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#13226 - 10/22/08 02:15 PM Daniel Quinn
Drick Offline

Registered: 10/21/08
Posts: 2
Loc: Midwest USA
Anyone else here read/heard of Daniel Quinn's books?

Ishmael, The Story of B, My Ishmael, The Holy, etc.

I really liked them and I'd highly recommend them. Ishmael, the Story of B, and My Ishmael are a series and they are mostly dialogue between teacher and student about philosophy, evolution, totalitarian agriculture, and the corruption in religion.

#13440 - 10/25/08 06:02 PM Re: Daniel Quinn [Re: Drick]
Mercury_Templar Offline
93 93/93

Registered: 09/16/07
Posts: 262
Loc: Cabarita, Vic, Australia
Could you tell us more about them: like how the central themes and issues are dealt with. Being an English/Literature/Humanities Teacher I have these discussions with my students all the time. It would be great if you could tell us a bit more about the text structure and characterisation.


#13449 - 10/25/08 07:28 PM Re: Daniel Quinn [Re: Drick]
Meq Offline
active member

Registered: 08/28/07
Posts: 861
I have Ishmael, The Story of B and My Ishmael.

The central theme of these books seems to be the role of humans on Earth, which radically question the notion that we are 'above' other animals, and 'on top' of the evolutionary tree.

Daniel Quinn's theories are largely based on the work of Thomas Malthus, which describe the struggle for survival in a world of scarce resources. Quinn criticises those who think Homo Sapiens follows a fundamentally different law.
What follows from this is a pessimistic view of today's society - the idea that today's form of life is fundamentally unsustainable, heading inevitably for its own destruction.

Many have attacked these books as regressive, since they criticise the Agricultural Revolution as a dangerous step forward, and praise Stone Age hunter-gatherer cultures for their non-totalitarian way of life.

Here is a critique of Ishmael:
Malthusian Twaddle

Now to what extent these criticisms are valid, I'll leave you to decide. It's easy to pick on Quinn for (allegedly) promoting a form of regressive romanticism, the 'noble savage' myth, and even the suggestion that a 'primitive' hunter-gatherer lifestyle is superior to our own.

But if Quinn is right - that the Agricultural Revolution created a way of life which is not sustainable indefinitely, and we are now approaching the end of that period of sustainability - then we are, in a word, fucked.

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