Wednesday, 1 August 2012

We Are a Myopic People

I just finished reading Are We Rome?, a book comparing the present day United States to the Roman Empire. It is a book that takes a lot of words to say not too much and arrive at seemingly no definite conclusion, but it was a rather interesting read nevertheless.
But a few words in the epilogue, a chapter entitled, "There Once Was a Great City" caught my interest.
First, a quote from Charles Darwin:
There is apparently much truth in the belief that the wonderful progress of the United States, as well as the character of the people, are the results of natural selection."
Would we agree with this statement today? Probably not - we would probably be accused of some sort of racism. So, just thinking, if we believe Darwin might have been wrong in that area, what about elsewhere? Like I said, just wonderin'

Another quote, this time a mid-nineteenth century opinion from a Bishop Berkeley, for whom the California city was named:
The world's scepter passed from Persia to Greece, from Greece to Italy, from Italy to Great Britain, and from Great Britain the scepter is today departing. It is passing to 'Greater Britain,' to our mighty West, there to remain, for there is no further West.
Interesting that he felt there was nothing of any consequence west, across the Pacific, of  North America. This, in my opinion, illustrates the propensity among humans, for a certain arrogance that assumes that whatever is current, whatever is now, is ultimately what is right; that whatever we firmly believe is right is indeed right, and that anyone throughout history who ever thought differently was just plain wrong. It ascribes the certainty of 'truth' to prevailing opinion. We have seen it all throughout history; in geocentrism,  in slavery, in the eugenics movement of early twentieth century liberals, in the global warming movement today; even in areas of science where people of a particular time were so certain, but later shown to be wrong. It is the, "Nine Out of Ten Doctors Recommend Camels" syndrome.

Well, today we know different, don't we?

Take Care


Anonymous said...

It does seem ironic. That on the one hand so anti-theists cling to dawinism like a bunch of religous zealots. Yet on the other hand it is one of the most evil of sins to even suggest that anything that could be considered racist. But Darwinism is a form of racism! I would even go so far as to say that it is one of the worst types of racism, for those who are somehow the lessor end up dead.

I suppose the point that I am clumsily making is that these people are trying to have it both ways, the result being a self-contradiction.

John K said...

Absolutely, and not so clumsy at all.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's the Third West that is in the ascendant. The First was the bit from the Loire to the Rhine (including, perhaps, the British Isles); the Second was the Western Hemisphere; The Third is expanded to include the Western Pacific. It's just possible that there will be a Fourth West that includes Western Africa. Darwin had nothing to do with any of that.