Was it worth it?
April 17, 2019 at 6:14 pm #25972
A Facebook friend, also an atheist, commented in response to the Notre Dame Cathedral fire on the human cost of the edifice in terms of lives lost and/or spent on building a structure for a Bishop’s church (the term “cathedral” is a reference to the Bishop’s chair or, in Latin, “cathedra,” as well as to his office or position, mush as the word “seat” is used in English).
That got me to thinking, Name an architectural tourist destination such as that cathedral, Neuschwannstein castle, Versailles and all the other Renaissance palaces… I could go on, but I assume you know what I mean.
In many ways these are treasures (yes, even the great cathedrals), but was it worth it for poor common folk to have been thrown under the bus in so many different ways ranging from taxation, to taking them away from their families or occupations, to putting them in danger, to death itself?
What would our world be like without these treasures?
Ethical issues tend to be thorny and this one has me stumped.
Had people not been exploited, almost all of these treasures wouldn’t exist and would the world be a better place if all we had to do with our vacation time was take a hike or read the latest Grisham novel?April 20, 2019 at 12:46 pm #26016
Are you looking to defy the bell curve? Some people can carry rocks, others can design great structures and others can control the show. The castle was not built to trap tourists. It was built to protect the locals behind it’s walls when the hoards showed up to pillage, rape and plunder. Cathedrals were built to display the power of the church. Sometimes the exploited workers got back at the elite with a sense of humor. They would place gargoyles high-up (so unnoticeable) on spires that would literally shit on the worshipers and clergy.April 20, 2019 at 12:58 pm #26017
Why have I never seen that picture before!! Most excellent!!
The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella: But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.April 20, 2019 at 4:03 pm #26019
Are you looking to defy the bell curve? Some people can carry rocks, others can design great structures and others can control the show. The castle was not built to trap tourists. It was built to protect the locals behind it’s walls when the hoards showed up to pillage, rape and plunder. Cathedrals were built to display the power of the church. Sometimes the exploited workers got back at the elite with a sense of humor. They would place gargoyles high-up (so unnoticeable) on spires that would literally shit on the worshipers and clergy.
So, you believe history shows that the construction of the great cathedrals, opulent palaces, the pyramids, the Acropolis, etc., was human effort well-spent?April 21, 2019 at 11:20 am #26029
We’re still being exploited today. The rebuilding of the World Trade Center Tower recently didn’t get done without support from our tax dollars. Yes, I know that private companies paid the majority of the cost but how many billions in tax incentives did the project reap? Amazon recently pulled out of a deal that would have saved it a billion dollars if they built a facility in Long Island City, Queens New York. A billion tax dollars.
Would the pyramids or the Incan and Aztec temples have been built? I think they would have even without the exploitation of slaves and indentured workers. Maybe not to the same specifications. There has always been someone with the next great idea. Just need someone to sell it and for, in the worlds of P.T. Barnaum, convince the crowds of “Suckers that are born every minute”. Think how many of those suckers voted in the 2016 Unite States presidential elections.April 22, 2019 at 9:35 pm #26047
So it comes down to what and how we build with ambition. We could have been less aggressive in general, perhaps more matriarchal and less patriarchal, and I think the result would have been less crime and less war, but also less rapid modernization. The ruling classes made (and still make) things happen, but often using lower classes for labor. I think we could have made progress if we were always more egalitarian by nature, but that material and industrial progress would have been slower.
I’m sure the Khan clan felt that most of their endeavors were worth it. Their genes gained a sudden prominence that’s still with us today. (And some men will still blame women for that!)
Thinking of deleting this post now, as once again, I’m not focusing solely on the specific question, but rather zooming out. (One man’s “treasure” may be another man’s bane.)April 24, 2019 at 2:52 am #26054
So, you believe history shows that the construction of the great cathedrals, opulent palaces, the pyramids, the Acropolis, etc., was human effort well-spent?
Yes. You exploit the people of the future just by being alive today. Just think about all the resources you have consumed and imagine the pile of waste you generated during your lifetime. You took a toll on this planet and left it worse than when you arrived. We all exploit and we are all exploited by entropy. So I would much prefer to be exploited in creating something epic over say… hacking wheat stalks under the sun with a scythe all day.April 24, 2019 at 8:42 pm #26055
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley.
I know I posted this a while back elsewhere but it is appropriate (imo).April 24, 2019 at 9:18 pm #26056
And yet Shelley was inspired to write a poem about a king. That’s a ton of irony.April 24, 2019 at 9:49 pm #26058
In the end the Pharaoh still dies. Even his greatest works fall to the great king, King Entropy and the sand eventually wins.April 25, 2019 at 1:59 am #26059
In the end the Pharaoh still dies. Even his greatest works fall to the great king, King Entropy and the sand eventually wins.
I wonder if the last person to die will be an atheist. In that case humans beings will outlive all of our gods. I really hope that is how it goes down.April 25, 2019 at 6:12 pm #26060
I really hope that is how it goes down.
That, and that the last human isn’t as sociopathic as humanity has been for most of it’s history. That is, that the last human has a modicum of empathy for others in general and not a blind supporter to policies or laws that pointlessly make life miserable for others. Both of those would work for a great last human.April 25, 2019 at 7:43 pm #26061
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