There is a lot I do not understand in your note, Eugene. Am I correct that you
think that belief in discontinuities in development (phylogeny, ontogeny,
etc.) do not/should not include the idea of discontinuities? (for example,
a la darwin, that there the evolution of human beings involves no discontinuities from historically older species)?
Like you, I am not fond of primitive-->advanced = child-->adult formulations
that have current adults as endpoint of ontogeny, and for many of the reasons
you indicate. But I am not unhappy with the idea of historical analysis as
essential so long as the idea of progress is not linked to it. For this
my Russian colleagues consider me a mushy, confused liberal, which, while
it may be true, does not follow from my distrust of the idea of progress.
Anyway, one of my favorite statements, by an anti-fasciest, who, given the times,was also a marxist (is Walter Benjamin's evocation of the Angelus Novus,
which appears in *Illuminations* in the following form. Something to think
about on a Sunday in the summer of 2004.
The passage starts with a poem translated from German:
My wing is ready for flight,
I would like to turn back.If I stayed timeless time,
I would have little luck.
Mein Fl|gel ist zum Schwung bereit,
ich kehrte gern zur|ck,
denn blieb ich auch lebendige Zeit,
ich hdtte wenig Gl|ck.
.Gruss vom Angelus.
Then Benjamin interprets as follows:
But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress..