People change, ideas remain – Essay – sloh z AJ


 Otázka: People change, ideas remain

 Jazyk: Angličtina

 Přidal(a): Mikuláš Benda



To what extent do you agree or disagree with what Professor of Physics and Astronomy Edward Harrison writes:…we stand no closer to the ultimate „truths“ than did our forebears. And…We are no better intellectually or morally than the people who lived a thousand or even ten thousand years ago.“


The Uncertainty of Knowledge was written in 1987 by a professor of physics and astronomy, Edward Harrison. In this article he describes the human search for knowledge, as well as explaining that humanity can never understand everything and that all the facts that we are sure of can be denied overnight by someone else and therefore we should not believe everything. In this article, he also states that we aren´t more intelligent, moral and overall better people than our ancestors that lived on this planet more than 1000 years ago, as the better world we are living in is just a fraud, an illusion.


Edward Harrison´s first point concerns finding of the ultimate “truths”, when he states that new findings do not actually get us any closer to the understanding of the universe, but the opposite direction. Although it seems like he does not think logically, he actually has a point. When he says that: “Each discovery creates in the long run more mystery than it solves.” he basically describes society of the past 200 years. Perfect example for this could be development of atom model as the time went. It started as a perfect ball without any electrons or protons and everyone took it as the ultimate “truth” that will never change, however, few years and discoveries later everything changed. On this example we can see that not only new discoveries did not bring and ultimate “truth” which would never change, but brought more questions concerning the “truth”. On the other hand, every new discovery brings us closer to complete understanding of the universe, and even though it brings new questions, we still advance quickly, so it is possible that one day we even might understand everything around us. Nevertheless, nowadays it is most likely that every new discovery brings up many different questions.


His second argument talks about people nowadays not being intellectually better than people, who lived thousand years ago or more. This is again a very controversial topic, as some people might feel intellectually much higher than our forebears, as our brains evolved and improved, while increasing its size. We also learnt how to train our memory and educate ourselves in order to grow intellectually even more. That is why I believe that we are intellectually higher than our ancestors.


Edward Harrison´s third and last point is that people nowadays are not morally better people, which is in fact a truth; even though it might seem it is not. Everyone believes that we have somehow established successfully working society, in which freedom of speech, press and ability of doing whatever they want to make us believe that this world is perfect. Although it might seem like it is a true fact, everything is an illusion, as people in South America and America are starving, Somalia and Afghanistan are desolated by war and threat of North Korean Atomic bombs is imminent. Moreover, it’s not just that, as in past 100 years millions of people died in wars, including WWI and WWII, as well as Cold war. All these conflicts suggest that we might not be as civilized people as we should be and that we are less moral than our ancestors, so called “barbarians.” This shows how immoral we actually are, fighting other people just to get what we want, believing that we are actually living in better times than our ancestors.


Edward´s article “The Uncertainty of Knowledge” is incredibly accurate, describing not only past, present, but also the future of humanity. I personally think that all 3 statements are true and proven by all means.

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