Re: diseases and immunity
Tue, 02 Jul 1996 15:29:39 -0700

Domingo Martinez-Castilla wrote:

> " A city is defined as a population center where ..."

> which sounds very, very matter-of-fact, and then, in the next post or
> so, s/he recognizes that

> "As far as definitions, they were my own..."

> That confuses the reader at best, and is openly misleading at worst.

I got that with the responses to that post. I tried to correct any
misunderstanding. I do appologize for any confusion.

> Also, the very peculiar definition of manufacturing vis-a-vis production
> of "raw materials"is dubious at best. The most important category to
> show complexity is, I believe, division of labor and not the nature of
> the products themselves. What about the fact, chronicled in multiple
> instances by Europeans, that the market of Tlatelolco was the biggest
> organized market in the world? Is that an invention too, or
> revisionism? What may be the meaning of such a large and well organized
> market, regarding the complexity and organization of that civilization?

The distinction between manufacturing and the production of raw materials had
nothing to do with showing complexity. And, if you reread my post, I pointed out
that there were at least five cities (which I defined as centers of manufacture
and trade).

> It is not that I agree or disagree with every point sisial does, but
> her style seems full of sophisms. Sometimes, all of Europe is compared
> to the Aztecs; sometimes crops are important; etc., sometimes trade is
> important (but conveniently forgetting the size of the mesoamerican
> markets); sometimes writing is important; sometimes the wheel, or the
> horse, or iron, or whatever applies nicely to some preconceived notion.
> That is a sophist method.

European cities were compared to Mesoamerican cities. The purpose of this was to
establish differences and similarities. I certainly made no comments regarding
importance. Every aspect of a culture is important to understanding that culture.

I made no mention of crops, trade, writing, the wheel, the horse, or iron. And, I
certainly never stated that any of these things were important. I send a post
earlier today which suggested that if we are to label a culture according to it's
technological achievements, agriculture would be a good place to look (this was
compared to a suggestion of the use of chipped glass as the 'pinicle' of Aztec
technological achievement).

> What I perceive in this thread (and at least four other discussions like
> this since 1992) is some very understandable anthropocentrism. We
> humans tend to give credit of everything to ourselves (even the whole
> universe, according to Judeo-Christian tradition, was created for us
> people). All merit is ours. Circumstances? C'mon. Nature? God put
> it for us, etc., etc. If you oppose to this any evidence of
> natural-history facts affecting human history, we just tend to dismiss
> it. Very good historians (in most other respects) mention and recognize
> the terrible impact (loss of technology, languages, people, memories)
> of disease four and five centuries ago. However, if a summary is made
> of the reasons why American civilizations fell so easily, they prefer to
> ignore them. Check any history book. Chances are that disease is
> mentioned either marginally or not at all. Instead, a litany of
> "writing, wheel, iron, freedom, horse" is repeated at nauseaum. Very
> self-serving, to say the least.

Considering the fact that I have made no statements regarding 'why American
civilizations fells so easily,' I do not see how this applies. I only entered into
this discussion on two points. (1) that there were significant differences between
the cities of Mesoamerica and Europe which must be considered when making a
comparison (this was a carry over from another conversation dealing with
Mesoamerican cities where the responent to my post stated something which
suggested that such a comaprison was goin on. When I began reading the various
posts, it seemed that the general attitude was that one city is like any other
city. I responded by pointing out that there were differences in population
densities and in economy which I assumed most here would know drastically effect
culture). (2) on the suggestion that the production of chipped glass tools was the
'pinicle' of Aztec technological achievement (I went on to point out several
factors of which I am aware which were far more technologically advanced than
chipped glass).

My comments are necessarily limited to the little I do have on Mesoamerican
cultures. I could not, even if I desired, address the issues you attribute to me
as I am far from qualified.

> And I repeat again: there is not a one-way road towards the future or
> the past for that matter. If it were, we could dispense of
> anthropologists altogether.

I am the first to agree with you here. In fact, this is one of the few comments on
this thread which I believe can be proven. Unfortuntely, I lack the background in
Chaotic math to do so.