Ray Saintonge wrote:
Stan Shebs wrote:
For instance, it was not possible for
19th-century people to consider
ecological consequences of clearcutting forests, since there was no
science to inform them.
The Phoenicians were aware of the consequences of denuding the cedar
forests of Lebanon.
Can't speak to that one, but in any case they were the exception
not the rule.
blame Europeans for bringing
diseases to the New World - centuries before anybody even had any
idea how diseases got around.
I'm sure that General Amherst knew what he was doing when he gave
infected blankets to the Indians in 1767. At the Battle of Kaffa in
1346 the besieging Tartars used catapults to fling plague infected
bodies into the city. Understanding how infectious diseases worked
did not prevent them from being used for military purposes.
Yes, plague was known to be infectious early on, and by the 18th century
the generalized theory was in the air. The oversimplified version in books
mixes up centuries of history though, leaving the impression that Columbus
genocided the Indians by coughing into their faces. :-)
We must indeed avoid blaming past generations for
things that they
could not have understood, but this does not absolve them of all
Exactly. I think if one were to be careful in the analysis, that
Western civilizations would come out about the same as the others,\
in terms of realities falling short of their ideals.