Gold and Ignorance: Humanity’s Understanding of a Lack of Understanding

Of all the characteristics humans gained through the many different “revolutions” throughout our evolutionary history, the Scientific Revolution truly changed the human understanding of existence in three distinct ways. Firstly, it caused human thinkers to finally be able to understand that their scope of understanding is limited, and that the preconceived notions of truth could change or be challenged at any time; and idea based on the Latin word ignoramus, which means “we do not know” (Harari 250). Secondly, quantitative data analysis became much more important than qualitative analysis. Using numbers and mathematics, scientists and thinkers have been able to connect the larger dots that compose the complex, ever changing world we inhabit. And lastly, the Scientific Revolution allowed for the creation of new technology and powers that furthered hierarchies and power structures around the world, including capitalist and communist economies, and the development of democracies and dictatorships.

The close ties between technology and capitalism is not a particularly difficult connection to make. When the colonization of the New World began, the new advancements in scientific understanding allowed for the creation of new trade routes, new methods of production, and a better understanding of economic distribution. The new resources being brought back to Europe allowed for the creation of new machines and technologies that sped up the refinement process of goods such as cotton, and decreased the necessity for manual, skilled labor, thus increasing the overall profit for the heads of factories and production plants, creating a firm divide in wealth that is seen even in the modern age. This practice, however, violates the basic principles of the book that essentially coined the idea of capitalism: The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Smith’s doctrine essentially preached that those who control the capital should also allow for their employees to prosper from the capital that is being distributed, rather than leaving them in poverty. This contradiction is the direct result of increased human understanding of scientific and economic systems, allowing for systematic subjugation of the lower class.

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