Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Significations: Signs, Symbols, and images in the interp of rel Charles h. long

Significations: Signs, Symbols, and images in the interp of rel Charles h. long philadelphi: fortress press 86 (collection of articles published since late 60s)

2-much, but not all is signifying—even Saussure says the symbol has osme of what it signifies—signifying is still mostly arbistrary tho
-relus symbols deploy meanings, creating “an arena and field of power relationships which, tho having their origin in symbols and symbolic clusters, r best defined in terms of significations and signs. On a methodological level, this tendency is expressed in the range of disciplines, such as the socgy, psychgy, and anthrgy of rel”

-“when one places various methodologcl theory w/in the various cultural milieu in which they arose:. This enables one to c the diff forces and valences that came into play when the tools of method r being fashioned and to c that it is quite possible that methodological theories could have been otherwise, but also it enables one to understand why they were not. I am not suggesting that all methodology should b reduced to a prob of the soc of knowledge. I am, rather, stating that a total hermeneutical discussion cannot overlook the role of signification in the creation of theoretical formulations.”

3-in this bk, “all of the essays r hermeneutical attempts to make sense of the phenn of rel on the most gen level of the problematic meaning of rel in the US in particular.”
-the history of rel discipline “begins w/ the problematical nature of rel in the post-Enlgihtnmnt world of the West…the problematic status of rel itself as an authentic and even necessary mode of human exprc and expression is an acute issue of the mod period.”
*-2 things brot this ambiguity: 1) the Englightnmnt’s search for universal modes of understanding changed “normative meanings of rel in human societies” esp in w.—and made it compete w/ other realities for “role of normativity regarding the nature and destiny of the human being.”; 2) w. exploration-made ppl ask if all ppl had rel, is it involved w/ evo?, w/ all the diffcs, is there one single def?—(4_ “In seeking to give a unitary meaning to this phenan, rel has been almost created anew w/in the cats of the disci;ones of the human sciences…”

4-while these sciencs were based on empirical approach, they “inherited the existential and philosophical cultural issues surrounding the meaning and nature of rel that had formed the discussions for el since the Englighntmnt. For the most part, those discussion served to distantiate rel”—it was etiher culture at large or “relegated to the peripheries of human existence, for ecmpl, the contmp w. lower classes or women or int eh peripheral areas of the world, among “primitive” ppls or other cultures that were technologically infereior to the W.”
-Englghtnemtn wanted reform, saw rel as devissev, and so criticized it—this “paved the ground for” evory and racial thinking which meant that “rel and cultures and ppls…were created anew thru academic dsicplinary orientations—they were ‘siggnified’.”

-signification=”one of the ways in which names r given to realities and ppls during this period of conquest; this naming is at the same time an objectification thru cats and concepts of those realities which appear as novel and ‘other’ to the cultures of concquest. This is of course the element of power in this process of naming and objectification. This power is both latent and manifest. It is manifest in the (5) intellectual operation that exhibit the ability of the human mind to come to terms w/ that which is novel, and it is manifest in the manner of passivity that is expressed int eh process wherin the active existential and self-idfying notae trhu which ppl know themselves is almost completely bypassed for the skae of the conceptual and categorical forms of classification. The latency of the power is obscured and the poll, ecoc, and military situ that forms the context of the confrontation is masked by the intellectual desire for knowledge of the other. The actual situation of cultural contact itself is never brot to the fore w/in the context of intellectual formulations.”
5-“More often than not, the diffcs that bring a culture or a ppl to theattention of the investigator r not simply formed from the pov of the intellectual problematic; they r more often than not the nuances and latencies of that power which is part of the structure of the cultural contact itself manifesting itself as intellectual curiosity. In this manner the cultures of non-w. ppls were created a s products of a complex signification.”

