07/7/21

Looking at Manvir Singh’s Article (2021) “Magic, Explanations, and Evil” (Part 5 of 5)

0016 To me, Singh’s three cultural selection schemas for malevolent magic recapitulate the scaffolding below them.  Evilis a privation of good.

0017 Malevolent magic is like a figure in a mirror.  It is not the good that stands before the mirror.  Instead, it is a purely relational being that recapitulates the figure that stands before it.  Something is wrong.  Something is missing.  There is nothing behind the surface of the mirror, even though the reflected image seems real.  The reflected image seems to stand behind the surface of the mirror as if occupying space in a real world.

Can anyone see what is behind a mirror?

0018 Perhaps, this explains why Singh cannot see the magic of everyday life that both underlies and supports his expert statistical analysis.  He cannot see through the glass upon which he stands.  He looks down and sees the world above him, full of witches and sorcerers, instigators of mystical harm.

0019 Razie Mah’s comments associate features of Singh’s essay to elements in a category-based nested form.  Singh’s argument retains its integrity, even as his vision is transubstantiated from a reflection into a real anthropological subject of interest.  What is the nature of magic?  Does magic touch base with the presence underlying the word, “religion”?

0020 Anthropologists take note.

Print out copies of Manvir Singh’s publication in Current Anthropology and Razie Mah’s Comments on Manvir Singh’s Essay (2021) “Magic, Evil and Explanations”.

Present the pair to a few graduate students, asking, “Which is real and which is fake?”

Is Anthropology a science? Or is it a discipline of interpretations?

07/6/21

Looking at Manvir Singh’s Article (2021) “Magic, Explanations, and Evil” (Part 4 of 5)

0014 For example, a number of ladies in the community, noting that berries are in season, set out to collect several baskets.  They perform the rituals of gathering to ensure success.  Then they set out, chattering, as always.  During the harvest, one mother is bit by a spider that no one can identify.  After hastily returning, they bring the spider’s remains to the shaman.

The shaman is concerned.  He makes a paste to put over the bite.  The next morning, the woman is dead and the berries, left overnight in the baskets, are mysteriously rotted.

0015 Later, questions arise.

07/5/21

Looking at Manvir Singh’s Article (2021) “Magic, Explanations, and Evil” (Part 3 of 5)

0010 Singh identifies two principle components to harmful magic, witchiness (PC1) and the evil eye (PC2).

What happens next?

0011 Singh proposes a model to account for the observation.  The model consists of three schemes of cultural selection.

The first selection (F) is for intuitive techniques of harmful magic.

The second selection (G) is for plausible explanations of misfortune.

The third selection (H) is for myths that demonize a subgroup (in this case, sorcerers and witches).

0012 Singh misses the scaffolding beneath the glass that he stands on.  His exposition is on malevolent magic.  He does not seem to realize that malevolent magic recapitulates the open, generative magic of group living, including…

…intuitive techniques for beneficial magic (F’)…

…plausible explanations of fortune (G’)…

…myths that celebrate the group (H’).

0013 Here is a table.

07/2/21

Looking at Manvir Singh’s Article (2021) “Magic, Explanations, and Evil” (Part 2 of 5)

0005 Anthropology stands astride the narrower, more technical, disciplines of Sociology and Psychology.

Manvir Singh constructs a modern paradigm for a topic dear to Anthropology, but not to the narrower disciplines.

What is the nature of magic?

0006 Singh publishes the results of a Mystical Harm Survey, applied to 60 societies on the Probability Sample File of the electronic Human Relations Area Files.  He uses principal component analysis to reduce forty-nine raw variables to two principal dimensions with the greatest variation.

Principal components?  Greatest variation?

0007 Principal components are the dimensions with the greatest variation in a scatterplot.

Typically, principal component analysis shows variables that are relevant to the topic at hand.

For example, when considering mystical harm, one would expect significant variation between a common person and, say, a warlock, along some parameter that might be called, “warlockness”.

0008 Singh finds two parameters distinguishing common folk, sorcerers and witches.  Witches are high in PC1 and low in PC2.  Sorcerers are low in PC1 and high in PC2.

PC1 is witchiness.  Witches fly, meet in secret in the forest on a full moon, suddenly appear and disappear, and so on.  To me, witchiness is the embodiment of malicious magic.  Witches not only perform magic, they live it.

PC2 is the evil eye.  Sorcerers do not embody the magic that they perform.  Instead, the magic resides in their gaze.  The evil eye is a harmful mystical operation that signifies a whole range of magical works.  The evil eye is the worst.

