In thinking about the Urn of the Eon, I had an idea, a way to put the issue in perspective–although not a right or wrong perspective.
If you were omnipotent but could only perform one act, one miracle to change the world, what would it be? Would you end hunger? Eliminate all weapons of mass destruction? Stabilize human population growth at zero? End all disease? Wish our air, water and soil free of all pollution? End all forms of political and economic tyranny? Wish for the discovery of cold fusion power? Ban processed vocals from pop music?
Our choices in this exercise point towards the Urns from which the problems they address evolved. Some trace back to multiple Urns. Some to a very specific leap in culture. If we are to draw a tree of Urn evolution–as Martin suggests–what Urns are way down in the trunk? Would our omnipotent wish be used maximally by going as far back as possible, or is that not necessary?
An example: If I were to end all disease, it would be a boon to all living individuals. It would free up tremendous human and physical resources for other endeavors. But it would undoubtedly explode the population, reducing infant mortality and increasing life spans around the globe. This sheds a light backward towards the URN of agriculture–the leap by humankind to control the cycles of plant and animal growth instead of merely following and exploiting them seasonally. Agriculture directly lead to huge increases in population, the creation of cities and political systems, the emergence of crafts and the arts as we know them. And the domination of the world’s eco systems–thus the pollution wish is closely related here as well.
If we get very detailed with this, it it may seem as though our tree has flowered and shed fruits which have seeded new trees. Indeed, the trees may have become a forest, making it harder to find the original tree.
Has humankind made commitments in its evolutionary adventure that we can no longer control, commitments that now rule us as opposed to support us? And if so, is this a good thing, a dangerous thing or maybe neither…it simply is?