barbarism - Sin Chee Fu History 21 March 2 2011 Relativism...

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Sin Chee Fu History 21 March 2 2011 Relativism and Barbarism In the sixteenth century, exploration was a very popular topic, especially for European. They travelled around to different parts of the world. The interaction of different ethnicities improved the trade relations with East Asia and other Pacific regions. It brought prosperity to European nations and they were able to afford better and more expensive routes to unexplored lands. One of the most significant events was the discovery of New Land in America. They also found out that there were already native people living in the new land. They were struggling to communicate with these natives. However, these Native American were very different from what European had encountered in their lives before. Trying to make sense of these new people, Europeans compared them with their own standard. Most of the time, Europeans considered themselves the superiors, and the natives were the barbarians. Many writers recorded the new interaction with the natives. Some of them just heard stories about the natives from people that came back from the new land. Some of them had met the natives themselves. All these writers offered their own opinion on whether the Native Americans should be called barbarians just because they were different from the normative Europeans. In this essay, I will talk about the three authors, Montaigne, Lery, and Las Casas, who provided supportive, opposing, and neutral perceptive respectively, on whether or not the natives were barbaric in terms of relativism, religion and form of writing, and implications of the
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treatments to these new people. Moreover, I will explain the reason I am more favorable to Las Casas’s perceptive in terms of objective argument. All three authors used relativism when expressing the views on the Natives. They used European nations as a norm and then compared with the natives. Montaigne said in his article “Of cannibals” that “each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice” and “we call wild the fruits that Nature has produced by herself and in her normal course”. These natives were wild because they were not practicing the same reality as Europeans did but instead, following the nature law. In the “History of a voyage to the land of Brazil”, Lery also compares the Brazilian with the French by saying at one point that these Brazilians had no any form of writing except communicating mouth by mouth, but French had many ways to communicate and they could communicate to people in the other end of the world. Las Casas compares Indians with Spanish by pulling the definition of barbarism from four different points of views. Relativism was quite
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