HE NEW WORLD & POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY NOTES

HE NEW WORLD & POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY NOTES - AIS 101...

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AIS 101 THE “NEW WORLD” AND THE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OF EXPLORATION AND INVASION II. THE “NEW WORLD” A. Old vs. New 1. Upon discovery of the Americas in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, the phrase “New World” was coined to describe the discovery. 2. But of course, the “New World” was only new in relation to what the Europeans knew (i.e. the “Old World” of Europe, Asia, and Africa). To the indigenous peoples populating the Americas, this was their home. The only thing new to them was the white guys invading their land. B. Population 1. At the time of European contact, there was an immense population (24 million in North America alone - population of South American uncertain) 2. In 1492, 1 out of every 5 humans living in the world (est. 120 million) lived in the New World. Current estimated figures (A.D. 1492) are: North America 14 million Meso-America 46 million South America 43 million 3. Estimated there were at least 500 separate Indian Nations in the Americas C. Languages 1. About 900 different languages in North America at the time of first contact (some conflict over this number, some anthropologists say as little as 300) 2. 12 major language groups in North America at first European contact
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I. THE EXPLORERS Instead of recounting the adventures and nefarious deeds of various explorers who encountered the Americas, the purpose of this unit is to look at the worldview of the explorers. What type of mentality drove them to leave their homelands in search new worlds - expected or unexpected. What was their response to discovering the Americas. Finally, how did their worldview influence the way they dealt with the indigenous cultures (the human people, plant people, animal people) they found in the Americas. A. POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OF EXPLORATION AND INVASION Exploration, at its most elemental, is about acquisition , whether of land, mineral riches, or military power. It is also about supremacy and entitlement; the belief that one deserves what others have, simply because of an elevated ranking in the universe. B. THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING 1. Development a. Developed by church officials, with input from scientists and philosophers, in the Middle Ages (c. 1000-1453 A.D.) to explain the world. b.Similar to the Native American belief in the connectedness of everything in the universe (i.e. links in a chain), but instead of focusing this belief on the equality of all things, the Great Chain of Being set forth strict parameters of inequality - somethings were clearly more important than others. c.Consisted of an ordered series of beings, from the lowest/simplest/tiniest at the bottom to the most complex at the top. It was: Hierarchical (from greatest to least) Authoritarian (church decree) Ethnocentric (each country put themselves at the top of the hierarchy, although all agreed that Europeans were better than anyone else) Was full of ambiguities and contradictions: How many links are in the Chain? How different was one link from another? Was man the middle link between the highest and lowest?
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2. Structure
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This note was uploaded on 05/16/2008 for the course AIS 101 taught by Professor Keller during the Spring '08 term at Palomar.

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HE NEW WORLD & POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY NOTES - AIS 101...

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