|[a] Circle of Life RF|
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I would agree that the newspaper plays a role in wanting to get up, although, these days, the Kindle, Nook, or IPad makes it easier just to stay in bed, assuming wireless connectivity. This is pretty pathetic, but then George screams "pathos" (of a sort), even when he his just plain ol' pathetic.
|[b] Up and at 'em, George RF|
Think about it. A whole bunch of our social and economic lives is founded on this very question—except we usually leave it sitting in the background. This "what is life all about" stuff is a window unto our daily lives that even many anthropologists don't think about enough (and they do more than just about anyone, including analytical philosophers). I'll have more to say about this angle in coming weeks. Anthropologists and historians study life. Why don't we look at that little cultural passage, so to speak, that gets us...out of bed in the morning?
Arnold van Gennep
Territorial Passages (1903)
|[c] Passages ADV|
The rituals pertaining to the door form a unit, and differences among particular ceremonies lie in technicalities: the threshold is sprinkled with blood or with purifying water; doorposts are bathed with blood or with perfumes; sacred objects are hung or nailed onto them, as on the architrave...Precisely the door is the boundary between the foreign and domestic worlds in the case of an ordinary dwelling, between the profane and sacred worlds in the case of a temple. Therefore to cross the threshold is to unite oneself with a new world. It is thus an important act in marriage, adoption, ordination, and funeral ceremonies.
|[d] Life ADV|
Pragmatism and Relativism (1994)
But the distinction between our values and our "compliance" is too simple, and in two different ways. In the first place, our values are not all that clear. This is the problem to which Rawls's work is addressed. In the real world, our values of liberty and of equality conflict, and the conflicts are difficult to adjudicate. In principle, I suppose, one could have perfect economic equality (equality of political power is a far more difficult notion). At one time, the more left-wing kibbutzim in Israel required all their members to have the same furniture in their apartments, to make sure that no invidious inequalities would arise. Most of us would feel that this degree of equality requires an inadmissible interference with individual freedom. On the other hand, the wide-open "freedom" of economic enterprise on which the United States and England today pride themselves has led to massive inequalities, including the inequality between the homed and the homeless.
In the second place, the massive and long-continued failure of the West's societies to comply with their own supposed values suggests that large numbers of people find them insufficient in some way...In a conversation, my old friend Sidney Morgenbesser once remarked that many philosophers confuse the notion of a "universal ethic" with the notion of a "universal way of life." Thinking about the present topic has caused me to wonder whether that confusion may not be intrinsic to the Enlightenment itself or, perhaps, even to Western philosophy itself. Aristotle's Politics poses the question as "What is the best constitution for a polis—for any group of civilized human beings?" And it is undeniable that many Enlightenment thinkers framed the question in the same way.
What is not appreciated is that most human behavior involves complex psychological processes. Take, for example, the formulation that culture is primarily knowledge. It is widely assumed that knowledge can be transmitted without involving psychological processes to any significant extent: Someone tells someone else something, then the other person knows it. Simple communication through the transmission of information has occurred. George Lakoff has discussed this metaphor of transmission in detail and has indicated some of the confusions it engenders...All these kinds of evidence indicate that there is an emotional side to meaning. Often the evocative function blends with the directive function into a powerful good-happy-like approach versus a bad-fright/anger-dislike-hit/flee attitude...In summary, the general position presented here is that meanings involve the total human psyche, not just the part of us that knows things.
 Arnold van Gennep, The Rites of Passage [Translated by Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffee] (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), 19-20.
 Hilary Putnam, Words and Life (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), 182-184.
 Richard Shweder and Robert LeVine, Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 98-100.
Shweder, RIchard and Robert LeVine (eds). Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
Van Gennep, Arnold. The Rites of Pasage [Translated by Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L.
Caffee]. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960.
Wednesday, February 15th