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200902 American Renaissance

200902 American Renaissance

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American Renaissance February 2009. Morality and Abstract Thinking; The Real Obama; Racy Talk; O Tempora, O Mores!; Letters
American Renaissance February 2009. Morality and Abstract Thinking; The Real Obama; Racy Talk; O Tempora, O Mores!; Letters

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Published by: American Renaissance on Feb 04, 2011
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American Renaissance - 1 - February 2009
Morality and Abstract Thinking
Vol. 20 No. 2
There is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world.
Thomas Jefferson
February 2009
American Renaissance
How Africans may differfrom Westerners.
by Gedaliah Braun
am an American whotaught philosophy in sev-eral African universitiesfrom 1976 to 1988, and havelived since that time in SouthAfrica. When I first cameto Africa, I knew virtuallynothing about the continentor its people, but I beganlearning quickly. I noticed,for example, that Africansrarely kept promises and sawno need to apologize whenthey broke them. It was as if they were unaware they haddone anything that called foran apology.It took many years forme to understand why Afri-cans behaved this way but I think I cannow explain this and other behaviorthat characterizes Africa. I believe thatmorality requires abstract thinking—asdoes planning for the future—and that
a relative deciency in abstract thinking
may explain many things that are typi-cally African.
What follow are not scientic nd
-ings. There could be alternative explana-tions for what I have observed, but myconclusions are drawn from more than30 years of living among Africans.
My rst inklings about what may bea deciency in abstract thinking came
from what I began to learn about Africanlanguages. In a conversation with stu-dents in Nigeria I asked how you wouldsay that a coconut is about halfway upthe tree in their local language. “Youcan’t say that,” they explained. “All youcan say is that it is ‘up’.” “How aboutright at the top?” “Nope; just ‘up’.” Inother words, there appeared to be no wayto express gradations.A few years later, in Nairobi, I learnedsomething else about African languageswhen two women expressed surprise atmy English dictionary. “Isn’t Englishyour language?” they asked. “Yes,” Isaid. “It’s my only language.” “Thenwhy do you need a dictionary?”They were puzzled that I needed adictionary, and I was puzzled by theirpuzzlement. I explained that there aretimes when you hear a word you’re notsure about and so you look it up. “But if English is your language,” they asked,“how can there be words you don’tknow?” “What?” I said. “No one knowsall the words of his language.”“But we know all the words of Kikuyu; every Kikuyu does,” theyreplied. I was even more surprised, butgradually it dawned on me that sincetheir language is entirely oral, it existsonly in the minds of Kikuyu speakers.Since there is a limit to what the hu-man brain can retain, the overall sizeof the language remainsmore or less constant. Awritten language, on theother hand, existing as itdoes partly in the millionsof pages of the writtenword, grows far beyondthe capacity of anyone toknow it in its entirety. Butif the size of a languageis limited, it follows thatthe number of conceptsit contains will also belimited and hence that bothlanguage and thinking willbe impoverished.African languages
were, of necessity, suf
-cient in their pre-colonialcontext. They are impoverished onlyby contrast to Western languages andin an Africa trying to emulate the West.While numerous dictionaries have beencompiled between European and Afri-can languages, there are few dictionar-ies within a single African language,precisely because native speakers have
no need for them. I did nd a Zulu-Zulu
dictionary, but it was a small-formatpaperback of 252 pages.
My queries into Zulu began when I
rang the African Language Departmentat the University of Witwatersrand inJohannesburg and spoke to a white
guy. Did “precision” exist in the Zulu
language prior to European contact?“Oh,” he said, “that’s a very Eurocentricquestion!” and simply wouldn’t answer.I rang again, spoke to another white guy,and got a virtually identical response.So I called the University of SouthAfrica, a large correspondence univer-
Continued on page 3
I have concluded that
a relative defciency in
abstract thinking mayexplain many things thatare typically African.
A public service billboard in South Africa.Note old tire and gas can.
American Renaissance - 2 - February 2009
 Letters from Readers
Sir — Benjamin J. Ryan is to be con-gratulated on his excellent article expos-ing Martin Luther King’s radical viewsand unbecoming personal conduct. Itis a disgrace that none of these facts isout in the open. However, I believe weshould focus more on his sympathy forracial preferences, black power, andreparations—despite his “content of their character” rhetoric—rather thanhis personal failings.From the 1950s until the 1980s,when they decided to make him one of their own, conservatives opposed Kingbecause of his Communist connections,his reliance on civil disobedience, andhis violation of States’ Rights principles.They ignored his primary message of integration. Every American shouldknow that King was a pervert, plagiarist,and Communist sympathizer. But at theend of the day, the main reason we need
to oppose King and his deication is his
“color blind” propaganda that from thevery beginning was applied selectivelyto whites.Ellison Lodge, Fairfax, Va.Sir — “The Machine Was Racist”in the January “O Tempora” sectionbrought back an unforgettable memory.
Back in the ’60s, I sold ofce machines,
including a hand-held voice recorder.We had an inquiry from Bell Telephoneabout the recorder, so I took one over
for a demo. I was sent to the third oor,
where I met a black man, who was thehead of some department. We shookhands and I demonstrated the handset—recording and playback. He wanted meto explain how the machine worked, soI repeated the demo. He then called fora stenographer to take notes, while Idemonstrated the handset yet again.The man said he wanted to try themachine before buying it, so I handed itover. There was a three-position controlbutton on the side of the handset—record, re-wind, and stop—and an-other button for playback. He must havepushed the wrong buttons because he gotno results. I demonstrated the machineagain, handed it to him, andagain he got no results.Then he dropped thebomb: He told me that thereason it did not work forhim, was that the electron-ics inside were not pro-grammed to record blackvoices. I looked over at thesecretary, and she lookedout the window, avoidingeye contact. I assured theman no such thing was pos-
