Archive for the ‘Prehistory’ Category

We’re (Potential) CANNIBALS: LACK Of CANNIBALISM Is EVIDENCE OF PROGRESS. Montaigne’s Erroneous Multiculturalism Denied This

November 4, 2018

MONTAIGNE’S INVENTION OF THE GOOD SAVAGE was naive, anti-progress, anti-civilizational. To put it in one word: nihilistic. Dismantling Montaigne’s offensive credulity exposes the rotten roots of  grotesquely erroneous, extreme, indiscriminate so-called multiculturalism.

Abstract: Cannibalism was probably the environment in which humanity evolved, in excess of 99% of the time (see the scientific evidence below). Cannibalism was common in the Neolithic, and everywhere regulated. The discovery of cannibalism in the Americas contributed to demolish the Christian mindset. Montaigne, in particular, drew an erroneous conclusion. That error justifies today’s excessive cultural relativism (so-called “multiculturalism”), and an excuse for (“Neo”) liberalization, plutocratic globalization, and it’s little helper, Islamization (now that Christianization is collapsing, so the sheep are thinking too free and too much).

I demolish here Montaigne’s injurious, naive and unimaginative assertion that barbarity is just what we don’t do. So doing I demolish naive, unimaginative cultural relativism, re-establishing the concept of progress, and of the best of all possible civilizations (not what we have, but it could be worse).

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Montaigne’s Extreme Cultural Relativism: Barbarians Are US:

Legend has it that Rousseau invented the lamentably unreal myth of the “Good Savage”. Reading the original writing, I just realized he may not have… Instead, it’s wise old Montaigne who invented the error of the Bon Sauvage. This monstrosity, the Good Savage, is of some consequence, as the Essays are generally viewed as an epitome of wisdom (Montaigne’s influence was enormous, for the better, on Henri III, IV and his wife, Queen Marguerite de Valois, féministe extraordinaire (among other things), and thereafter, as that good Catholic, crucially, yet unwittingly crucially helped to dismantle Christian terror; paradoxically the error I criticize today, helped to do so; by claiming everybody was a barbarian, Montaigne undermined moral religious superiority… perhaps, although Catholic that’s what he wanted).

Smart, but not that smart. And preaching this extreme multiculturalism had dreadful totalitarian consequences. Stalinism and Nazism among them. And now multiculturalism has been the main tool of global plutocratization.

Seeing Montaigne throwing overboard the concept of progress overboard came as a shock to me. The evidence can’t be denied, as it is blatant in the essay on “The Cannibals: ”we call barbarian what is not of our usage”. No, Michel, no, no, you got it all too grotesquely simplistic! And, Michel, you got it very dangerous: after all, following the erroneous Michel de Montaigne, the Nazis could call the Jews “barbarian” because, after all, they didn’t follow what the Nazis could call proper German usage…

Now, agreed “The Cannibals” was written seven years after the mad civil war of the Saint Barthelemy, ordered by the crowned plutocrats sitting pretty in the Louvres (which was crisscrossed by assassins that night). (The Duke of Sully, who barely escaped alive, esteemed 70,000 had been killed; people of Arles, down the Rhone from Lyon couldn’t drink the Rhone’s water for three months, from all the rotting corpses… the philosopher Petrus Ramus, and in Lyon the composer Claude Goudimel, among other intellectuals were killed.)

So Montaigne had good reason to be indignant, and suffer a momentary lapse of reason. Even more: all the Dark Ages was a direct consequence of that monstrous thought system, Christianism. Montaigne couldn’t say that. Very close friends and associates of Rabelais had been burned alive, just for printing books: the French plutocracy was that enlightened (Rabelais himself, an ex-Franciscan and ex-Benedictin, and a famous physician, and high level magistrate with highest level connections, including cardinals, escaped to the republic of Metz, the condemnation of the University of Paris. Others were not so favored).

I am even more of a cultural relativist than Montaigne. But I do not claim all cultures are equivalent. Far from it. Even a despicable culture can contain gems (this goes even for the Sharia!) Cultural traits, ideas and feeling can be picked and chosen, among all and any cultures, real, and imagined, to bring in nutrients into the salad of thoughts we need to forge forward into the richest world of possibilities Earthly intelligence has ever faced

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Progress, which progress? Could Renaissance thinkers say:

Progress was hard to ascertain: the instigation of the Dark Ages by the civilizationally deranged Christians shook the very foundations of human reason. Burning nearly all books & intellectuals made it more irrecoverable.

When we look way back, now that we can reconstitute civilization through the fog of the immense destruction by the sexually deranged Christian Jihadists, we discover that the Greco-Roman empire was immensely advanced (and that empire extended well beyond direct political control: the Celts used the Greek alphabet and deities, centuries before the conquest of Gallia by the unifying Roman brutes).

23 centuries ago, around 330 BCE, the Greek scientist Pytheas headed an expedition by the Marseilles empire. Pytheas circumnavigated Britain, and  discovered the mysterious Thule: Iceland, or at least Norway, and certainly the polar circle and sea ice (his ship couldn’t advance anymore). Pytheas also discovered the method to measure the spherical Earth within 1% (often attributed to Eratosthenes, but the latter came a century later). Don’t ask today’s ignorant French: they may know what PC, but they don’t know the history of the place now known as France.

Other Marseilles’ expeditions went to Senegal, while Carthaginians captured gorillas, went around Africa, and traded with subsaharan Africa.

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Native Americans Followed the Wrong Strategy With The Viking, Whereas Carolingian Franks Did it Right:

A thousand years ago, after following Irish monks to Iceland, the Vikings discovered a huge part of North America. The Viking were unable to hold North America militarily, though, as the Natives proved hostile, and uncontrollably so. Thus, ironically enough, American Natives organized their own demise, long-term… If the American Indians had invited the Viking in, Native Americans would have become civilizationally, militarily and biologically stronger, and could have endured!

