Until the age of 18 I attended a general type of education although I did drop courses that I liked less. One of these choices – mathematics – hunted me for years. Mathematics is mandatory within Economics and to be honest it makes sense. My specialisation thus started at an early age and only stopped at the age of 29 when I graduated as a Registered Accountant. Quite late perhaps but I didn’t fail one class, worked fulltime, and even attended – the then still mandatory – military service.
The more we specialise, the more we lose track of The Big Picture. For many, many centuries the Renaissance man was the ideal for mankind. Leonardo da Vinci has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance man, a man of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”. The term “Renaissance man” is often applied to the gifted people of that age (14th through 17th century) who sought to develop their abilities in all areas of accomplishment: intellectual, artistic, social and physical. Source: Wikipedia.
The Renaissance period ended more or less by the start of the Industrial Revolution (1760-1820/40) which brought new manufacturing processes. I am convinced that historians in 1,000 years from now will say that we were in a Technological Revolution from 1760 onwards. Our Technological Revolution may well end after developing an eco system that is no longer reliant on the depletion of natural resources (e.g., food, fossil energy, metals). Let’s assume that to be the year 2100.
A new Renaissance will mark the end of the Technological Revolution. I expect that ideological differences will become less important when the global scarcity of natural resources is no longer an issue. We may finally see ideological consolidation and space is likely to become the new frontier for those who continue seeking adventure, power and colonisation.
It seems to me that human history shows a continuous cycle of innovation followed by a period of consolidation. These cycles seem to shorten by an increase in speed. It’s like spiralling inwards.
Take a look at this summary that I prepared for this blog:
(i) basic human breakthroughs: logical thought (millions of years ago), stone tools (2.6 million years ago), fire (1 million years ago), houses (500,000 years ago), clothing (170,000 years ago), and most important of all: language (possibly 100,000 years ago). Language was crucial in (ii) and (iii);
(ii) human evolution from hunter/gatherers to farmers: metal working (8000 BC), domestication of animals (8000 BC), vessels (8000 BC), wheel (4000 BC), fossil fuels (3000 BC), ships (3000 BC);
(iii) scientific breakthroughs: weights and measurement (4000-3000 BC), timekeeping (2000 BC), astronomy (2000-1600 BC), mathematics (1900 BC), cosmology (1500-1200 BC) and paper (100-200 BC).
(iv) scientific standstill following global development of Christianity and Islam (0 – 1400 AC).
(v) religious persecution and inquisition of a.o. scientists (1200-1400)
(vi) start of Renaissance with a renewed focus on knowledge (1400-1700).
(vii) immense wealth following globalisation of trade (e.g., Dutch East India Company, 1602-1796).
(viii) immense innovation in countries that separate religion and state (Europe/USA, 1800 onwards).
(ix) start of a New Renaissance (2100 onwards)
(x) exploration and colonisation of space (2200 onwards)
A final farewell to Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015) who is better known as Mr. Spock in Star Trek.