Subversive spiritualities

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Subversive spiritualities

#1  Postby Clive Durdle » Feb 18, 2014 2:11 pm

Not sure I want to debunk this, I wish to establish what is going on!

Subversive Spiritualities: How Rituals Enact the World
Frederique Apffel-Marglin

ABSTRACT
This book takes as a starting premise the insight that non-humans have agency, which was established predominantly in the field of science studies. It argues that rituals engage not “supernatural beings” but humans with other-than-humans. Other-than-humans are entities characterized by an entanglement of the human and the non-human aspects of the world. The book rejects the label “supernatural beings” since it implies a realm of nature as a pre-given universal reality outside and independent of human observation. These other-than-humans are entities stabilized through iterative ritual enactments that have acquired names, personalities and narratives that embody both aspects of the non-human place and aspects of the human collectivities in that place. Using the insights of one of the founding figures of quantum mechanics, Niels Bohr, and his theory of complementarity as interpreted by physicist-cum-philosopher Karen Barad, the book argues that neither time, space, or nature are universal pre-givens. Rather, these come into being through specific acts of observation. The book argues that rituals are akin to quantum experimental acts of observation insofar as they enact or perform a particular instance of the real. Ritual action is iterative because it aims at stabilizing enacted worlds that are inherently dynamic; rituals seek to establish the continuity of those enacted worlds as livable worlds. This view challenges the understanding of ritual as involving an imaginative projection on the part of humans onto the non-human and/or social human world, a move that is both anthropocentric and dualist. It also offers an alternative to the onto-epistemology of representationalism that divides the representing human mind from the represented world.


http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/1 ... 0199793853

Appfel - Marglin references the Potato Park

Since pre-Hispanic times, a co-evolutionary relationship built around management of biocultural resources with the mountain environment in Cusco Valley, Peru, has produced the ayllu mindset. While most studies describe ayllu as a political and socio-economic system, few systematic analyses of the ayllu as an ecological phenomenon exist.

We understand the ayllu as a community of individuals with the same interests and objectives linked through shared norms and principles with respect to humans, animals, rocks, spirits, mountains, lakes, rivers, pastures, food crops, wild life, etc.

The main objective of ayllu is the attainment of well-being or Sumaq Qausay; defined as a positive relationship between humans and their social and natural environments. To this end, great focus is given to achieving equilibrium between one’s natural and social surroundings and to maintaining reciprocity between all “beings”; including the Earth.

This practice has proven pivotal to maintaining high biodiversity and has been described by scholars as the product of common-field agriculture. Attesting to this, the majority of subsistence and agricultural activities in the Cusco Valley are based on diversifying uses and the priorities and values of the communities.

This community focus can best be seen in the several economic collectives that have been established with the objective of conserving and sustainably using biological resources; utilizing such tools as Local Biocultural Databases and audiovisual recordings that store traditional Andean biocultural knowledge, seeds repatriation and conservation and provides benefits for the often marginalised women of the Andes.

A traditional Andean landscape

This revitalization of traditional Andean systems is promoting a reciprocal relationship between the people of what is known as the Potato Park, and their environment. The Potato Park is a unique model of holistic conservation of the Andean traditional landscape with a focus on conservation of agrobiodiversity (Argumedo, 2008). The Park is located within the Cusco Valley, covers at total of 9,280 hectares, and has a population of 3,880 inhabitants. First human settlements in the area are dated at some 3,000 years ago.

The Potato Park is also the centre of origin of the potato, nurtured for centuries by the deeply rooted local food systems of the Quechua peoples. The region is home to eight known native and cultivated species and 2,300 varieties of the 235 species and over 4,000 varieties found in the world. Also found in the region are 23 of over 200 wild species found in the world. The genetic diversity found within just one plot in the area can reach up to 150 varieties (Chawaytire community, Potato Park). Apart from potatoes, other native Andean crops such as olluco, beans, maize, quinoa, wheat, tarwi, mashua and oca are produced.

potatoes
Photo by The International Institute for Environment and Development.

“The region is home to eight known native and cultivated species and 2,300 varieties of the world's 235 species and 4,000 varieties, as well as 23 of the globe's 200 wild species.”

However, the European invasion and colonization of Peru had profound consequences for Andean landscapes, resource use and maintenance of sustainable food and economic systems for livelihoods.