By the way, by inviting the Viking to stay and colonize, what came to known as Normandy, the Franks put an end to their (more than a) century long war with the Scandinavians: the French were smarter than the Native Americans… Normandy also became arguably the world’s most mentally advanced place by the Eleventh Century: watch the Duke of Normandy casually tell dinners that the Earth turned around the Sun, or Berangarius de Tours,  a church authority, claiming all the god we needed was reason. Berengar was in turn discreetly protected by the Duke…

Experts may moan that the Franks got the war started by addressing ultimata to the Danes regarding Saxon refugees (in the Eighth Century)… So it was natural that after 900 CE they extend an olive branch. Yes, maybe. But it remains that the Native Americans were certainly stupid not to welcome and embrace the Vikings… And the massacre of Columbus’ men was more of the same. It’s not smart for savages to attack the gods, just after they showed up.

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America, A Discovery Whose Time Had Come Through General Scientific Enlightenment:

But the discovery of North America was kept hushed, although maps went around, just as the existence of Inuits, one of whom paddled all the way to Scotland during the beginning of the Little Ice Age. The rich cod fishing off Cape Cod was also kept secret.

Various Portuguese sailors had determined that there was a continent west of the Azores, for example by recovering wood sculpted, but not by iron instrument, and also various trees of non-European origin, and even corpses of American natives, carried from the west by the mighty wind and currents Columbus would use to return in just 31 days.  

This Portuguese discretion was turned on its head in 1492 CE, when the queen of Castille decided to launch the veteran and irresistible Spanish army towards the New World (instead of liberating North Africa and the Middle East from Islam, as had been planned previously; 1492 was also when the Jews were thrown out, coincident to the day Columbus sailed away). A Portuguese sailor, Columbus’ father in law, had extensively travelled. His documents persuaded Columbus of the existence of the continent which became America… while his brother-in-law, Pedro Correa, produced more sculpted wood from the West…

Columbus informed the queen (the queen was less keen that her husband in pursuing Jews and Muslims to the ends of the world).The possibly Jewish Columbus sailed back on January 15 1493, reaching the Azores February 15 (after a terrible storm)! Columbus announced the discovery of lush and gold laden large islands, among them the enormous Cuba and Hispaniola. He brought back with him a few Natives. The 39 men Viceroy Columbus had left behind in a fort, were killed to the last man by the Natives (who were later themselves annihilated: just as with the Viking, Native Americans would have been smarter to welcome the powerful, knowledgeable strangers and insure their safety, come what may…).

By the mid sixteenth educated Europeans had fully realized that much of the world thought and lived very differently from what they called “Christendom”. No thinker viewed Europe more critically in the light of the habits of the natives of the “New World” than Michel de Montaigne. He gathered much evidence from an employee of his, a Normand who had lived ten years in Brazil among the Natives (and who was used as a translator). Montaigne describes his Normand as “un homme simple et grossier”. The Normand (and thus Montaigne) described mostly the Tupinamba of Brazil.

Here are the most famous extracts from the Essais from the essay “Des Cannibales”. After making the apology of cannibalism, Montaigne concludes:

Nous les pouvons donc bien appeler barbares, eu égard aux règles de la raison, mais non pas eu égard à nous, qui les surpassons en toute sorte de barbarie. Leur guerre est toute noble et généreuse, et a autant d’excuse et de beauté que cette maladie humaine peut en recevoir…

(Personal) Translation:

We may therefore call them barbarous, by judging them according to the rules of reason, but not relatively to ourselves, who surpass them in all sorts of barbarism. Their war is all noble and generous, and has as much excuse and beauty as this human disease can receive …

But there is worse on Montaigne’s part:

“Or je trouve, pour revenir à mon propos, qu’il n’y a rien de barbare et de sauvage en cette nation, à ce qu’on m’en a rapporté, sinon que CHACUN APPELLE BARBARIE CE QUI N’EST PAS DE SON USAGE; comme de vrai, il semble que nous n’avons autre critère (“mire”) de la vérité et de la raison que l’exemple et idée des opinions et usages du pays où nous sommes. Là est toujours la parfaite religion, le parfait gouvernement (“police”), parfait et accompli usage de toutes choses. Ils sont sauvages, de même que nous appelons sauvages les fruits que nature, de soi et de son progrès ordinaire, a produits : là où à la vérité, ce sont ceux que nous avons altérés par notre artifice et détournés de l’ordre commun, que nous devrions appeler sauvages.”

Essays, l. I, chap. XXXI, “Cannibals”,

Folio, Volume 1, Gallimard, p. 305 sq.

Now, to return to my subject, I find that there is nothing barbarous or savage in this nation, as far as I have been told, except that EVERYONE CALLS BARBARIAN WHAT IS NOT OF HIS OWN USAGE (1); in truth, it seems that we have no other test of truth and reason than the example and idea of ​​the opinions and usages of the country where we live. There, in that country of ours, is always the perfect religion, the perfect police, perfect and accomplished use of all things. They are savage, just as we call savages the fruits which nature, of itself and of its ordinary progress, has produced: where, in truth, they are those which we have altered by our artifice and diverted from the common order, that we should call savages (2).

***

Montaigne relaunched a tradition of using non-European peoples as a basis for engaging in a critique of Euro-Greco-Roman own culture. However Montaigne also went where (most) antique thinkers had not. He engaged in simplistic analysis, worthy of a 6 years old, undoubtedly in the process romanticizing what Jean-Jacques Rousseau would later celebrate. It is a theme which still appeals to many West-hating Westerners.

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Montaigne:

. . . “ I do not find that there is anything barbaric or savage about this nation, according to what I’ve been told, unless we are to call barbarism whatever differs from our own customs. Indeed, we seem to have no other standard of truth and reason than the opinions and customs of our own country. There at home is always the perfect religion, the perfect legal system–the perfect and most accomplished way of doing everything.