0009 Singh does not dwell on the seemingly philosophical distinction between embodiment and gaze.  Neither do the anthropologists who are pleased with the scatterplot of PC1 and PC2 in Figure 1 (of the article).  Anthropology looks like science.

07/1/21

Looking at Manvir Singh’s Article (2021) “Magic, Explanations, and Evil” (Part 1 of 5)

0001 This blog compliments Comments on Manvir Singh’s Essay (2021) “Magic, Evil and Explanations”, available at smashwords and other websites selling electronic works.

0002 Singh’s article appears in Current Anthropology.

Manvir Singh is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, France.

To me, his work contrasts with Sasha Newell, who, in 2018, publishes a theoretical piece titled, “The Affectiveness of Symbols”, also in Current Anthropology.

Singh aims for science.  Newell focuses on interpretation.

0003 Will the discipline of Anthropology turn towards an empirio-schematic approach or towards an approach where the word, “science”, is no longer relevant?

Mark Horowitz, William Yaworsky and Kenneth Kickham publish a survey, under the title, “Anthropology’s Science Wars: Insights from an New Survey”, in 2019, in Current Anthropology.

0004 These three papers tell us much about the divided discipline of contemporary Anthropology.

05/4/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 15 of 15)

0079 Jeff Harden follows his appeal with summaries of faithful Christian approaches to human origins.  These approaches include models of existential recapitulation, of protohistory, of representative ancient ancestors, of recently, elected representatives and of genealogies, as opposed to genetics.

None of these are adequate.

0080 Why?

They do not fit the fairy tales about Adam and Eve.

0076 In this look at Hardin’s article, another option appears.  It appears as a mirror image of his opening question.  It asks, “Why doesn’t evolutionary science recognize a twist in human evolution?”

The answer wonders, “Why is our current Lebenswelt not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in?

The hypothesis of the first singularity is a scientific mechanism that works as an adjunct to theological formulations.

Indeed, we come to a new age of understanding, which the late John Deely, calls “The Age of Triadic Relations”.

0077 Here is a picture of three masterworks and their corresponding periods in human evolution.

0078 My thanks to Jeff Hardin, Chair, Biologos Board of Directors, for his mind-opening essay.

05/3/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 14 of 15)

0074 Jeff Hardin calls for theological interpretation of the Bible and scientific inquiry into human evolution to move in tandem.

In doing so, he unknowingly struggles with the Positivist judgment and offers us a post-Positivist alternative.

Here is a picture.

0075 If Hardin’s appeal prevails, then the metaphysics of the Bible offers a noumenon that supports phenomena studied in the human sciences.

Clearly, phenomena alone are insufficient to reveal our particular noumenon.  How can changes in settlement patterns, innovation, and all the other little clues to the potentiation of unconstrained social complexity, produce a revelation that humanity is a recent creation by the divine?

Once the thing itself is intimated by the written origin stories of the ancient Near East, particularly the Biblical stories in Genesis, the human imagination may find a path to the hypothesis of the first singularity.

The noumenonthe thing itself, is necessary in order for there to be phenomena, observable and measurable facets.  Yet, the noumenon cannot be objectified by its phenomena.

For centuries, empirical scientists ignore the noumenon and treat it as an impediment to their struggle for scientific results.  That attitude continues to pervade the modern disciplines of anthropology, psychology and sociology.  But, it cannot hold.

0076 Why?

Humans innately recognize noumena as sources of signification.

Our lineage adapts into the niche of triadic relations, which includes signs, mediations, judgments and category-based nested forms.

0077 Then, our Lebenswelt changes.  We forget who we were.  We fashion fairy tales of who we are.  These fairy tales include public mythologies of the ancient Near East, written in cuneiform on clay tablets that are preserved in burnt ruins of long forgotten capitals.  These public mythologies agree with the stories of Adam and Eve in the Bible.  Humans are recently manufactured by the spiritual realm.

Here is a noumenon that cannot be objectified by its phenomena.

Yet, phenomena exist only because of their noumenon.

The noumenon and its phenomena both point to a recent prehistoric change from the Lebenswelt that we evolved in to our current Lebenswelt.

0078 The rule of the positivist intellect cannot contain the human sciences.

Theology and the human sciences must move in tandem.

04/30/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 13 of 15)

0070 Our current Lebenswelt is filled with word games.

The same types of word games are recorded in the Bible.

The Bible offers a testimony to the formation, deformation and reformation of the word, “covenant”.

