The Value of Civilization: Development of Technology and the Pursuit of Truth

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Nov 01, 2023

4 min read


The Value of Civilization: Development of Technology and the Pursuit of Truth


The development of technology has often been seen as a marker of progress for civilizations. It enables societies to master nature and improve human life, providing comfort and the means to achieve great aspirations. Additionally, possessing advanced technology signifies economic and political dominance, allowing states to impose their rules on others. However, it is essential to consider the relative nature of values and the existence of definitive truths. This article explores the connection between the development of technology and the pursuit of truth, analyzing the criteria for determining truth and the role of illusions and lies in our understanding of reality.

I. The Connection between Technology, Progress, and Power:

1. Mastery of Nature and Improved Human Life:

The effective mastery of nature through technology leads to the satisfaction of human material needs, resulting in a more comfortable and prosperous life. Technological advancements offer the potential to fulfill humanity's grandest dreams.

2. Economic and Political Dominance:

Civilizations with developed technologies often wield power over others, imposing their regulations and asserting dominance. It is tempting to hierarchize civilizations based on their technological advancements, viewing each as a step in an evolving process towards increasingly technologically advanced societies.

II. The Relative Nature of Values:

1. The Risk of Ethnocentrism:

Civilizations tend to disregard or look down upon others that differ from their own. Ethnocentrism involves considering one's ethnic group as the reference model. However, according to Levi Strauss, there is no universal model for hierarchizing the values of civilizations. Each civilization fears what is dissimilar to itself.

2. Other Possible Criteria for Value:

The Western civilization has dedicated itself to technological progress for the past few centuries, aiming to provide increasingly powerful mechanical means to humanity. However, it is an error to make this fact a universal criterion. The ability to triumph over hostile geographical environments could also be considered a valuable criterion.

III. The Pursuit of Truth:

1. Definitive Truth vs. Provisory Truth:

Definitive truths exist, but they are limited to logical and universal realms and are not subject to reality. These truths, such as those found in mathematics, remain constant. Conversely, truths derived from sensory observations, particularly in scientific fields, are provisional as they are subject to the perpetually changing reality. Scientific truths must be continually questioned and updated based on new discoveries.

2. Criteria for Knowing the Truth:

Reliable criteria for truth are necessary. Evidential truth, which is clear to the mind, should stem from doubt, as Descartes argued. However, evidence can be misleading and subjective. The rigor of reasoning provides certainty through the structure of the argument. Additionally, truths about the external world require empirical verification through factual observations. Trust in credible sources also plays a role, as it is reasonable to believe what a trustworthy source claims to be true.

3. The Role of Illusions and Lies:

Illusions arise when desires cloud our perception of reality, leading us to believe what we wish to be true. Lies, on the other hand, involve intentionally misleading others by not stating what one believes to be true. While illusions can be challenging to dispel, not all illusions can be destroyed by proof. Sometimes, we prefer a comforting or beneficial illusion over a harsh truth. The proposition that one should love the truth can be debated, as fanatical devotion to truth may lead to dogmatism and intolerance.


In conclusion, the value of a civilization cannot be solely determined by the development of its technology. It is crucial to recognize the relative nature of values and avoid ethnocentrism. The pursuit of truth requires reliable criteria, such as evidence, rigorous reasoning, empirical verification, and trust in credible sources. However, the search for truth must also consider the role of illusions and lies, acknowledging the complexity of reality. Three actionable advice stemming from this discussion are:

  • 1. Embrace diversity and avoid ethnocentrism to appreciate the value of different civilizations.
  • 2. Continually question and update scientific truths based on new discoveries and changing realities.
  • 3. Strive for a balanced approach to truth-seeking, recognizing the limitations of evidence, reasoning, and empirical verification while maintaining a commitment to critical thinking and avoiding dogmatism.

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