Must we find our future in the past? Kwame Anthony Appiah on David Graeber and David Wengrow’s book “The Dawn of Everything”

Kwame Anthony Appiah in the New York Review of Books:

Ged Quinn: In Heaven Everything Is Fine, 2010–2011

That the history of our species came in stages was an idea that came in stages. Aristotle saw the formation of political entities as a tripartite process: first we had families; next we had the villages into which they banded; and finally, in the coalescence of those villages, we got a governed society, the polis. Natural law theorists later offered fable-like notions of how politics arose from the state of nature, culminating in Thomas Hobbes’s mid-seventeenth-century account of how the sovereign rescued prepolitical man from a ceaseless war of all against all.

But it was Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a hundred years later, who popularized the idea that we could peer at our prehistory and discern developmental stages marked by shifts in technology and social arrangements.

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