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Old 13 Nov 2017, 01:07 PM   #680103 / #26
DrZoidberg
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In the East there is no lawmaker, policeman or judge.
Oh no. There are policemen and judges. Lots of them, it is not as centrlized in the monotheistic religions (God or Allah alone decides). Any God or Goddess can give spot judgment, reward or punishment. However, the designated two are the brothers, Shani (Saturn) and Yama, sons of the Sun God. Shani rewards or punishes in this very life time, Yama after death (according to the eternal rules). Yama has a huge army of accountants headed by Chitragupta to keep records, and of messengers (Yama-dootas) who take the souls of the departed from earth to Yama's world (Yama-loka). The good people are escorted in palanquins, vimanas (cars, aeroplanes) with attendants to serve them; the bad people are dragged by hair all through the way. The major Gods have the power to intervene in the workings of Shani or Yama in case the judgment has to be modified for any reason.

Another big difference between Dharmic religions and other religions is that judgment does not have to wait. It is pronounced within seconds of death. As soon as the soul is brought before Yama, Chitragupta pulls out the persons record and the case is decided then and there. In dharmic religions, the good deeds and the evil deeds are not compounded. A person will be given a sojourn in heaven for his good deeds but will suffer the pains of hell for his bad deeds as well.
Are you really talking about philosophy now? Isn't this theology or religious myth?

To me philosophy and religion are completely separate. I acknowledge that they didn't used to be. But it is today when we read them. We read these kinds of works differently.
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Old 13 Nov 2017, 01:22 PM   #680106 / #27
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All philosophy is reductionist. By necessity. If we don't identify key aspects and reduce, we don't know what we're talking about. And there was nothing wrong with Eastern philosophy. So that's not it.

I think it's nonsense that Eastern philosophy is more holistic. Are you talking about Chinese medicine perchance? That's their whole schtick.
All philosophy is not reductionist, imo. Some is holist. When I say holism I mean the idea that the whole is more than the sum of its constitutive parts, so reduction of the whole to its constitutive elements eliminates some factors which are present only when something is seen as a whole. For example, synergy is generated through the interaction of parts but it does not exist if we take parts alone. Other 'emergent' properties are seen as holistic in this sense. Or, holism could be a matter of emphasis, on how much the parts are emphasised and how much the whole is. It's probably not a one or the other thing.

I might be wrong to have said that we could caricature holism as more 'eastern' though (and in my defense I think I asked not asserted). It was just my limited impression that it played more of a part in Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, etc. I now read that it was also in ancient Greek philosophy. Maybe it isn't an east-west thing.

On the other hand, I view science (a type of applied philosophy imo) as largely reductionist and I associate science mostly with western philosophy (ie emergence of natural philosophy and the scientific method) but perhaps I am 'western enlightenment' biased there too. It seems true that the scientific method also emerged in the middle east. Probably China too, I wouldn't be surprised.

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Old 13 Nov 2017, 01:50 PM   #680111 / #28
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Is there any real difference between Western and Eastern philosophy? If so, what is it? To kick off the intellectual discussion, I offer this:

(Not loaded: 0N_RO-jL-90)
(View video on YouTube)
There was until about 1800. It's not just philosophy. I'd also argue that western democracies and scientific traditions aren't inherently western. The term "Enlightenment" is a clue. It's borrowed from Buddhism. In the 18'th century the public's hunger for new books to read was outstripping the pace at which authors wrote them. Eastern works started to be translated into western languages to meet the need. This movement led to the Enlightenment.

Schopenhaur is the first western philosopher open about basing his ideas on eastern philosophy. It's probably even earlier, but from then on there's no doubt that western philosophy, politics and science is not a western thing. It's a global thing. The thoughts produced are universal and all literary cultures share in producing it. Why did collecting all this happen in Europe specifically. The answer is, because of guns, germs and steel. It was an accident of history.

Today philosophy departments over the world are pretty much the same all over. They don't identify as, for example the Chinese philosophy department. and nobody thinks that philosophers in China will have a different perspective. It's just philosophy. There's nothing special about philosophical work today in Beijing, Nairobi, Rio de Jeneiro or Stockholm. They all go to each other conferences.

I'm the member of two philosophy mailing lists (for professional philosophers). They've both got members from all over the world.

But historically, yes. There used to be differences between countries/regions. But by 1900 those differences were completely gone. So if you pick up any relevant philosophical work younger than 1800 it belongs to the new global breed of philosophy.

