Animism and the Ancients: Native Americans and Western Progress

Professor Joe Frank Jones
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This essay argues that a particular, scholarly misinterpretation of foundational texts of Western culture foists on these texts a notion of progress that cannot legitimately be found in them. The texts are those of the Milesians. The scholars considered are Merrill Ring, Eduard Zeller, W. K. C. Guthrie, G. S. Kirk, and J. E. Raven. That claims to find Western notions of progress in the Milesians are false supports particular criticisms of Western culture put forward by Native American scholar Vine Deloria, Jr. Deloria argues that a much more empirical attitude, even culture, emerges from primal categorical emphases than from Western, progress-oriented, materialist and/or religious such emphases. This claim is explored as it results from distinguishing between the dominance of time over place in Western, progress-oriented thinking, on the one hand, and the dominance of place over time in primal, empirically-oriented thinking on the other. The result is that Deloria's claim seems defensible.

Keywords: Native American, Western religions, Western science, primal thought, Christianity, empiricism
Stream: Knowledge, Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness, Ethnicity, Difference, Identity, First Nations and Indigenous Peoples, Religion, Spirituality, Science, Environment and the Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Animism and the Ancients

Professor Joe Frank Jones

Professor of Philosophy and Religion, School of Arts and Sciences Department of Religion and Philosophy, Barton College

MA, PhD at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 1979 and 1983 respectively MA at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, 1979 BA at Armstrong State College, Savannah, Georgia, 1975

Ref: H05P0646