How Our Grandparents Perceive the World as Unchanging

Men can know a thing and yet know it quite ineffectively if it contradicts the general traditions and habits in which they live.


ONE of the most striking differences between the outlook of our grandparents and that of a modern intelligence today is the modification of time values that has occurred.

By the measure of our knowledge their time-scale was extremely shallow. They had scarcely any historical perspective at all. They looked back to a past of a few thousand years and at the very beginning of time as they conceived it, they saw human life very much as it is now: it was a more or less balanced system of certain social types: rulers and ruled, hunter and cultivator, priest and soldier. This they regarded as the immemorial life of man. They saw the life of city and cultivated land, desert and sea, throughout all the interval, spreading perhaps, changing in a few particulars, enriched rather than altered by inventions and discoveries, but essentially the same. Their range of observation and comparison was too limited for them to realize that by clearing forests, overstocking grasslands, destroying soil, they were slowly impoverishing and devastating many of the regions into which they spread. They did not connect the rise and fall of empires with a factor of unforeseeing waste in that normal life of theirs. They ascribed such drifting of population and energy as they observed to other causes. These processes of primitive waste were too relatively slow to be perceptible from lifetime to lifetime. So these thinkers of yesterday talked of unchanging human nature. You cannot change human nature, they said. They relied upon the fabled promise of the rainbow, they had it straight from the Creator's mouth, that while the earth still remained, seedtime and harvest should endure.


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 The Fate Of Homo Sapiens
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Wells, H.G. (1939), The Fate Of Homo Sapiens, Retrieved on 2017-04-21
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  • Folksonomies: philosophy social commentary