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Can culture be boiled down to material motive?

 
 
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2010 08:30 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:

Arj:
One of the focal features of this style of research was to try and eliminate the progressive nature of Marxist materialism.
So does Marxism go like this: a society emerges from revolution with the society in harmony with its economic basis... then the whole thing evolves according to inner logic. Eventually a conflict develops where the society has evolved, but the economic base hasn't. This is resolved in another revolution where the economy abruptly shifts and catches up.

Could you explain the opposing view?
GoshisDead
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 02:03 am
@Arjuna,
Marxist materialism has a defined progression from x-> y-> finally communism. Other forms of non-progressional materialisms do not follow a set progression or more accurately even though they may follow progression their is not a projected final stage progression. Look at it this way when white people first landed in Tasmania several technologies that one might have thought to be basic were missing, one of them being boats. How exactly did Tasmanians get to Tasmania without boats? later on archaeologists found that there was boat technology in Tasmania at one point but it seems that the indigenous people lost it at another point. Progression style materialism would have one technology built on the next only improving the previous technology before abandoning it.

Cultural Materialism would argue that there was probably a material cause for the boat technology to be lost, as experience would dictate that it wasn't lost in the traditional sense but would have to have been abandoned. So our progressional minds think, "hey they went backwards by losing the boat technology" in the assumption that material technology and culture always move forward. Yet the Cultural Materialists would say " I wonder what happened to make them abandon the technology?" with the assumption that a culture must adapt its technology to the environment in which the technology is used.

Now that there aren't that many traditional Marxists running round the halls of academia the latter might not be a radical view. When the Cultural Materialists came on the scene, it was a fairly radical break, at least in Anthropology.
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 07:08 am
To the author:

How are you defining materialism in this context?
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 10:50 am
@plainoldme,
In this instance material world drives the cultural world.
0 Replies
 
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 11:12 am
@GoshisDead,
I read Trotsky's book about the Russian Revolution. He addressed the fact that Russia shouldn't have been in a position to become communist since industrialization didn't grow naturally out of feudalism there. The infrastructure of industry was owned by the British and French... including banks. He worked it out that the Russians have a genius for absorbing experience that others gain through blood, sweat, and tears.

Actually the Russian culture went backward from the West. It started out a merchant based society and transitioned to feudalism when their access to sea ports became blocked.

But anyway, would it be true that a progressive outlook is teleological? Alternately, you could see logical or necessary transitions, but if the whole thing is cyclical, you lose the sense of everything leading up to some grand event. I've wondered if Marxism was a religion in disguise.

I want to know why the Tasmanians stopped building boats. What would be your hypothesis?
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 11:36 am
@Arjuna,
Yes i think any sort of set progressionism with a define end goal would be teleological. I would also like to know why they abandoned boats.
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 09:05 pm
So, an archeologist works with the material remains of a culture.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 10:32 pm
@plainoldme,
that would seem to be their function
0 Replies
 
emilybaker
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Aug, 2010 04:42 am
This is something that was discussed by Christopher Hamilton at the philosophy festival at hay (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJEBPZQ5Pyw).
I don't think we can argue for a simply material motive. By considering the interaction of humans and their material surroundings (note the use of interaction, and the implication of material and object agency acting back on humans) we can have a better understanding of the development and evolution of culture over time.

As King Lear said ' unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare, forked animal'.
0 Replies
 
emilybaker
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Aug, 2010 04:45 am
@plainoldme,
I would disagree. Those material remains are the manifestation and the embodiment of cultural activities and lived lives, and thus, an archaeologist can be said to be working with the remains of a culture.
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  2  
Reply Wed 25 Aug, 2010 08:15 am
Consider the following statements:

1. From the earliest historical period , there was a correlation between the rise of cities along waterways, increased trade, and the division of labour.

2. Wars are the result of economic rivalries between nation states.

In addition to the difference between the use of correlation and cause, what are the differences in warrants for making these statements? Better yet: what kind of evidence falsifies either statement?

GoshisDead
 
  3  
Reply Wed 25 Aug, 2010 10:30 am
@jgweed,
Weed:
I don't think the statements can be falsified. While it is true that one could not say that waterways caused cities to be built on them directly. It is obvious that riperian and coastal ecosystems have more economic potential than many others. Although I really don't like it at an ideological level there is a system among bio-anthropologists and archaeologists called Optimal Foraging Theory. In a non-surplus environment people will behave in a way that maximizes the environment's calorie output for the existing calorie extraction technology. Archaeologists use it to predict migration patterns, describe inter-culture conflicts etc... the theory correlates very well with archaeological evidence and with modern pastoral, and hunter gatherer groups. but again its just a correlation.
0 Replies
 
Arjuna
 
  2  
Reply Wed 25 Aug, 2010 08:51 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:

Consider the following statements:

1. From the earliest historical period , there was a correlation between the rise of cities along waterways, increased trade, and the division of labour.

2. Wars are the result of economic rivalries between nation states.

In addition to the difference between the use of correlation and cause, what are the differences in warrants for making these statements? Better yet: what kind of evidence falsifies either statement?


The first one is based on physical evidence. To refute it, I'd have come up with data that says the opposite.

The second one is an interpretation of history. So I could refute it by showing that there's no way economic rivalry alone would cause people to kill each other.
0 Replies
 
manored
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Aug, 2010 07:50 pm
@Arjuna,
HexHammer wrote:

Most democracies has never really been about democracy, only electing which demagogue to get a vote. I belive no democracy country really had the chance to vote about going into Afghan and Iraq, least in Denmark we didn't, it was all about political USA-ass licking.
Denmark needs some changing, then... but the rest of the world also does =)

HexHammer wrote:

The sad thing is that USA refuse to realize that no money in the world can protect you, not with intel nor military might.
Indeed. As long as you have enemies, they will always be able to hurt you, no matter what you do. The best defense is to have no enemies.

Arjuna wrote:

]Many Americans have wondered the same thing. There's been an unusual lack of faith in the ability of the government to address problems.

It calls into questions whether humans can govern their affairs with intelligence. They seem to be happy to let necessity drive the gears naturally... even if they know that nature's method involves disasters.
The thing is, humans are an irregularity from nature. No amount of evolution can protect us from our own fast-growing culture. I think culture is growing beyond our control, everything is getting more complex than we evolved to be able to handle... I mean, look at economy. Economy has gotten so complex that nobody is really sure what will happen, and oftenly great disaster are caused by it, even though it is only a form of measuring work and production. My hopes are that as our computers become more intelligent they will be able to handle these things for us.

An interesting fact that shows that rather well: In ancient Rome, people who could multiply were considered mathematicians =)

Arjuna wrote:

I think it works both ways. Success reinforces the ideology that was on the scene at the time of the success. The success is pinned on that ideology. Are we saying that's an illusion?
The world changes ideologies and ideologies change the world.

Arjuna wrote:

I want to know why the Tasmanians stopped building boats. What would be your hypothesis?
I googled the island at it seens fairly large. I dont know anything else about Tasmanias, so my bet is that the island was large enough to upkeep then well without the need for fishing or gathering food from water in other ways. In a society where only useful knowledge is keept they probaly eventually forgot about boats altogether.

Just a wild guess though =)
0 Replies
 
HexHammer
 
  2  
Reply Fri 27 Aug, 2010 08:25 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:
2. Wars are the result of economic rivalries between nation states.
Often, not always.
0 Replies
 
 

 
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