FalagarV2

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About FalagarV2

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  1. I don't think that treating these separate thinkers as part of a unified post-modern-ism is all that enlightening as there's a big difference between them re: the status of truth, I think (Foucault is not Derrida is not Deleuze). If we focus on Foucault, he was certainly not a nihilist (nor was Nietzsche, for that matter); he worked in extension of the enlightenment tradition. In his analyses he often (provocatively) brackets truth and morality, but he certainly saw himself as serving truth, justice, liberty, etc. Read his "What is enlightenment?".
  2. Well, there is certainly a need for separating the two analytically - your first argument seemed to suggest that it was only the powers-that-be that suppress creativity bubbling from below, the second implies that creativity is regulated through habits which are shared on all levels of society. This second is true, up to a certain point. Human societies are certainly geared towards maintaining stable social units, no doubt about that. Taking part in a social unit is after all a prerequisite for survival, and so acceptance of its rules is indeed fundamental to human behavior. However, taking submission as THE characteristic of human psychology is again quite reductionist. It ignores the vital ability to adapt creatively, which must also have been selected for both on an individual level and on that of societies. It also ignores other drives, such sexuality, aggression, play or social distinction (the proverbial will to power). Re: 'tribal societies', if you by that mean prehistoric foraging cultures, i.e. those groups which most of our 'evolution' occurred in (and thus relevant to the evo-psycho stuff), need to be separated from pre-modern agricultural societies, which are after all a new development. The Australian aborigines are generally taken to be the most 'pure' surviving example of a foraging culture (although the extent to which is debated). Aboriginal society was not particularly hierarchical: it was organized into kinship groups and clans, run by groups of "elders" (grandees who had won distinction) and communal bodies of men/women (varying from field to field), not chiefs and appointed officials. Not to say that it was necessarily egalitarian (in our sense): clan and kinship structures were certainly complex and restrictive of the individual, providing norms regulating daily life to a high degree. This was however in turn mitigated by social and technological factors: the group's ability to enforce rules were limited and meant a high degree of reliance on individual self-regulation, which would certainly have varied. Ritual and religious matters saw a higher degree of stratification, but personal efforts to distinguish oneself was important for one's role in ritual, not passive submission. As such hierarchization and a high degree of role institutionalisation is in fact a late stage of human history, a product of increasingly "complex" societies. Moreover, the magical techniques or taboos were not there for preservation alone. I'd argue they are closer to coping mechanisms by which change can be dealt with, even enacted or legitimized. Evil spirits that cause sickness are countered by good spirits that help enterprising humans with inventing hunting equipment or point the way to new foraging grounds. Popper's argument ignores the extent to which such institutions - rituals, later hierarchies, etc. - themselves are technologies which facilitate change. They allow specialization and provide processes for integrating new technologies (most technological change in the past 5000 years has in fact occurred within the arguably most stratified societies). Humans need familiarity to come to terms with novelty. As to the topic at hand, I'd argue that modern society does not stand apart from or in opposition to human biology, but emphasizes different aspects of it. I'd agree with the paragraph regarding the problems particular to the 'open society', apart from the claim that it goes against some humans' "deepest desires". There are probably psychological discomfort that are particularly associated with modern life. However, previous societies were not free from such discomforts either. There's plenty of historical material which attests to anxiety or pent-up rage, individually or collectively, in other social forms (one of my favorites is a Hittite ritual against depression, ca 1300 BCE). Also, it's been too long since I read the Magic Mountain. I'll do a reread with this debate in mind.
  3. Well, the explanation here is clearly that dumplings with cheese are an abomination unto the gods. More seriously, there is a distinction between active suppression by authorities fearing competition, which Happy Ent argued, and innovations failing to disseminate for reasons of internalized habits, cultural taboos, abundance of slaves, or what have you.
  4. Ah, I'm not particularly familiar with Popper's usage - I was thinking of Douglass North, who contrasts 'closed' (pre-modern) with 'open' (Western) societies in Violence and Social Orders, focusing on access to information. I guess he's drawing on Popper.