Today indigenous communities are confronting the impacts of colonialism by regaining their strength and inspiration from their own native identity and unique association with the land. Their survival is attributed to their endless patience and a profound spiritual reverence for the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) and their ecological ayllu, and to their knowledge and innovation systems, which are based on sophisticated understanding of their mountain environment.

This has provided them with an indigenous environmental ethic which has fuelled a conscious effort to preserve their environment and has propelled the creation of new mechanisms to conserve and sustain their natural resources. The case of the communities of the Potato Park demonstrates the deliberate efforts of Quechua communities to maintain diversity in domesticated and non-domesticated plants and animals, which characterizes Quechua farming systems, providing an important opportunity for a dynamic maintenance of genetic resources and landscapes.


http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/the-thriving ... otato-park

Similarly in Bali

Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy

The cultural landscape of Bali consists of five rice terraces and their water temples that cover 19,500 ha. The temples are the focus of a cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as subak, that dates back to the 9th century. Included in the landscape is the 18th-century Royal Water Temple of Pura Taman Ayun, the largest and most impressive architectural edifice of its type on the island. The subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature. This philosophy was born of the cultural exchange between Bali and India over the past 2,000 years and has shaped the landscape of Bali. The subak system of democratic and egalitarian farming practices has enabled the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in the archipelago despite the challenge of supporting a dense population.


http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1194

We have highly successful complex fragile ecosystems and communities - there are claims that human gardening methods like these are evident throughout rainforests - that look as if beliefs in gods and spirits are central to how these work.

I tend to think that we are looking at imaginary friends writ large. Placebo and homeopathy are probably related.

There is a similar steiner farming method, that uses homeopathy and watching the stars.

Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming originally developed by Rudolf Steiner that employs what proponents describe as "a holistic understanding of agricultural processes".[1]:145 One of the first sustainable agriculture movements,[2][3][4] it treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks,[5][6][7] emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives. Proponents of biodynamic agriculture, including Steiner, have characterized it as "spiritual science" as part of the larger anthroposophy movement.[1][2][8]

Biodynamics has much in common with other organic approaches – it emphasizes the use of manures and composts and excludes the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include its treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single system; an emphasis from its beginnings on local production and distribution systems; its use of traditional and development of new local breeds and varieties; and the use of an astrological sowing and planting calendar. Biodynamic agriculture uses various herbal and mineral additives for compost additives and field sprays; these are sometimes prepared by controversial methods, such as burying ground quartz stuffed into the horn of a cow, which are said to harvest "cosmic forces in the soil", that are more akin to sympathetic magic than agronomy.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture

I would argue this stuff needs to be there - I can't say why - but these rituals and beliefs feel as if they are integral. Do our minds, bodies and communities work better with a little magickal wd40?
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Re: Subversive spiritualities

#2  Postby chairman bill » Feb 18, 2014 4:01 pm

In other words, the act of believing in an entity, through the marvels of quantum physics, brings that entity into being. So the FSM is a non-human entity, rather than something made up?
“There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.” Terry Pratchett
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Re: Subversive spiritualities

#3  Postby Clive Durdle » Feb 18, 2014 4:07 pm

I almost cut out the quantum wibble! Actually, I wonder if it is about creating ways to act towards each other. Ritual enables co-operation?

Ostrom uses the term "common pool resources" to denote natural resources used by many individuals in common, such as fisheries, groundwater basins, and irrigation systems. Such resources have long been subject to overexploitation and misuse by individuals acting in their own best interests. Conventional solutions typically involve either centralized governmental regulation or privatization of the resource. But, according to Ostrom, there is a third approach to resolving the problem of the commons: the design of durable cooperative institutions that are organized and governed by the resource users themselves.

"The central question in this study," she writes, "is how a group of principals who are in an interdependent situation can organize and govern themselves to obtain continuing joint benefits when all face temptations to free-ride, shirk, or otherwise act opportunistically."