These people are wild in the same sense that fruits are, produced by nature, alone, in her ordinary way. Indeed, in that land, it is we who refuse to alter our artificial ways and reject the common order that ought rather to be called wild, or savage.  In them the most natural virtues and abilities are alive and vigorous, whereas we have bastardized them and adopted them solely to our corrupt taste. Even so, the flavor and delicacy of some of the wild fruits from those countries is excellent, even to our taste, better than our cultivated ones. After all, it would hardly be reasonable that artificial breeding should be able to outdo our great and powerful mother, Nature. We have so burdened the beauty and richness of her works by our innovations that we have entirely stifled her. Yet whenever she shines forth in her purity she puts our vain and frivolous enterprises amazingly to shame. . . . All our efforts cannot create the nest of the tiniest bird: its structure, its beauty, or the usefulness of its form; nor can we create the web of the lowly spider. All things, said Plato are produced by nature, chance, or human skill, the greatest and most beautiful things by one of the first two, the lesser and most imperfect, by the latter. . . .

These nations seem to me, then, barbaric in that they have been little refashioned by the human mind and are still quite close to their original naivety. They are still ruled by natural laws, only slightly corrupted by ours. They are in such a state of purity that I am sometimes saddened by the thought that we did not discover them earlier, when there were people who would have known how to judge them better than we. It displeases me that Lycurgus or Plato didn’t know them, for it seems to me that these peoples surpass not only the portraits which poetry has made of the Golden Age and all the invented, imaginary notions of the ideal state of humanity, but even the conceptions and the very aims of philosophers themselves. They could not imagine such a pure and simple naivety as we encounter in them; nor would they have been able to believe that our society might be maintained with so little artifice and social structure.

***

Yes, Indeed, Cannibals Are Us, to the point we have cannibal DNA:

One thing Montaigne is right on, is to view cannibalism as nothing special. To quote Wikipedia:

Among modern humans, cannibalism has been practiced by various groups.[25] It was practiced by humans in Prehistoric Europe,[35][36] Mesoamerica[37] South America,[38]among Iroquoian peoples in North America,[39] Māori in New Zealand,[40] the Solomon Islands,[41] parts of West Africa[17] and Central Africa,[17] some of the islands of Polynesia,[17] New Guinea,[42] Sumatra,[17] and Fiji.[43] Evidence of cannibalism has been found in ruins associated with the Ancestral Puebloans of the Southwestern United States as well as (at Cowboy Wash in Colorado).[44][45][46]

Not just this: the evidence of cannibalism in humans is at least 600,000 years old. There are two reasons for it, I reckon: proteins were hard to find in the past. But not just this: by eating humans themselves, humans prevented predators to acquire a taste for human flesh, a paramount security consideration  around potentially human eating predators. Eating dead humans is then, indeed, nothing special, having two good reasons for it. What of the possibility of prion disease? (That was found in North Africa, and the Fore of New Guinea, who were too enthusiastic in eating their parents, causing the prion disease kuru).

In 2003, a publication in Science magazine suggested that prehistoric humans practiced extensive cannibalism, to the point human genetics adapted to this practice. According to this research, genetic markers commonly found in modern humans, worldwide, suggest that today many people carry a gene providing protection against the brain diseases that can be spread by consuming human brain tissue… A study of the Fore, an isolated tribe living in Papua New Guinea by Simon Mead, John Collinge and colleagues, at the MRC’s Prion Unit at University College London, found evidence that a gene variant arose in some of the Fore to protect against a deadly prion disease transmitted by their former cannibalistic habits. Prion diseases include CJD in humans and BSE – mad cow disease – in cattle.

The team found from analysing DNA samples that the same protective gene variant is common in people all over the world. This led the researchers to conclude that it evolved when cannibalism was widespread, in order to shield cannibals from prion diseases lurking in the flesh of victims.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18172-gene-change-in-cannibals-reveals-evolution-in-action/

A DNA debate ensued, but my hunch is that the cannibalistic protection gene has got to exist, for the ubiquitous reasons I gave. Why New Guinea Highlanders are susceptible may have to do paradoxically with cannibalism being less practiced in that lush area since it was colonized by humans…

I suggested that cannibalism had, in part to do with not giving predators a taste for human flesh (notice the expression). Guess what? Native mammal fauna of New Guinea lacks large predators, so what I see as a main reason for cannibalism was absent in New Guinea! (Right, there are both Saltwater and Freshwater crocodiles in New Guinea, but those saurians are not smart enough to develop distinguished and cultural culinary habits, differently from felines, hyenas, canids, bears, eagles, etc.)

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Montaigne had little imagination:

If eating dead humans is then, indeed, nothing special, having two good reasons for it, not eating humans is a deviation from normalcy. Thus, not eating humans is an indication of civilization, that most striking anomaly life ever evolved.

In the 21th Century, the Disney company has a problem: patrons spreading around the ashes of their loved ones (which they put in medication bottles as large containers are checked). Haunted houses are a preferred place. People can be weird, but there is nothing weird about cannibalism (psychiatrist associations have refused to label cannibalism a mental disease).

The word “cannibalism” is derived from Caníbales, the Spanish name for the Caribs, whom Columbus encountered. (Some say the Spaniards invented the word in analogy with the Latin “canis”, mixing it with the sound for the karina as the islanders described themselves). Dog eat dog, in other words… In any case, “cannibalism” was introduced in France in 1515 CE.  

Spanish conquistadores observed that the Carib Indians were cannibals who regularly ate roasted human flesh. There is evidence as to the taking of human trophies and the ritual cannibalism of war captives among both Carib and other Amerindian groups such as the Arawak and Tupinamba (the ones from Brazil Montaigne knew best). The Caribs themselves were invaders from South America, having arrived around 1200 and displaced the indigenous Tainos. With the Mexican Aztecs, cannibalism took industrial proportions (and turned out into their undoing).

In long prose I will not bother to reproduce here, Montaigne makes an idyllic description of cannibalism: something that happened peacefully after death. What a dearth of imagination!

Real cannibalism is something else. Did Montaigne think about the problem of indigestion? One does not want to eat too much meat at one time. How to preserve the meat, when one has no salt, no cold drying wind, no deep freezing lakes? Well, one can eat the meat, one piece at a time. Over a period of weeks.

In 1910, the American anthropologist, A P Rice, described how the people of the Marquesas Islands ritualistically killed their captives.

First, they broke their legs, to stop them running away, then they broke their arms, to stop them resisting. This was an unhurried killing, because the Marquesans enjoyed observing their victim contemplating his fate. Eventually, the man would be skewered and roasted.

