Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a classics professor at Princeton, was the subject of a recent article in the New York Times Magazine entitled “He Wants to Save the Classics From Whiteness. Can the Field Survive?” Padilla, according to the article, believes classics, as an academic discipline, “has been instrumental to the invention of ‘whiteness’ and its More
We addressed this issue in several posts which were sympathetic to Padilla’s criticisms. But at the same time we need to put world history in perspective and hope it hasn’t quite reached its final exam. Because the verdict on world history can be distressing. Homo sapiens has a wretched historical record and the question of racism and slavery pervade that history. But so do a lot other things. Racism and slavery are two examples.
It would seem that trying to expose racism in the classics is entirely apt but at the same time may miss the point. It is hard to think of a more racist document than the Old Testament. And in the larger view the critiques of historical outcomes ought to include capitalism, and four or five other categories.
I recommend a study of the eonic effect. The development or evolution of civilization is unbalanced. The macro effect pinpoints a balanced set of zones and that balancing is also a debalancing. Classical Greece was one of the few times history got lucky and the brief period of the ‘Greek transition’ changed the course of history. But it was a phase in parallel with several others: the Israelite, the Zoroastrian, the Indic and the Chinese. We see that this is a geographical strategy of balance, which is unbalanced in another way.
To a fair criticism of world history, nothing is left unscathed. Singling out the Greeks is likely to backfire.
The real issue here is perhaps the unique achievement of the early Greeks in the period of the Greek Archaic to early classical. But a study of the eonic effect suggests at once the reason. So we put a special emphasis of study in that regard.
A study of the eonic effect shows something even more distressing: a macro effect has been the prime evolutionary driver of civilizations via a set of hotspots. So it misleading to try and correct this, in the past. For the future something can be done. The same is true of modernity. The eonic effect shows how the modern transition works in focal regions. It has nothing to do with Europe as such or the fetish of ‘western civilization’. In terms of the eonic effect focal regions are selected in a complex frontier effect and everything is pointing to the larger evolution of world civilization.
The eonic effect shows us that we have created a world civilization for the first time, more or less. The task is not yet complete.
aa_Decoding World History Final_xz1ab-2001
The current focus on racism is essential to the future: the whole trend of modern civilization suffered from racist assumptions, and the future demands a correction. But the task done right is collosal and still barely begun, let alone accomplished.
Keep in mind that ‘history’ isn’t done yet. The final exam lies in the future. A student of history living in antiquity would wonder why Europe was such a barbarous zone, having contributed nothing much to world history. The same is true of the present in its own way. History isn’t done yet. We cavil at our current civilization. Good that we do so.