Here's an example of what I mean. Traditionally European philosophy discusses fixed states. We identify various stable states, and sort out how they are different from each other and why it matters. This is why western scientific language trips up when describing things like "the double slit experiment".

In Eastern philosophy, traditionally, the basic element isn't stable states, it's processes. In Eastern philosophy things are always going from something to something. They reject the idea of steady states altogether. Constant change is the only constant. The basic element in Eastern thought is the process.

Today remnants of it can be found in things like process philosophy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q6cDp0C-I8

I should point out that both are wrong. Both are conceptual models to make it easier to understand the world. They are simplified frameworks for understanding other stuff. But wrong doesn't mean bad.

But today Eastern philosophic thought is fully integrated into Western philosophy. So there's no difference.

There's also a worrying trend of philosophers from developing countries rejecting what they call western philosophic thought, or colonial philosophy. Philosophers who are trying to breath new air into regional philosophers work. Without realising that western philosophers have already picked it all clean hundreds of years ago. I think it's a march backward.[/QUOTE]

Interesting reading.

Actually, I hadn't read it before posting just before this one.

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Old 13 Nov 2017, 01:57 PM   #680113 / #29
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Why did collecting all this happen in Europe specifically. The answer is, because of guns, germs and steel. It was an accident of history.
Or, did the guns and steel happen because of a certain philosophical bent (possibly including religion) or partly that way, or as part of a two-way blended process? I don't know. I'm sort of averse to the word 'accident'. Some things, in conjunction with some other things, caused certain things. I don't have a well-thought out case for this so don't ask me for one.
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 03:10 AM   #680179 / #30
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Are you really talking about philosophy now? Isn't this theology or religious myth?
Agree. I was trying to describe the whole scene. For reductionist philosophies, we have 'Advaita' (there is nothing as death) and Buddhism (there is nothing as birth, though many people do not consider Buddhism Indian now).
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 04:37 AM   #680182 / #31
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It's really lucky that we can cleanly divide East and West, that philosophers in general fall neatly into neat convenient hierarchies and that there was no sharing of ideas across the ancient world.

A perfect example would be to compare the arguments of Ibn Sina with those of Avicenna. While both, by complete coincidence, developed an argument that translates into English as 'the floating man' there the similarities end.

Ibn Sina's 'floating man' develops the arguments of the Cuḷamālunkya Sutta, of the Buddha himself, and meditates on the tension between anatta and samsara.

Avicenna's 'floating man', on the other hand, sets out what is clearly a prototype of Descartes' Cogito. Avicenna's point, that self awareness is independent of the physical - is also the point of the defining argument of the father of Western philosophy.

I think it is so helpful to have those unencumbered by any philosophical baggage here to sort out the difference between Eastern and Western philosophy.

Now I'm off to The Bodhi Tree to meditate upon why the right hand can't give the left hand money.
Because the left hand is Calvinist.
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 04:40 AM   #680183 / #32
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"East" and "West" are meaningless generalizations with no relevance to the real varieties of religious experience found within their supposed spheres.
Not a Campbell fan, eh?
I am certainly not one of his "fanboys", though I bear no special animus for his work, however inaccurate much of it may be I do not think it was ill-intentioned. He gave some much-needed new life to the discipline of folkloristics, and many of my students enroll in my magic class because he first interested them in global mythology, boosting my FTES efficiency by a margin. I can correct him once they get there. And indeed, I don't think the search for commonalities and universals is necessarily a bad thing. But I do think abstract constructions plastered around perceived cultural differences can be dangerous. When you start to essentialize a cultural conflict, you start building people, societies, and religions into caricatures rather than clear-sightedly observing the real commonalities and distinctions that mark them. There is no such thing, in my opinion, as an "Eastern mindset", certainly not one that applies equally well to all Asian peoples, and the stereotype of the "Western mindset", though not without some sort of coherence, describes academics of a certain race, gender, and class better than it does the real folk cultures of Europe, the US, et al. Else, the Eastern faiths would not be as popular as they are. It is interesting to me that many of those who talk about such a division strongly idealize the East while denigrating the West - the inverse form of ethnocentrism is always a curious terrain to explore.
I have animosity against Campbell. It's just Jungian archetype nonsense. Well.. psychoanalysis has been cut to shreds by modern psychological research. There's just no substance to any of the testable stuff. It's wildly wrong. Which casts doubt on the non-testable stuff.