Nuku Hiva has a population of just over 2000 and has a history of cannibalism, but the practice was believed to have ceased. Not so sure. In any case, when battling the enemy, eating him, or her, can be viewed as the ultimate insult. So it was perceived for many cannibalisms, such as the one in New Zealand.(Dishonoring the dead is a long practice for cherished enemies: see Obama with Bin Laden.)

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If One Really Hates Them, One May As Well, Eat Them Alive:

(No, I won’t tweet that one! Such a statement will be evilly contextualized by the ill-minded and the mentally challenged…)

Long ago, I read extensive nineteenth century description of cannibalism in Oceania (I searched but could not find references). It goes from the humoristic to the grim. On the humoristic side, that time when the British delegation to New Zealand was invited to celebrate a treaty with the Maoris, with an extensive Luau comprising many roasted Natives.

That we have so much indications of cannibalism in Oceania is per the nature of islands (small, no extensive crops to raid after killing the peasants), and the fact these were Neolithic societies, equivalent to those found in Europe before the Mesopotamian farmers and their intensive agriculture crops colonized Europe, 7,000 years ago… (So, it’s not anti-Pacific Islander racism; actually the ethnicities of those islanders vary a lot, between Filipino derived and Melanesian… History is complicated, and not PC, as the case of New Zealand shows…)

One grim truth is that, in hot tropical climate, without refrigeration, some captives were eaten, ALIVE,  piece by piece over a period of days, or even weeks (not to say that Europeans wouldn’t do such a thing: the assassin of one of the “Orange” leaders of the Netherlands, William the Silent, was publicly tortured to death over several days).

The necessity to eat some people alive, under some circumstances, illustrates clearly that cannibalism, or the absence thereof, is dependent upon the environment and technology, not just the “mores”: there are widespread rumors that the Wehrmacht resorted to cannibalism in Stalingrad (in any case, the Wehrmacht’s Sixth Army resorted to practices, like torture to death, which are fully documented, in Poland, France, and Russia…)

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Conclusion: As an indication of barbarity, eating people is neither here, nor there. Eating corpses when there is no other choice, is viewed as correct, even in the most conservative societies. The real barbarity is to set-up, or contribute to set-up, or tolerate situations where cannibalism would be a natural outcome. It goes without saying that, in a world of 8 billion people highly dependent on international trade to feed themselves (most energy is traded, at this point), a serious war would disrupt trade, and invite cannibalism.

Montaigne, by claiming that what we do not practice we view as barbaric, and, by claiming implicitly that this was legitimate, or by transmogrifying cannibalism into something nice, voided the concept of barbarity from any content.

To stay attached to the notion of progress, we have to be able to distinguish between what is bad and what is better. For example, having a situation where one has to eat one’s enemy alive is bad, and a situation in which we have no enemy is better.

Montaigne, dejected by the Saint Bartholomew massacre launched by his Catholic party was led to hint that Catholics viewed Protestants as barbaric, just because of their different ways (“usage”). Understood. However, the concept that barbarity is entirely relative has since taken a life of its own: one can see it loud and clear in Nazism (Himmler recommended to his men, after their daily massacres, of civilians, women and children, to immerse themselves to eternal German culture, complete with soothing classical music).

Cultural multiculturalism, in its extreme contemporary form, claims we can’t judge other cultures. Or even other cultures’ ideas and practices. If religiously endowed, the more horrendous practices, sexual mutilations or executions, are tolerated.

For example, Pakistan’s court condemned a young Christian woman, Asia Noreen – commonly known as Asia Bibi, to be executed for allegedly insulting Islam during a dispute with neighbors (she already spent eight years on death row). The Pakistan Supreme Court ordered her freed in November 2018, but she was left in prison as the Islamists called for her death. Her senior male lawyer, saying he regretted nothing, fled Pakistan.

Such behaviors from powers in Pakistan depict barbarity unchained: in the place known as Pakistan, at some point Jihadists invaded, and imposed their barbarity (centuries after Christianism peacefully seduced Pakistanis). That Islamists use terror doesn’t make terror any less barbaric. Michel de Montaigne would have us believe that, because terror is a usage of Jihadists, we shouldn’t call it barbaric, as they use it, and we, the secular civilians, don’t. Well, that’s swine level reasoning.

We can only love those we can debate, as, at worst, they provide us with the occasion to prove them wrong. At best, they make us more intelligent, wiser and knowledgeable, making us stronger. So I love Montaigne more than ever, even though my esteem for him went down a lot, while Rousseau’s, to my dismay, went up.

I am a real multicultural, multilingual, even multi continental fanatic. I even call Chinese history home, although I grew up (mostly) in Africa. Good multiculturalism is to pick and choose particular elements of the hundreds of culture we have at our disposal, and reject others we find horrid. I understand what Native North Americans were up to, with their tortures to death. I also understand and appreciate the psychology and traditions which motivated the “47 Ronins. I know very well that some Africans traits viewed as primitive, are actually more advanced. But in all this there is one meta principles: some ideas and feelings are more advanced than others. Comparing, or accepting, cultures wholesale is naive, even criminal.

Patrice Ayme

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Notes:

  1. Parroted by Levi Strauss in Race et Histoire, Unesco, 1952, pp. 19 sq.

“Dans les Grandes Antilles, quelques années après la découverte de l’Amérique, pendant que les Espagnols envoyaient des commissions d’enquête pour rechercher si les indigènes possédaient ou non une âme, ces derniers s’employaient à immerger des blancs prisonniers afin de vérifier par une surveillance prolongée si leur cadavre était ou non, sujet à la putréfaction.

Cette anecdote à la fois baroque et tragique illustre bien le paradoxe du relativisme culturel (que nous retrouverons ailleurs sous d’autres formes) : c’est dans la mesure même où l’on prétend établir une discrimination entre les cultures et les coutumes que l’on s’identifie le plus complètement avec celles qu’on essaye de nier. En refusant l’humanité à ceux qui apparaissent comme les plus “sauvages” ou ” barbares ” de ses représentants, on ne fait que leur emprunter une de leurs attitudes typiques. Le barbare, c’est d’abord l’homme qui croit à la barbarie.”

