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Crab and Callaloo – Questions for Chester Connell

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Tue Feb 03, 2015

Dear Chester,

I am in the very early stages of reading a book titled Christianity and Greek Philosophy: Or the Relation Between Spontaneous and Reflective Thought in Greece and the Positive Teaching of Christ and His Apostles – by Benjamin Franklin Cocker. The first part of the book discusses Man and Nature, which made me think of you.{{more}} It is a topic that I know excites you. In my view, most of your proclamations and pronouncements come from your core belief that man is purely passive in the hands of nature and that nature is the chief cause of man’s intellectual and social development. If I have made a correct assessment of your views, then your thinking is consistent with Buckle’s, “History of Civilization in England.” He makes the assertion that material conditions have supremacy over the development of human history and the individual mind.

You may say my assessment of you is wrong and that you are more influenced by the thinking of Carl Ritter, Arnold Guyot, and Cousin, which is that man is of free will and has the power to modify and control the forces of nature. The relation of man and nature is not a relation of cause and effect. It is of reciprocal action and reaction, a relationship of adjustment and of harmony. According to Cousin, “man is not an effect, and nature the cause, but there is between man and nature a manifest harmony of general laws. Man and nature are two great effects which, coming from the same cause, bear the same characteristics; so that the earth, and he who inhabits it, man and nature, are in perfect harmony.”

I believe you are God fearing and very spiritual and you believe that God created both man and the universe. It is in that light and in the context of Cocker’s writing; I ask you the following questions: Was the earth made for man? Was it made to supply his physical wants or also to minister to his moral and intellectual development? Is earth a mere dwelling-place of nations or a school in which God is overseeing the education of the race? Is earth a theatre of history and to understand the character of the actors (us) one must carefully study all of our geographical and ethological conditions?

Closer to home, Chester — do our geographical and ethological conditions influence and determine our national character? Are we free in our consciousness and not absolutely subject to and moulded by nature? Do we, as a people, have the power to control the circumstances by which we are surrounded? Can we originate new physical conditions and determine our own individual and responsible character? Should we be guided solely by forces such as the narrative of the Washington consensus and adopt the posture of a people whose geography is different to ours? Do you agree that St Vincent and the Grenadines is part of the Caribbean and the Caribbean is a nation in its own right? Do you agree that a nation is the aggregate of individual beings endowed with freedom and spontaneity and that external conditions, influences and philosophies are not omnipotent in the formation of national character?

Given the physical geography of St Vincent and the Grenadines: ethereal skies; lofty mountains; green and fertile valleys; rivers and streams with crystal clear water; magnificent coastlines and an abundance of ocean splendour; the graceful blending of the sunlight and shade; soft beaded raindrops and silver moonlit nights refreshed with the cool north east trades; I ask you: In what way has this geography moulded our national character – our temperament, habits, sentiments and ideas?

I anxiously await your response.

Your Crab & Callaloo friend and counterpart,

Tony Regisford

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