-signifying made protests form signified, (6) and also changed signifiers’ culture—tho they hide this w/ “rhetorical recourse to historical and cultural continuities”—it changed them b/c “One does not have the option of finding another place outside the structure of these relationships.”—so u must have a “critical lang” that can “undercut the very structures of cultural langs that undergrid the problematical situation itself”—and signified rel should have that

6-says rel of aas can b “the sources for new modes of thot”, tho rejects using w. categorical structures, even (7) theology

*7-“For my purposes, rel will mean orientation—orientation int eh ultimate snese, that is, how one comes to therms w/ the ultimate significance of one’s place in the world.”
-”The rel of any ppl is more than a structure of thot, it is exprc, expression, motivations, intention, behaviors, styles, and rhythms. Its first and fundamental expression is not on the level of tho. It gives rise to thot, but a form of thot that enables the precision and nuances of its source.”
-“For the majority culture of this country, black have always been signified. By this I mean that they have always been part of a culotural code whose euphemisms and stereotypes have indicated their meaning w/in the larger framework of amercan cultural lagns.” And black cultural reality was created by signifiers whose range is wide

8-for long, rel gave “a mode of making sense fo the exprcs of my trad that did not begin w/ a methodology of pathology, one of the primary amercn cultural and social scientific alngs about balck. I perceived that there was a structure for the universal in the human world that, tho created from englightnmt understandings of the human venture, expressed an opening for the authentic expression of tehrs. Rel thus becomes the locus for a meaning that carried an archaic form; it was a root meaning and could thus become the basis for radical critical thot.”
14-the deprtments in study of rel have not shown “structures of essential order which would define serious positions>’
-early studies were framed in theology or biblical studies which, while preventing positivist reduction, created probs—issues studied were “smothered under the moral, poll, and theoretical concerns that had their origins in theological and biblical studies.”
-it was genlly “understood as the study of ‘wrld rels’ or of non-xn rels, as a way of broadening the awareness of students to a wider wrld of cultures and meanings. There was and still is great value in this intention, but ht essential meaning of re lint eh life of humankind was seldom broadened.”

15-study in cultural and humanistic sense dates back to muller, german, while studying Sanskrit in paris, was invited by the purssian minister in london to translate txts at oxford’s taylorian institte, which was reqd by it sdonor, lt.-col. Joseph bouden of the W. india company (d. 1811), to spread xnty (16) to india using Sanskrit—which revealed diff idea of use of india btwn England and other eurpn counties—for England india is a place of wrk and pragmatic control, for tohers its romanticized for having esoteric wisdom, muller stayed there from 1848-1900 (his death), and he wanted to study india’s philogy and rel—so he didn’t get the chair when it was opened b/c of that
17-they were diff b/c germy had a “specific intellectual orientation…to the novelty and innovation represented by the symbols enlgightnmnt and Romanticism.”; unlike fr, engl, and others—grmany did not colonize or dvlp national idy—tho they did dvlp an ideology—the romantic mvmnt that “everywhere was a reassertion of the Germanic element in eurpn civilztn after its relative suppression in the age of the englightnmnt.”; “the german Romantic mvmnt is the Romantic mvmnt, just as the Italian Renaissance is the Renaissance.”

18-discovery that Sanskrit was realted to eurpn langs “had a profound effect on philogy and linguistics from that time to the present.”
-first noticed by William jones (brit) in 1788, but “philological and cultural implications” by germans; bopp in 1808 saw grammar, then schlegel said this meant race and lagn too, grmany then was looking for origin of lang of all and came up w/ Aryan myth
-tho muller “was not a proponent of the Aryan mth…he was not free from the german cultural ideology regarding the indo-eurpns.”, saw Vedas as from origins of indo eurpn roots, showing they r “spiritual kith and kin”, the Vedas r “the first beginnings of our lang, and of all that is embodied in lang.” (in his intro to a science of rels)—not semites as roots
19-combined grimms workd on the German roots of pagan rels of teutons
-romanticism is to find old concepts “in new soil, and from this soil the concept will sprout new branches pointing in several direction.”—(20)old ideas r the ideal form

