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Re: "Dinosaurs don't count"



In a message dated 4/24/99 4:55:39 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
gl91bciiLt@earthlink.net writes:

<<  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.)