In Praise of the Classics

  • Deepak Lal


‘As civilized human beings, we are the inheritors, neither of an enquiry about ourselves and the world, nor of an accumulating body of information, but of a conversation, begun in the primeval forests and made more articulate in the course of centuries. It is a conversation which goes on both in public and within each of ourselves. Of course there is argument and enquiry and information, but wherever these are profitable they are to be recognized as passages in this conversation, and perhaps they are not the most captivating of the passages. It is the ability to participate in this conversation, and not the ability to reason cogently, to make discoveries about the world, or to contrive a better world, which distinguishes the human being from the animal and the civilized man from the barbarian. Indeed, it seems not improbable that it was the engagement in this conversation (where talk is without a conclusion) that gave us our present appearance, man being descended from a race of apes who sat in talk so long and so late that they wore our their tails.’ — M. Oakeshott, The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind (London: Bowes & Bowes, 1959) p. 11


Political Economy Growth Theory Oxford Economic Paper Positive Economic Primeval Forest 
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© Gerald M. Meier 1994

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  • Deepak Lal

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