Notice that this piece of brain-dead sophistry minded devious apology of extreme multiculturalism was published by the United Nations. Now the UN can be proud that non-Muslims get executed in Pakistan for just being non-Muslim (as many Islam texts say they should).

Translation: “In the Greater Antilles, a few years after the discovery of America, while the Spaniards sent commissions of inquiry to find out whether the natives had a soul or not, the natives were trying to immerse white prisoners to check by prolonged surveillance if their body was or was not, subject to putrefaction.

This baroque and tragic anecdote illustrates the paradox of cultural relativism (which we will find elsewhere in other forms): it is to the very extent that we claim to discriminate between cultures and customs that we identify ourselves most completely with those we try to deny. By denying humanity to those who appear to be the most “savage” or “barbarian” of its representatives, one only borrows one of their typical attitudes. The barbarian is first and foremost the man who believes in barbarism.

“The barbarian is first and foremost the man who believes in barbarism?” that’s Levi-Strauss parroting Montaigne, denying there is such a thing as barbarity. Here Levi Strauss is poorly informed, repeating mindlessly a racist insult (against Spaniards): the notion of Indians having a soul was never put in doubt by the Spaniards: that’s precisely why they tried to convert them to Catholicism, as ordered by the Pope! Thus, irony of ironies, the holier-than-thou Levi-Strauss proclaims those who believe in barbarity barbarians, while himself indulging in fake news, fake, and racially insulting data, trying to make us believe that the Conquistadors were themselves delirious stupid racist brutes (they could be as brutish as needed, but were nether racist, nor stupid: for example, Cortez’s relationship with La Malinche, a multilingual Yucatan Princess, was crucial for the conquest… He recognized the children.)

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(2) Rousseau parroted Montaigne, but not just... It is often said that Rousseau parroted Montaigne, but, reading the originals, I didn’t find just this. Instead I found this:

Ce qu’il y a de plus cruel, encore, c’est que, tous les progrès de l’espèce humaine l’éloignant sans cesse de son état primitif, plus nous accumulons de nouvelles connaissances et plus nous nous ôtons les moyens d’acquérir la plus importante de toutes, et que c’est en un sens à force d’étudier l’homme que nous nous sommes mis hors d’état de le connaître.

“What is most cruel, still, is that, as all the progress of the human species constantly removes it ever more from its primitive state, the more we accumulate new knowledge and the more we take away from us the means to acquire the most important knowledge of all, and that it is in a sense the more we study man, the more we put ourselves out of the state necessary to know him.”

This is correct in the sense of the salons Rousseau frequented, but not in the sense of laboratories exploring dendrites and neurotransmitters. Such a quote is also extremely far from the myth of the “Bon Sauvage” attributed to Rousseau…

However it remains that Rousseau held that men in a state of nature do not know good and evil, but their independence, along with “the peacefulness of their passions, and their ignorance of vice”, keep them from doing ill (A Discourse…, 71-73). Curious that Rousseau never heard of the systematic usage of lethal, prolonged torture among North American Natives, as the way to end prisoners’ lives… That was extremely well documented and known at the time, so one can see Rousseau was extremely biased, to the point of idiocy.

I tied in Montaigne’s divagations with Jihadism. So did Rousseau, I discovered after I wrote the preceding… except that Rousseau approves of Jihadism, Christian or Islamist, and approves of burning libraries:

They say that Caliph Omar, when consulted about what had to be done with the library of Alexandria, answered as follows: ‘If the books of this library contain matters opposed to the Koran, they are bad and must be burned. If they contain only the doctrine of the Koran, burn them anyway, for they are superfluous.’ Our learned men have cited this reasoning as the height of absurdity. However, suppose Gregory the Great was there instead of Omar and the Gospel instead of the Koran. The library would still have been burned, and that might well have been the finest moment in the life of this illustrious pontiff.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Sciences and Arts (1st Discourse) and Polemics

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3) So what’s barbarian?

Barbarian is relative to the circumstances. For example, many elements of the doctrine advocated by Muhammad, in his day, and age, and place of worship, was not barbarian… but, just the opposite, progressive! However, now, it both barbarian and regressive.  

Christianism, though, is another matter. When Constantine imposed “Catholic Orthodoxy” that was definitively barbarian and regressive. It opened an anti-intellectual abyss under Greco-Roman civilization it collapsed into.

PA

Humans: Neanderthals, Other Ancestors, Colonized & Migrated, Back & Forth. Therein Our Smarts

January 26, 2018

What does it mean to be human? It used to mean a race, then “Homo Sapiens”. Now, it’s getting seriously more complicated, in other words: mathematical. Titles in the media know, repeating what semi-brainless academics erupted with: “In Cave in Israel, Scientists Find Jawbone Fossil From Oldest Modern Human Out of Africa”.

Paleontologists announced in January 2018 the discovery of a fossilized “modern human” jawbone in a collapsed cave in Israel that they said is between 177,000 and 194,000 years old. By “modern human” they mean: like us.

If confirmed, the find, a find of a kind I expected, will rewrite the official, academic early migration story of our species, pushing back by about 50,000 years the textbook time that Homo sapiens first ventured out of Africa. 

Neanderthals all over us… Fair skin genes seem to have come from Neanderthals … and African from Subsaharan Africa have them to, before much more recent mutations darkened their skins… Yes, matters are becoming complicated. Th argument has been made, by comparison with the mysterious Homo Antecessor, that the Neanderthal face was actually more evolved. Yes, evolved. 

However, one has to be careful: a jaw doesn’t a mind makes. Homo Sapiens Sapiens’ DNA were already found, without any modern DNA descendants (whereas we all, or nearly all, have Neanderthal and Denisovan genetics!)

Previous discoveries in Israel limestone caves indicated that so-called “modern” humans began leaving Africa between 90,000 and 120,000 years ago. But the recently dated jawbone is unraveling that narrative, big time. It is replacing it by the mathematical mix and match I favor..

This would be the earliest modern human anyone has found outside of Africa, ever,” said John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist from the University of Wisconsin, Madison who was not involved in the study… But is an old fashion thinker.

