Sunday, March 17, 2013

A history of self reflection

A history of self reflection would be a good subject for a book. Speaking of western Europe it is fair to wonder if there was any self-reflection before the Renaissance.Tribes on the verge of starvation have no use for self-reflection. There was no time to wonder. Nobody expects a Christianity but there it is. The stratified medieval world solved so many problems -- you were born into a niche, and mutually dependent on others in the same or different niches. No space to wonder. The church bracketed all and actually had pretty good answers for those rare troublemakers. But Humanity would keep growing. 

Notice I mentioned self-reflection, not self-knowledge. A history of the latter would be brief, and possibly culminating in the 16th century with Michel de Montaigne. Plus a few dark stars. 

The rest is pretty much a headlong rush, from treatises, to novels, to Nobel Prizes for physics. And self-reflection has shrunk to checking the likes on your facebook posts.  The progress is real and wonderful, but it does not include widespread intelligence. 

So far. 

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