Jared Diamond has a new book out entitled the World Until Yesterday. He’s consistently broadened and generalized from his own field of anthropology and reached a mass audience. Schake calls his latest a bit of a vanity project which doesn’t necessarily convince:
‘In this book, Diamond draws from his extensive field research in New Guinea to share his views on the shortcomings of contemporary American society. Primitive approaches to social problems, he thinks, would better serve our society. For example, he argues for: dedicating more resources to mediation as an alternative to civil lawsuits, establishing “conventional monopolies” to smooth out trade fluctuations, deemphasizing competition and the desire for excellence among children, on-demand nursing for infants, spending more time talking to our children, devising new living conditions for the elderly, accepting that the gulf between rich and poor in the United States provides an explanation of the popularity of religion in our country, preserving language diversity, and ending obesity.’
Should we model some of our behavior upon that of the tribes of Papau New-Guinea, and what moral reasoning does Diamond use to arrive at such a position for Americans? What empirical research?
***In the case of Diamond and Steven Pinker, it’s interesting to note that an anthropologist and a psychologist have become generalists, and addressed questions of moral thinking, human political organization, and political philosophy more generally.
The L.A. Times has a book review here.
If you’ve read the book, please share your thoughts.
Also On This Site: From Savage Minds: More On The Lawsuit Against Jared Diamond…Did Jared Diamond get attacked for not being romantic enough…or just for potential hubris?: Was he acting as a journalist in Papua New-Guinea?: From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond’s Lawsuit……and: Jared Diamond: “Vengeance Is Ours” In The New Yorker
There has been a movement of people in anthropology to romanticize tribal life, many of them tend toward Left-of-Center political philosophies Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’…Romantic primitivism in Australia: ….Roger Sandall At The New Criterion Via The A & L Daily: ‘Aboriginal Sin’
Hirsi Ali seems to have found the embrace of the West out of both tribal localism and its customs, Islam, and the short-sightedness of multiculturalism. Notice non-Muslims are not the ones threatening her with death: Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily Beast…Repost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote ForTolerance And Inclusion’
Evolutionary psychology and moral thinking: Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’…
Blackburn not so impressed with the Blank Slate: Simon Blackburn Reviews Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature” Via the University Of Cambridge Philosophy Department…At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes…From Reason.TV Via YouTube: ‘Steven Pinker on The Decline of Violence & “The Better Angels of Our Nature”‘