Friday, April 27, 2007

Narrative Exadaptation

Gene Expression: How the Sabians saved civilization?:
One of the historical myths of our era is that the Arab Muslim saved the Greek achievement for Western civilization. The argument is that there runs a line of tradition starting during the Greek Classical period down to the modern post-Enlightenment era which was preserved by the efforts of the House of Wisdom. This is false insofar as the Byzantines also transmitted Greek works to the West, and the refugees who washed up on the shores of Italy during the late medieval period as Constantinople fell before the Turks helped spark the Italian Renaissance. But the Byzantine role is not sexy because it doesn't serve a multicultural narrative (before the contemporary period the emphasis placed upon Islamic civilization's role in preserving Greek learning was used as a cudgel against Western Christianity).
Razib may be wrong (or right) here, but I find it interesting that some narratives continue to exist long after the relevance of their original purpose has attenuated. Like exadaption in biology.

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