Not to mention everything in it that is factually wrong. I think it was pretty obvious that he had a ready made theory based on Greek dramas and then just went around the world looking for stuff that would fit his pet theory. Ignoring the stuff that didn't fit. I'm sorry, but that's not how to do proper research. I recall a specific annoyance I had when something he said about Hindu mythology didn't sound right. So I looked it up and sure enough, he had gotten it completely wrong. It made me wonder how much of the stuff I didn't know anything about was also wrong.

But I dislike Campbell for another reason as well. I read Hero with a thousand faeces just last year. It's striking how dated it is. He's not talking about universal archetypes. He's talking about stuff relevant in 1950'ies USA. Which makes perfect sense, since that was the audience he was writing it for. But if these are universal archetypes for all cultures and all ages, then it shouldn't ever feel dated. That's the whole point!
I got quite a bit of food for thought out of myths to live by. But then, I don't require ideas to be right or wrong to be food for thought. He'll, I got a lot out of the celestine prophesy so my perspective is already fringy.
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 08:46 AM   #680205 / #33
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All philosophy is reductionist. By necessity. If we don't identify key aspects and reduce, we don't know what we're talking about. And there was nothing wrong with Eastern philosophy. So that's not it.

I think it's nonsense that Eastern philosophy is more holistic. Are you talking about Chinese medicine perchance? That's their whole schtick.
All philosophy is not reductionist, imo.

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Some is holist. When I say holism I mean the idea that the whole is more than the sum of its constitutive parts, so reduction of the whole to its constitutive elements eliminates some factors which are present only when something is seen as a whole.

For example, synergy is generated through the interaction of parts but it does not exist if we take parts alone. Other 'emergent' properties are seen as holistic in this sense. Or, holism could be a matter of emphasis, on how much the parts are emphasised and how much the whole is. It's probably not a one or the other thing.

I might be wrong to have said that we could caricature holism as more 'eastern' though (and in my defense I think I asked not asserted). It was just my limited impression that it played more of a part in Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, etc. I now read that it was also in ancient Greek philosophy. Maybe it isn't an east-west thing.

On the other hand, I view science (a type of applied philosophy imo) as largely reductionist and I associate science mostly with western philosophy (ie emergence of natural philosophy and the scientific method) but perhaps I am 'western enlightenment' biased there too. It seems true that the scientific method also emerged in the middle east. Probably China too, I wouldn't be surprised.
If we equate holism with the sum being greater than it's constituent parts, then I think it's just as much western as eastern.

I can't think of a way they're not similar in this regard. Spinoza and Hegel were big on holism, and they're western. The ancient Greeks couldn't stop yammering on about holism, because round was the most perfect shape. Confucius reduced everything into it's little individual box. In Buddhism and Hinduism is just about you and your soul.

I even looked it up in the Plato encyclopedia. Most of the references are modern. The philosopher who seems to have made the most work on holism seems to be Hegel, and he's firmly in the western tradition.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/meaning-holism/

I know the New Age movement tried to shoehorn holism into Eastern philosophy. But that was just 80'ies exoticism and post colonial liberal white guilt, ie "everything not western is better somehow". But the New Age movement completely butchered eastern philosophy and turned it into whooly pop-psychology. Not to mention the preceding hippies and the beatniks. The beatniks were at least literate. The hippies.. not so much. I think the logic was, if western science is reductionist, eastern must be holistic (whatever that means). I never found a good explanation for it.
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 09:50 AM   #680207 / #34
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If we equate holism with the sum being greater than it's constituent parts, then I think it's just as much western as eastern.

I can't think of a way they're not similar in this regard. Spinoza and Hegel were big on holism, and they're western. The ancient Greeks couldn't stop yammering on about holism, because round was the most perfect shape. Confucius reduced everything into it's little individual box. In Buddhism and Hinduism is just about you and your soul.

I even looked it up in the Plato encyclopedia. Most of the references are modern. The philosopher who seems to have made the most work on holism seems to be Hegel, and he's firmly in the western tradition.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/meaning-holism/

I know the New Age movement tried to shoehorn holism into Eastern philosophy. But that was just 80'ies exoticism and post colonial liberal white guilt, ie "everything not western is better somehow". But the New Age movement completely butchered eastern philosophy and turned it into whooly pop-psychology. Not to mention the preceding hippies and the beatniks. The beatniks were at least literate. The hippies.. not so much. I think the logic was, if western science is reductionist, eastern must be holistic (whatever that means). I never found a good explanation for it.
Food for thought. Thanks.