The heart of this study is an in-depth analysis of several long-standing and viable common property regimes, including Swiss grazing pastures, Japanese forests, and irrigation systems in Spain and the Philippines. Although Ostrom insists that each of these situations must be evaluated on its own terms, she delineates a set of eight "design principles" common to each of the cases. These include clearly defined boundaries, monitors who are either resource users or accountable to them, graduated sanctions, and mechanisms dominated by the users themselves to resolve conflicts and to alter the rules. The challenge, she observes, is to foster contingent self-commitment among the members: "I will commit myself to follow the set of rules we have devised in all instances except dire emergencies if the rest of those affected make a similar commitment and act accordingly."



http://www.scottlondon.com/reviews/ostrom.html
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Re: Subversive spiritualities

#4  Postby Clive Durdle » Feb 18, 2014 4:10 pm

And of course the fsm is real, bless her holy noodliness? Have you not been touched?
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Re: Subversive spiritualities

#5  Postby chairman bill » Feb 18, 2014 4:11 pm

I have been touched by the divine pinkiness of the Invisible Pink Unicorn (bbhhh)
“There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.” Terry Pratchett
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Re: Subversive spiritualities

#6  Postby Clive Durdle » Feb 18, 2014 4:18 pm

Berger and Luckman describe how we easily habituate and institutionalise our actions. Ritual and religion are examples of this. The problem is therefore not to abolish religion but to work out rituals and religions that are clearly socially constructing the common wealth of all - including "nature".

From Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise its the Sociology of Knowledge (Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1966), pp. 51-55, 59-61.

Society as a Human Product
Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann

It should be clear from the foregoing that the statement that man produces himself in no way implies some sort of Promethean vision of the solitary individual. Man's self-production is always, and of necessity, a social enterprise. Men together produce a human environment, with the totality of its socio-cultural and psychological formations. None of these formations may be understood as products of man's biological constitution, which, as indicated, provides only the outer limits for human productive activity. Just as it is impossible for man to develop as man in isolation, so it is impossible for man in isolation to produce a human environment. Solitary human being is being on the animal level (which, of course, man shares with other animals). As soon as one deserves phenomena that are specifically human, one enters the realm of the social. Man's specific humanity and his sociality are inextricably intertwined. Homo sapiens is always, and in the same measure, homo socius.
The human organism lacks the necessary biological means to provide stability for human conduct. Human existence, if it were thrown back on its organismic resources by themselves, would be existence in some sort of chaos. Such chaos is, however, empirically unavailable, even though one may theoretically conceive of it. Empirically, human existence takes place in a context of order, direction, stability. The question then arises: From what does the empirically existing stability of human order derive? An answer may be given on two levels. One may first point to the obvious fact that a given social order precedes any individual organismic development. That is, world-openness, while intrinsic to man's biological make-up, is always preempted by social order. One may say that the biologically intrinsic world-openness of human existence is always, and indeed must be, transformed by social order into a relative world-closedness. While this reclosure can never approximate the closedness of animal existence, if only because of its humanly produced and thus "artificial" character, it is nevertheless capable, most of the time, of providing direction and stability for the greater part of human conduct. The question may then be pushed to another level. One may ask in what manner social order itself arises.

The most general answer to this question is that social order is a human product. Or, more precisely, an ongoing human production. It is produced by man in the course of his ongoing externalization. Social order is not biologically given or derived from any biological data in its empirical manifestations. Social order, needless to add, is also not given in man's natural environment, though particular features of this may be factors in determining certain features of a social order (for example, its economic or technological arrangements). Social order is not part of the "nature of things," and it cannot be derived from the "laws of nature." Social order exists only as a product of human activity. No other ontological status may be ascribed to it without hopelessly obfuscating its empirical manifestations. Both in its genesis (social order is the result of past human activity) and its existence in any instant of time (social order exists only and insofar as human activity continues to produce it) it is a human product.

While the social products of human externalization have a character sui generis as against both their organismic and their environmental context, it is important to stress that externalization as such is an anthropological necessity. Human being is impossible in a closed sphere of quiescent interiority. Human being must ongoingly externalize itself in activity. This anthropological necessity is grounded in man's biological equipment. The inherent instability of the human organism makes it imperative that man himself provide a stable environment for his conduct. Man himself must specialize and direct his drives. These biological facts serve as a necessary presupposition for the production of social order. In other words, although no existing social order can be derived from biological data, the necessity for social order as such stems from man's biological equipment.