  5. This is a vast simplification though, which overly emphasizes individual ingenuity as opposed to communal structures. Some change has certainly been against the wishes of rulers, but history is littered with examples of those who tried to cause change in one way or the other - because change can and often do benefit powerful people. That includes ideological and technological changes, not only in weaponry. It was the Chinese imperial government itself which organized the huge sailing expeditions for exploration in the early 1400s (which were discontinued rather than outlawed, IIRC?). Atenaten sought to change patterns of Egyptian worship (to monopolize religious power, to be sure), the Ptolemies created the Alexandrian library, Constantine I (or his immediate successors) suppressed gladiatorial games, etc. The tools imperial governments used to govern; bureaucracies, languages, roads and other communication systems - facilitated the rapid dissemination of technologies. European science wouldn't have gotten far without Latin. Even those who wished for control often ended abetting (yes, dialectics). Plato ended up advocating social change, an activity that got him involved in the politics of Syracuse. Static utopian visions of society have been remarkably effective in causing change and upheavals (the Levellers spring to mind). The techniques used for suppression often end up being used against the suppressor. Lastly, preserving traditions is not necessarily a sign of stupidity, and not all innovation is for the better. On the ideological level, I'm not sure we'd be better off in Julian's neo-pagan or Mani's Manichaean world than in the 'Christian' variety which we got, warts and all. Your version of the dichotomy of 'open' vs. 'closed' societies (which I assume is from North?) strikes me as insufficient for understanding historical technological diffusion.
  6. I'll check it out (I was thinking of Arjava, "Paternal power in late antiquity" (1998), JRS 88) Yeah, but there's a difference between Augustus' virtue policing of the imperial family and elite in Rome, and a conscious effort from the state to re-shape traditional familial structures on a grand scale across the empire. Granted, the interplay between empire and local traditions certainly caused change (especially in the later empire, with universal citizenship and later Christianity), but I think more often unintentional than not. Definitely, patriarchal authority/practices were quite widespread beyond the judicial framework of pater familias (doing an exhibition on Palmyra atm and came upon a relief of veiled women, fairly ubiquitous practice in ancient sedentary societies).
  7. Hm, what book is this? I don't doubt that was the case for Augustus' decree, but I don't think later emperors followed up on it, or that imperial legislators had the power to bend family structures to their will in most of the empire. The thesis re: competing power structures sounds interesting, but the central power itself needed such micro-structures, so eroding them wouldn't necessarily be in its interest. I've just skimmed through some material on legal developments (Arjava), which suggests that despite some erosion the basic principles of the pater familias remained throughout the sixth century and was still respected by Justinian. Change clearly happened, but I don't think it can be ascribed to imperial legislation. Still, not really my field, so would be interested in taking a look at the book!
  8. Lacuna's quite right, lutefisk doesn't taste anything. Its texture is also fairly unappealing. However, it has from ancient times been decreed that it shall be served with bacon, pea stew, and mashed potatoes, which actually makes it into a pretty good meal.
  9. I don't think the Roman state ever made any serious attempt at limiting the power/potestas of the pater familias. The Roman law system was not systematic enough for such an attempt; in principle, new decrees superseded older ones which lost power if they were not reissued by new emperors (although attempts at preservation/codification were done in the late empire, especially during Sidonius' lifetime in the 400s). Local traditions were considered in judging cases as well (in Egypt, for instance, women had long enjoyed more freedom than elsewhere, and the Romans largely refrained from tempering with it). Some limitations on the paterfamilias were imposed in the later empire, e.g. forbidding fathers from forcing their daughters into prostitution, and some of the father's powers declined. I don't think this represents the outcome of sustained attack on the pater potestas from the state, however, and laws were certainly not intended to make women more independent (although it may have been an unintended consequence) - probably the intention was rather to increase the power of husbands. I guess your point stands, though, in that traditional views are hard to change. On the other hand, premodern states had very limited tools (or aspirations) to enact such change anyway. Regarding the topic at hand: historically, parents would die off or become infirm much sooner than from the 19th/20th century on, and the need of extra workhands was paramount, so retaining kids at home for an extended periods was necessary. As an interesting aside, it has been calculated that the average size of Egyptian households in antiquity was ca 4.5 people (varying somewhat between countryside and cities), not that far from the moder nuclear-family, due to the large death tolls. Better health allowing more kids to grow up and move out was combined with more mobility: young adults could/were forced to move from country side to city in order to find work. Voila.
