Here’s an interesting, (I hope) convergence of science and culture. I got in an argument on Melissa Chen’s facebook page. She’s a historian and activist who sometimes take some controversial stances, like maybe we shouldn’t coddle kids on campuses. Anyway, she said something about how we should keep Darwin as an icon for the advancement of science, and not allow his outdated ideas on religion and even race to diminish his work. This included acknowledging his Europe centric culture as a requirement for his making those breakthroughs. That’s how I saw it anyway.
I said its fine to acknowledge the man, but let’s also not claim that his advancements could have only come out of the time and place that they did. Her and her minions kept saying that I wanted to discount Darwin’s genius, which I don’t think I did. To me, simply looking at the timing tells you something. The expedition happened because Ecuador had just claimed the islands as part of their country. Essentially colonialism. In the preceding centuries, universities had flourished in Europe because of the conquering and grabbing of riches that had been going on, from the knowledge gathered in Baghdad to the money made from the slave trade. I didn’t mention these things specifically because I knew they’d put us off topic.
Is there a way to promote the idea of a world of ideas waiting for anyone to discover, instead the old idea of white European men figured out everything, without getting too deep into the politics? It seems like the question can’t even be asked in a way that makes sense. It’s like asking how can you can talk about history with bringing up the past?