Oldest modern human” is slippery conceptual ground: it seems to insinuate that most humans then occupying Eurasia, and who were to occupy Eurasia for the next 150,000 years, during the 200,000 to 50,000 years span, were not really human, or “modern”.  Yet, those humans made discoveries such as burning coal for energy, genetically engineering European wolves into wolves, etc… Insinuating that Neanderthals and Denisovans were not human is, arguably, the mother of all racism. And against our own ancestors! Sadomasochist racism?

To the contrary, evidence instead points out that Neanderthals and Denisovans were not just human, but super-human (Neanderthals had much larger brains than today’s “Sapiens”, by up to 20%!). It seems highly likely they invented so many technologies, they guaranteeing the evanescence of their own genetic modifications (they obsolesced themselves!)

So what of this “modern human” concept? A “modern jaw” does not make a modern mind.

I have proposed that the dilution of Neanderthals and Denisovans characteristics in Sapiens Sapiens genomics was most probably a mathematical effect, helped by climate change and advancing technology: https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/why-did-neanderthals-disappear/

The upper jawbone — which includes seven intact teeth and one broken incisor, and was described in a paper in the journal Science — provides fossil evidence that lends support to genetic studies that have suggested modern humans moved from Africa far earlier than had been suspected.

In a way, that theory, the all-out of Africa, and Africa only theory, was silly: Homo Ergaster was in the Caucasus around 1.9 million years ago, in force. In those tough conditions, Homo Ergaster, an early prototype of Homo Erectus, was probably dressed in furs (at least, so they were represented on the cover of Science at the time! The winter is cold in the Caucasus!)

What didn’t kill them should have made them stronger, and smarter. Colonization, immigration is not just a hope, it’s a school. By conquering Eurasia, Homo Ergaster made the species stronger and smarter. Actually the earliest example of domestication of fire comes from China, and it’s 1.3 million years old. China, not Africa (right, some parts of China are colder than anywhere in Africa but for the glaciers of Ruwenzori).

It seems likely that colonizing Eurasia made the species more superior than it would have been otherwise. Just as Neanderthal genes were found all the way down Africa, why would not a back colonization, or back migration from eurasia to Africa have happened?

This is exactly what my little “math extinguished Neanderthal” theory predicted, and now what is found ou. Consider : “Deeply divergent archaic mitochondrial genome provides lower time boundary for African gene flow into Neanderthals” Wherein it is shown that African Homo Sapiens genes passed into the Neanderthal gene pool around 270,000 years ago!

It’s not because Darwin said humanity originated in Africa, that it really did in all ways. Maybe it didn’t, in crucial ways. Well, actually, it’s now proven… And guess what? It was only logical. That enemy of Darwin, Nietzsche (“What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”), would have been delighted: Eurasian colonization made Homo stronger, and yes, neanderthals were fully human.  

Colonialism springs eternal! This, colonialism, immigration, exploration, is what humanity does, and has always done, and used as an engine of evolution, not to say creation. Notice here the problem with uncorrected, rampant and unthinking Political Correctness: it hates colonialism, thus hates what made us, the core of the human adventure. (OK, paradoxically, although it hates “colonialism”, much of the PC herd loves another way to describe it, immigration! Mental coherence is the first victim of Political Correctness.)

Once again, it turns out that Homo Sapiens Sapiens was actually in Eurasia 100,000 years before we thought (as recently as last year!) that he was. So the interaction with Neanderthals and Denisovans was not a short affair, but something that lasted at least 140,000 years. This indicates that Neanderthals and Denisovans were not inferior, they may actually have been superior, and math extinguished them!

Not only Neanderthals had bigger brains, but they had bigger faces, and those faces differed more from ours than ours may have differed from Homo Antecessor (an ancestor known from just remnants of four individuals at this point; it lived 800,000 years ago, and looked surprisingly “modern”). It’s not me who made this shocking observation, but one of the top specialist of the subject, fellow Algerian Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Hublin and his colleagues created computer models that let them “grow” skulls virtually. “When we do this, we can explain the variation in shape between Neanderthals,” says Hublin. “But if we grow a modern human skull to the size of a Neanderthal, we don’t have something that looks like a Neanderthal. You get something different.

Hublin thinks that modern humans have retained a lot of primitive features from our distant ancestors. “It seems the Neanderthals are more evolved in their own direction than modern humans.” He observes. Said differently, the faces of modern humans may not be that modern.

The term ‘modern’ is somewhat misleading,” says Hublin. “When you say ‘modern’, people assume you mean ‘more evolved’, but in fact in our case it may mean ‘more primitive’.” We have met supermen, and we diluted, we degenerated from them, long ago…

In any case, our ancestors were colonists, here, there, now and then, and everywhere. From DNA studies, it is known that, around 10,000 years ago, Fertile Crescent peasant colonized the Mediterranean islands, and went all the way to Italy, and probably beyond, bringing along their agricultural know-how. So when we go conquer back Iraq, we are going home, Neocons are sure to add, but we will smile sardonically… There had been a controversy about how they proceeded: through land, or islands? Islands! In particular, Crete.

Big data is fashionable. we were created by big data, and, even more, significant data. That data was found in other places than Africa. That data made us smarter.

So now, what’s next? The Moon! Mars! They are within easier reach than the bottom of the ocean, that’s for sure… Colonization will us strong, smart, push us forward, just like our ancestors

Patrice Aymé

NEANDERTHAL SUPERIORITY

April 27, 2014

IS STUPIDITY A SAPIENS THING?

Why did Neanderthals disappear? This fascinating question brought other questions, that have blossomed ever more. Such as: “In light of the fact Neanderthals were obviously a superior human race, why do people think it’s so cool to demean Neanderthals?”

Just because they disappeared? Did they? Wait…

Indeed the original question, why did Neanderthals go extinct? is itself in the process of going extinct. As I tried to explain in “Mathematics “Extinguished” Neanderthals”, Neanderthals probably did not go extinct. They were too superior, to just disappear. Instead they genetically consolidated in a more economic format… The one they came from!

Among Neanderthal Inventions: Chemistry, Body Paint, Earliest Art...