I guess what you are saying is that basically, the east/west thing is largely bogus (and the guys in the rap-wars video have essentially nothing to fight over).

Which is pretty much what this person thinks:

"The similarities between eastern and western philosophy are greater than any differences cited by modern-day writers and lecturers on the topic. The most often cited difference is that western philosophy is 'fragmentary' while eastern philosophy is 'holistic'.........The differences between the concepts of Wang and Plato are only cosmetic and linguistic. There is no difference in their fundamental ideas. Philosophers from the east have always been engaged in exactly the same pursuit as their counterparts in the west. There is no 'eastern' or 'western' philosophy; there is only philosophy. The love of wisdom knows no separate region; philosophy defies all boundaries and every kind of petty regional definition."
https://www.ancient.eu/article/855/s...rn-philosophy/

In which case, if correct, it would be odd (and therefore interesting) that so many people (including myself) make the mistake of seeing them as different.

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Old 14 Nov 2017, 10:06 AM   #680208 / #35
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On the other hand, some think there are differences:

"One common portrait of the difference between the Chinese and Western traditions posits a radical incommensurability on the very nature of philosophical inquiry. Chinese philosophy is “wisdom” literature, composed primarily of stories and sayings designed to move the audience to adopt a way of life or to confirm its adoption of that way of life. Western philosophy is systematic argumentation and theory. Is there such a difference? One reason to think so is the fairly widespread wariness in Chinese philosophy of a discursive rationality that operates by deduction of conclusions about the particular from high-level generalizations."
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/comparphil-chiwes/

I hate to be horribly vague but my guess is that there are both differences and similarities. If pressed I'd say that I'm leaning towards thinking the similarities are more fundamental than the differences, and that if some geographical differences emerged (such as if one or other strand of thought, for example empiricism, held more sway or developed faster) in one part of the world, that at least some of this is down to a range of other factors coming from outside philosophy and is to some extent at least 'accidental' (or coincidental) in that sense. Prime example might be the development of the scientific method, arguably the greatest philosophical development ever. The wiki page on 'Timeline of the History of the Scientific Method' doesn't have many people from the 'east' listed:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeli...entific_method

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Old 14 Nov 2017, 11:31 AM   #680210 / #36
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If we equate holism with the sum being greater than it's constituent parts, then I think it's just as much western as eastern.

I can't think of a way they're not similar in this regard. Spinoza and Hegel were big on holism, and they're western. The ancient Greeks couldn't stop yammering on about holism, because round was the most perfect shape. Confucius reduced everything into it's little individual box. In Buddhism and Hinduism is just about you and your soul.

I even looked it up in the Plato encyclopedia. Most of the references are modern. The philosopher who seems to have made the most work on holism seems to be Hegel, and he's firmly in the western tradition.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/meaning-holism/

I know the New Age movement tried to shoehorn holism into Eastern philosophy. But that was just 80'ies exoticism and post colonial liberal white guilt, ie "everything not western is better somehow". But the New Age movement completely butchered eastern philosophy and turned it into whooly pop-psychology. Not to mention the preceding hippies and the beatniks. The beatniks were at least literate. The hippies.. not so much. I think the logic was, if western science is reductionist, eastern must be holistic (whatever that means). I never found a good explanation for it.
Food for thought. Thanks.

I guess what you are saying is that basically, the east/west thing is largely bogus (and the guys in the rap-wars video have essentially nothing to fight over).

Which is pretty much what this person thinks:

"The similarities between eastern and western philosophy are greater than any differences cited by modern-day writers and lecturers on the topic. The most often cited difference is that western philosophy is 'fragmentary' while eastern philosophy is 'holistic'.........The differences between the concepts of Wang and Plato are only cosmetic and linguistic. There is no difference in their fundamental ideas. Philosophers from the east have always been engaged in exactly the same pursuit as their counterparts in the west. There is no 'eastern' or 'western' philosophy; there is only philosophy. The love of wisdom knows no separate region; philosophy defies all boundaries and every kind of petty regional definition."
https://www.ancient.eu/article/855/s...rn-philosophy/
Then we are in complete agreement.