20-first continental eurpn history of rels chairs followed muller’s model; tho (21) grmany was reluctant to have chairs b/c the universities were church-run and his theories were thot inimical to them
*31-concern for origin of rel, latter in otto, solderblom and wach—tho wwI “destroyed the optimistic euphoria that surrounded the muller generation.” And emphasis turned to exprc as the “primordium of human consciousness”—no longer a first ppl , these writers thot of this exprc as the “uniqueness in the exprc of rel”, moving muller’s sensus communis to a sensus numinous—(22)and w/ otto, wach, and heiler “a new trad of history of rel begins”
*22-muller “opened up the area of rel for hermeneutical reflection”—a trad that lasted on
23-wach came to us in 43—and Charles long studied under him

-recommends Jastrow 02 study of rel—says its like how wach taught him, tho it lacks hermeneutics
24-since Husserl, human meaning/reality has been ?d—eliade ?d history and structrualists ?d nat history
-schleiermacher changed meaning of hermeneutics from just biblical studies to of human existence—so rel and hermeneutics have gone together—otto and wach used that idea, 25) and oso did chi school (but eliade, jzsmith, (jew), kitagawa (jap) and long were others—therefore wanted outside approach that didn’t rely on old structures of history)
25-but hermeneutics itself is an ideology that it critiques
-the study of rel, in the end tho, is really the study of the other
*27-one of the central probs is tension btwn phenmlgsts and socigsts/anthro (who look at “practical sides of relus activity”)—b/c of diff “basic methodological principles”; “often forced students of rel to make a choice btwn them”—long tries to combine them, b/c socgy-type leaves “’rel’ devoid of any referent” and for morphology practical issues “too often does not receive adequate explanation”

-all rels offer a new reality that is manifested in a cultural form, (28) and “the showing constitutes the quality of sacredness”—“power and ultimacy”—and it is “a fundamntl datum to the human consciousness”
28-and “The expression of this type of exprc in myth and symbol enables us to c that there is present here a logic or a set of axioms peculiar to this specific mode of manifisteation.”; place where subject and object seem identical—(van der leeuw’s “pennon” in rel in essence…)
-“the quality of the exprc as sacred that differentiates it from other exprcs…” and its expressed in objects (eg sky, tree) to provide “a basis for the ordering of this exprc”, (29) then the myth is mores specific expression of it
*30-and whil otto, vdl, eliade, and wahc have all shown how the relus is manifested and makes ontology, “the articulation of the relationship of rel to the other cats and dimensions of cultural life is stated abstractly a and does not match their careful and refined analysis of the ontological structure of relus exprc andexpression. Thus, the practical side of the relus life…does not seem to follow logically from their initial analysis.”

-the relus is the “rupture btwn humanity and the world”—tho we don’t know why it takes place, it is expressed in myths; (31) it is also an expression of the nostalgia for the wholeness and “completenss and the drive toward human authonomy”
32-manifested in objects, ppl /w “sacred” powers, and th imagination, “objectiveity and intimacy” (53) “obligation”, “actualities and potentials”, “habits and conduct r defined and clarified”
*38-e b tylor saw rel as a “belief in Spiritual Beings”, muller saw it a s a “disease of lang”—they both were (39) discredited by “a mass of new data” from older cultures and “A universal history of humankind now loomed as a possibility. The diffcs btwn culturalstages could now b related to the discovery of a new thecnique or the axquistion of a new artifact from another culture”—so “culture” became seen as more than tylor’s “complex whole”, it became “human creativity in history”—now not necessarily under idea of evo, left culture “open and flexible”
39-one of earliest to do this is saussaye in his phenmnlgy—“placing together similar forms of relus phea to c if they revealed a coherent and internal sturcutre.”—but the prob is we don’t know if this structure refers to “a analogous structure in human consciousness”
-otto (in idea of holy)—a “wathershed of phenmlgcl studies”, “attacks the prob head on by describing (40) the a priori relus cat of humn consciousness”, tho he didn’t clrify the forms thru which consciousness manifested, and neglects idea of historical subject—attempting “to move beyond historicism”, “tho it leaves probs of historicism unresolved, same w/ vdl
*40-b/c phenmlgy started w/ husserl’s idea of “eidetic translation”—“changes the historical subject into a transcendental ego—a moment of consciousness which permits the perception of the essence of the phenmn.”

