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Allison Fink's picture

My CSem readings have

My CSem readings have reminded me of stuff from my philosophy class. Something that stood out for me in the Silko reading is how her culture makes public what other people have done because they believe that it is important not to isolate oneself from a group by thinking that one has experiences that are unique to oneself.  One must experience the experiences of the group as one’s own. This is the way the group feels unified. This is a necessary aspect of Plato’s ideal city in The Republic.

Rituals, as Geertz said, are self expressions. What you do is less important than what, in playing it out, it means for you. Rituals could mean, as in the cockfighting, expressing things like hatred and cruelty. It is interesting to note that in one passage Geertz refers to the cockfight, when the cocks, after being caged together and otherwise cruelly treated and are therefore responding by being about to rip each other to pieces, as “beautiful”. Religious rituals can be violent, and in some religious worldviews there are gods of destruction that are an essential part of the universe. Some people think that violence is evil and the devil is to blame for it. Some people think that the universe is neither good nor evil but indifferent, and that we are neither good nor evil. The ancient Greeks, however, abandoned religion that worshiped gods who engaged in uncontrollable behavior (another philosophy class example).      

An anthropologist is kind of like an artist who discovers layers of meaning in the playing out of culture that no one knew was there before. The anthropologist must be very sensitive and insightful to do this. This reminds me of Aristotle, whose view was that it was possible to learn things through experiential knowing.  


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