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The Ephemeral Existence of Humanity

H. F. Mataré

Published: 2009/06/01


The last few hundred years have decisively increased our understanding of mankind's origin, present existence and conditions for continued survival. The accumulation of scientific knowledge is based upon the fundaments of the classical languages, Greek and Latin and the use of alphabetic writing, which permits a sharper focus on word creation and logical/temporal connections. This is in marked distinction to older, hieroglyphic means of expression, which favor a more concrete and less analytical cognitive style.1 During the Renaissance in Italy, circa AD 1400, the extension of this classical foundation led to a more rigorous and effective study of nature and established the cumulative nature of recorded observations and deduced principles and natural laws that is the hallmark of modern science. Gray and Atkinson2 give us an excellent survey of the relationships between the modern languages and their clades. Mankind utilized this linguistic foundation to develop a more efficient use of natural resources than had been possible in all of prehistory. The process culminated in the industrial revolution, which brought in its wake an accelerated growth in the size of human populations. While heretofore population density, plotted on the ordinate against time, displayed only a minimal long-term increase interrupted at times by the ravages of plagues and war, this has been followed by a period of exponential growth.

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