0071 Where, in modern inquiry into psyche and organization, do we see the word, “covenant”?

Is the term, “social contract”, the same?

Oh, the term, “social contract”, is not religious.

The term, “covenant”, sounds more religious.

What is a word game?

0072 A Course on How To Define the Word “Religion”, available at the smashwords website, concerns our current Lebenswelt.

The modern disciplines of psychology and sociology claim to be “not religious”.

Indeed, they purport to scientifically investigate religion, even though they are religions.

Say what?

It all depends on how one defines the word, “religion”.

0073 A Course on How To Define the Word “Religion” offers category-based tools for appreciating the nature of our current Lebenswelt.  The term, “religion”, is grounded in the potential of meaning, presence and message.  Meaning involves social construction.  Presence requires a three-tiered model of our differentiated world.  Message entails an actuality filled with unresolvable contradictions.

This course fleshes out a scientific anthropology that moves with theological anthropology, without violating what is in the Positivist’s judgment.

04/29/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 12 of 15)

0063 What about the disciplines of modern psychology and sociology?

Do they labor as word-smiths, hammering out the spoken words that will address the tsunami of concupiscence-related disorders that currently plague modern society, or do they construct spoken words that thwart an evangelical’s desire to hear a sermon on Original Sin?

After all, lectures on concupiscence are not justified in a Zeitgeist where concupiscence is labeled “natural”.

0064 Surely, secular experts justify various features of our current Zeitgeist… er… regime, just like they previously (and maybe still do) labored to account for various flavors of mercantilism, various strains of fascism, and various manifestations of communism.

These ideologies all build on foundations of spoken wordsspecialized disciplinary languages fashioned by academically certified agents.

0065 Spoken words can (somehow) create the artifacts that validate spoken words.

The best way to make that happen is with sovereign power.

Spoken words can generate the righteousness underlying an organizational objective that will allow me (and my fellow travelers) to demand sovereign action.  Then, the state implements my organizational objective, thereby validating the righteousness that my spoken words advocated.

Try to get around that.

0066 An example?

May I call the current regime: “big government (il)liberalism”?

Some would call it, “the administrative state”.

Big government (il)liberalism is the latest sovereign solution to the nasty consequences of an enlightened disposition, declaring, “Concupiscence is okay, because it is natural.”

“Tolerance” is key.

Big government experts must be tolerant in order to better manage the citizen’s natural proclivities.

0067 So, the word, “liberal” has been perverted from a focus on freedom and responsibility to a fixation on nonjudgment.

The prefix, (il), celebrates this inversion, because managing citizens is the negation of serving them.

0068 Isn’t that what the word, “government”, ought to mean?

If the citizens are going to do what’s natural, then someone must clean up the mess.  What does that mean?  Someone must control the citizens, in order to ameliorate the mess that they would produce, if left to their own natures.

Er… not someone, something.  Something big.

0069 In a world where government is omnipresent, the message comes across loud and clear.

Look at your television and listen to the talking heads.

We are here to justify your concupiscence.

We are here to manage the consequences.

Please comply with current directives.

04/28/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 11 of 15)

0059 Our current world is fallen, yet civilization constantly rises from the ashes of prior self-destructions.

The Bible depicts a cycle of formation, deformation, and reformation.

A new approach to the psychological and the social sciences ought to move in tandem with Biblical interpretation.

0060 Some evolutionary psychologists already stumble in this direction.

For example, today, people are fat, lazy and addicted to sugar.

Is the problem that our ancestors adapt to a world filled with fat-burning, strenuous and sugar-demanding activities?

No, with the benefits of civilization, the pressure is off.  We can afford to slow down, take rests and eat desserts.  The problem is our current Lebenswelt.

0061 When anyone asks me what I’m doing, I say, “I’m working.”

But, I’m really eating candy.

Yes, I project meaning, presence and message into the word, “work”.

And, my projection is paying off.

My own spoken words create an artifact that justifies my sloth, plus a little extra.

Fat, that is.

0062 Spoken words stimulate the production of artifacts that appear to validate the meaning, presence and message of spoken words.

Doesn’t that sound scientific?

The motif is so versatile.

Augustine proposes that the disorder caused by Adam’s rebellion resides in our privy parts.

Surely, he is on track.

What better incentive to manipulate meaning, presence and message, than to generate artifacts in the service of one’s privy parts?

The current Zeitgeist says, “It’s only natural.”

Augustine’s concept of concupiscence sounds like an orientation that postmoderns want to speak about… er… manage.