Friday, May 6, 2011

Mark Shea Remembers the Ancients

And debunks the "overwhelmingly evolution-dominated cultural narratives [that] tend to tell us to expect that the further back you go in history, the closer to the animal you are supposed to get" — Down the Memory Hole.

Noting that "instead of this gratifying scenario, we do not find an antiquity full of people who are closer to the beast," Mr. Shea continues, "Antiquity does not reveal homo sapiens unable to conceive nothing higher than eating, drinking and copulating. That required the invention of MTV."

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Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

Although I have no problem accepting evolution, I too resent the modern notion that the people who lived before indoor plumbing were bipedal beasts. I liked G. K. Chesterton's observation about prehistory:

But the truth is that the curtain rises upon the play already in progress In one sense it is a true paradox that there was history before history. But it is not the irrational paradox implied in prehistoric history; for it is a history we do not know. Very probably it was exceedingly like the history we do know, except in the one detail that we do not know it. It is thus the very opposite of the pretentious prehistoric history, which professes to trace everything in a consistent course from the amoeba to the anthropoid and from the anthropoid to the agnostic. So far from being a question of our knowing all about queer creatures very different from ourselves, they were very probably people very like ourselves, except that we know nothing about them. In other words, our most ancient records only reach back to a time when humanity had long been human, and even long been civilised. The most ancient records we have not only mention but take for granted things like kings and priests and princes and assemblies of the people; they describe communities that are roughly recognisable as communities in our own sense. Some of them are despotic; but we cannot tell that they have always been despotic. Some of them may be already decadent and nearly all are mentioned as if they were old. We do not know what really happened in the world before those records; but the little we do know would leave us anything but astonished if we learnt that it was very much like what happens in this world now. There would be nothing inconsistent or confounding about the discovery that those unknown ages were full of republics collapsing under monarchies and rising again as republics, empires expanding and founding colonies and then losing colonies. Kingdoms combining again into world states and breaking up again into small nationalities, classes selling themselves into slavery and marching out once more into liberty; all that procession of humanity which may or may not be a progress but most assuredly a romance. But the first chapters of the romance have been torn out of the book; and we shall never read them.

10:27 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

One good quote deserves another; I've always liked this one by Alexis de Tocqueville:

"The materialists are offensive to me in many respects; their doctrines I hold to be pernicious, and I am disgusted at their arrogance. If their system could be of any utility to man, it would seem to be by giving him a modest opinion of himself; but these reasoners show that it is not so; and when they think they have said enough to prove that they are brutes, they appear as proud as if they had demonstrated that they are gods."

3:05 PM  

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