Beyond The "Mere Property Career:” Lewis Henry Morgan, the Human Mind, and the American Experiment, in the Age of Donald Trump
In observance of Lewis Henry Morgan's bicentennial year, Daniel Noah Moses considers Morgan's scholarship as a quiet form of social criticism. Morgan was dissatisfied by what he considered to be the overemphasis around him on the pursuit of "gain." In his mature years, during what has become known as The Gilded Age, he was concerned about the growing concentration of resources and power in the United States, and the implication of such trends for the prospects of self-government and human flourishing. In his ambivalence, he converted nostalgia into an undercover radicalism based on his grasp of an unfolding human narrative and the assumptions at the foundation of his work: because what was is no longer, what is cannot remain the same. He dedicated himself to exploring what holds societies together and how societies change. Looking to the future, he envisioned a "revival, in higher form of the liberty, equality, and fraternity" of ancient societies. Morgan embodies tension within the American experiment, along with a critique that is uncomfortably relevant now, in 2018, and very much worth talking about.
Daniel Noah Moses is the Director of Educator Programs at Seeds of Peace. After eleven years in Jerusalem, in 2017, he moved to Philadelphia. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Rochester, where he wrote his dissertation about Morgan, later published as a book, The Promise of Progress: The Life and Work of Lewis Henry Morgan (2009). In a recent article, "Dialogue Among Cellmates: Lucretius, Horace and Lewis Henry Morgan" (Brill's Companion to Classics and Early Anthropology, edited by Emily Varto, 2018) Moses explores Morgan's lifelong relationship with two ancient Roman poets, and how the ethos expressed by such poets regarding definitions of wealth and the life well lived is at the core of Morgan's worldview and scholarly work.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Seeds of Peace as an organization
- Monday, November 19, 2018
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