To understand the causes, other than those posited by the biological constants for the emergence, maintenance and transmission of a social order one must under take an analysis that eventuates in a theory of institutionalization.

Origins of Institutionalization

All human activity is subject to habitualization. Any action that is repeated frequently becomes cast into a pattern, which can then be reproduced with an economy of effort and which, ipso facto, is apprehended by its performer as that pattern. Habitualization further implies that the action in question may be performed again in the future in the same manner and with the same economical effort. This is true of non-social as well as of social activity. Even the solitary individual on the proverbial desert island habitualizes his activity. When he wakes up in the morning and resumes his attempts to construct a canoe out of matchsticks, he may mumble to himself, "There I go again," as he starts on step one of an operating procedure consisting of, say, ten steps. In other words, even solitary man has at least the company of his operating procedures.

Habitualized actions, of course, retain their meaningful character for the individual although the meanings involved become embedded as routines in his general stock of knowledge, taken for granted by him and at hand for his projects into the future. Habitualization carries with it the important psychological gain that choices are narrowed. While in theory there may be a hundred ways to go about the project of building a canoe out of matchsticks, habitualization narrows these down to one. This frees the individual from the burden of "all those decisions," providing a psychological relief that has its basis in man's undirected instinctual structure. Habitualization provides the direction and the specialization of activity that is lacking in man's biological equipment, thus relieving the accumulation of tensions that result from undirected drives. And by providing a stable background in which human activity may proceed with a minimum of decision-making most of the time, it frees energy for such decisions as may be necessary on certain occasions. In other words, the background of habitualized activity opens up a foreground for deliberation and innovation.

In terms of the meanings bestowed by man upon his activity, habitualization makes it unnecessary for each situation to be defined anew, step by step. A large variety of situations may be subsumed under its predefinitions. The activity to be undertaken in these situations can then be anticipated. Even alternatives of conduct can be assigned standard weights.

These processes of habitualization precede any institutionalization, indeed can he made to apply to a hypothetical solitary individual detached from any social interaction. The fact that even such a solitary individual, assuming that he has been formed as a self (as we would have to assume in the case of our matchstick-canoe builder), will habitualize his activity in accordance with biographical experience of a world of social institutions preceding his solitude need not concern us at the moment. Empirically, the more important part of the habitualization of human activity is coextensive with the latter's institutionalization. The question then becomes how do institutions arise.

Institutionalization occurs whenever there is a reciprocal typification of habitualized actions by types of actors. Put differently, any such typification is an institution. What must be stressed is the reciprocity of institutional typifications and the typicality of not only the actions but also the actors in institutions. The typifications of habitualized actions that constitute institutions are always shared ones. They are available to all the members of the particular social group in question, and the institution itself typifies individual actors as well as individual actions. The institution posits that actions of type X will be performed by actors of type X. For example, the institution of the law posits that heads shall be chopped off in specific ways under specific circumstances, and that specific types of individuals shall do the chopping (executioners, say, or members of an impure caste, or virgins under a certain age, or those who have been designated by an oracle).

Institutions further imply historicity and control. Reciprocal typifications of actions are built up in the course of a shared history. They cannot be created instantaneously. Institutions always have a history, of which they are the products. It is impossible to understand an institution adequately without an understanding of the historical process in which it was produced. Institutions also, by the very fact of their existence, control human conduct by setting up predefined patterns of conduct, which channel it in one direction as against the many other directions that would theoretically be possible. It is important to stress that this controlling character is inherent in institutionalization as such, prior to or apart from any mechanisms of sanctions specifically set up to support an institution. These mechanisms (the sum of which constitute what is generally called a system of social control) do, of course, exist in many institutions and in all the agglomerations of institutions that we call societies. Their controlling efficacy, however, is of a secondary or supplementary kind. As we shall see again later, the primary social control is given in the existence of an institution as such. To say that a segment of human activity has been institutionalized is already to say that this segment of human activity has been subsumed under social control. Additional control mechanisms are required only insofar as the processes of institutionalization are less than completely successful. Thus, for instance, the law may provide that anyone who breaks the incest taboo will have his head chopped off. This provision may be necessary because there have been cases when individuals offended against the taboo. It is unlikely that this sanction will have to be invoked continuously (unless the institution delineated by the incest taboo is itself in the course of disintegration, a special case that we need not elaborate here). It makes little sense, therefore, to say that human sexuality is socially controlled by beheading certain individuals. Rather, human sexuality is socially controlled by its institutionalization in the course of the particular history in question. One may add, of course, that the incest taboo itself is nothing but the negative side of an assemblage of typifications, which define in the first place which sexual conduct is incestuous and which is not.

