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How did the human capacity to manipulate the physical and social world change in Europe between 1400 to 1700? In particular I am looking for significant change, as agreed by historians, in terms of the qualities of the world manipulated such as new qualities being manipulated; and, for significant change as agreed by historians, in terms of the quantities of things manipulated such as new and widespread economic or cultural uses of thoughts practices or things previously used only in small or geographically specific ways.

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closed as off-topic by Sardathrion, Mark C. Wallace, jwenting, Pieter Geerkens, Kobunite Mar 3 '14 at 15:04

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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about fictional history, is too broad even in a fictional history setting, and cannot be answered with even a modicum of objectivity. – Sardathrion Mar 3 '14 at 8:04
Perhaps look at the history of China which was perceived as the most advanced civilization for a long time but then fell back at least for some centuries. I'm sure there are arguments made in relation to the industrial revolution having manifested elsewhere. This would also give you an opportunity to rephrase the question to meet History SE rules as the currently stand (see @Sardathrion's comment). – Drux Mar 3 '14 at 8:40
Unfortunately, I just realized that my draconian edits have left the question answerable "no" is the answer. – Mark C. Wallace Mar 3 '14 at 14:50
What is progress? That's not an agreed upon term. – Razie Mah Mar 3 '14 at 18:29
Counterfactuals are generally an indication of lazy problem specification. Compare the poorly specified "Great Divergence" with the well specified "Needham Question". Needham resulted in 28 book length parts of Science and Civilisation in China. The Great Divergence resulted in a bunch of curiously argued single author monographs. Needham asked, "What was Chinese economics, sociology, knowledge and material culture?" The Great Divergence asked, "Why isn't China 'The West'?" Counterfactuals should rarely be tolerated. – Samuel Russell Mar 3 '14 at 23:23

Your hypothetical is what Thomas Malthus warned against in 1798. He believed that technical progress would continue in a straight line, while population would grow faster. That is in fact, what happened in China. But the western world escaped the Malthusian trap by generating exponential growth that beat the population growth.

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Daniel Drezner in his course Foundations of Economic Prosperity suggests that human history can be portrayed as a hockey stick; almost all the progress in human history has occurred since the industrial revolution.

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