The Low-level Equilibrium

  • Amlan Datta


In the long sweep of history, the advancement of technology or the increasing control by man over external nature provides a comparatively clear indicator of the ‘progress’ of mankind. In other respects, a positive assessment of evolution is more difficult. It is not easy to establish beyond doubt that the quality of twentieth-century human civilisation surpasses that of ancient Greece, or India in the days of the imperial Guptas, or China under the T’ang dynasty. But there can be no question about the technical superiority of our century over all preceding ones. This superiority has steadily grown, particularly since the eighteenth century, although one must hasten to add that modern technology has not penetrated all parts of the world equally. It is possible to look back over the past. and mark out broad phases of social development in terms of the progress of technics. Lewis Mumford tried to do precisely this in his book Technics and Civilisation. He distinguished between ’ three successive but overlapping and interpenetrating phases ’, which he called eotechnic, paleotechnic and neotechnic. In terms of its base in a natural source of power and characteristic supporting material, the first of these technological phases of evolution has been described as a water-and-wood complex; the second is sustained by coal and iron; and the third depends on electricity and alloys.


Economic Development Capita Income Child Labour Underdeveloped Country Gross National Product 
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© Amlan Datta 1973

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  • Amlan Datta

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