Human beings are destroying the world. It's a fact we all know. Pollution is abundant, we chop down rainforests, we kill our own kind, we steal, lie, and cheat, and the list could go on and on. Daniel Quinn believes that this destruction comes from something more extreme than just the notion to survive. In his novel, Ishmael, Quinn believes that the problems facing humanity are do to man's knowledge of good and evil. Man's knowledge of good and evil gives us the power to rule the world any way we please.
A God or Gods no longer have control. Once Adam, who represents the life of the human race, took a bite from the fruit of the tree of knowledge man's fate was sealed. This knowledge insured, 'Man was born to rule the world' (165). To man this knowledge is the greatest of all.
Because of this extreme knowledge man now knows, 'What is right to do and what is wrong to do, and what they " re doing is right' (167). Now, no matter what decision man makes or action man does, it is the correct one. Man's knowledge of good and evil, and the belief in their ultimate power, is what leads to destruction. While man has the knowledge, man has, 'no certain knowledge about how they ought to live' (88).
What is good and evil is something there are no concrete answers for, yet man creates these answers to please himself. Because they have no concrete answers, man has to go on ruling the world, 'even if it means destroying the world and mankind with it' (168). Man, even while slowly destroying the world, will never be able to let go of their power and give up the knowledge of good and evil. For man to give back the knowledge they have attained, 'would mean to spitting out the fruit of that tree and giving the rule of the world back to the gods' (168). By doing this man would return to innocence, become a childlike creature that depends on the gods to rule their lives. Man will have the wisdom of the gods, 'if he tries to preempt that wisdom, the result won't be enlightenment, it will be death' (183).
It is this lack of wisdom that leads man to continue to destroy the world. This scares man and ensures that man will never let go of the knowledge of good and evil. Quinn proves that the knowledge of good and evil has certainly lead to the destruction of the world. Man's power far outweighs man's ability to savor the world. I believe Quinn makes a very valid point. Man, never stops to think, 'What really is good and evil?' Man only acts upon what they think is good and evil in order to please themselves.
Man will never give up this power or knowledge of good and evil. This will continue to be a problem that faces humanity and will ultimately lead to its destruction. Daniel Quinn, ISMAEL.