GU-Q professor explores myths of prehistory in latest book
January 05 2017 12:58 AM
Karl Widerquist

In his new book,Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) Prof Karl Widerquist explores the ways that contemporary political philosophers have spread unverified beliefs about prehistory.
Written in conjunction with Grant S McCall, an associate professor at Tulane University, Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy
delves into claims about the benefits of modern societies that are often passed on without question or critique.
Drawing upon evidence in the fields of archaeology and anthropology, it investigates the commonly held beliefs surrounding matters such as the state of nature, the origin of property, the origin of government and the primordial nature of inequality and war.
The book, the first in a two-part series, is the result of Widerquist’s long-held interest in the claims made about prehistoric societies.
“I have always been fascinated by the gap I see in our common knowledge of prehistory,” he explained. “You read a lot about the human evolutionary period, and you read a lot about the rise of early literate civilisations, but 200,000 years passed between the first appearance of fully human people and the rise of the first states.”
“Although anthropologists have learnt a great deal about this period, contemporary philosophers and social scientists often treat it as the stuff of myth,” said Widerquist.
The author hopes that the book will help readers understand that “philosophy’s 2000-year-old effort to root out common prejudice from our beliefs about the world is far from complete. We still pass on many claims without question just because so many other people have passed them on without question.”
Widerquist, who teaches political philosophy at GU-Q, holds a doctorate in political theory from Oxford University and an additional doctorate in economics from the City University of New York. This is the seventh book he has written or edited, with the majority of his previous research focusing on distributive justice.

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