In actual experience institutions generally manifest themselves in collectivities containing considerable numbers of people. It is theoretically important, however, to emphasize that the institutionalizing process of reciprocal typification would occur even if two individuals began to interact de novo. . . . A and B alone are responsible for having constructed this world. A and B remain capable of changing or abolishing it. What is more, since they themselves have shaped this world in the course of a shared biography which they can remember, the world thus shaped appears fully transparent to them. They understand the world that they themselves have made. All this changes in the process of transmission to the new generation. The objectivity of the institutional world "thickens" and "hardens," not only for the children, but (by a mirror effect) for the parents as well. The "There we go again" now becomes "This is how these things are done." A world so regarded attains a firmness in consciousness; it becomes real in an ever more massive way and it can no longer be changed so readily. For the children, especially in the early phase of their socialization into it, it becomes the world. For the parents, it loses its playful quality and becomes "serious." For the children, the parentally transmitted world is not fully transparent. Since they had no part in shaping it, it confronts them as a given reality that, like nature, is opaque in places at least.


http://www.cf.ac.uk/socsi/undergraduate ... ality.html
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Re: Subversive spiritualities

#7  Postby quas » Feb 19, 2014 6:50 am

chairman bill wrote:In other words, the act of believing in an entity... brings that entity into being.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulpa

So the FSM is a non-human entity, rather than something made up?

No one actually believed in FSM.
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those who think alike than those who think differently. -Nietzsche
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Re: Subversive spiritualities

#8  Postby igorfrankensteen » Feb 19, 2014 8:08 am

I suspect that what is "going on" with those various excepts and "studies," are examples of a fairly common ...exercise of intellectualism on the part of the various authors.

Essentially, it's 'wishful thinking' applied to various other people's studies and work, from Niels Bohr, to some anthropologists, re-interpreting their efforts in a manner designed to please the prejudices or desires of the immediate writers.

One seems to be trying to say that because there is a balance element to Quantum Physics, that therefore this implies a balance element to human existence, such that "non-human entities" MUST exist, because human ones do.

Some of the other quotes about South American tribal behaviors appear to show similar re-interpretations of the meanings derived from observed human behaviors. What I believe I'm seeing there, is another common, and perhaps culturally subtle distortion that often affects people who study other people, or who study other non-human Earth creatures.

Specifically, there is a very powerful, but unmentioned prejudice in many people who think that they are passive observers of reality, that Humans are all but magically unique creatures on this planet. There is a mention on one of the quotes, to the effect that a human who lives alone, "reverts" to being "just an animal," and that a social group of homo sapiens is necessary for each of them to demonstrate that they ARE more than "mere animals."

I often have read of people who have just that sort of thinking at the base of their reasonings, always trying to differentiate between humans and non-humans in a way designed to make themselves feel better than non-humans just because they are one. It is a set of observational sunglasses which colors the viewpoints of theists and non-theists alike. It is what is behind the insistence by some that "Animals are driven by instincts alone, while Humans are driven by, or at least able to rise above their animal brethren via the application of rational thought."

These sorts of people are therefore entirely certain, for example, without having any way to prove so at all, that ONLY humans indulge in ritual activities and behaviors. They attribute all non-human cooperative behaviors, or repeated non-nonsensical actions (i.e. rituals) to either natural instincts, or Pavlovian reactivity.

Anyway, this subtle "people are special animals" thinking often ends up resulting in distortions of observations, which can, and often does, lead to such as I see quoted here. It's almost as though in a macro sense, all sorts people who believe themselves to be non-theists, are opening the door to theists, by their insistence on being unique and different and better than all non-humans, because "magic" of one kind or another is required, in order to maintain such a certainty.
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Re: Subversive spiritualities

#9  Postby chairman bill » Feb 19, 2014 9:49 am

quas wrote:
So the FSM is a non-human entity, rather than something made up?

No one actually believed in FSM.


So you say
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