Talk:602 - Ancient Languages of The Future (1) (The Piraha, Non-Violent Communication)

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Daniel Everett -- Criegod 09:23, 22 May 2012 (PDT)

I just listened to episode 602 last night. As i was listening to Daniel Everett speak, several times I thought that i couldn't recall ever having heard anyone be so wrong about so many things in listening to an Unwelcome Guests show before. I wonder if anyone else had that reaction? I'd have to go back and relisten to recall specifics.

It's been a while, so I don't recall what Charles Eisenstein had to say about Everett in The Ascent of Humanity ("the linguist [he] describes in chapter 2..."). It makes me wonder what the nature and relevance of this description was?

Specifics -- Robin 10:14, 23 May 2012 (PDT)

Everett has had a pretty unusual life experience, so it's expected that some of his viewpoints may strike you as strange or wrong. So far I didn't get any feedback on this episode by Email -- if other listeners would like to chip in their thoughts then this is the place. Some specifics would be good to serve as starting points for discussion.

Re: Specifics -- Criegod 21:44, 4 June 2012 (PDT)

I made some notes when I relistened to this show and here they are:
Part I
* No other species that would sit around a fire just to sit around a fire... enjoying one another's company. - I hope the key aspect wasn't sitting around a fire
* a bunch of bananas will be shared politely by humans because we have a sense of community but chimpanzees... there would be a bloodbath. We are "the cooperative species and work together like no other species does." Ha ha.
* Only humans have a "theory of mind" - Presumes that chimps are the relevant comparison... if chimps can't do something, then only humans can do it.
* Sally puts ball in basket. Andy puts ball in box. Children say she'll look in basket. "That's not something any other creature can do, is to think that some other creature of the same species has a mind alike." - So wrong!
Part II
* Hard work as a universal value!
* Nations imitate nations. An absurd idea.
Re: Re: Specifics -- Robin 21:26, 7 June 2012 (PDT)
I agree you on most of these; Everett is wrong on these points. Everett is citing popular arguments for the uniqueness of humans - maybe he should listen to episode 606 :) - while written language would perhaps be a better starting point for such discussions, but the Piraha don't have (or apparently want) it! e.g. Dolphins don't hang around fires, but they seem to do analagous things in water, enjoying one another's company. As far as the theory of mind, have scientists done experiments to demonstrate other species' theories of mind? Where?

expanding on "nations imitating nations" -- Criegod 17:18, 5 June 2012 (PDT)

Just to say that the idea of nations imitating nations is absurd fails to convey any real information. So, to clarify my statement... the problem i have with the idea (expressed by Daniel Everett) is that it presumes that a nation can be meaningfully dealt with (conceptually) as a unitary entity. Perhaps in some cases this isn't completely misleading or unhelpful to think this way, but almost always it is (i believe), depending on the specific aspect of the nation's behavior or nature at issue.

In my view, no meaningful analysis of a nation can leave out the recognition that the nation is not a unitary entity: that it consists of a very large number of "ordinary" people, and a very small number who "control" the levers which operate the machine (there are gradations within the upper strata but recognition of these distinctions are only important when the analysis seeks to reach a much deeper level of understanding of how the system works than achievable via the more simple model).

It may be fairly meaningful to talk of elites in one nation "imitating" elites in another (more a matter of responding to the same sorts of incentives in similar fashion, really). It may be meaningful to talk of popular culture in one nation being influenced, roughly speaking, by popular culture in another. But to talk of nations imitating nations implicitly conflates so many different things that (imo) it can only serve to obscure and confuse the issues at hand. Which is exactly what i perceived to be the outcome of Everett's thinking on the subject.

Re: expanding on "nations imitating nations" -- Robin 21:03, 7 June 2012 (PDT)

I agree that talk of 'nations' as homogenous entities is usually empty, especially as regards political decision making - serious points need an analysis of which particular people within a nation, since e.g. so few actually make the decisions about foreign policy. Robin 21:03, 7 June 2012 (PDT)

Hard work as a universal value -- Criegod 17:34, 5 June 2012 (PDT)

I'm on a roll... i guess. Re this point... who wants to work hard? I mean "work" as in: imposed by and for the benefit of others. This is the real meaning of the word, depending on which ideas in a bagful of incompatible ideas you wish to keep and which you wish to throw out in order to arrive at a coherent concept within the context of the truly significant ways the word is used within the culture and the machine in which we live. Same with the word "job". The idea of working hard as a generally accepted value is, in my view, one of the most widely spread, accepted, and successful pieces of propaganda ever perpetrated upon ordinary people by "capitalists," e.g. those who parasitize the efforts and accomplishments of others (in a more subtle and indirect fashion than the feudalists).

I have no interest whatsoever in working and see no virtue in this supposed universal value. I wish to play. Play often involves serious effort. But it's still fun. Work is not fun. The reward for work is in the future rather than in the present. The nature of modern industrial, technological society often makes the strategy of working to attain something a good (best of undesirable) choice.

In modern-day society we work for the system itself, rather than for other individuals (usually). The linkages embodying the expropriation process are so complex and (often) hidden that we (mostly) accept the idea that work is a virtue. But do people really believe this? Do most people really (whole-heartedly, deeply) accept the intrinsic value of work? I think: only when they are fully brainwashed by the system. Otherwise, they go along with it, but reluctantly and with a great deal of deep resentment (that often never rises to the level of consciousness).

Re: Hard work as a universal value -- Robin 21:17, 7 June 2012 (PDT)

#367 - Planet in Vincula (Ending Corporate Rule for a Healthy Planet and Happy People) #367 - Planet in Vincula
    (Ending Corporate Rule for a Healthy Planet and Happy People)
Well, sometimes I like hard work. That's not to say we necessarily disagree - sometimes I like idling :) Maybe I call 'work' some of the things you call 'play' - such as making this radio show. I'm pretty sure we do see eye to eye on the concept of 'job' - I can see no reason why what I work at or when I work should be up to someone else. This is not so distantly related to my idea that in the future most everyone will grow some of their own food. If you didn't already listen to episode 367, then you might wanna give it a listen - I recall that Tom Hodgkinson has some positive things to say about the lunacy of a work ethic for its own sake.
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