A major landmark of the Scientific Revolution is Newton's work (1687). Most of our technology is based on Newtonian Mechanics, including knowing the speed that an object must have in order to orbit the earth (satellites) and the speed to travel to the moon or other planets.

While is tempting to base the Industrial Revolution solely on the Scientific Revolution there is another major factor: the Humanitarian Revolution that led to the Enlightenment (late 17th and 18th century). Morris devotes relatively little space to it, so I rely on the work of Pinker [PNKR], mainly Chapter 4 that it titled The Humanitarian Revolution. (Page numbers refer to [PNKR].)

Pinker observes that over the millennia humans were become kinder to their fellow humans (at least on the average). In the West human sacrifices stopped around 3000 years ago and the stories of Isaac (in the Hebrew BIble) and Iphigenia (in the Greek Iliad) seem to mark that event. Of course they continued in other parts of the world. In Americas until the arrival of the Europeans and India as recently at early 19th century when the British put a stop in the practice of immolating a widow in the funeral pyre of her husband. In China human sacrifice had stopped over 2000 years ago. The famous terracotta army (circa 200 BCE) was meant to replace actual people that were buried with the dead emperor. In Japan about 2000 years ago.

While human sacrifice was abolished cruel treatment of humans continued. The death penalty was applied for a long list of offenses, often in cruel ways (burning a person alive). Torture was in widespread and public use. Think of the Spanish Inquisition and the witch hunts.

Story of the Duke of Brunswick - Jesuits and a witch. (circa 1630)

Revulsion to killings of non-believers and heretics. (Too many sects.) Deeply held beliefs cannot all be true - Spinoza, John Milton, Newton, John Locke, p. 144.

Human life is valued more as conditions improved.

Replacement of souls by lives as thing of value, p. 143.

As late as 1660 in England people enjoyed looking at gruesome executions.

Voltaire (1694 – 1778), Montesquieu (1689 – 1755)) point to irony of Christians complaining about ill-treatment in the hands of Muslims or Japanese.

Beccaria (1738-1794) wrote On Crimes and Punishments that had many "modern" ideas (punishment to fit the crime). In "index".

Judicial torture was abolished (at least in theory) between 1700 and 1850 in most if Europe.

Capital punishment is on its way out.

What caused all that? A mysterious thought process (p. 168). If the thought process is absent you cannot have humanitarian government (failures in Iraq, etc).

Interaction between "unspoken norms and explicit moral arguments" (p. 169)

Civilizing process cannot explain humanitarian revolution. It had been going on for a long time (p. 170). Neither can improvement in standards of living (they happened after 1850).

Pinker points out to books and the printing press. By the end of the 15th century there were over 200 printing shops spread over several cities. From a few thousand copies in the 15th century booke output reached 200 million copis in the 16th century and nearly a billion in the 18th.

Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press

Literacy was expanding and this was a world changer. People began reading secular books and individually (rather than in groups). The world of village and clan gave way to a big universe (p. 174).

"Reading is a technology for perspective-taking" Empathy in the sense of seeing the other person's viewpoint.

Fiction opened people's minds to the dismay of the church.

The Age of Reason and Enlightment were also an age of urbanization.

Enlightenment Humanism (p. 180) Skepticism, reliance on reason (as opposed to faith), observation.

Ideologies counter to Enlightenment; Marxism, Nazism.


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