View the h-history-and-theory Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in h-history-and-theory's September 2001 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in h-history-and-theory's September 2001 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the h-history-and-theory home page.
Mr. Leckie's response to Mr Irwin's thoughtful post has, I'm afraid, a bit of the sound of fingernails scratching accross a board. Mr. Irwin would put before us, not the subjectivism of a post-modernist, but what any good scientist looks for in the seeming entropy of the universe-- constants. I will leave Mr. Leckie's erudite post to the literati to comment on, for his joy at having delved into the 18th Century to better understand St. Louis I fully applaud. But his repeated citation of anonymous Frenchmen kind of shrieks and seems to look down from a pile of banalities at a young man struggling to understand the constants in the flow of human history. As for Mr. Irwin, I put before him a fascinating bit of research I came across, whose particulars would help my scholarly standing on this list, but nor necessarily my point; I, therefore, defer to the complaints of my aching index fingers, as I am a hunt-and-peck typist with a bad back on a small stool in the college library. It seems that among the first Europeans to land in West Africa a very peculiar confusion of visual perception was made. Having visited the forests inhabitated by chimpanzees and pygmies, they transferred to the texts of then books of knowledge the image of the local men as chimps holding a walking stick to stand erect. This confusion played a great role in the slave trade-- even to the East European views I heard as a boy from people who had never seen an African. Later, the Roman Catholic Church passed a brave edict (not much considered by the Portuguese) that these people have souls, hence are humans and cannot be chatteled as slaves. The point is, that no one could imagine confusing a chimp with a pygmy. Yet I hesitate to wonder if we might not make similarly stupid errors visiting some inhabited planet somewhere where nothing is familiar. Thus, I raise the issue of whether the educational background of man at any historical point so impacts his brain's processing that his perceptual veracity was quite different from the more technically developed man of today? Daniel E. Teodoru