Some ideas about ‘If the Dogon’

I found it interesting that the Dogon has such profound cosmological and philosophical ideas. Something which I regret to admit I would never have thought of them as having. The crossover of ideas makes me wonder how the ideas spread to the Dogon? We talked in the last lecture about how religious ideas, or rather component of religions can easily spread and this could be a brilliant case example of that.

The fact that African art was not welcomed into European circles until the French artistic circles.

I have never esearch that is very language focused really thought that language would need to be looked at in a social context, to me it has always been that words are words. But it does make sense, since I know there are languages out there which have multiple terms for what I would deem as the same thing.

It is interesting to know that Gellner found a link between divine power and the spread of political strength or reinforcing the strong. It’s not nice to hear that religion can be manipulated (knowingly or not) but it is so key to social and societal construction that I am glad it has been noted on.

A compliment of Douglas’ writing especially of her summary of Lienhardt (1961) ideas about what religion and ritual are explains it very well and succinctly. I have always struggled somewhat when I did try to read that work and it is nice to have one sentence to sum up the key ideas, although not heavily detailed you can see the meat and bones of the argument.

Not a criticism mainly a comment that the whole idea of a divination tablet (:132) is interesting it is just really confusing and hard to follow.

Just a side note as well, I wish she would translate the random phrases of French that lace her text. I’m sure they are important and I don’t trust google translate.

It is good to see that Douglas sees the problems that are inherit in British Anthropology but she does not try to suggest a way to fix the limited view point that it has. Instead she focuses on how this limited focus point has infact helped discover more about witchcraft.

Does all British Anthropology only look at ‘pre-cosmology’? And is it solely about individuals driving for power and legitimacy? Has it changed since this article was written, personally I haven’t looked into British Anthropology that much in my studies but it would be interesting to find out.

Talking in the Douglas article I recognize some of the ideas that she talks about as similar to Lévi-Strauss’s ideas about myths. I read a chapter from Structural Anthropology and he talks about how myth can be used to explain things that are confusing and incredible which could be linked to the Nuer in this article, even if there cosmological ideas are described by Douglas as ‘confused’(: 124)

I haven’t really studied linguistic anthropology nor have I given the topic much thought. It does look very interesting though, and with the facts that I am getting from Douglas’ article I imagine the Dogon would make a fantastic case-study.

After studying classical literature, we looked at Plato and other philosopher types last year. Plato’s metaphor of the cave which is one of the most known and well discussed in comparison to the sun and the line but they all form part of the same story overall. It can be found in Plato’s Republic for anyone who is interested in looking into it further or there is loads of information to be found on the internet naturally.


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