Ian Mortimer’s magnificent new book ‘Centuries of Change’ describes the myriad ways in which European societies have been transformed over the past thousand years. The following blogs summarise Mortimer’s work and ask just how much progress have we made? This first post takes us up to the end of the seventeenth century. Continue reading
“Great revolutions in science have a common denominator: They knock human arrogance off one pedestal after another of our conviction about our own self-importance.”
Science is one of the defining features of our age. Scientific knowledge and the technologies we have developed based on that knowledge have transformed our world. In 1700, over 80 percent of the world’s population lived in abject poverty and average life expectancy was less than forty years. In London, then the world’s most developed city, almost 60 per cent of children died before they reached the age of ten. During the last few turbulent centuries, science and technology have changed everything, ushering in standards of health and income never before seen in history.
Aside from its practical use, science is also one of modern civilisation’s most valuable cultural assets. Science has not only transformed our understanding of ourselves and our place in nature, it has also brought with it a set of values which have helped to bring us out of the dark ages of stagnation and superstition and give us a belief in progress and reason. And in an age that is increasingly characterised by selfishness and self-absorption, science can also provide a powerful remedy for narcissism. Continue reading