Daniel Quinn's Vision of History Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2218 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Anthropology


[. . .] And his methodical (although somewhat repetitive) question and answer approach draws forth the realization that Mother Culture really has been speaking quietly in our ears since birth. Readers seem to respond to this realization as if they experienced a revelation of some sort. Take the reaction of Jim Saveland who reviewed Ishmael back in 1995. The book was recommended to him and was compared to other similar books. He writes: "Yet, to compare Ishmael to any other book does not do it justice... While I was reading the last several pages, I could not contain my enthusiasm."

This "enthusiasm" can also be found on the Ishmael.com web site. There are numerous questions from readers who are so impressed by the story that they ask what they can possibly do now to carry forth the worldview of the book (Now What?). The obvious answer would be to join some environmental group. But Quinn makes it very clear that joining environmental groups is not going to help all that much: "EarthFirst! And GreenPeace are fine programs, but they're fundamentally reactive...We don't need more people who will fight, we need more people who don't need to be fought against..." Quinn means by this that if readers can convince others to either read the book or to appreciate the point-of-view expressed therein (and then these people do the same) eventually the war will be won without a fightBuy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Daniel Quinn's Vision of History Assignment

So clearly Quinn is a realist. First, he acknowledges that following the activist line of thinking is not the solution to the problem because "a few environmental laws, a few scientific studies, and a few people recycling their newspapers...[will]... do little to allay" damage being wrought on the environment (Wood). And second, he also realizes that people cannot just walk away from civilization and expect that this is the answer to the Taker problem. "To his credit, Quinn has stated that Ishmael is intended as a starting point for the discussion of these issues, not the plan for a new society." (Wicker). Instead, the ideas introduced in Ishmael and then developed in later novels will serve as a springboard to the introduction of a new worldview. The arrogant anthropocentric worldview will wither away to be replaced by one that places man in his proper place in the world (Wood).

Final Comments/Criticism

Quinn's world-view is both compelling and fresh. The power and reach of his message is also undeniable. Look no further than the comparisons made between Ayn Rand's novels and those of Quinn. Kristopher K. puts Ishmael "[i]n the tradition of many life-altering books (like those of Ayn Rand...)." Another comparison (Excerpts) suggests that "[b]oth authors have decisive worldviews and take a strong position on the relation between humankind and nature... Rand's Objectivism defines morality as self-interest, while Quinn criticizes humankind for being self-interested in a short-sighted way."

Internet discussion threads along these same lines can also be found at the 2 Think.org web site. Here the errors made by both of these authors are discussed in some detail. The conclusion drawn from the comparison of these two authors is a compelling one, as rigid adherence to any one particular worldview smacks of dogma. One would do well to follow the advice given: "[t]he only thing I'm convinced of is that no one is perfect, and no one has all the answers. I prefer to pluck what I find true and useful out of both author's works and go from there."


Daniel Quinn - Ishmael." 2 Think.org Web Site. 7 Apr. 2003. http://www.2think.org/ishmael.shtml.

Excerpts." Washington University in Saint Louis Arts & Science

Apr. 2003. http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~pmmeier/Philosphia/Rand%20Vs.htm

Interview with Daniel Quinn Geslin." Booksense.com. 7 Apr. 2003. http://www.booksense.com/people/archive/quinndaniel.jsp.

K., Kristopher. "Ishmael & Providence by Daniel Quinn." 7 Apr. 2003. http://www.teenink.com/Past/1996/6886.html..

Now what? What do *I* do now?!" 7 Apr. 2003. http://www.ishmael.com/ToDo/WhatToDo.cfm.

Quinn, Daniel. Ishmael. Bantam/Turner: New York. 1995.

Saveland, Jim. "Book Review of Ishmael." Eco-Watch. 6 Oct. 1995. http://www.fs.fed.us/eco/eco-watch/ew951006.htm.

Wood, Harold W. Jr. "Book Review: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn." 7 Apr. 2003. http://www.pantheist.net/society/ishmael_book_review.html.

Wicker, Louis. "Book Review: Daniel Quinn, Ishmael." 7 Apr. 2003. http://www.rtis.com/reg/bcx/pol/touchstone/Nov95/ishmael.html. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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