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Quinn’s “An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit” HMXP 102 Dr. Fike.

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Presentation on theme: "Quinn’s “An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit” HMXP 102 Dr. Fike."— Presentation transcript:

1 Quinn’s “An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit” HMXP 102 Dr. Fike

2 Next Time Tomorrow by noon, two of you will forward papers to For our next class, all of you should print out, read, mark, and bring these two papers to class. The papers are the price of admission on Next Monday: Peer editing. You must bring a full draft and the Peer Editing handout. Next Wednesday: Paper Two is due. We will watch a film.

3 Daniel Quinn –He is a freelance writer. –He is very concerned with environmental issues, including overpopulation and the extinction of 200 species per day.

4 The Big Bang “A cosmological model in which all matter and radiation in the Universe originated in an explosion at a finite time in the past. This theory has been remarkably successful in explaining the expansion of the Universe, the microwave background radiation, and the cosmic abundance of helium.”cosmological modelmicrowave background radiation helium Source: o?id= &hh=1&secid o?id= &hh=1&secid

5 Steady-State Theory “The steady-state universe is expanding, but a constant density of matter is maintained by invoking CONTINUOUS CREATION of matter at all places and all times by a so-called C-field. It avoids the problem, associated with the BIG BANG THEORY, of an initial SINGULARITY - a fixed starting point and, apparently, some instrument of creation.”CONTINUOUS CREATIONBIG BANG THEORYSINGULARITY o?id= &hh=1&secidhttp://0- o?id= &hh=1&secid

6 A Simpler, Clearer Version “The steady state theory asserts that although the universe is expanding, it nevertheless does not change its look over time (the perfect cosmological principle); it has no beginning and no end.perfect cosmological principle “The steady state theory requires that new matter must be continuously created (mostly as hydrogen) to keep the average density of matter equal over time.” Source:

7 Big Bang > Steady-State “For nearly two decades, steady state and Big Bang were rival theories. There were two main reasons for the demise of the steady-state theory: the discovery of the COSMIC MICROWAVE BACKGROUND in 1965, and the realization that galaxies have evolved over time, neither of which it could readily explain.”COSMIC MICROWAVE BACKGROUND o?id= &hh=1&secidhttp://0- o?id= &hh=1&secid

8 Big Bang bang-theory-may-lead-to-reaching-the- theory-of-everything/http://guardianlv.com/2014/03/the-big- bang-theory-may-lead-to-reaching-the- theory-of-everything/ Last year, scientists found evidence that powerfully confirms the BB theory.

9 Question To whom is the anthropologist talking? His interlocutor is named _____________. _____________ is a ____________.

10 Write in Your Notebooks Complete the following homology: The gorilla Ishmael is to _________ as the human is to _________. What answers did you come up with?

11 Write for 10 minutes about Quinn’s text; discuss your answers in small groups for another 10 minutes; come to a consensus and report your answers to the class. What points is Ishmael making about myth in connection with evolution and creationism? What is his definition of myth? Does Quinn mean something different from what Eiseley has in mind when he talks about myth? Ishmael is using myth to make a point about human beings' relationship to the natural environment. What is that point? Write your definition and your answer in your notebook.

12 Eiseley vs. Ishmael EiseleyIshmael The story of primordial ooze (see Quinn, par. 25) is a myth in the sense that it is science’s well-reasoned guess about the secret of life. In other words, myth is what fills in the gap in the factual record. A story is a myth insofar as it is colored by point of view and “premise” (assumption). That story may contain scientific facts (information), but they are viewed through a lens (point of view). Evolution is hard science sans perspective.The whole evolution story is a myth because we, the tellers, place ourselves at the center and see ourselves at the apex. The mythical part comes at the crossing point, when inert matter becomes living matter. So it is about the origin of life. Myth arises from human beings’ anthropomorphic view of the evolutionary process. So it is about what follows the initial transition from inert to living matter. Implication: The secret of life is cloaked in mystery. Implication in par. 168: “‘If the world was made for us, then it belongs to us and we can do what we damn well please with it.’” And in par. 169, “‘the whole damn thing belongs to you.’” Consequences ensue.

13 The Point We tell ourselves stories about our relationship to nature and to the environment. Those stories both reflect and reinforce our assumptions, point of view, and context (e.g., science, the Bible). In turn, stories make implications (we own nature), which have consequences (we can destroy it if we want). In order to heal the environment, we need to tell ourselves different stories. We are not just at the apex looking down by virtue of our superior brains. We are also a part of the ecosystem and must achieve a sustainable relationship with it.

