miércoles, 5 de junio de 2013

Muqaddimah

Ibn Khaldun's The Muqaddimah, trans. Franz Rosenthal, ed. N. J: Dawood (Princeton UP, 1969), quoted by Carl N. Degler in The Evolutionary Review (vol. 1, 2010): 


Just how far can a medieval Arab historian genuinely connect with contemporary evolutionary theory? Ibn Kaldûn's The Muqaddimah (An Introduction to History) contains a couple of paragraphs that bravely try to envision an evolutionary process: 


The world creator [started out from] the minerals and progressed in an ingenuous, gradual manner to plants and animals. The last stage of minerals is connected with the first stage of plants, the last stage of plants such as palms and vines, is connected with the first stage of animals such as snails and shellfish, which have only the power of touch. The world "connection" with regard to these created things means that the last stage of each group of these created things was the first stage of the next group.

The animal world then widens, its species become numerous and in a gradual process of creation it finally leads to man who is able to think and reflect. The higher stage of man is reached from the world of monkeys, in which sagacity and perception are found, but which has not reached the stage of actual reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of man. This is as far as our (physical) observation extends. (75)


By the way, the book reviewed by Degler, Peter Turchin's War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires (2006), sounds far more interesting than Degler's review would lead one to suppose. The crucial role of cooperation for violence against other groups and defense from other groups in human history and in human evolution is still undertheorized, and of course underestimated as well. 



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