42-pettazzoni did offer a reolution btwn phenlgy and “historical contingency” in late 50’s –the relus symbolism is from human anxiety over existence—and is expressed in diff forms, but long says its too culturally determined, and does not explain why similar symbols r in many cultures, and doesn’t explain how to understand others’ symbols—it is another reduced idea of “worldview”
93-what we conclude is that since phnmlgy shows “an enduring structure to relus exprc and expression” so a study of it must also have “a search for the archaism of the subject.”
-otto was “the first real pehmlgy of rel”

44-heidegger (idea was comprehension is being) was husserl’s pupil; heid looke to pre-socratics, Husserl to Descartes, mod artists to primitives, freud to unconscious—archaeology of reason
47-they believe in an “authentic selfhood”

*48-mccleary ptd out that the w’s idea of truth reqs examining and subsuming all cultures—to prove tis unity—to do this it needs an “historical memory”, (49) supported when the singular subject is ?d in the hermeneutic of knowledge—it says that the subject must b equal w/ an object if it is to understand it—seen in the “great cultural symbols”
60-“silence forces us to realize that our wrds, the units of our naming and recognition in the wrld, presuppose a reality which is prior to our naming and doing.”, (61) being (“relus”) is made manifest [cf wittgenstien who also said Being is in “showing”] in silence, (62) that’s why prayers say “be still”—meditate
64-in 73 he made presidential address to aar, called it similar to cargo cult, aar started in 63, from natl assoc of biblical instructors—changed structure, expanded membership to wide variety of scholars from diff “disciplines devoted to the study of rel”
-cargo cult represents the colonized’s response to conquerors—wherby “the hegemonic and authoritative orders of both cultures r threatedned” and r destroyed for the conquered
-“The delining clarity of focus on the Bible as defining the study of rel, the growth of several deprtments of relus studes in the state unives, the receding of the normativity of the mainline prtstn trads, the inauguration of black stuies, women’s studies, and ethnic awareness , all have had an effect on the meaning and understanding of the nature and meaning of rel in the US-…I felt that in the study of rel we were exprcing the impingment of ‘America upon the Americns.’”—making aar like a cargo cult
*65-w.ers, in forming sicen of the human, looked at “primitive” ppl and their rels, clling it rational, but “what they failed to grsp was that their ideals of rtlty and objectivity, rather than being self-evident properties of critical method, reflected an ideological bias which prevented them from seeing and understanding the phena they were studying.”, the “W. intellectural trad…has blinded us to an adequate appreciation of the diversity of the humn.”

*-wach insisted that the academic discipline of the history of rel started in englightnmnt, tho he was more based on romanticism than trlsm, (66) b/c it was a study using empiricism and analysis, not theology
*67-w. “systematic inquiry presupposes the locus of an ordered and centered intelligence in humn consciousness”—gives arise to prob of recutionsim

69-eliades sacred center arises in cities (which r non egalitarian and started off as ceremonial centers; cf the evo of urban society)—and begin w/ arist and plato—(70) and it mae an understanding of rtlty, “common mode of knowledge in all humn skowing”, the “espistemological center”—meant “an ordering of consciousness”—“the issue of knowledge itself was part and parcel fo a class structure”—rtlty and the sociological context
*70-the w. criticism of myth (by arist and plato) begins at same time as end of city as center of ceremonial order—thi “is the beginning of the isntittnlztn of a notion of th irrational”—(71) “the data or the other that was to b interpreted came from those removed in time and/or in space.”; “objectivity as a scientific procedure allied itself w/ the neutrality of distancing in time and space. The issue of relationship was a bit more difficult to negotiate.”—what was the “correspondence” btwn outer and innter, so idea of cultural evo and theories of fanstasy/emotionalism/pathology, etc

