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Thursday, December 6 - 8:07amSanction this postReply
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This relates to a young man in a remote, primitive village who indiscreetly flirted with a woman already betrothed to another young man absent from the village at the time.  His aunt learned of this, and she later lied to the tribal elders about her nephew hitting the lying aunt on the cheek so she could "get" him for threatening the sanctity of betrothal.  It was all a lie and everyone knew it, but he pled guilty anyway because the elders wanted "some" way to enforce the sanctity of betrothal.  As the authors make clear, the economics of remote, non-industrial societies make protection of betrothal and marriage literally a matter of life or death.  It was a very interesting read.

 

I still get this huge feeling of anti-collectivist nausea when I read this quote.  Ick!  Ick!  Blech!

 

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 12/06, 8:15am)



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Thursday, December 6 - 5:21pmSanction this postReply
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This raises doubts. What was the society? What language did they speak? They have a fairly sophisticated notion of ownership, and they are montheistic. The speaker espouses the kind of collectivism that originated in nineteenth-century Europe.

 

At best this is a very free translation, refracted through the translator's own habits of thought. Earlier, more primitive people might have believed something like this tacitly, but they wouldn't have identified it as clearly as this. At worst it's a fabrication, like Hilary Clinton's "it takes a village to raise a child", which allegedly came from some African tribe but was in fact a modern, western coinage (not necessarily Clinton's).



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Friday, December 7 - 4:13amSanction this postReply
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"The Dou Donggo, however, had remained outside the Bimanese kingdom while it was a Hindu kingdom, and became part of the Muslim Sultanate of Bima only much later and by treaty rather than by conquest. They were able to retain their relative independence in part because they had a reputation as fierce warriors and in part because their mountainous territory was relatively easy to defend (Dou Donggo means ‘Mountain People’). ... By the time of Peter’s first survey trip to Donggo (as the district is most sensibly called) most Dou Donggo had accepted either Islam or Christianity, although as the local Roman Catholic catechist put it, ‘The people are 70 per cent Muslim, 30 per cent Catholic, and 90 per cent kaffir [pagan].’ Studying religious beliefs became a major focus of Peter’s fieldwork as did studying the way the people went about resolving disputes."

 

Monaghan, John. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (p. 6). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition. 



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Sunday, December 9 - 12:48amSanction this postReply
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I'm struck by the irony how they define ownership: I belong to something else - not something else belongs to me ;)

It's not just a cultural / societal thing either - I actually belong to the state and in part society by law: I'm not entitled to make decisions about my life per se and I'm forced to donate a (greater or lesser) part of my life to the country / society I live in. Thus I'm the property of this state / society / family who dispose of my life and and my actions as they see fit.

Do you happen to know a country, society, family, even a hermit, no matter how remote or far in the past, where an individual belonged only to itself and did not have to fear repercussions from others? Repercussions usually of the violent sort, as that seems to be the universal mode of enforcing ownership ;)

If I do not have that basic ownership over myself, then everything else is just a matter of degree of ownership by others ... or how much force I can muster to keep them off :P

VSD



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Thursday, December 13 - 11:41amSanction this postReply
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It is easy to understand the Infamous Quote and we all here must agree with Luke's intent in posting it. Peter's questions and Vera's comment led me to do more digging.  This was a story from modern times published in 2000. The anthropologists were on-site in the 1990s.

 

To speak to Peter's questions and VSD's irony, linguistically, the concept of "ownership" began with individual possession and control. The idea that the village or the king "owns" you came much later. That is not the same thing as saying that you "belong to" a tribe in the same sense that apples belong to the class of objects called fruit. We discussed here before "The Success of the WEIRD People" (Western, educated, industrialized, rational, democratic). (On RoR here and here; on my blog more fully here.) A project of ten teams of anthropologists went out into marginalized ("primitive") societies and administered standard survey instruments to gauge their attitudes. We are special. But among the ranges of other behaviors, they found a tribe where hunters bring home the prey to share but also at least one where hunters come back after dark so that they do not have to share.  The point is that whatever we find now may or may not be how these people always were. Likely, they were not.  From your grandfather to your grandchild is five generations. That is the limit of verbal knowledge. 

 

Note, however, also, that these Bima peoples apparently had writing about the 15th century, at least. Moreover, they established a commercial hegemony of their own before being overthrown by the Dutch c. 1617.  You cannot have maritime commerce without sophisticated concepts of ownership, property, and justice.  

 

Also, while it does seem to contravene our expectations for objective law, it is not unknown in our society. It is called plea bargaining.  Some Objectivists call for a "continental" or "civil law" society: the legislature defines the laws in excruciating detail. The purpose of the court is to see if the case fits the law. You killed my dog, but there is no law against killing dogs, so you go free.  In the English system of bench-made law, the judge (with jury) is an adjudicator who discovers whether and to what extent the law fits the case. You killed my dog -- and in so doing, you violated my right to property; and there is a law against that.  Whether plea bargaining would be allowed in an Objectivist society is an interesting question.

 

To read the full story behind the flirting and false accusation, find the journal article, "A Dispute in Donggo" by Monaghan and Just here:

https://facweb.northseattle.edu/ccummings/Survey%20of%20Anthropology/A%20dispute%20in%20Donggo.pdf

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 12/13, 11:56am)



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