesia to Easter Island, Hawaii and New Zealand."
- A Peruvian mummy was embalmed using monkey puzzle tree resin found only in Oceania and New Guinea and RC dated to 1200 CE.
- In a hypothetical scenario where OW-NW contact was not possible, we should assume OW-NW cultural transmission via the development and exploitation of popular and profitable Austronesian and Australian trade networks.
- PRO fails to demark an end time at which we might measure the extent of change, but never is a very long time in which to maintain complete stasis.
- PRO fails to qualify the absence of change.
- We can reasonably assume that PRO is not asserting that no FP would be born or die over the past 5 centuries.
- What about climate change? Migrations? War?
- Many FP civs rose and fell in the space of 500 years (Chaco Canyon, Mississippian Mound builders). Is PRO suggesting the cessation of pC cycles of cultural rise & fall?
- Even in the absence of any contact, the impacts and influences of OW culture would become increasingly evident to FP as modernity encroaches.
- Ships, aircraft, and satellites would be increasingly visible to FP.
- OW pollution and waste would become increasingly evident in NW environments.
- Reversedly, OW technological progress would increase awareness and demand for NW contact, resources to an unsustainable degree.
- Imagine, for example, OW reviewing satellite data on NW natural resources while suffering famine, overcrowding, etc. At some technological point (probably long before the modern age) the improbability of sustained OW-NW separation surpasses the degree necessary to make hypothesis worth the effort.
- PRO argues (a la Diamond) that the differences between human societies on different continents has more to do with continents than humans. Because of NW's more significant climate regionalism and particularly because of longitudinal cultural interconnection as (as opposed to OW's latitudinal interconnection), NW progress is "limited."
- Let's concur that Diamond's insights regarding continental influences on culture are compelling. CON counters that PRO's mistake is the application of Diamond's dynamic as absolute principle rather than important influence.
Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate primarily in environmental differences, which are amplified by various positive feedback loops.
- That is, geography explains differentials in rates of progress, not the capacity to progress itself- which is a fundamentally human trait independent of geography.
- Unmolested by OW, NW civs would have certainly progressed and changed, albeit at a slower rate of development.
- The multitude and variety of regional adaptations laid out by PRO ably demonstrate NW capacity for change.
- Longitudinal trade & cultural transmissions were plenty influential, just to a smaller degree than OW transmission.
[geography] as absolute principle rather than important influence
Unmolested by OW, NW civs would have certainly progressed and changed, albeit at a slower rate of development.
Aztecs were a devoutly religious people, to the extent that no Aztec made a decision about any aspect of his or her life without considering its religious significance.
- PRO updates NW condition to complete isolation, as if transported to another planet.
- PRO does not advise how or when NW got populated.
- Therefore, no other human pops.
- PRO updates time frame from never to 1492-2030 CE.
- PRO now defines change as "major tech advancements."
- Let's concretize this benchmark since the debate likely turns on this point.
- So, PRO's burden is to show that were the now extinct NW cultures allowed to persist independent of the OW for an additional 538 years, no significant improvement in the practical application of science could develop.
- NW is now on another planet, isolated from evidence of OW tech.
- In R1, CON countered that geography helps to explain differentials in rates of progress but not the capacity to progress itself.
- PRO complains:
"No where in my speech have I stated that geography is the sole reason of a civilization's progress."
"not present in the West,"
"would likely never change."
- In R1, CON countered that NW civs would have certainly progressed and changed, albeit at a slower rate of development.
- PRO claims:
"solidifies my point even further, proving how geography is a contributor to a civilizations development."
- Yes, geography influences development, but....
- PRO's job is to prove that influence is sufficient to prevent any major advancement over 500+ years after 1500 CE,
- in spite of the evidence for plenty of major advancements in the NW over the previous 500 years.
- Endorsement of Diamond's thesis (slower advancement) should not be misinterpreted as endorsement of PRO's radical interpretation (no advancement).
- PRO posits that NW religion would prevent all scientific advancement.
- PRO only uses Aztec religion to represent an incredible diversity of world views from Inuit to Incan.
- PRO suggests that NW religions were more bloodthirsty than Eu but this is patently false. Consider the scale of religious warfare in Eu:
"if England had been the size of the [Aztecs], it would have executed, on average, about 7,500 people per year, roughly twice the number Cortés estimated for the empire. France and Spain were still more bloodthirsty than England"
- PRO fails to show that religion inhibits advancement
- Many great tech marvels done in religious pursuit:
- Pyramids of Giza
- Temple of Artemis
- Roman Coliseum, etc.
- The Abbasid Caliphate combined religious fervor and bloody territorial expansion with incredible advancements in math & sciences.
- PRO argues that Eu traded (implying that NW did not).
- We've agreed that geographic compartmentalization and longitudinal axis inhibit NW trade.
- That does not suggest that there was not much trade.
- Incan metalwork has been found in Mexico, while Mexican corn and hairless dogs have been found in the Andes.
- Conquistador Cabeza de Vaca documented the exchange of So. American parrot feathers for No. American turquoise and Caribbean coral.
