March 01, 2008

No less basic

    "Our uniqueness [as humans] lies in the cultural traits that rest on [our] genetic foundations and that in turn give us our power. Our cultural hallmarks include spoken language, art, tool-based technology, and agriculture. But if we stopped there, we'd have a one-sided and self-congratulatory view of our uniqueness. The hallmarks I just mentioned are ones that we're proud of. Yet the archaeological record shows the introduction of agriculture to have been a mixed blessing, seriously harming many people while benefiting others. Chemical abuse is a wholly ugly human hallmark. At least it doesn't threaten our survival, as do two of our other cultural practices: genocide, and mass exterminations of other species. We're uncomfortable about whether to regard these as occasional pathological aberrations, or as features no less basic to humanity than the traits we're proudest of."
Who wrote this, and where? (No Google/Wikipedia etc).


Anonymous said...

Jared Diamond?

ak said...

Dawkins? Stephen Jay Gould?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Chandra Suresh? ;)

Anonymous said...

I think its hard to point to the person who wrote it if one has not read the passage. Unless, your idea was get people to guess a rather unlikely source.
my guess, assuming a straight question, would be Jane Goodall.

Anonymous said...

On reading the passage again and looking at the tone in the beginning of the text I should correct myself. I dont think Jane Goodall would have used words like "give us our power...self-congratulatory view of our uniqueness" (she has been speaking/writing about non-uniqueness of making tools etc. thus being the woman who redefined man!).
So it has to be someone like jared diamond (the tone, being critical of agriculture etc.)

Anonymous said...

I have seen a Jared Diamond piece called something like "Agriculture was mankind's biggest mistake" (note: i said "have seen", not "have read"). So maybe this is part of that piece.

So my answer is Jared Diamond.

Rey de Vaqueiros

Dilip D'Souza said...

First guess on the dot! Jared Diamond it is, from "The Third Chimpanzee".

I posted it only because it struck me as typically Diamond: speculating about a wide range of human experience.