Among Neanderthal Inventions: Chemistry, Body Paint, Earliest Art…

My reasoning in “Maths “Extinguished…”rests mainly on two ideas: a) the advancement of technology made most of Neanderthals’ cold adapted mutations irrelevant, and a burden. And: b) a subtle thinning-out from periodic near-extinctions  of genetic traits related to more bulky individuals. So it’s not just tech, but a very varying climate, that thinned out Neanderthalian traits.

Thanks to genetic studies spearheaded by Herr Doktor Professor Svante Paabo, an evolutionary geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (author of “Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes”), it turns out that, as he writes in the New York Times (April 25, 2014):

…”these past few years, my research group and I have worked to sequence the genome of a Neanderthal, the closest evolutionary relative of all present-day humans. We have also sequenced a genome from a small bone excavated in a Russian cave close to the border with China; this genome came from a previously unknown Asian relative of the Neanderthals — a group that we call the Denisovans.

These ancient genomes show that the Neanderthals were genetically very similar to us. In fact, for most of the genome, some people living today are closer to the Neanderthals than to other people. Comparing their genome with that of modern people, we identified a total of 31,389 genetic mutations that have come to be carried by all humans today.”

Please meditate this, the conclusion of genetics studies: “…some people living today are closer to the Neanderthals than to other people.” What a shattering notion!

Paabo’s work as been confirmed independently by other research groups. There are too many surprises to list them all. Some researchers found that the highest density of Neanderthals mutations in… North Africa.

North Africans are a type of Europeans, genetically speaking; in 2014 Neanderthal mutations were found all the way to ancient South African population!… And the whole situation became extremely complicated. For example Denisovans’ genetics were found in Spain. However, so far absolutely no Denisovan skeleton has been found: they constitute a genome in search of a body!

Then Paabo, unfortunately, slips into age-old racist prejudice:

“Among these mutations may lurk some subtle yet consequential differences between them and us that further research may eventually explain. For example, although Neanderthals, who became extinct about 30,000 years ago, produced stone tools and controlled fire, they never developed the technology and culture to multiply and spread across the planet as modern humans did.”

Paabo should know better than writing this. Some of the first genomic studies on Neanderthals found them quite far, genetically from modern humans. Then more recent Homo Sapiens Sapiens’ genomes were analyzed and found… just as far.

I appreciate the professor’s work. However the sentence: “although Neanderthals… controlled fire, they never developed the technology and culture to multiply and spread across the planet as modern humans did,” struck me as unwarranted, if not downright racist to the point of complete stupidity. With all due respect, of course: Paabo himself gave us some of the weapons to squash his prejudice! “Modern humans” of today have a different genome from “modern humans” of yesterday: whoever “spread across the planet”, why and how, is not too clear.

WHY NEANDERTHALS ARE A SUPERIOR RACE:

Neanderthals were adapted to a very cold climate. So they thrived in North Africa, but it’s not surprising that they did not get south. Meanwhile, as Neanderthals had invented pants, African Sapiens could spread into Europe (supposing that technology was transferred to them).

Paleontologist Zilhão found evidence demonstrating that Neanderthals in Europe were neither cognitively inferior nor less creative than Homo SS in Africa.

In 2010, he reported that a cache of painted marine shells on the Iberian Peninsula was made by Neanderthals (the photography at the top of the essay is of some of these shells; the hole indicates that they were worn as jewelry; thread had been invented by Neanderthals at least 30,000 years prior).

These shells were dated to 50,000 years ago, about 10,000 years before Cro-Magnon (viewed as Homo SS) appeared in Europe. These 50,000 year old shells were used by Neanderthals to produce body paint. To do so, preceding 19C chemistry by a full 50,000 years, Neanderthals used chemical reactions.

The shells contain mineral pigment makeup that required some skill and know-how to produce. (The makeup was composed of fool’s gold, aka pyrite, and ground hematite, which can be red and black, all mixed in to a base of the rust-colored mineral, lepidocrocite.)

Neanderthals were chemists who painted themselves and wore jewelry. Fashion shows in the Paris basin are at least 50,000 years old (so the degeneracy there is an atavism). Neanderthals invented many technologies. They had mastered hafting, more than 150,000 years ago. That allows to attach wood to warheads and tools. As I noticed in the Tasmanian Effect:

“Amazingly, the Tasmanians had lost hafted tool technology (it allows to fix a hard head such as a stone or a piece of antler to a wooden object such as a spear, arrow, or ax). Hafting was independently evolved in Europe by Neanderthals…”

Previously unknown Neanderthal technologies are found every year. Neanderthals invented needle and thread, way back (80,000 years ago, at least; probably much older). Necessity was the mother of invention: Europeans (aka Neanderthals) needed clothing more than Africans did, as the later wore none. Moreover, appropriate fibers are more easily found in the temperate zone (everything rots quickly in the very warm, wet tropics, including DNA).

NEANDERTHALS INVENTED DOGS, COAL BURNING, SHELL FISH DINING:

Some of the arguments against Neanderthals have been outright ridiculous: not only we were told, without any evidence, that they could not talk, but that the superiority of Africans came from eating shell fish, about 70,000 years ago (along the East Coast of Africa).

However, it has since been discovered that Neanderthal cavemen supped on shellfish on the Costa del Sol 150,000 years ago, punching another torpedo hole in the theory that only Africans ate (supposedly) brain-boosting seafood.

Neanderthals also used coal, as long ago as 73,000 years. Once again, making a fire in present day France, then suffering from a pretty bad glaciation, made more sense than trying to stay warm in the Congo.

Earlier and earlier prehistoric art has been found. It’s getting ever harder to claim that Neanderthals had nothing to do with it. This is from the enormous Chauvet cave in France, at least 32,000 years old:

If Not Neanderthal, Probably Mostly Neanderthal

If Not Neanderthal, Probably Mostly Neanderthal

(42,000 year old art was also found in Spain.)

Neanderthals also domesticated, and genetically engineered dogs, from European wolves. That’s very clear.

