Re: M & I

Wed, 10 Apr 1996 11:06:00 PDT

R. Calo responds:

" for there is in fact a ground of commonality between the
Catholic and the Aranda man. There is a 'mechanism'-- for lack of a
better word-- which the two share; namely, the power of 'belief' that
binds each to his own system, along with its correlate, the power of
disbelief in the other's system... Can
this be advanced as a fundamental characteristic of the human mind?
If so, then at this stage we would not be looking at whether a religion
is true but a mythology false. We would be considering the cognitive
dimension or aspect which makes belief system 1 'true' while belief
system 2 is 'false' from the point of reference of belief system 1.
Let me give another example, this one from Marie Conrad, posted
earlier today. She writes: "I have observed anthropologists who wouldn't
bat an eye at some ideas react with no small intolerance and derision
at religious interests in their colleagues-- as if the person had abrogated
all sense of logic."
So what are these anthropologists telling themselves that they should
get so riled up? Perhaps something like this?: "I can't believe that a
scientist would be subject to religious beliefs! He/she obviously cannot be
a very good scientist-- else they would be like me...." And here again
we have this 'mechanism' in operation: x believes his/her system is 'true,'
while simultaneously acknowledging that y's system cannot be true.
In this instance, it is the 'belief'-- not that science-- but that scientists,
should not have religious interests."

Very well, said, and I am glad that anthropologists are included as an
example as we are humans as well as anthropologists and thus construct
similar arguments, even if they are not about religion, per se.

Calo continues:

"This movement outwards, I believe ;-) , does not primarily take place by
getting on a plane and traveling a thousand miles to a 'different'
culture;... A substantial part of this "moving" is accomplished by learning
to disentangle the scientific from, well, from whatever the other thing


Calo replies to St. Chritian:

"I would have to disagree with this [expunging belief sytems from analysis].
I don't think anything is solved by purging the concept of belief from the
discussion. I wonder if a more effective way wouldn't perhaps be to agree on
a definition for it-- something that will give it analytical utility-- after
which we can proceed to apply it to that class of phenomena which does,
roughly speaking, exhibit the properties we associate with 'belief.'"

Finding an agreed upon definition may be difficult, but that may be putting
the cart before the horse. I rough-and-ready kind of definition may suffice
for laying out the analytical task.

D. Read