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In which case, if correct, it would be odd (and therefore interesting) that so many people (including myself) make the mistake of seeing them as different.
I think it's New Age/hippie exotism. I think it's a reaction to white supremacy ideologies. So everything western is bad, or the west isn't as great as you think, sort of thing. So some people have been desperate at identifying cultural differences among non-westerners that they then can elevate. The sad part of it is that so much about this is projection. But by stupid people. Projecting dumb ideas onto brown people isn't exactly the best weapon with which to fight racism.

Do you remember back when it was common knowledge that Amazonian native Americans didn't have words for time? That was based on the researcher asking leading questions to a native speaker of that language. It turns out that the native Indian liked money, and to get more money just told the researcher what he wanted to hear. Aka Saphir-Whorf hypothesis.

Modern research turns out that all languages are equally expressive. It was the same deal with the Eskimos having 50 words for snow. They don't.
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 11:39 AM   #680213 / #37
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Then we are in complete agreement.
More modestly, let's just say I'm not disagreeing.

I have to say that because at the end of the day, I don't know for sure what I think on the general topic. But I just find your take on it interesting. Someone else may come along and say something different which I also find plausible. I'm flakey, for lack of expertise.
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 11:41 AM   #680215 / #38
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I think it's New Age/hippie exotism. I think it's a reaction to white supremacy ideologies. So everything western is bad, or the west isn't as great as you think, sort of thing.
I'm not sure about necessarily tying it to a reaction to white supremacist ideologies, but I can see how one might make a case, because of the close association between 'western' and 'white'. It could also have been partly a reaction to capitalism, consumerism, technology, or militarism (or even, at a pinch, Christianity). Which, if true, could have led to the same sort of projections that you describe. The idea of the 'noble savage' might be a related, though different, projection.

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Old 14 Nov 2017, 01:22 PM   #680226 / #39
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Do you remember back when it was common knowledge that Amazonian native Americans didn't have words for time? That was based on the researcher asking leading questions to a native speaker of that language. It turns out that the native Indian liked money, and to get more money just told the researcher what he wanted to hear. Aka Saphir-Whorf hypothesis.
First of all, that was the Hopi. Arizona, not the Amazon. Second, that's a completely inaccurate explanation of the debate. Whorf misunderstood the Hopi system for expressing time because it is constructed very differently from English, conveying everything as real-unreal rather than past, present, and future. Many linguists continue to maintain that this represents a fundamentally different way of thinking about time and time relations, which Malotki had done no better job of understanding/explaining than had Whorf despite having studied the language at much greater length. More here.

I knew many Hopi students when I was studying for my BA, and they tended to fall into the camp of "neither of the white guys know what they are talking about, but we did have our own way of talking about time, different from English." I have no idea where you got the notion that we know anything about Whorf's unnamed informant, but that sounds like a rather common racist stereotype about Native Americans in this country, ie that they are "greedy" and "grasping", so I would treat that with a grain of salt if you want to avoid ethnocentric assumptions.

It is true that idealizing other cultures is a problem, but wallpapering over differences and diversities leaves you with naive realism, not any kind of an accurate or fair view of the world.
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 05:04 PM   #680250 / #40
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It is true that idealizing other cultures is a problem, but wallpapering over differences and diversities leaves you with naive realism, not any kind of an accurate or fair view of the world.
Hmmm.... but is it? Humans came out of Africa not that long ago. All human bodies have the same needs. All human brains think very similarly. Human sexuality isn't particularly diverse between cultures. If we agree that human needs shaped language and what language was for, then why would it be all that different? Communicating time is a pretty critical aspect of life. It's great if you want to learn if you have time to wash off before the village chef has the roast ready.

I think humans are more similar than different.

All these cultural relative theories came from a time when Europe colonised the world and they were trying to find ways to justify European rule. "Hey, guys, it's ok to subjugate brown people because they don't know better/need us". That's what I suspect
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 05:08 PM   #680251 / #41
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It is true that idealizing other cultures is a problem, but wallpapering over differences and diversities leaves you with naive realism, not any kind of an accurate or fair view of the world.
Hmmm.... but is it? Humans came out of Africa not that long ago. All human bodies have the same needs. All human brains think very similarly. Human sexuality isn't particularly diverse between cultures. If we agree that human needs shaped language and what language was for, then why would it be all that different? Communicating time is a pretty critical aspect of life. It's great if you want to learn if you have time to wash off before the village chef has the roast ready.