sible. He nally made the
machine work, and askedthe secretary to put through the purchaseorder. An eye-opening experience?You bet!Dale E. Lauffer, Columbus, OhioSir — I write in praise of RüdigerHalder’s “What Happened in Austria” inthe December issue. This is precisely thetype of article we need in AR. I believeMr. Halder is correct when he says thatthe best hope for our people lies with thesmall nations of Europe. Homogeneity isthe key. It seems likely that the politicsof the future will not be national, or evenracial, but tribal. Regionalism mighthave a future in the US after all, withthe Scots-Irish ruling Appalachia andthe Hispanics the Southwest.Robert Briggs, Sarasota, Fla.Sir — This is a response to GregoryHood’s “Ron Paul Was Never the An-swer” in the December issue. I am a racerealist who supports Ron Paul. Dr. Paulis an intelligent, principled man whothoroughly understands the subjects headvocates. He writes his own materialand needs no ghost writer. His mainstrength is that he is not a professionalpolitician, but a citizen who happens
to hold ofce. Above all else, Dr. Paul
is committed to the defense of liberty.What other politician can make thatclaim?
Ed Zeman, Auburn, Ala.
Sir — I will read
Erectus Walks Amongst Us
on the strength of JaredTaylor’s review in the January issue.The book appears to be a remarkablecombination of erudition and race-realistcommon sense. It is a pity books like this
cannot nd mainstream publishers.
However, I take issue with one of the illustrations in the review: an art-ist’s conception of Neanderthal Man.
 National Geographic
has been com-missioning detailed reconstructionsthat it claims are more realistic. Theattached photo is of a reconstruction of a woman. She is rough trade, to be sure,but looks much less like a werewolf thanthe snaggle-toothed chap you ran in theJanuary issue.Sarah Wentworth, Richmond, Va.Sir — In his book
Erectus Walks Amongst Us
, Richard Fuerle writes thatthe races separated three million yearsago rather than just 150,000 years ago.That is a
difference. Doesn’t Mr.Taylor have the competence or courageto take a position?Charles Quentin, Sacramento, Calif.
Kinder, gentler Neanderthal Woman?
American Renaissance - 3 - February 2009sity in Pretoria, and spoke to a youngblack guy. As has so often been myexperience in Africa, we hit it off fromthe start. He understood my interest in
Zulu and found my questions of greatinterest. He explained that the Zulu
word for “precision” means “to makelike a straight line.” Was this part of 
indigenous Zulu? No; this was added by
the compilers of the dictionary.But, he assured me, it was otherwisefor “promise.” I was skeptical. Howabout “obligation?” We both had the
same dictionary (English-Zulu, Zulu-
English Dictionary, published by Wit-watersrand University Press in 1958),
and looked it up. The Zulu entry means
“as if to bind one’s feet.” He said thatwas not indigenous but was added by
the compilers. But if Zulu didn’t have
the concept of obligation, how could ithave the concept of a promise, since apromise is simply the oral undertakingof an obligation? I was interested in this,I said, because Africans often failed tokeep promises and never apologized—as if this didn’t warrant an apology.A light bulb seemed to go on in his
mind. Yes, he said; in fact, the Zulu
word for promise—
—is notthe correct word. When a black person“promises” he means “maybe I will andmaybe I won’t.” But, I said, this makesnonsense of promising, the very purposeof which is to bind one to a course of action. When one is not sure he can dosomething he may say, “I will try butI can’t promise.” He said he’d heardwhites say that and had never under-stood it till now. As a young Romanianfriend so aptly summed it up, whena black person “promises” he means“I’ll try.”The failure to keep promises is there-fore not a language problem. It is hardto believe that after living with whitesfor so long they would not learn thecorrect meaning, and it is too much of acoincidence that the same phenomenonis found in Nigeria, Kenya and PapuaNew Guinea, where I have also lived. Itis much more likely that Africans gen-erally lack the very concept and hencecannot give the word its correct mean-ing. This would seem to indicate somedifference in intellectual capacity.
Note the Zulu entry for obligation:
“as if to bind one’s feet.” An obligationbinds you, but it does so morally, notphysically. It is an abstract concept,which is why there is no word for it in
Zulu. So what did the authors of the
dictionary do? They took this abstractconcept and made it concrete. Feet,rope, and tying are all tangible and ob-servable, and therefore things all blackswill understand, whereas many will notunderstand what an obligation is. The
fact that they had to dene it in this
way is, by itself, compelling evidence
for my conclusion that Zulu thought
has few abstract concepts and indirectevidence for the view that Africans may
be decient in abstract thinking.
Abstract thinking
Abstract entities do not exist in spaceor time; they are typically intangible andcan’t be perceived by the senses. Theyare often things that do not exist. “Whatwould happen if everyone threw rubbisheverywhere?” refers to something wehope will not happen, but we can stillthink about it.Everything we observe with oursenses occurs in time and everythingwe see exists in space; yet we can per-
Continued from page 1
American Renaissance is published monthly by theNew Century Foundation. NCF is governed by section501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code; contributionsto it are tax deductible.Subscriptions to American Renaissance are $28.00 per year. First-class postage is
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22124. ISSN No. 1086-9905, Telephone: (703) 716-0900, Facsimile: (703) 716-0932,
Web Page Address: www.AmRen.com
American Renaissance
Jared Taylor, EditorStephen Webster, Assistant EditorRonald N. Neff, Web Site Editor
Kikuyu women do not need dictionaries.

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