cosmology - 13. CLASSIFICATION AND COSMOLOGY Starting point...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
13. CLASSIFICATION AND COSMOLOGY Starting point today is famous work from 1902 by Emile Durkheim (already mentioned) and Marcel Mauss: we have excerpts in reading Q. What is the root problem D&M address? Origin of ability to categorize, to divide up the world mentally into different kinds of things. Basic issue, basic problem in philosophy Two basic tendencies, to find origin of perception and classification in world itself, i.e. we soak it up from what is out there, or to see categories in some way as already implanted within us Perennial issue in Greek and European philosophy, in modern psychology Q. What is their answer? It is neither, rather found in society. This answer fits Durkheim, who was sociological imperialist, explained everything through society Q. What is the logic of their argument? 1. They assume that world was originally a blur, indistinct 2. assume that categorizing is not a natural ability 3. first categories that presented to primitive people are groups in society 4. changes in society lead to increasingly complex categories 5. we can trace evolutionary changes in society through study of living primitives, who represent different stages in evolution. (Few anthros today believe this.) They begin with Australian aborigines, who then thought to be simplest society (actually very complex classifications and kinship system); division of society into just two parts. Classification of everything else follows, division of everything in world into two groups, like two human groups (True that there are societies divided into two sides, typically one must marry person from other side, but not true that they are necessarily simple societies.) -Then more complex tribal societies (Zuni, Sioux), where more than two groups, and categories also anchored to landscape -then complex premodern civilization, China, same kind of classification, but no longer tied to particular groups -and then to modern classifying, where detached from both concrete groups and from religion Whole argument bogus. Original indistinction in premodern thought or at stage of life is a myth. Some perceptual abilities we are born with. Also, before one can perceive and categorize groups as distinct, one must be able to perceive and categorize in general. How could one discern that there are two separate groups unless one could already perceive difference and number? D&M partially concede this, say ‘Well, maybe there was a little practical categorizing,’ but once you make that concession, whole argument implodes.
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
-And the evolutionary sequence is imaginary. -Introduction to translation of volume by Rodney Needham shows that their scholarship was generally shoddy But paradox: they were wrong and slipshod but still very fertile source of ideas and theories Didn’t explain cognition or categorizing in general, but did start study of what came to be called symbolic classification , i.e. complex arrangements of symbols into wholes We have already had a taste, with hummingbird example and others
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 7

cosmology - 13. CLASSIFICATION AND COSMOLOGY Starting point...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online