I think humans are more similar than different.

All these cultural relative theories came from a time when Europe colonised the world and they were trying to find ways to justify European rule. "Hey, guys, it's ok to subjugate brown people because they don't know better/need us". That's what I suspect
That's sort of the opposite of how I understand cultural relativism.
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 06:51 PM   #680258 / #42
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That's sort of the opposite of how I understand cultural relativism.
It confused me too at first but after a bit of googling I think he's using the right term.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_relativism
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Old 14 Nov 2017, 07:14 PM   #680259 / #43
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That's sort of the opposite of how I understand cultural relativism.
It confused me too at first but after a bit of googling I think he's using the right term.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_relativism
Cultural relativism, by definition, requires that one leave behind any assumption of superiority; it starts with the fundamental constant, derived from empirical observation, that all cultures are equally capable of meeting the demands of life. That is not in dispute.

Universalizing your own beliefs, and imagining that everyone believes and and perceives "basically the same" as you, is not as fair as it seems, because it advances your beliefs as a "standard" in areas where, in fact, no standard exists. The Hopi language to a relativist, for instance, is equally adequate at describing time, just from a different perspective and with different assumptions. There's no particular reason to say that one of those perspectives is right or wrong particularly. To a universalist, it is oddly deficient in its ability to distinguish clearly between present and past, and thus at describing "reality".
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Old 15 Nov 2017, 03:01 AM   #680292 / #44
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I think that it's really important to remember that the Greek Empire basically united the West and East. India exported its philosophy and religion in both directions.

Europeans tend to see Greece and Rome as the center of their civilization, but Peter Frankopan has made an interesting argument in (Wikipedia)The Silk Roads: A New History of the World that Persia was roughly at the real center of human civilization throughout most of recorded history. Europe tended to be a backwater that strove to capture and maintain markets in the East. The idea that East and West were somehow cleanly separated from each other is largely a Western myth. Europe was just isolated from time to time. The Persians and Arabs had power and wealth that was very much coveted by Europe. With Britain's need to maintain its navy before and after WWI, oil became the commodity that replaced all others, but India was its "Jewel in the Crown" before the era of oil made oil-rich Islamic lands its focus.
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Old 15 Nov 2017, 09:28 AM   #680310 / #45
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That's sort of the opposite of how I understand cultural relativism.
It confused me too at first but after a bit of googling I think he's using the right term.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_relativism
Cultural relativism, by definition, requires that one leave behind any assumption of superiority; it starts with the fundamental constant, derived from empirical observation, that all cultures are equally capable of meeting the demands of life. That is not in dispute.
You also need to leave behind any method of making judgements. "It's ok that our black neighbour beats his wife. Who are we to judge?"

You can also take all the cookies from brown people because they're don't value those sorts of things anyway. They're all into mystical chanting and charms and trinkets.

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Universalizing your own beliefs, and imagining that everyone believes and and perceives "basically the same" as you, is not as fair as it seems, because it advances your beliefs as a "standard" in areas where, in fact, no standard exists. The Hopi language to a relativist, for instance, is equally adequate at describing time, just from a different perspective and with different assumptions. There's no particular reason to say that one of those perspectives is right or wrong particularly. To a universalist, it is oddly deficient in its ability to distinguish clearly between present and past, and thus at describing "reality".
What? Are you disagreeing or agreeing? All time language is relativist. "How far before or after now?" That's the only questions. I'd argue that absolute time language is a result of inventing mechanical clocks and date keepers. They are modern. So these are recent updates of language to fit. But you are absolute correct that my critique of Whorf comes from reading Stephen Pinker.

Which brings me to the core of my point. The two philosophers Fichte and Herder invented the modern concept of nationalism. They argued that cultures were intrinsically different. But please study them. Because all their arguments are ridiculous. It's national soul and collective unconscious nonsense. The kind of stuff Jung later picked up and ran with. Cultural relativism comes form this camp.

But one of their contemporaries, Hegel, had another idea. Perhaps cultures aren't the result of some inherent essentialist quality. Perhaps they are the result of discussions and debates taking place in those cultures. But he fails to explain why certain discussions take place in some cultures and not others.

Then Karl Marx comes along and refines Hegel's argument. He posits that the engine shaping the public discourse and discussion is power. What gets people power is wealth and technology. Or to refine it even more... technology shapes culture. And culture shapes language.

