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Foundation (Foundation, #1)
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2012 Reads > FOUND: US and the First Galactic Empire

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message 1: by Cara (last edited Sep 12, 2012 03:32PM) (new)

Cara (chibbard) | 1 comments When I re-read this book, what scares me is that I see parallels between the current state of the US and the dying Galactic empire. For many of us, it seems our best days are behind us and we will never live up to our old glories. We seem to be regressing, even as that empire did. Man hasn't walked on the moon in almost 50 years. In fact, NASA isn't even going into space right now! Our earlier creations, like the interstate highway system, crumble around us. We openly call the WWII generation the greatest, as if admiting we could never face the kind of adversity they overcame. To quote The Foundation, "We are not the men our grandfathers were."

I can't help but wonder what Hari Seldon's psychohistory say about the US? Would it, by quantifying numerous historical and economic factors, prove that our current economic difficulties are the beginning of our own great fall into a barbarism as inevitable as that of Asimov's fabled empire? And if our situation is indeed that dire, would Seldon be able to build a new Foundation on our shores, one that could provide hope of a recovery?


message 2: by Anne (new)

Anne | 336 comments A number of people are trying to soften the fall they see coming. Stewart Brand with his time cspsule cave in Nevada, the people who set up the Seed Bank near the North Pole, those warning us about Climate Change and so on.

Others are quite happy if the Empire fails - that means to them that Jesus comes back and Israel wins. [Their interpretation of John's dream]

How does the saying go - have faith in Allah but tie up your camel.


message 3: by David Sven (new)

David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Anne wrote: "Others are quite happy if the Empire fails - that means to them that Jesus comes back and Israel wins. [Their interpretation of John's dream"

If you are as familiar with John as you say, you should know that Biblical Eschatology has Jesus returning at the height of the Final Empire (and not for Israel)- which isn't described as being the US but the remains of the old Roman Empire - which depending on whether its referring to the Western leg or Eastern leg is either Europe or the current Islamic States.

Asimov had nothing on John when it came to the description of historical phases of Empires and cultural prediction.


message 4: by Ulmer Ian (last edited Sep 13, 2012 06:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ulmer Ian (eean) | 341 comments I think psychohistory wouldn't have anything to say about the US. Or Earth. It's really important to psychohistory and the Foundation plot that the galaxy is really big and heavily populated. :) An example of where psychohistory would fail when applied to one planet is that everything might fall apart with climate change... in galactic psychohistory there could just be a statistical model for environmental catastrophic events built in and would just assume it would hit some percentage of planets every year. It wouldn't have to care about which planets exactly.

That said I think we really have a world civilization even if its not at all politically united. Kind of like how people talk about Greek civilization even during the periods when it was a bunch of unaffiliated city states. Ours is a global civilization of unaffiliated nation states.

Countries like China are on the rise, but its not zerosum. Eg China getting richer just means the world is getting that much richer overall. If you think in those terms we live in a time of unprecedented prosperity. The US is just one actor and its wrong to conflate the state of civilization with the state of the US.


Steve Mary | 10 comments I remember reading Aristotle complaining about how the new generation is lame, stubborn and without education. And that was 2300 years from now.

Of course, there's this international economic crisis. But what the news call "economic crisis" is in fact a new economic reality, and not a "crisis", because a crisis is supposed to be temporary. Look at the human history. How many revolutions, how many "new economic realities"... Humans adapt and grow. We cannot call it the end of civilisation.

In fact, our time is a time of cultural expansion. Internet is everywhere, people can communicate more easily, access informations rapidly...

Some personal examples : My grandmother never read as much as now, since she discovered Amazon.com. My mother, raised in a little village in French, could never learned English when she was young, I can speak three langages today (and talk with you, from the other side of the world). Healthcare improves so much during this last years.

So, of course, there's this "crisis". Of course, TV broadcasts some very stupid programms... But I think our civilisation is doing great !


message 6: by Anne (new)

Anne | 336 comments David Sven wrote: "Anne wrote: "Others are quite happy if the Empire fails - that means to them that Jesus comes back and Israel wins. [Their interpretation of John's dream"
...

If you are as familiar with John as you say...
"


THEIR interpretation of John's dream....

Dare to doubt the US is exceptional??????? And that Jerusalem, the claimed captal of Israel is the place of final victory. LOL. Don't run for President in the US.


Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Steve wrote: "I remember reading Aristotle complaining about how the new generation is lame, stubborn and without education. And that was 2300 years from now."

That would be the generation that got their asses handed to them by the barbarians of Macedon, signaling the end of Greece as an independent civilization for two thousand years? You know, he may've had a point.


Steve Mary | 10 comments Sean wrote: "That would be the generation that go..."

I think that would be the Plato's generation too. :D


Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Steve wrote: "Sean wrote: "That would be the generation that go..."

I think that would be the Plato's generation too. :D"


No, Plato was dead by the time Philip conquered Greece.


George Corley (gacorley) | 66 comments Every generation, as they grow older, has complaints about the younger generation. It's the same thing that causes people to condemn "txtspeak" even though 1) textspeak conventions are not a sign of illiteracy, nor do they really creep into formal writing that significantly, 2) In some circumstances, older people use textspeak conventions more than teens and twenty-somethings do, and 3) similar abbreviation conventions can be found on freaking Roman milestones (notably the omission of vowels.


message 11: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6787 comments Mod
Text speak is fine when texting or some social networking. But it's overused. To me it's miss use that makes someone look ignorant. If someone is trying to convince me in a debate and bring out text speak I'm less likely to take anything they say seriously.


Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments Sean wrote: "That would be the generation that got their asses handed to them by the barbarians of Macedon, signaling the end of Greece as an independent civilization for two thousand years? You know, he may've had a point."

