What Came First: The Science or The Progress?

According to Harari, empires essentially didn’t exist until the scientific revolution. Before the scientific revolution, the closest thing to an empire was taking over territory in order to defend land. After the scientific revolution however, empires wanted to gain more resources and territory in order to further their scientific discoveries. Scientific advances, especially in weapons, also allowed for empires to dominate other countries that had inferior weaponry. Advances in machinery also allowed for mass production of products that allowed for companies to manufacture products for less money, which ultimately lead to capitalism.

Harari states that prior to the scientific revolution, cultures weren’t focused on progress but believed that there were problems that simply couldn’t be solved. With science however, many problems became much more solvable. From there, it’s easy to make the jump from unsolvable social problems to Harari’s idea of progress. I would argue however, that cultures were looking to progress, however they simply didn’t know how. For example, just because the Greeks thought that people got struck by lightning because Zeus was angry, that didn’t mean they didn’t try to make sacrifices to please their god. Instead of believing that cultures weren’t worried with progressing, I think they simply didn’t really know how. This also applies to empires. It’s not that cultures didn’t want to conquer more land, they just didn’t have the technology to do so.


2 thoughts on “What Came First: The Science or The Progress?”

  1. You make an interesting comment about how “Empires didn’t exist before the scientific revolution”. You seem to be quoting Harari but you don’t provide an actual quote or page number. Historians tend to agree that the “Scientific Revolution” occurred in about 1543 give or take a couple of years. This is LONG after many of the most famous empires had collapsed. One such empire is the Roman Empire, which was established around 27 B.C.and covered all of the Mediterranean. This is one culture that was largely focused on expansion and science as well as philosophy. This society was incredibly advanced for its time and it would be foolish to undermine those accomplishments that were made. If you could provide direct evidence from the book as well as where you found that evidence, it would vastly improve your argument.

  2. I found it really interesting how you ask the question what came first. That is something to definitely take into consideration when looking at previous cultures and environments they were all living in. One thing that would definitely strengthen your argument would be to give an example or two of Empires that completely dominated other civilizations because of the scientific revolution. Do you think there are any exceptions to this? Were there any civilizations that qualify as an Empires before the science kicked in? In my mind it works as a constant progression until they finally get to scientific levels. That is one of the only things that I disagree with in your post. I don’t believe they got caught up in only religious things that they weren’t looking for progression. Overall, I really like the way you think in a first thing first timeline.

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