A primitive people is not a backward or retarded people; indeed it may possess a genius for invention or action that leaves the achievements of civilized peoples far behind.

—Claude Lévi-Strauss

IF that hypothesis is true, then civilization has nothing much to brag about. Modern man does not constitute an end product, an exponential improvement of the aboriginal dowry, an evolutionary intellectual advance. He is merely another mode of human society, coexisting and coequal with the most primitive tribes that have somehow survived, despite seemingly naive and archaic customs, into the space age. The marvelous fruits of contemporary Western culture—technology, medicine, literature, TV,...

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