Right and Wrong (Paul Radin) post by Marcus Rockwell

A Reposting of Marcus Rockwell’s Comment on Historical Particuarism:

The title of this article provides excellent foreshadowing. Right and wrong. Ok then, in the realm of the relative, right and wrong exist. Start analyzing, right and wrong fall by the wayside in the realm of the ultimate. One cannot ignore the relative in favor of dwelling in the ultimate, as both have their place. Relative and ultimate exist in the mind. This work, undoubtedly finds its home in the realm of the relative.

The natives Radins studies, hold sacred some of the following morals… “It is always good to be good”, (good cannot exist without bad, it is not possible to be “always good” if one thinks in this way), “For the good you do, everyone will love you… be friendly with everyone and everyone will love you”, (it is unlikely that jealousy is non-existent among our natives, there are those who will not love you no matter what you do, if you try to make everyone love you, you can expect to become their slave), “Do not abuse your wife, women are sacred”, (elevating women to supernatural status is dangerous, women are no more or less sacred than men), “It is not good to gamble” (obvious, native economics is based overwhelmingly on the money dropped in its casinos, the people our author studied opened their newest “not good” attraction in 2004).

There is a tendency to conclude the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) natives are more socially evolved than we are. The pendulum has swung the other way from early ethnography; their ethics are somehow superior to our own. Let us stop the swinging altogether and consider values source as keeping in check pressing urges, made from psychological disposition unique to past environment, rather than moral maxims to be followed by those searching for truth in the circle of right over wrong.

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  • Denise  On March 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    The problem I have with this type of study is the basis relies on a value judgment making the basic argument too subjective. How do we looking in determine if a society is more or less ethical or moral than another society without letting our own personal ideas or right & wrong get in the way?

  • Leslie Sipat  On March 20, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    For anyone who is religious, they know that morals are difficult to live by. That’s not to say that it’s impossible, but with so many temptations, it’s not easy either. A way of incorporating good morals is to realize that no one is perfect. Slip ups will occur and it’s best to just be aware of it so that it will not turn into which is more socially evolved.

  • Marcus Rockwell  On March 26, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Genesis as Myth
    (Edmund Leach)

    I dont know if this essay is included in any of the more current versions of our text, but when I saw the title I became interested and wanted to read it. I can only hope it counts as a legitimate review. Apparently, this study “Genesis as Myth” is a continuation of another discourse by Levi-Strauss’s theories in his work “Creation told in the Old Testament”. From what I can gather, Leach seems obsessed with the concept of duality and goes to great lengths explaining himself to these ends.
    Since computer technology is a new phenomenon in this period of history, Leach relates his concepts to us in excruciating detail explaining the language of binary code. Our author furthermore dissects the Bible (or at least the first books of the Old Testament) in a methodical and mechanical manner. His essay reminds of a more convincing and thorough analysis on Christianity, “The Age Of Reason” by Thomas Paine. Leach certainly would have read Paine, and likely found more support among his contemporaries than his predecessor.
    Religions, Leach tells us, are constructed on principles of opposites, such as other worlds, good and evil behavior, claiming polar opposites are the foundations of all religions. I cannot entirely agree with this argument, because there are religions that do not function in this way. He was doing so well but he lost me, it may be best if he kept his dualistic theorems directed towards Middle Eastern faiths.
    If you can manage to stick it through until the end he will eventually wrap it all up nicely, giving you a far greater understanding of the psychology, social structure, and cosmology of the ancient Hebrews.

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