The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492

The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492

The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492

The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492

Excerpt

Nothing can be understood apart from its context, and man is no exception. He is a living entity, dependent on a number of other living entities for food, clothing, and often shelter. Many living things are dependent upon him for the same. Man is a biological entity before he is a Roman Catholic or a capitalist or anything else. Moreover, man's history did not start when he first began to keep records, nor is it limited to only the aspects of his existence of interest to the literati. The first step to understanding man is to consider him as a biological entity which has existed on this globe, affecting, and in turn affected by, his fellow organisms, for many thousands of years.

Once we have placed man in this proper spatial and temporal context, we can begin to examine single aspects or events of his history with the assurance--or at least the hope--that the results will have a meaningful relationship to that context and will not merely send us off down the weedy little paths that lead from one antiquarian's gazebo to another.

Before the historian can judge wisely the political skills . . .

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