Re: Propriety of demythologization

Gerold Firl (
8 May 1995 17:36:13 -0700

In article <> (Richard Spear) writes:

>The value of a bit of information to any particular culture will depend upon
>how well the information supports the ideological superstructure of that
>culture and/or how well it contributes to its technological base. Western
>societies are by and large capitalist and knowledge contributions are
>ultimately considered for their (present or future) ability to make money or
>for their usefulness in propping up the status quo of rankings and roles.

What do you think of william macneils thesis, put forth in _the rise of the
west_, which holds that one of the primary causes of the global dominance
of western culture was the willingness to learn from others and adapt
foreign ideas to local uses? We find that many of the technologies used by
the west in the military, industrial, and intellectual fields were invented
in china. Certainly when we compare the west to china and islam, the latter
two are noticibly more insular, less willing to learn from outside and
jealously protectionist.

The entire field of science seems to contradict your view, unfortunately so
widely held among "progressives". Of course, if massive capital investment
is required to do science, as in particle-physics research, then political
considerations will play a role in the appropriation of funds. But for most
of history, science has been pursued on the cheap, largely determined by
the individual interests of individual scientists reacting to the needs and
interests of their time and place. In fact, in the early days of science,
the overtly subversive nature of the inquiry was obvious to all. Need I
mention copernicus and galileo? How about darwin? Einstein? In fact, why
don't you tell me about a major scientific advance which came about in
response to their "(present or future) ability to make money or
for their usefulness in propping up the status quo of rankings and roles".

>So, in answer to Cameron's question, falsification of heirarchical analyses
>will not be listened to until there is a sufficient support for it among a
>segment of the ruling classes ... and that is unlikely until they can see how
>to extract either money or power from the new ideas.

The external control model of social function ... a very simplistic view.
This is one of the values of taking an evolutionary view of history. It
helps you to see that the dynamic which guides the development and
interaction of and between cultures is a result of internal features, of
factors which are intrinsic. It is simpler to imagine a puppeteer offstage,
pulling the strings and writing the script, but the reality is more
complex. To have any chance of understanding culture you must divest
yourself of these paranoid fantasies.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf