Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Encounters With Savages

Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle, chap. X (Tierra del Fuego):
I could not have believed how wide was the difference between savage and civilised man: it is greater than between a wild and domesticated animal, inasmuch as in man there is a greater power of improvement.

The language of these people, according to our notions, scarcely deserves to be called articulate.

Viewing such men, one can hardly make oneself believe that they are fellow-creatures, and inhabitants of the same world. It is a common subject of conjecture what pleasure in life some of the lower animals can enjoy: how much more reasonably the same question may be asked with respect to these barbarians!

We can hardly put ourselves in the position of these savages, and understand their actions.
To see today what Darwin saw in the 1830s, it is not necessary to travel halfway around the world to an exotic land.

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