[ExI] difficult (?) puzzle

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Wed Jul 8 16:35:47 UTC 2020

On Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 6:38 AM spike jones via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Adrian, this is the kind of thing that has me thinking about how we will
> be judged in the future.  It has come in vogue to judge people from the
> past by today’s ethical standards rather than the standards of their
> times.  No doubt we will be judged in a similar manner, for that system is
> easier than actually learning about culture from past times.

I would not worry so much about it.  The cases I am aware of, there was
objection to even in their own time.

Most of the statues and monuments being torn down today were defending or
promoting slavery, no matter what their defender-apologists claim.  Sure,
lots of people owned slaves - but going right back to antiquity, one can
find many who opposed the practice, such as the Qin dynasty of ancient
China which forbade slavery during its (brief) reign.

The biggest exception I am aware of in the recent pull-downs are:
* Christopher Columbus, who gets incorrectly blamed for a lot of the
problems his discovery led to.  That said, it is unclear if he ever
realized he never actually made it to the Far East - and it seems he was a
slaver too (after appointment as governor), not just an explorer.  Making
free people into slaves is worse than merely owning them.
* Certain abolitionists' statues have been removed, under circumstances
that clearly do not reflect the majority opinion of the public, but instead
appear to be retaliation for removing monuments to slavery.  It is possible
that those statues will be put right back up, or replaced with other
monuments to the same people.

Future moral changes are likely to be based on options that become
available as new technology arises - which options are not available to us
today.  There is no moral outcry against early medieval city planners for
using lead pipes, for instance, as they were unaware of lead poisoning
(despite some Romans and ancient Greeks knowing of this, that knowledge
seems to have been largely removed from the Western medical knowledge base
with the fall of Rome, only to be rediscovered later).
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