Re: The International Forum on Globalization - More

From: Neal Blaikie (
Date: Sun Feb 11 2001 - 00:25:02 MST

Rafael Anschau wrote:

> One interesting thing is to think about the consequences of HAVING ethics,
> morality, altruism and so forth. I sometimes wonder how many problems
> in the world are caused by those seemingly good conceptual tools.
> Arrogance against our natural instincts, some argue, may cause more damage
> than most people think.
> The book Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, provides good insight on the possible
> catastrophic
> consequences of human culture.

You've made an interesting point here. It's very arguable (and probably even
provable) that much harm has been done in the name of such lofty concepts as
morality, ethics, altruism, etc. And certainly it is at least arrogant to
assume we have entirely overcome our natural instincts (or "human nature," or
whatever we want to call it). I think an honest recognition of our biological
and genetic heritage is necessary if we are to improve ourselves, but the
conceptual tools we have at our disposal (and the many new ones we will
invent) are powerful and capable enough to do the job when handled with
balance and wisdom. I would be the first to admit we have a long way to go,
but am also optimistic enough to think we can accomplish whatever we set our
minds to.

I read Ishmael a couple of years ago and thought some of his ideas were
compelling, but that his overall application of them to history was overly
romantic and greatly flawed. He had some good insights, but IMHO failed to
understand the larger picture. But I could be wrong.

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