An example would be religion. In an economy where social dynamism is preferable, and we have well developed social welfare, religion will be liberal. In an economy where resources are meager and people need to cooperate, and not rock the boat, and welfare is weak, religion will be conservative. So if we take a conservative Muslim and plonk them into a modern economy, they will start to liberalise, and so will their children's religion. Which is exactly what we're seeing happen.
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Old 15 Nov 2017, 10:54 AM   #680311 / #46
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It seems to me that both cultural universalism and cultural relativism have their pros and cons and that one could almost start with either of them as a principle and work, via this or that interpretation or intention, towards justifying almost any conclusion, benign or cruel, fair or unfair. So as labels, they seem a bit too general and if anyone says they are one or the other, I think I'd need to ask them what they mean and how it plays out for them in terms of this or that scenario or issue.

A weak form of cultural relativism might only say that some cultural variations should be exempt from universalist 'intrusion' and a weak form of universalism might say the same thing, and this might or might not be a good compromise depending on what variations are involved in either.

If asked where I'd put myself on the spectrum, I'd say closer to the universalist end. Iow, for example, I'd say (with certain caveats and reservations regarding possible 'western' bias) that I think the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights is/was overall more of a good thing than a bad thing.

Poli, you seem like someone who is fairly culturally (and morally) relativist, but I'm guessing you would broadly support the UDHR nonetheless, even if you also have reservations?

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Old 15 Nov 2017, 01:12 PM   #680316 / #47
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It seems to me that both cultural universalism and cultural relativism have their pros and cons and that one could almost start with either of them as a principle and work, via this or that interpretation or intention, towards justifying almost any conclusion, benign or cruel, fair or unfair. So as labels, they seem a bit too general and if anyone says they are one or the other, I think I'd need to ask them what they mean and how it plays out for them in terms of this or that scenario or issue.

A weak form of cultural relativism might only say that some cultural variations should be exempt from universalist 'intrusion' and a weak form of universalism might say the same thing, and this might or might not be a good compromise depending on what variations are involved in either.

If asked where I'd put myself on the spectrum, I'd say closer to the universalist end. Iow, for example, I'd say (with certain caveats and reservations regarding possible 'western' bias) that I think the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights is/was overall more of a good thing than a bad thing.

Poli, you seem like someone who is fairly culturally (and morally) relativist, but I'm guessing you would broadly support the UDHR nonetheless, even if you also have reservations?
I think the biggest problem with cultural relativism is that, I think it's, unavoidable to think of culture as static. Examples of cultural expression becomes fixed archetypes, where we subconsciously filter out any expression that doesn't fit the model.

Anybody from anywhere on this planet, thrown back in time to the year 1900 will find a bizarrely alien and unrelatable world. Human cultures have evolved extremely rapidly the last 150 years. That makes it a bit strange to talk about different essential characteristics in the culture.
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Old 15 Nov 2017, 01:18 PM   #680317 / #48
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Anybody from anywhere on this planet, thrown back in time to the year 1900 will find a bizarrely alien and unrelatable world. Human cultures have evolved extremely rapidly the last 150 years. That makes it a bit strange to talk about different essential characteristics in the culture.
Right. So....that's cultural relativism, yeah? Or am I confused?
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Old 15 Nov 2017, 01:41 PM   #680318 / #49
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It seems to me that both cultural universalism and cultural relativism have their pros and cons and that one could almost start with either of them as a principle and work, via this or that interpretation or intention, towards justifying almost any conclusion, benign or cruel, fair or unfair. So as labels, they seem a bit too general and if anyone says they are one or the other, I think I'd need to ask them what they mean and how it plays out for them in terms of this or that scenario or issue.

A weak form of cultural relativism might only say that some cultural variations should be exempt from universalist 'intrusion' and a weak form of universalism might say the same thing, and this might or might not be a good compromise depending on what variations are involved in either.

If asked where I'd put myself on the spectrum, I'd say closer to the universalist end. Iow, for example, I'd say (with certain caveats and reservations regarding possible 'western' bias) that I think the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights is/was overall more of a good thing than a bad thing.

Poli, you seem like someone who is fairly culturally (and morally) relativist, but I'm guessing you would broadly support the UDHR nonetheless, even if you also have reservations?
I think the biggest problem with cultural relativism is that, I think it's, unavoidable to think of culture as static. Examples of cultural expression becomes fixed archetypes, where we subconsciously filter out any expression that doesn't fit the model.

