A Close Look At T. Huxley

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A Close Look At T. Huxley’s Quote Essay, Research Paper [E]very time a savage tracks his game he employs a minuteness of observation, and an accuracy of inductive and deductive reasoning which, applied to other matters, would assure some reputation as a man of science?[T]he intellectual labour of a “good hunter or warrior” considerably exceeds that of an ordinary Englishman. Thomas H. Huxley The following analysis is a critical look at the quote of Thomas Henry Huxley. First I will discuss why I was drawn to this particular text. Secondly, I will why this text is rhetorical. Thirdly, I will identify meta-messages in the text. And finally, I will discuss how the text functions as the rhetorical critic’s touchstone, and how Huxley feels something is wrong with the

public view of scientists in his time. Thomas Henry Huxley, born in 1825 and died in 1889, was British biologist and author of such works as Zoological Evidences as to Man’s Place in Nature (1863). After reading this quote several times, I found myself asking the same question over and over. Why do so many people find science hard to learn? It seems people shy away from the technical sciences. Aside from the differences in the disproportionate numbers of practicing male and female scientists, the actual numbers of people in general who choose a field in the sciences is extremely low and disproportionate. So, it seems that we are dealing with two specific groups of people here. The stereotyped groups are the intelligent and gifted scientists, and the unintelligent common

laborer. Huxley is well aware of the disproportion and stereotyping between professional fields of powerless, unintelligent, common laborers to intelligent, elite scientists. More importantly, Huxley disagrees with these stereotypes, and we see this disagreement when he says, “The intellectual labour of a “good hunter or warrior” considerably exceeds that of an ordinary Englishman”(Sagan p.308). Huxley is suggesting that although “good hunters and warriors” are viewed as savages in society, they too also posses the qualities of an elite scientist. It is precisely this disproportion and stereotyping of the common laborer that has drawn me to critically analyze this quote by Huxley. Huxley’s quote acknowledges the biases of society when considering what it means to be

a scientist. This leads me to my next point of discussion. Huxley’s quote is rhetorical. Overall, Huxley is sending a message through his text. That message is saying that scientists do not possess a unique and extraordinary gift of intelligence that society believes to be true. Instead, it’s societies biases that blind us to the fact that what it takes to be a scientist, is also found in other professions. For example, Huxley says, “Every time a savage tracks his game, he employs?an accuracy of?reasoning which, applied to other matters, would assure some reputation of a man of science”(Sagan p.308). It is the word “savage” that is relevant to this point. When one hears the word “savage”, barbaric, caveman images come to mind; thus, the terms “barbaric” and

“caveman” do not evoke thoughts of intelligence and wit. Huxley shows that what is thought to be a “savage” must endure at least some of the same intellect and wit as a scientist in order to survive. Huxley makes his readers consider the term “savage” in a new and positive light by comparing the savage’s basic instincts to what appears to be the basic instinct of the scientist. Huxley’s linking of the “savage” and the “scientist” shows there is common ground between these two beings. When common ground appears between two things that don’t seem to be related, it’s shocking. It forces the reader to consider a new perspective on an issue that otherwise would be unchallenged and unquestioned. Huxley isn’t suggesting that all social groups are capable of