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Re: "Dinosaurs don't count"
In a message dated 4/24/99 4:55:39 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
<< A footnote: To show his contempt for airy fantasies,
Bentham ordered that, after his death, his body should be stuffed. It
was. You may see him in a case, in London to this day, his body now
called "The Auto-icon." Poetic justice: Bentham ended up like Sue. >>
Auto-icon in the sense of autodidact (self-educated), I suppose. Bentham
donated his body for scientific study, as I recall. In the absence of Burke
and Hare, this is a worthwile principle.
<<it's hard to imagine an argument proposing that
"dinosaurs don't count" which did not also disqualify Monet; or an
argument against the study of prehistory which did not equally disqualify
history, and in this case perhaps even medical research.>>
My disagreement in the last post was with the idea that gaining superfluity
(huge wealth and power) was the common measure of intellectual value.
Instead, I think people know the survival value of having one type of
knowledge rather than another. The problem comes with knowledge which does
not relate to work directly, but instead is useful because it provides
analytic training exclusive of the subject matter. I suggested that English
was better for that purpose than paleontology.
As in your statement, there seems to be a tendency to jump from the need
people have to get use from their training to the observation that many in
the population are yahoos. I think the real enemy of appreciation of art and
history and science for many people is the accumulated responsibilities which
give them a long list of tasks required. To me, this is regimentation
without visible commanders.
So, yes, there are yahoos and there are people who sacrifice the time to
pursue an interest in art or history or plaeontology, but I think there are
also a great many people whose sense of life's requirements prevents them
from being as interested in non-essentials as they would like to be. If I'm
right, then the early retirement of a substantial number of people in my
large generation will be the golden age of museums. That's so long as the
museums are interested in their public rather than inculcation of the
administrators' ideas. (cf a prior thread.)