The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 25 December 2019 - Page 11

rare Indian spiders, to catalogue colourful butterflies, to trace the ancient origins of extinct Indian languages, and to dig up forgotten ruins."(p332) It was, for example, a British officer named Rawlinson that eventually managed to decipher the Sumerian cuneiform script by using a knowledge of Modern Persian to understand the ancient Persian the script was using. Rawlinson is described as a modern European Imperialist and one wonders whether this is a fair description of this feat of interpretation that enabled us to understand "the bustle of Sumerian bazaars, the proclamations of Assyrian kings, the arguments of Babylonian bureaucrats". In education one, as a result of the influence of Ancient Greek philosophy, is accustomed to acknowledging a distinction between understanding something per se and understanding something in order to make something else, i.e. understanding the structure of the atom in order to construct a bomb. This is a very different attitude to seeking understanding just for the sake of understanding itself in the way Pythagoras did in relation to his mathematical investigations. The Imperialist and the technologist uses knowledge instrumentally, the educated man like Rawlinson seeks knowledge as a value in itself. Harari also in the same spirit, tells the story of William Jones the linguist who discovered the relation of Sanskrit to many other languages instrumentally(imperialistically?) using a comparative methodology imitated by many other linguists later William Jones was undoubtedly an educated man and one wonders why one would wish to focus on the obvious fact that "Knowledge of Linguistics was necessary to understand ancient languages" and interpret this in terms of instrumental necessity rather than logical necessity. Of course, the Europeans knew their empires very well, in the same way as they understood their own countries very well as educated people are wont to do. So what makes this an act of Imperialism? This superior knowledge, according to the author brought obvious practical advantages. Normative judgments of blame involving the term "imperialism" require an attribution of evil intentions. The educated man concerns himself with knowledge of principles that have a value in themselves. What is the evidence for assuming that such neutral or good intentions were not in play in the desire to understand the origins of Sanskrit? Of course one can observe the misuse of this research which came afterward (in the Nazi misappropriation of this research in their "biological" thesis of the superiority of the Aryans). Does just this fact of the observation that one thing came after the other mean that the original intentions of the research were evil? There is some kind of causation linking these two events but it is not an ethical link in which evil intentions generate evil consequences and good intentions generate good consequences. One cannot reason back from an evil consequence to an evil intention without asking oneself exactly how the intention should be correctly described and whether the relation to the consequence is an ethical relation. One