Mankind has grown up – or is growing old?

The other day I remembered a 18th-century theory that said that mankind goes, just like an individual human being, through different ages. It started as a child, in the primitive times, where myths and gods were alive and provided explanations behind any phenomenon. Thunders were alive, the dawn was dressed in rosy garments, the earth was a fertile woman, eclipses were when evil beasts were eating at the sun etc.

I think that might also explain the origins of language itself. Language is in fact a leap from the immediate reality into abstraction. You can touch a tree but you can’t touch the word “tree”. It would also explain why such complex languages are spoken by what we call “primitive” tribes and communities. Perhaps “primitive” is just the way we describe lively imagination and intense conceptualization.

The theory came back to my mind while watching a TV talk-show the other day, on the topic of  Bin Laden’s recent elimination. It struck me then that we might just be witnessing mankind moving on to its next age and that I was maybe listening viewpoints of different “generations”.

Without reviving the dispute, just trying to look at it from the perspective of the mankind-aging theory, it seems that there are two opposing standpoints: one that claims it was against principles, the other that claims it had to be done. Half of the guests team on the show believed that such actions violate moral principles, Christian principles or at least principles of democracy and of the rule of law. The other half wondered why we are discussing this at all and concluded that a whole chapter has been closed and we need to move on.

So it seems to me now that the one half is a bit retarded – they belong to a mankind-generation that is dying out, hanging on to abstractions, conceptualization and the power (and charm) of the science of logic. The other half is the new generation, doing away with the abstraction and just dealing in and with facts.

So following the logic of the theory (I’m afraid I’m one of the retarded too, still hanging on to logical threads) it looks like mankind is growing up – or maybe growing old?


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