Breakthroughs: The Great Paradigm Shifts of History

Join Alex Criddle for this nine-part series exploring breakthrough moments and progress throughout human history!

This series will cover advances in human understanding and knowledge across all facets of experience. We’ll explore the origins of language and writing and the evolution and development of consciousness within human history. After tackling questions of evolution we’ll turn to the social sphere looking at breakthroughs in religious theology, the role of relationships, family, sex, and gender and how different cultures have made progress in understanding human relations, we’ll look at the development of political systems and the value of human life before ending with an exploration of scientific and technological breakthroughs through the lens of Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm-shifting work. The final salon will explore the present and coming breakthroughs of AI, longevity, transhumanism and what awaits us as a species.

Each episode of this series takes place at 7 PM ET

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In addition to series tickets, you will get access to our community Discord (with a channel for this series to chat between events)—as well as free salon tickets each month, discounts, free members-only events, and more.

1Thurs, Nov 2Breakthroughs in Communications: Language and Writing

In the first salon of the series we’ll go back in time to the origins of communication and the gradual development of complex linguistic systems, how language played an instrumental role in shaping human cognition, social structures, and cultural evolution. Linguistic breakthroughs allowed Homo sapiens to develop a complex linguistic system that allowed for the transmission of knowledge, fostering cooperation, and enabling the co-creation of shared meanings and narratives.
2Thurs, Nov 30Breakthroughs in Consciousness: The Evolution and Development of Consciousness to the Modern Day

After looking at the development of language and its role in human evolution, we’ll tackle the evolution of consciousness from its disputed origins through the modern day. How and when did we develop phenomenal experience? How has it shifted from our earliest ancestors, through the development of what Erik Hoel calls “the intrinsic perspective” in the ancient Mediterranean societies, to the modern day? We’ll discuss the different contemporary theories of consciousness and historical breakthroughs in our understandings of what consciousness is.
3Thurs, Dec 14Breakthroughs in Religious Theology

Human religious history predates our written record. Perhaps since there have been human beings there has been the religious impulse. Is this because the religious mindset tracks reality? Or is it an evolutionary feature of the human brain? In this episode we’ll look at some of the major foundations of world religions, explore the cyclical nature of beliefs, and also discuss whether or not religion will stick around, what has replaced religion, whether culture influences religion or religion influences culture, and what role religion plays in furthering human progress.
4Thurs, Jan 11Breakthroughs in Human Relationships, Families, and Understandings of Gender

This salon will trace the origin and development of human relationships, understandings of what a family consists of, and the way sex and gender were understood throughout human history in different cultures. Human relationships have taken many forms throughout history. Here we’ll explore how early human societies and their hunting-gathering lifestyles influenced the formation of primitive social structures and discuss the transition from nomadic tribes to settled agricultural communities and how this affected the dynamics of human relationships.
5Thurs, Feb 15Breakthroughs in Political Theory

In this salon we’ll look at the breakthroughs in political thought across history. We’ll look at the ancient origins of monarchies in civilizations such as Egypt and Mesopotamia and the development of the idea of democracy and a republic as it was understood in ancient Greece and Rome. We’ll look at the development of communism, socialism, and the modern political structures and how the industrial revolution altered political landscapes. We’ll discuss the concept of political progress, how political systems influence human and technological progress, and what we can learn from past political theorists on the development of new political systems.
6Thurs, Mar 21Breakthroughs in Human Value and Morality

After exploring the role political structures play in human progress we’ll look at the moral dimension of human progress. Do political systems facilitate breakthroughs in morality? We’ll trace the moral trajectories of the human species looking at the value of a human life in ancient times up through the present day. Is a human life worth more today than 2000 years ago? Has morality progressed from the time of Plato, Aristotle, or Marcus Aurelius? What have more recent moral systems such as utilitarianism, deontology, and consequentialism added to ethical debates?
7Thurs, Apr 18Breakthroughs in Scientific Theory

In this first of two salons following Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions we’ll explore breakthroughs in scientific theory beginning with the ancient Greeks’ discoveries in biology and physics and how Greek philosophy shaped the course of modern science. We’ll look at questions such as: Why isn’t biology just physics? Why isn’t medicine just biology? What is science without laws of nature? What is the role of axiomatic assumptions for explanation? This salon will also look at the role philosophical assumptions play in maintaining the scientific status quo and how revolutions in thinking occur.
8Thurs, May 2Breakthroughs in Scientific Theory

In the second salon on Kuhn’s work we’ll explore major scientific revolutions in recent history focusing on the paradigm shifts that have occurred such as the Copernican revolution, Newtonian mechanics, the theory of evolution, quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity, and the DNA structure and genetics revolution that’s been ongoing for the past 70 years. We’ll look at how innovation occurs, how scientific and technological processes build on each other, and how science and technology have continued to progress at an accelerated rate due to advances in computational power.
9Thurs, May 30Future Breakthroughs: Projections of AI, Human Longevity and Transhumanism, the Singularity, and the Future of Humanity

In the final salon of the series we’ll look at what breakthroughs the future holds for humans as a species. We’ll explore the recent explosion of AI and machine learning into the collective consciousness, where AI is headed, and what we have to look forward to. We’ll look at future breakthroughs in medicine and the ability for human beings to live longer, healthier lives and what that might mean for us. What are the breakthroughs we wish to see and how do we facilitate the breakthroughs we want while preventing outcomes we don’t desire? Where does humanity go from here?

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