71-in w., this center is seen as human consciousness—based on derrida’s idea
-but its nature says it can’t b known—u can only know data; led to scientific inquiry—and (72) so the failure to “articulate a ‘new science’” of rel is relatied to this methodological tension
74-so we need a “decentering of methodology”—treate everything, everyone as equal; w/ no center, everything is discourse—and rel shows its own modalities

*77-“Can there b a science of rel w/ specific data, methods, and discourse? Yes…but it must b a new science…capable of seeing law and rule in the most contingent and voluntary acts, a science which never gives up the definite and fragil moments of the human image…[It must b] capable of devising methods and procedures consistent w/ those moment af being and imagination which the human is graced to repeat and embody.”
79-Adams’ “Hisotry of rels and the study of islam” in kitagawa history of rels 67

80-“Initial perceptual froms for the New Wrld [and its “empirical other”] were more often than not based upon a prior history.”, (81) eg for women w/ “hysteria”, the “wild man”, and (82) the “mad”—these formed “a basis for the symbolic and mythological langs used to describeand interpet the new worlds discovered by the eurpns sicne the 15th ce.”
82-the other’s biological structure is “extraordinary” or “patholgicla”/”irrational”; and their loci is itinerant
83-these were used, but new wrld had new factors that need symbols too—“poll, ecoc, and rlus”—compre them to “civilztn”
*-“the precise word ‘civilization’ does not appear in w. langs until the late 18th ce”, first in fr, then engl, (84) adam smith used it caually; genlly used for certain “cultural processes” in engl and fr—psychic and social changes sicne 16th ce, that produced what we call “W. civ”—it is the w’s self-conscious affirmation of its “superiority”—at the same time it discovered new world
85-“civliztn” is a symbol that include def of primitive; it’s “an expression of will to power”

87-in renaissance explorers labeled foreign lands on maps w/ biblical ideas, eg claling places by what biblical ppl lived or rule there
89-indians r seen as “noble savages”—like the “wild men”, or pagans for crusades (esplly in s. America); and by 19th ce new symbols for maps and ppl had almost entirely replaced 15th ce symbols

*91-since mod period, “primitieves” r seen as “relus and emprircal ‘others’”, and they “form one of the most important bases of data for a non-theological understanding of rel in the post-enlgihtnmnt west.”; and they “operate as a negative structure of concreteness that allows civilztn to define itself as a structure superior to [it]”—used as the idealized foil in human sciences
92-primitives’ rel is often seen as static, (93)even after hundred of years of contact
93-no the marks that distinguish primitives from civlztn r fading (no nudity, writing, rtlty)
98-human understanding of the sacred was that the sacred was transient when human wandered; but w/ cities (starting in upper neoliticgh), sacred center became more important—saw “the absolutenss fo power as eternal and inflexible”—b/c that “space manifests itself in some extraordinary manner”—and becomes orgzng principle; also seen as sacred axos btwn earth ans sky

99-voyages of exploration were seen as relus plgrmage—old meaning of humn who moves (pre-neotlithic) or journey to sacred center w/ journey in the wild and returning home to stability
100-contact w/ new ppl and land challendged many old assumptions
101-new wrlds made relus thot seem more around mobility again—“a new orientation of eurpn consciousness”—mid class could now com in “close contact w/ the powerful and the great…[and] those w/ no power…at all”; “self-fashioning is achieved in realtion to something perceived as alien”—eg (102) excessive pleasure
105-englsih treaed Indians like “younger brethren” who had lost their father and should show obedience to older bro—has relus “ring” to it