Anybody from anywhere on this planet, thrown back in time to the year 1900 will find a bizarrely alien and unrelatable world. Human cultures have evolved extremely rapidly the last 150 years. That makes it a bit strange to talk about different essential characteristics in the culture.
That makes no sense. If cultures are dynamic, why would cultural relativism require one to think of them as static? It's meant to calibrate observations, not distort them.
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Old 15 Nov 2017, 02:03 PM   #680320 / #50
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You also need to leave behind any method of making judgements. "It's ok that our black neighbour beats his wife. Who are we to judge?"
Cultural relativism doesn't require to side with the powerful in any particular cultural conflict; the woman, in this case, also has a voice. It is true that we avoid judgements when doing research (and cultural relativism is and always was a research instrument), but that doesn't mean one can't otherwise hold negative personal moral opinions about things. That would create a nest of contradictions, given how frequently cultures are at odds with themselves on various issues. Relativism merely states that one's perspective is relative to one's cultural orientation, which is true. And it implies that understanding cultural phenomena therefore requires viewing things primarily within context as opposed to applying a foreign context for evaluation. Any moral lessons you draw from the process are up to you.

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You can also take all the cookies from brown people because they're don't value those sorts of things anyway. They're all into mystical chanting and charms and trinkets.
What the everliving fuck? Who even says that? That's not cultural relativism, that's ethnocentrism taken to an extreme. Viewing someone as some essentialized caricature that you made up is not viewing their situation from their own perspective.

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Universalizing your own beliefs, and imagining that everyone believes and and perceives "basically the same" as you, is not as fair as it seems, because it advances your beliefs as a "standard" in areas where, in fact, no standard exists. The Hopi language to a relativist, for instance, is equally adequate at describing time, just from a different perspective and with different assumptions. There's no particular reason to say that one of those perspectives is right or wrong particularly. To a universalist, it is oddly deficient in its ability to distinguish clearly between present and past, and thus at describing "reality".
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What? Are you disagreeing or agreeing? All time language is relativist. "How far before or after now?" That's the only questions.
Uh, not in Hopi. As you'd know if you actually read Malotki's paper. "How far" is a spatial metaphor that makes no sense if you seldom use nouns to refer to times.

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I'd argue that absolute time language is a result of inventing mechanical clocks and date keepers. They are modern.
So you're arguing that noone used linear models of time before clocks? I guess you can believe that, if you want to be embarrassingly wrong about something.

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Which brings me to the core of my point. The two philosophers Fichte and Herder invented the modern concept of nationalism. They argued that cultures were intrinsically different. But please study them. Because all their arguments are ridiculous. It's national soul and collective unconscious nonsense. The kind of stuff Jung later picked up and ran with. Cultural relativism comes form this camp.
No, it really didn't. Cultural relativism was the brainchild of quite a few early ethnographers, maybe most influentially Franz Boas, who by no means approved of the German Idealists; he had fled Germany to get away from the bastards. The only real comparison you can make is that they both agreed that cultures differed from one another. They did not agree in the issue of judgement, or elevating any cultures above all others. That contradicts the basic premise of relativism, that all cultures provide equally satisfying answers to the problems of life, relative to their differing situations.

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But one of their contemporaries, Hegel, had another idea. Perhaps cultures aren't the result of some inherent essentialist quality. Perhaps they are the result of discussions and debates taking place in those cultures. But he fails to explain why certain discussions take place in some cultures and not others.
Why are you conflating essentialism with cultural relativity? It requires nothing of the sort, if essentialism is a poor description of how cultures work, and I think just about any practicing social scientist would agree that it is a very flawed one. Believe it or not, we have moved on since the start of the last century. We are meant to understand the actual context of cultural differences, not imaginary contexts of cultural differences.

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An example would be religion. In an economy where social dynamism is preferable, and we have well developed social welfare, religion will be liberal. In an economy where resources are meager and people need to cooperate, and not rock the boat, and welfare is weak, religion will be conservative. So if we take a conservative Muslim and plonk them into a modern economy, they will start to liberalise, and so will their children's religion. Which is exactly what we're seeing happen.
Because their cultural context has changed. You're the only one trying to conflate culture with immobility here. You're also, uh, wrong about the particulars. Or conservative Christianity and Islam would not be as popular as they are at the pinnacle of the Western and Islamic markets, respectively.
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