Re: Europe and the Americas

Wed, 21 Feb 1996 14:08:00 PST

Kavanagh replies:

Dwight Reed [That's READ not REED] makes two points and a conclusion.
Kavanagh then replies to my comment "...the assumption is being made that
> a scale of "advancement" along which cultures can be measured or
> What constitutes this scale?"

by saying:

"I am sorry if I offended Reed with the unspecified concept of "cultural
level." I should have said something like relative degree of
socio-political/socio-economic complexity, and then given a scale."

Well, I was hardly "offended" and my question was rhetorical and
attempted (though with some failure, obviously!) to draw attention to the
spurious assumption of the Ayn Rand quote that there IS some objective
scale of "advancement" that is also defensible, anthropologically

My apologies for the confusion my writing may have caused, but I was not
questioning Kavanagh's concerns and interest (let alone his abiltiy to
devise a reasonable scale of complexity) with measuring complexity (which
I would consider to be a legitimate topic) -- but that is not what is at
issue with the Ayn Rand quote).

Kavanagh continues:

"But Reed seems to be saying that the very act of comparing cultural
systems is invidious."

The issue is not comparison (and certainly not the kind of comparison
that interests Kavanagh which is perfectly reasonable), but the KIND OF

Kavanagh goes on to quote me:

"Would this in any way justify the assertions
> made in the quoted text from the web page? I think not, "

and replies:

"Nor do I."

Nor did I assert that Kavanagh would have made this argument. Again, my
comment is about the essential error of the Ayn Rand argument--it isn't a
problem of facts, but in how the question is framed in the first place.

Kavanagh continues:

"But that is just it, the problem *is* in the misuse, wrong use, false
and incorrect use of non-factual information. "

Let me point out, as has another person, that while there are egregious
factual errors, is that ALL that is wrong with the Ayn Rand argument? Or
is the problem deeper, namely in the assumption (which I see as
underlying the Ayn Rand quote) that one can rank cultures according to
some scale of ADVANCEMENT (not complexity!) and then say that those
cultures that are more advanced are justified in replacing those cultures
that are less advanced?

My dispute is with the assumptions of the Ayn Rand quote, not with

D. Read