106-after domination, lang of plgrmge changed to lang of progress-and lang conquest w/ new “self-worth structure”
108-for conquered, to explain colonizers, they have “myth-dreams”—highlighted ideas from myths to explain new exprcs, (109) and these restructure native societies while trying to revive trads, forshadows new order
114-reports of cargo cults have come from around the world
116-for them, the “vague Somewhat” , power, other—is “the scientific, industrialized w. culture w/ its relus ideology”
119-their madness comes from destruction of old myth and construction of new one
121-make a harbor and hope a ship w/ cargo would come in

124-the revo in anthrogy was seeing that observers r also participants, “The metholdological prob of cutlrual contact is itself an aspect of a cargo cult.”; unity of old myth of sicence ended and myth decenters
*125-it’s the w. impinging on the w., decentering the myth, “there is no longer the privileged position which is the West or America.”
*137-“The tendency of Amercan ‘in the main’ to ‘conceal even from thesmselves’…the tragic dimension of their cultural exprc…”; (138) conceals balcks and indian history—and so conceals its “primordial exprc…which indlcdes richness and variety”
139-the rebellion of the oppressed has opened up “a new evaluation of history” (eldrige clearver)
-and acknowledging this diversity equals exprcing mysterum tremendum
141-believes “that the relus life of humanity is the locus of those primordial and perennial patterns that define us as a species.”It is at this level that we may orient ourselves thru thot, action, and passion to carry out our common task.”

142-amercn have genlly wanted (otto’s) mysterium fascinosum—“desire for comfort, unification, and idefication w/ the relus object”, the opposite of myst termendum, which puts object as other, distant—and we get fascinosum thru nature and moral conscience” that we worroship combined w/ no historical knowledge
147-says theres also a constant regret that we’ve destroyed nature
150-but the emphasis on ouward acts hides those suppressed
155-to fix this we must overcome the “singularity of a normative trad” (of the “American rel”)
158-troeltsch thot w. james saw most ppl saw rel thru platonic lens, an “indv consciousness”, but he did not c an “essence” of rel, (161) it was in indv psychological cats—(162) otto’s analysis denies this reduction

163-in late 1880s, dubois was a student of w. james, encourage him to expand his philosophy but have a backup plan
164-james saw rel in man’s solitude, but dubois saw it in community—long syas its in both (b/c its just the mysterim tremendum)
*-“one has only to read the accounts fo the conversion experencs of blacks to c how this mysterium tremendum in the life of slaves and ex-slaves, is never identified w/ the sociological (165) situation or w/ the oppression of slavery itself; it is, in fact, a manner in which these human beings rwecognize their creatureliness and their humanity, shall wa say, before God, and it is this essential humanity which is not given by the slave system or the master.” Cf god struck me dead 69, tho oppression colors it

166-since late 19th ce nrms have appeared (called diff names ege milleniarian, cargo, crisis—cults)—these mvmnts of the oppressed have often been compared to early xn, jew, and budd mvmnts, but long says don’t—b/c these happen in modty and they r a critique of modty
167-hobbes, lock and hegel were all against slavery—seen as war, (168) hegel saw it as man’s condition that would b overcome, and so these cults offer a new consciousness for them and humanity—outside of the maste-slave dialect
171-says james was rt, there is a diff consciousness w/ rel—but its caused by real rel, not just psychology as james thot
*173-msot studies of aa rels have used soc sciences w/out coming “to terms w/ the specifically relus elements in the rel”, other studies r black theologies done as xn apologetics—these r too narrow—(174) but tho the analyses r overly social, they can still make good observations about symbols used and patterns of activities
175-most slaves came from w. afr and daryll forde showed w. Africa is a cultural unit—lang and relus forms—tho there r debates of continuing afrcn influence
178-new consciousness “be balck and die”; the symbol of afr

188-calvinists thot god gave all knowledge of Him, and superstition/sin prevented that knowledge—so prtsnts saw all dark ppl as sinful (b/c of their superstition)
189-in symbolism of evil ricouer shows genealogy of how balck was associated w/ evil before racism started.

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