How do I know this? Simple. The Goyet dog, pictured below was dated around 32,000 years. In 2010, and an even older dog was found in the Altai mountains. Both dogs were derived from Canis Lupus Familiaris, the European wolf, but were quite distant from it, genetically, they had been evolved probably on a time scale of more than 10,000 years, thus well before any arrival of Sapiens Sapiens from Africa.

Those dogs were completely compatible with people, just as contemporary dogs are. Proof? Ancient, 26,000-year-old footprints made by a child and a dog deep in the Chauvet Cave, France. (OK, by then Neanderthals have been just deemed “extinct” by some… However, these are still the same dogs Neanderthals invented.)

It Took Many Thousands Years To Breed Such Large Dogs From European Wolves

It Took Many Thousands Years To Breed Such Large Dogs From European Wolves

It is perplexing that other human groups did not domesticate the local canids. There are (still!) wolves in Africa and India. And also Lycaons (“African Wild Dogs”). Those are supremely intelligent, and sort of domesticate readily in the wild (I tried this myself as a child).

The argument that Africans would have moved to Europe to domesticate European wolves, when they had a similar fauna, including wolves, to domesticate in Africa, is simply extravagant.

The only group in Europe at the right time and place to have made the jewelry and tools attributed to early Aurignacian culture is the Neanderthals. It would seem that the oldest cave paintings, dated at 41,000 years or more, were made by Neanderthals (they are in Spain, a Neanderthal fortress, and, at the time, Sapiens Sapiens were just entering Europe, far away).

Equipped with advanced weapons, Neanderthals started modifying the environment (for example extinguishing Cave Bears). At that point, the advancement of technology made their cold adapted mutations irrelevant, and a burden.

The argument is always made that the technological explosion in the Aurignacian happened because of the invasion by Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Why? Because Homo SS was superiorly intelligent. How do we know that? Because as it came in, there was a technological and artistic explosion.

Some scientists ought to be taught elementary logic.

In my train of explanation, all these phenomena, tech explosion, Homo SS invasion and Homo Neandertalensis transmogrification are related. Related by what? The tech explosion.

As I pointed out, the Tasmanians, who were as much Homo Sapiens Sapiens as their relatives in Australia, degenerated to technological level that would have driven them to extinction pretty much anywhere else, especially in Europe (Europe was crawling with megafauna: super lions (Cave Lions), Cave Bears, Mammoths, Rhinoceroses, ton and a half Aurochs, hyenas, etc. Bulk may have put them at a disadvantage relative to more frail forms of Homo Sapiens (Homo Heidelbergis, ancestor to Neanderthals was massive: 100 kilograms). Presto, especially in a varying climate, they may have reverted to their common inheritance.

Want one more proof of my little theory? The race that replaced the Neanderthals were the Cro-Magnon (“Big Cave” in the local, pre-Celtic Basque language). The Cro-Magnons did not look particularly “human”: they had rectangular orbits. But then they were less massive than Neanderthals (thus allowing part of my reproductive argument against Neanderthal physiology to come into play!).

This is "Modern" Man, Cro-Magnon. Perpetual Sun Glasses?

This is “Modern” Man, Cro-Magnon. Perpetual Sun Glasses?

The lighter form of being of Homo SS is an important point of my Neanderthals-traits out-breeding theory. But there are other points, including that the genetic adaptation of Neanderthals that were not advantageous anymore (thanks to technology) would tend to disappear… Whereas those that are still advantageous would thrive. This exactly what the geneticists such as Paabo are finding.

Examples: Neanderthal adaptations tend to dominate for skin. Paabo and others found some Neanderthal adaptations are still gaining, whereas others are still regressing. We are far from having a complete picture of the situation.

However, whereas Paabo expects the Neanderthal to be inferior from the epistemological point of view, I expect the exact opposite. Not just because of what they did, but because they had to do it (to live where they did). I even expect a strong cultural hereditability of paying attention to the essence of man. A cultural heredity of the metaprinciple that the supremacy of culture is essential to man, thriving to this day, coming straight from Neanderthals.

How did I explain the Tasmanian devolution? As a cultural phenomenon. At some point, Tasmanians got possessed by the wrong metaprinciples. They drove their culture into the ground. Anti-intellectualism got a life of its own (remember Turkey, outlawing the printing press: same idea).

The opposite can happen: intellectualism, the essence of Homo, can be revered. Superior principles can help create, in turn a succession of superior cultures (as observed in Western Europe, something Putin ought to meditate, if he could meditate).

Arguably all the way up to the late Neolithic Europe had kept some tech edge: the frozen solid individual found at the border of Austria and Italy was carrying antibiotics. The argument of Jared Diamond that Eurasians became as superior as they became because they had all these nice plants and animals is another circular argument: these plants and animals, all of them, had been invented by said Eurasians, from almond trees, to wheat, beans, and even cats (to kill grain eating rodents).

Later, when the Romans confronted the Celts, the latter had arguably the world’s best ocean faring ships, and the best metallurgy (the Celts equipped the Roman army, from early on!)

Thus it is entirely possible that the habit of maximal tech superiority, after allowing Neanderthals to thrive for hundreds of thousands of years, carry in to this day. The International Thermonuclear Experimental reactor is fully close to where Neanderthals experimented with coal at least 73,000 years ago. It’s a tradition, to invent ways of making nature serve Homo, probably revered there, more than anywhere else.

It was just found out that, generations (of deer!) after the triple lethal electric fence system of the “Iron Curtain” was removed, local deer still teach their young to respect the border between Germany and the Czech Republic (although as both are in Schengen, the physical border has been gone for generations. So if culture is that strong among rather stupid deer, imagine what it is among men!

Paradoxically, culture allows men to become more stupid than even deer, and for much longer (see Putin and his followers getting their minds from Ivan IV, the Terrible).

In the USA, apparently correct descriptions of the Crater Lake volcano explosion, in which the upper mile of the Mazama volcano blew up, leaving a deep caldera, were still made by the local inhabitants. 7,700 years later.

Culture has a life of its own, an evolution of its own. In a way, it’s reassuring to know that creative intellectuals can leave so much behind…

Even if they were simple Neanderthals.

Patrice Aymé

Reference: https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/why-did-neanderthals-disappear/