Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What Kind Of Mind?

"Anthropological accuracy requires, therefore, a great deal of caution about the hunter-gatherer:farmer dichotomy. In reality, there is a possible spectrum of economic systems-with hunters at one end, farmers at the other, and many kinds of misture in between-rather than two exclusive categories, some pair of opposites that between them include all possible human societies. In this respect, the hunter gatherer;farmer divide is itself a form of myth.

Nonetheless, I believe that within this distinction lies a set of intellectual and imaginative opportunities. Thinking about the place of hunting peoples in the human story offers an insight into the history of the world. It provides a parallel insight into the nature of the human mind. The destiny of the hunter-gatherer is both an external and an internal process, an issue for societies and for individuals.

The hunter-gatherer mind is humanity's most sophisiticated combination of detailed knowledge and instuition. It is where direct experience and metaphor unite in a joint concern to know and use the truth. The agricultural mind is a result of specialized, intense development of specific systems of intellectual order, with many kinds of analytical category and exacting uses of deductive reasoning. the hunter-gatherer seeks a relationship with all parts of the world that will be in both personal and material balance. The spirits are the evidence and the metaphors for thi relationship. If they are treated well, and are human in the right way, and are therefore at peace with human beings, the people will find the things they need. The farmer has the task of controlling and shaping of the world, making it yeild the produce upon which agricultural life depends. If this is done well then the crops will grow. Discovery by discovery, change by change, field by feild, control is increased and produce is more secure. The discotomies of good and evil, right and wrong express this farming project: control comes from separating manipulative resources from the rest of the environment and working with determination and consistency against all that might undermine this endeavor.

The differences between hunter-gatherers living before agriculture developed or beyond the later farming frontier, and small indigenous societies based on a mix of farming and herding, hunting and gathering, may not be best understood by issues of mind. As noted, ideas about spirituality and the boundaries between the physical and the metaphysical are shared by many indigenous societies, both hunter-gatherers and small-scale farmers. However, all agriculture depends on controlling and remaking the natural world, and farmers have the task of both defending thier feilds and finding new ones. These are social and economic reasons for relatively high levels of organization and aggression. It is no coincidence that in so many parts of the world, including regions where different indigenous systems live along side one another, agriculturaists despise hunter-gatherers for being "primitive" and hunter-gatherers complain that farmers are belligerent. In the colonial era of the past 500 years "developed" agricultural societies have launched themselves with particular ferocity against all other peoples, and have, in particular, sought new land in vast territories occupied by hunter-gatherers. However complex the overlap between different kinds of indigenous societies, the dicotomy of hunter-gatherer:farmer says a great deal about how the world and the mind have been shaped." from Hugh Brody.

4 comments:

Karen said...

Hmm.

Candy Minx said...

Feeling dubious huh Karen? That's fair...Don't worry you're not alone...and the trick is...a "farmer brain" probably can't think outside of itself...it needs to be shaken away from it's urban myths about the world of hunter-gatherers...and that is a huge leap for the controlling farmer brain.

mister anchovy said...

Utah Phillips talks about tramps as being the intelligencia of the traveling nation...he says that hobos work and wander, tramps dream and wander, bums drink and wander. I guess he was talking about sub-species of the hunter-gatherer....to farmers, they're all bums.

Candy Minx said...

Yes, to farmers...everybody else is a bum if you do't be a slave and controlled. the farmer indset is all about contol and slavery and having kids to be your slaves. Yes, they still love people and their kids...but it's all about the controlling...hobos are definately a subspecies...