Understanding “history” obliges us to step out of our own world and into another. It beckons us to acknowledge the possibility that ways of being utterly alien to our own held sway in other places and at other times. Historian Greg Anderson argues here that the modern West rests on divisions between the human-made and nature, between humans and other creatures, and between the material and immaterial. Ancient Greeks or the people of Abya Yala, by contrast, understood their world as an ecosystem in which such separations were inconceivable. When we insist on understanding other worlds on our own terms, we not only commit a type of intellectual imperialism. We deny ourselves rich lessons in how to lead a more ethical and sustainable existence.

 

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