Aristotle was Macedonian, so his "team" made out pretty well in that instance.


message 13: by Anne (new)

Anne | 336 comments Sean wrote: "Steve wrote: "I remember reading Aristotle complaining about how the new generation is lame, stubborn and without education. And that was 2300 years from now."

That would be the generation that go..."


Aristotle was a dolt. Singlehandedly the cause of the Dark Ages as the "Authority".Sigh - he was terrible at physics.


message 14: by David Sven (new)

David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Anne wrote: "Sean wrote: "Steve wrote: "I remember reading Aristotle complaining about how the new generation is lame, stubborn and without education. And that was 2300 years from now."

That would be the gener..."


Our libraries are full of science books from the last 50 years that are out of date. What sort of physics would you expect the world to have 2300 years ago?
Apart from his physics, Aristotle's philosophy is still held very much in high regard today. And to say Aristotle caused the "Dark Ages" is as ignorant as referring to the Middle Ages as "Dark" and somehow backward in achievement. The fact is, no reputable historian refers to any period of Medieval times as "The Dark Ages" anymore because the period did in fact see advances in literature, education, music, philosophy and a tradition of reason and observation as a valid pursuit.


message 15: by Sean (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Anne wrote: "Aristotle was a dolt. Singlehandedly the cause of the Dark Ages as the "Authority".Sigh - he was terrible at physics."

The so-called "Dark Ages" occurred 800 years after his death -- I really don't see how you can blame him for that, especially considering (A) Aristotle's works were not widely available in Western Europe during the early Middle Ages except through intermediaries like Augustine and Boethius, and (B) the Muslim world had access to all of Aristotle's works, revered them, and yet, far from entering a dark age of their own, were one of the premiere civilizations on Earth at that point.

What you're probably referring to is the rigid thinking of the Scholastics, but that didn't come about until the Late Middle Ages, long past any point referred to as the "Dark Ages." But though there's a lot to criticize Scholasticism for, the period as a whole was an era of art and invention as great as the Italian Renaissance.


message 16: by Anne (new)

Anne | 336 comments Sean wrote: "Anne wrote: "Aristotle was a dolt. Singlehandedly the cause of the Dark Ages as the "Authority".Sigh - he was terrible at physics."

The so-called "Dark Ages" occurred 800 years after his death -- ..."


The Catholic Church set Aristotle up as "THE" authority. Too bad. Especially bad for physics.

The Muslim world had access to all sorts of writings and had a variety of views available, debated openly, etc. They had universities long before Europe.


Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments Anne wrote: "The Catholic Church set Aristotle up as "THE" authority. Too bad. Especially bad for physics."

That didn't happen until the time of Aquinas. Well into Scholasticism, which itself only came about because Europe had rediscovered the Greco-Roman classics via the Muslim world. Aristotle fueled the cultural (re)awakening of medieval Europe just like he had the Muslim Golden Age.


message 18: by Sean (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Anne wrote: "The Catholic Church set Aristotle up as "THE" authority. Too bad. Especially bad for physics."

Let us review the order of events:

1) 4th Century BC - Aristotle writes a bunch of books on natural philosophy.

2) 3rd Century BC - 1st Century AD - Classical World flourishes.

3) 2nd - 5th Century AD - Roman Empire undergoes gradual decline.

4) 5th - 13th Century AD - Eastern Roman Empire remains a major power and retains access to Aristotle's works.

5) 7th - 16th Century AD - Muslim civilization becomes one of the preeminent civilizations on Earth; also has access to Aristotle's works.

6) 5th - 11th Century AD - Western Europe flounders in the ruins of the Roman Empire and has limited access to the works of Aristotle.

7) 12th 16th Century - Western Europe regains access to Aristotle's works. Some over-enthusiastic scholars hold him up as the undisputed expert on everything, but nonetheless Western Europe experiences great technological, scientific, and social advances.

So you're blaming Aristotle for (6) (which started eight hundred years after his death) because of (7) (which started seven hundred years after that)? Causality does not work like that.

The Muslim world had access to all sorts of writings and had a variety of views available, debated openly, etc. They had universities long before Europe.

So? You claimed that Aristotle was, "Singlehandedly the cause of the Dark Ages." If so, then Dark Ages should've happened in any area that had his writings, when in fact the opposite is true.


message 19: by Anne (new)

Anne | 336 comments Sean wrote: "
So? You claimed that Aristotle was, "Singlehandedly the cause of the Dark Ages." If so, then Dark Ages should've happened in any area that had his writings, when in fact the opposite is true.

Nope. Only where Aristotle was taken as "the" authority and opposite views squelched. And this happened early on with European monasticcs.

We also still read Aristotle. We simply no longer take him as a top authority in anything.


message 20: by Sean (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Anne wrote: "Nope. Only where Aristotle was taken as "the" authority and opposite views squelched. And this happened early on with European monasticcs."

First off, this is completely different from your original claim. How does this make Aristotle a "dolt" or make him "singlehandedly" responsible for the supposed "Dark Ages"? In your version of events, it's the monks who did it not based upon anything Aristotle said or wanted, but of their own volition.

But more importantly, you're just plain wrong -- the elevation of Aristotle as the go-to source for everything was not done "early on" -- it didn't start until around the 12th Century, by which point the so-called "Dark Ages" were over.


message 21: by Susan (new)

Susan (susieblu) | 34 comments And back to the OP. The U.S. has been compared to many different empires that have rose and declined throughout history. It is the nature of single or large world powers. Notably, the Roman and British who's main causes of decline could be argued war and over-stretching of resources but there were several other factors that lead to their ultimate collapse and decline. (I don't think to say the British Empire has fully collapse is correct since several nations still have the Queen as thier heads of state). Many factors were calculated into the decline of the Galactic Empire.


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