Monday, 14 September 2015

Primordial Instruction


Looking around the Oriel Senior Common Room Dr. Whately notes:

They are not only, in general; very ugly and ill-made, but, in the structure of their limbs, and especially in the head and face, they approach considerably to animals of the ape tribe; and the countenance is usually expressive of a mixture of stupidity, ferocity, and something of suspiciousness and low cunning.

Actually he is in fact referring to uncivilised natives, savages and others who have degenerated from an original state in which the elements of gracious living were given by God in a sort of revelation. This must be the case because those races do not improve or invent anything so they could not have started out that way. Europeans improved after that antedeluvian donation, they have regressed and are now on the way out.

Each one of us Europeans, whether Christian, Deist, or Atheist, is actually a portion of a standing monument of a former communication to mankind from some superhuman Being. That Man could not have made himself, is often appealed to as a proof of the agency of a divine Creator and that mankind could not, in the first instance, have civilised themselves, is a proof of the same kind, and of precisely equal strength, of the agency of a divine Instructor.

One thinks of Von Daniken. These speculations are taken from a lecture On the Origin of Civilisation published in Miscellaneous Lectures and Reviews (1860) while he was Archbishop of Dublin. He cites Humboldt in his lecture and it is clear that at that time good, intelligent and apparently well-informed people could hold views which to us are reprehensible. However it’s arguable that expressing revulsion is mere fatuous meliorism in these latter days when various horrors are welcomed as advances.

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