  10. On my way to bed here, so I don't have time for substantive response. I'll add some anectodal evidence, however: I have been gradually 'friend-zoned'. I have no lingering resentment about that, although of course it hurt somewhat (both viscerally at the moment of rejection, as well as in the following months, which prompted a lot of soul-searching - I was 19 or so). I never felt that I had any rights on - or even need of - the other persons sexuality, I had never really considered what it would be like to sleep with her. I had, however, 'decided' (unconsciously) that we fit together as persons (personalities, interests, humour, etc.), which caused much anguish: not because her rejection hurt my sexuality, but because it hurt my identity. I might add that despite the anger I felt because of rejection (sometimes directed towards her, often towards myself) this person is one of my best friends today, ten years or so later. I have later also 'friend-zoned' women, and I think experienced similar reactons from them as I had myself. The entitlement one feels, or rather: the confirmation one seeks, is seldom merely a question of sexuality or the right over someone else's body. It is woven together with what kind of person one wants to be. Thus, reducing 'friend-zoning' to a question of sexuality seems to me itself to be a reductionist, patriarchal move, which over-emphasizes the role of sex in human interaction. There may be some element of entitlement to another's body, more often, however, it seems to me to be one of defining oneself (which is why it is particularly prevalent among young people). /drunk rant2
  11. While I agree with some of your observations, there do seem to be some leaps of reasoning. Being angry at someone for not returning feelings have more complex explanations than 'entitlement'. Whether you are male or female, it is easier to direct anger at the object of desire than, for instance, to recognize faults in yourself or the fact that people's emotional priorities differ from yours. Certainly, reducing the complex emotional register of human beings involved in love to 'entitlement' is inadequate (although to a certain degree true: but then love, whether returned or not, always contains a degree of selfishness, without necessitating condemnation). Anger is for instance a common response to not being considered adequate. While not denying that this can in extreme instances lead to rape, or to excuse rape, reducing all feelings of inadequacy or anger to participation in rape culture renders the concept meaningless by vilifying a thoroughly human response. At the very worst, you are condemning people who are already emotionally troubled (teenagers, sometimes defined) not only to burden rejection and inadequacy, but also to bear the blame for other people being raped. The idea of friend-zoning in and of itself neither supports nor weakens rape culture. How we (as a society) handle the complex emotions associated with rejection, without either denying them, vilifying them, or celebrating them, is much more important than tarring the rather stupid neologism 'friend zoning' with rape. /drunken rant
  12. I'll second the mentions of Jacques Brel - Le Moribund and of course Jeff Buckley. Susanne Sundfør ft. Röyksopp - Running to the Sea - This one is physically painful for me. The (inferred) backdrop references being a big part of it (Utøya 2011), although it stands on its own merits. This Mortail Coil - Song to the Siren - More of a personal thing, stuck with me during a strange period. Haunting though, much more so than Buckley sr.'s original.
  13. Nah, sorry man. As Pro Augustis pointed out, one should be wary of too linear trajectories. The empire recovered quite well in the 4th century, and the east actually became more prosperous (thus its longevity). The Diocletian reforms et al. fundamentally changed how the empire functioned, but they also in many ways inaugurated a period of relative stability and growth. Population decline was real, but probably less marked and more uneven than previously thought; the urban population waned in the west, but actually saw growth in the east; old institutions (such as the city councils) disappeared, but were replaced by (admittedly more vertical) power structures which strengthened the imperial bureaucracy. Costs increased, but so did central control. And so on. Btw, human-to-human gladiator games were officially banned in the late 320s under Constantine, IIRC (arguably a cultural improvement). I don't necessarily think Gibbons was wrong in marking the 2nd century as in many ways the high-water mark, but there's no straight line downwards from there, and no inevitable fall which can be ascribed to internal factors alone. In fact, the wide dissemination of advances imitated by and/or developed under the Romans (tech & organizational) to neighboring areas probably played a large role; the 'fall of Rome' reflected less Roman decline than the rise of others. Not to forget that Roman culture remained influential even among its inheritors. In a sense the empire became a victim of its own success. The significance of its example for today's world is probably not terribly great. There may be some very general lessons (probabilities rather than laws); e.g. the last point above indicates that the entity called "western culture" is probably not going to be replaced wholesale, but rather in some form become part of whatever political/ideological order comes next. Which of course is of little consolation if that order is fascistic and/or totalitarian. As to the rest of the debate, a better definition of what is meant by 'Western culture' would probably make it run more smoothly. Are you talking about the economical/military shape of western nation states, global consumption of cultural products from these states, or the dissemination of institutional practices and/or secular progressive values? In the latter case, I'd say they're likely more widespread now than at any point in the 20th century - which is also why they now find more organized opposition. The 'loss of meaning'-critique of modern secularism has followed it since the early years.
  14. Point taken. I did spend some time in Oxford a few months back, the scene had a strange vibe to it (although to be fair I didn't explore it much either). Perhaps book shops is a good place to start in Cambridge?
  15. How's that different from Norway?