- de Leon attested to the quality of Incan roads:
‘In the memory of people I doubt there is record of another highway comparable to this, running through deep valleys and over high mountains, through piles of snow, quagmires, living rock, along turbulent rivers; in some places it ran smooth and paved, carefully laid out; in others over mountains, cut through the snow; everywhere it was clean-swept and kept free of rubbish, with lodgings, storehouses, temples to the Sun"
- Mississippian Mound culture was characterized by
"Widespread trade networks extending as far west as the Rocky Mountains, north to the Great Lakes, south to the Gulf of Mexico, and east to the Atlantic Ocean."
- The scale and terms of PRO's argument needed some space to develop but is now fairly evident. In a WHAT IF world without a Columbus or an OW, PRO posits that the NW would have developed NO major technological advances in the absence because of OW contact because of NW inherent traits: geography, contacts, religion, and society. CON looks at the proliferation of new tech invented in the NW in the 500 yrs before 1492 and concludes PRO can't prove such an extreme position.
No, but what PRO did say was that civilization's advancement was "not present in the West"
and "would likely never change." [...] geography was the only cause yet provided
Endorsement of Diamond's thesis (slower advancement) should not be misinterpreted as endorsement of PRO's radical interpretation (no advancement).
incredible diversity of world views from Inuit to Incan.
PRO suggests that NW religions were more bloodthirsty than Eu but this is patently false
- PRO continues concern that geography not be mistaken for sole cause. CON stays focused on PRO's claim that advancement is not present in NW (never change), which PRO does not acknowledge.
- PRO now claims geography not a major player in NW. Let's remember that R1 was about how compartmentalized geography limits advancement in NW
"This sentence refers to how geography is not a major player in the West"
- This claim contradicts R1.
- PRO asks "how does [incredible diversity] of world views contribute to development?"
"Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups are more innovative than homogeneous groups."
- Diverse world views share more information than monolithic views
- Diversity challenges misconceptions and presumptions more often.
- PRO characterizes NW world view as more respectful of natural resources than Eu, giving Eu advantage in advancement.
- CON acknowledges popular mythology to that effect but requires some real evidence in support. After all,
- Mississippian Mound builder culture is thought to have collapsed in the 13th century due to deforestation resulting in increased flooding.
- Chaco Culture likewise collapsed around 1140 CE due to extension deforestation and poor water mgmt.
- Let's also recall that Diamond theorizes that the main reason No. American lost its abundance of domesticatable animals (horses, cows, goats, camels, etc) en masse around 11,000 BCE was due to over-hunting by the newly arrived Clovis peoples because these megafauna were not adapted to human hunters.
- CON rejects PRO's theory that NW was held back by an excess of respect for nature.
- In all other respects noted by PRO, NW & OW religious influences seem more alike than different- violence, statues, calendars, crediting/blaming supernatural, etc.
- We've agreed that geographic compartmentalization and longitudinal axis inhibit NW trade.
- CON implied no NW trade in R2 but acknowledges inter-regional, intercontinental trade in R3.
- Con dismisses trade in metals and corn as merely decorative when compared to silk,
- but what's important to establish is the exchange of goods, technology, ideas.
- PRO argues that most innovation comes the working class, not the nobility.
- This argument favors CON since most NW cultures were more egalitarian, less stratified than Eu.
"most indigenous American groups used consensus-based forms of organization....indigenous American polities were quite independent when compared with European communities of similar size"
"It would be a strange thing if Six Nations of ignorant savages should be capable of forming a scheme for such an union, and be able to execute it in such a manner as that it has subsisted ages and appears indissoluble; and yet that a like union should be impracticable for ten or a dozen English colonies."
- PRO posits that in a WHAT IF world without OW influence, hundreds of NW cultures would have remained static- defined as NO major scientific advancement, over the past 538 years.
- Ultimately, PRO's hypothesis is untestable and relies on inferences drawn from 4 NW influences:
- GEOGRAPHY and its influence on intercultural CONTACTS.
- PRO & CON agree that NW alignment and compartmentalization impact the rate of cultural exchange but
- where CON see significant trade and diplomacy and warfare and intercontinental influence,
- PRO sees none worth acknowledging.
- WORLD VIEW and its influence on SOCIETY.
- PRO & CON strongly disagree regarding the influence of NW religion on development, strongly disagree regarding some kind of superior Eu society or inherent inadequacy of NW society.
- As PRO's source, Diamond notes:
"the peoples of northern Europe contributed nothing of fundamental importance to Eurasian civilization until the last thousand years; they simply had the good luck to live at a geographic location where they were likely to receive advances (such as agriculture, wheels, writing, and metallurgy) developed in warmer parts of Eurasia."
- While at least 5 NW cultures developed written language independent of OW and one another.
- Indeed, consider just a short sample of wonderful things invented by NW without any contact with OW.
- suspension bridges
- oil drills
- between 50% and 60% of all crops now in cultivation worldwide
- Vulcanized rubber
- the zero
- NW was advancing, inventing, and sharing new tech regularly right up to 1492. Why does PRO assume that this would have stopped inventing in the absence of destruction by Eu?