Information Fertilizes Moral Growth

...a flow of information can fertilize moral growth. Scholars who have puzzled over the trajectory of material progress in different parts of the world, such as the economist Thomas Sowell in his Culture trilogy and the physiologist Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel, have concluded that the key to material success is being situated in a large catchment area of innovations.306 No one is smart enough to invent anything in isolation that anyone else would want to use. Successful innovators not only stand on the shoulders of giants; they engage in massive intellectual property theft, skimming ideas from a vast watershed of tributaries flowing their way. The civilizations of Europe and western Asia conquered the world because their migration and shipping routes allowed traders and conquerors to leave behind inventions that had originated anywhere in the vast Eurasian landmass: cereal crops and alphabetic writing from the Middle East, gunpowder and paper from China, domesticated horses from Ukraine, oceangoing navigation from Portugal, and much else. There is a reason that the literal meaning of cosmopolitan is “citizen of the world,” and the literal meaning of insular is “of an island.” Societies that are marooned on islands or in impassable highlands tend to be technologically backward. And morally backward too. We have seen that cultures of honor, whose overriding ethic is tribal loyalty and blood revenge, can survive in mountainous regions long after their lowland neighbors have undergone a civilizing process.

What’s true of technological progress may also be true of moral progress. Individuals or civilizations that are situated in a vast informational catchment area can compile a moral know-how that is more sustainable and expandable than even the most righteous prophet could devise in isolation.


Folksonomies: information morality

/technology and computing/technological innovation (0.548251)
/law, govt and politics/legal issues/death penalty (0.527342)
/society/crime/property crime/larceny (0.356975)

vast Eurasian landmass (0.987698 (neutral:0.000000)), moral growth (0.973281 (positive:0.659748)), catchment area (0.971093 (positive:0.794711)), large catchment area (0.968954 (neutral:0.000000)), vast informational catchment (0.965776 (positive:0.794711)), physiologist Jared Diamond (0.953443 (neutral:0.000000)), economist Thomas Sowell (0.950262 (neutral:0.000000)), massive intellectual property (0.910573 (negative:-0.480584)), literal meaning (0.896867 (positive:0.416727)), moral progress (0.785968 (positive:0.914741)), moral know-how (0.781470 (positive:0.794711)), vast watershed (0.777862 (neutral:0.000000)), material progress (0.752806 (neutral:0.000000)), oceangoing navigation (0.736853 (neutral:0.000000)), Successful innovators (0.732978 (neutral:0.000000)), civilizing process (0.731769 (positive:0.202683)), Culture trilogy (0.731045 (neutral:0.000000)), domesticated horses (0.729789 (neutral:0.000000)), different parts (0.729568 (neutral:0.000000)), alphabetic writing (0.727998 (neutral:0.000000)), material success (0.724813 (neutral:0.000000)), cereal crops (0.720365 (neutral:0.000000)), technological progress (0.718941 (positive:0.914741)), lowland neighbors (0.718334 (positive:0.202683)), western Asia (0.716791 (neutral:0.000000)), shipping routes (0.714149 (neutral:0.000000)), Middle East (0.714075 (neutral:0.000000)), righteous prophet (0.713395 (positive:0.794711)), mountainous regions (0.710594 (positive:0.202683)), impassable highlands (0.708990 (negative:-0.532562))

Thomas Sowell:Person (0.944705 (neutral:0.000000)), Jared Diamond:Person (0.918313 (neutral:0.000000)), theft:Crime (0.784082 (negative:-0.480584)), Middle East:Region (0.779944 (neutral:0.000000)), Steel:Person (0.741262 (neutral:0.000000)), Portugal:Country (0.735438 (neutral:0.000000)), Europe:Continent (0.712840 (neutral:0.000000)), China:Country (0.706563 (negative:-0.284582)), Ukraine:Country (0.705907 (neutral:0.000000)), Asia:Continent (0.688264 (neutral:0.000000))

Asia (0.950677): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Middle East (0.888374): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Culture (0.860854): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Society (0.781800): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
History of technology (0.742848): dbpedia | freebase
Invention (0.716144): dbpedia | freebase
Civilization (0.702032): dbpedia | freebase
Agriculture (0.673170): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Pinker, Steven (2011-10-04), The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Penguin, Retrieved on 2015-05-29
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: enlightenment culture ethics violence