14 A Valid Reader Response? “Oh, so Quinn is saying that evolution is a myth. Therefore, he is saying that evolution didn’t really happen.” Evaluate this statement. Do you agree or disagree with it? How do you know that you are right? Note: We are NOT going to debate evolution vs. Creationism or Intelligent Design in this class. Believe whatever you want. I am simply asking you to understand Quinn's take on these issues. What does the text SAY?

15 “Mother Culture” Quinn makes a powerful point when he has Ishmael mention the problem of “listening to Mother Culture” and the claim that “Mother Culture has crooned you to sleep” (par. 50). As regards the environment, what exactly does it mean to listen to the voice of culture? In what ways do you listen to your cultural Mother? For example, does being in college = listening to mother culture in some way?

16 Definitions? What does Ishmael mean by “the Takers” and “the Leavers” (pars. 139 and 153)? To whom is he referring in each case? What point do you think that Ishmael is trying to teach his human interlocutor? Do you think that the gorilla is right to take this position? Why is it significant that Ishmael says, “‘I should have gotten you when you were seventeen’” (par. 175)? What does he assume about teenagers? What connections can be made here to you all—students who are not much past the age of seventeen?

17 Ishmael’s Name What is the significance of the fact that the gorilla’s name is Ishmael?

18 Ishmael Genesis 21:8-10 (RSV): “And the child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac’” (my emphasis). Genesis 21:20: “And God was with the lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt” (my emphasis).

19 Answers Ishmael is the son of Abraham by Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar. “The word Yishm’e’l existed in various ancient Semitic cultures. It literally [means] ‘God has hearkened’ [or ‘God will hear’], suggesting that ‘a child so named was regarded as the fulfillment of a divine promise’” ( ).

20 From Credo Reference “Son of Abraham and Hagar; ancestor of 12 tribes in N Arabia. Through Sara's jealousy he and his mother were sent into the desert, where the angel of the Lord encountered them at a spring. Ishmael married an Egyptian and fathered 12 sons and a daughter. He was the half brother of Isaac and was Esau's father-in-law. In Islam, Ishmael is considered a prophet. The spring is traditionally identified with a Meccan well near the Kaaba, which Muslims believe was built by Ishmael and Abraham. Muslims recognize Arabs as Ishmael's descendants, thus distinguishing them from the Israelites, the descendants of Isaac. The Bible does not clarify the peoples called Ishmaelites (or Ishmeelites); the term is generally regarded as referring to caravan traders” (my emphasis)AbrahamHagar Sara IsaacEsau Kaaba o?id= &hh=1&secidhttp://0- o?id= &hh=1&secid

21 So what? What, then, is the point of calling the gorilla Ishmael? Write an answer in your notes.

22 The Point The gorilla Ishmael has a point of view that “Mother Culture” has cast out, but it is a prophetic point of view that reflects a closeness to nature.

23 Final Question How does this text deconstruct itself? In other words, what contradiction overturns what Ishmael is saying? Deconstruction means looking for contradictions and flipping binaries so that what was superior is now inferior and vice versa.

24 Answer Ishmael says that man is not = the apex of creation, yet he himself is a creation of the human mind and imagination. This fact reinforces the point that he attempts to deny: man/humans really do = the apex of creation on Earth. As Peter Russell says, we are “the global brain.” As such, we have a responsibility to be good and wise stewards of the environment.

25 Homology Complete the following homology: The gorilla Ishmael is to _________ as the human is to _________. Can you now add items to your list?

26 Here Is One Possibility Par. 76, Ishmael is speaking: “‘But I want you to understand that, like you, we are a strictly rational people, who accept nothing that is not based on observation, logic, and the scientific method.’” Understand that a scientific approach to life has limitations, as Eiseley realizes. Story—which engages the imagination—often encapsulates truths that await out discovery. Such “myths” can tell us things about ourselves that we did not know we knew. (Cf. Jesus’s parables.)

27 The Importance of Story Quinn is telling us a story about the stories that we tell ourselves about our relationship with nature. We can be like the anthropologist, who is a human-centered, short-term thinker; or we can be like Ishmael, a nature-centered, long-term thinker. If we tell ourselves a different story, it may help shift our relationship to the natural world away from consumerism and toward sustainability. END


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