Handbook of Contemporary Animism, 3



Proposal for a Post-Cartesian Anthropology

Kenneth M. Morrison


{N.B. What the author is designating as "Cartesian" could as readily be labeled as "Thomistic" (from Thomas Aquinas) or even as "Aristotelian". Not only mediaeval, but also antient, European orthodoxies (i.e., metaphysics promoted by the political state) tended to separate too sharply and too distinctly the material from the immaterial, and to falsely label only the material (but not the immaterial) as empeirical, etc. The basic fallacy is materialism itself, rather than any specific named school of philosophy -- a fact that this author, along with antique and virtually all recent philosophers, skitterishly evade (in deference to their ploutokrat masters).}

p. 38 "problem" to be explained?

"observers held that "American" indigenous peoples had achieved ... a startling social harmony without European-style {read "class-ruled"} institutions that they surely lived the life of the Golden Age {, when all people shared use-values in a communistic fashion}.

{Anyone favoring a "Golden Age" (of Kronos and of Saturnus; of the Kr.ta Yuga) must perforce be a polytheist advocate of the very anti-Christian European Renaissance, or of some other non-Christian (and non-Yhudi and non-Muslim) religion[s].}

The problem was to explain how uncivilized, irrational "savages" could be socially and morally discerning (K. M. Morrison 1984)."

{Those "observers" who designated AmerIndians (and Africans and other tribals) as "irrational" were nearly all Christian (or Yhudi^ or Muslim), and were very different persons from the other observers who advocated return to a communist "Golden Age"; so that the actual problem to be explicated is how advocates of worldwide communism could be at a state of truce (temporary suspension of fundamental class-war) with greed-maddened Christian genocidists.}

Morrison 1984 = Kenneth M. Morrison : The Embattled Northeast : ... Abenaki-Euramerican Relations. Berkeley : Univ of CA Pr.

p. 39 "Cartesianism"? {or simply a concession to Christianity?}

"Descartes engendered the dualisms ... : objectivty/subjectivity, matter/spirit, science/religion (among many others).

{He did not in any way "engender" these : for, these dualism were already (and had been for many centuries) very much praesent in almost all the standard European mediaeval philosophies, which he was simply conventionally accepting that aspect of.}

... Cartesian science always values the first term of each dualism, and marginalizes the second."

{Here, likewise, he was merely being conventional : for most of the standard European mediaeval philosophies (Thomistic/Aristotelian) already had primarily valued the 1st term of each such dyad.}

p. 40 "non-theistic"?

"interpersonal give and take situates non-theistic meaning ... (K. M. Morrison [2000]),

{False! The /theistic/ must refer to the interpersonal interactivity (mainly via telepathy) amongst vast arrays of deities extending athwart the expansive extent of the universe, and which mortals by their feeble efforts seek to imitate in an incomplete and deficient manner. The "non-theistic" must therefore exclude any interpersonal interactions, and can refer only to souls in kaivalya ('isolation').}

rather than a methodology that separates self" and other. ...

{If it were actually "non-theistic", then in excluding deities it would very grossly be separating self from other : for, any deity is typically witnessed, in dreams and in visions, as other-than-self.}

Other-oriented, projective activities are equally prominent in indigenous life : dream encounters ... . ... normative processes that combine introjection and projection ... : metamorphosis, vision quests, ...

{The dream-encountres sought are, of course, with deities, and likewise the vision-quaests are intended to bring about encountres with deities. Here, as usual, Morrison is blatantly contradicting himself, apparently forgetting that a couple of sentences earlier he had proclaimed this philosophy as "non-theistic"!}

reincarnation and "animal" dancing."

{Redincarnation is another experiential process glossed over or dealt with contradictorily by the author (K.M.).}

Morrison 2000 = Kenneth M. Morrison : "The Cosmos as Intersubjective : Native American ...". In :- Graham Harvey (ed.) : Indigenous Religions : a Companion. London : Cassell. pp. 23-36.

{The terms /introjection/ and /projection/ are quite misleading and defective when employed too contrastively.Analytic Psychologists are likely to (as did Carl G. Jung, in accord with divine communications received by him in his own dreams, which he described in his then-secret Red Book) reckon deities as aspects of one's own soul, and thus largely introjective; but K. M. described them as entirely projective (external to self). It could be more useful to refer to them (introjection-projection dyads) as alternating repraesentations (phases) of the same divine entity-interactions, with basically no inhaerent differences between the two members of a dyad. Each deity is indistinguishably a higher aspect (oversoul) of oneself, and also a transcendental meaning beyond the mutable self. [written Dec 2 2014]}

p. 40 "unconsciously"?

"Proto-scientists, Balagangadhara [1994] holds, self-consciously eliminated Christ ..., but retained unconsciously a theistic cosmology".

{These so-called "proto-scientists" must be the founders of the Renaissance, who indeed defied Christianity, but substituted (very much consciously!) in its stead Hermetism/Hermeticism devoted to Hermes Tris-megistos the Good Shepherd.}

Balagangadhara 1994 = S. N. Balagangadhara : "The Heathen in His Blindness ..." : Asia, the West, and the Dynamic of Religion. Leiden : E. J. Brill.

p. 41 "rampant emotionalism"

"Boas disdained ... rampant emotionalism. ... Still, his extended essay, The Mind of Primitive Man ([1911] ...), deplored the foundational irrational ... of the human species. ...

{Because all ethics (both public and private) is based on emotionalism -- emotions such as pity, mercy, good will, etc. -- it would be quite frivolous and detrimental to deride or to ignore it. To be emotionless is to be unkindly, pitiless, merciless, -- is that the set of traits advocated and endorsed by Franz Boas?}

Boas did not dismiss indigenous intelligence alone. He also condemned the ...

mindlessness of ... lower class immigrants {to the United States, mainly from Europe}."

{It ought to be remarked that not only immigrants, but also other persons in almost any subordinate social situation often need to feign mindlessness in order to evade being persecuted by officials-in-charge. I myself have been in such situations (while confined with an "insane asylum", for example -- there I was in peril from the psychiatrists, who are in the habit of brutally killing with cyanide anyone suspected of being intellectually capable of resisting their fraudulent praetensions).}

p. 41 "supernaturalism" absent from AmerIndian religions?!

"Boas ... described indigenous peoples' non-human persons as "deities", not noticing that supernaturalism failed to fit either their ontological conception or religious practice."

{Actually, supernaturalism is very much in accord with AmerIndian ontology (of regarding the dreaming-world as more real than the waking-world), and with AmerIndian religious practice (of seeking deities in dreams and in visions).} {It would be more accurate to state that supernaturalism is absent from religions of ruling-class-controlled societies, for there the sine qua non of supernaturalism -- namely, trusting in dreams and in visions, or in spirit-mediumship -- is largely absent.}

p. 41 motivations

"Boas ... did not recognize the motivations -- needs, desires and expectations -- drawing together human and non-human persons."

{If Franz Boas neglected motivations, the author (K.M.) hath neglected the deities who are the objective and source of the motivations. For if contactees with the supernatural are motivated, it would make some difference whether those motivations are justifiable or not; and to the author (K.M.) such motivations must be unjustifiable, for he apparently (much like Franz Boas allegation that the deities are inexistent) would regard the deities as insignificant.}

{The themes which the author (K.M.M.) is ascribing specificly to Boas are actually features imposed on Boas by the university, as dictated by the university's ploutokrat-financiers. The same ploutokrat-financiers were imposing the same themes on all other paragons (such as, professors) of the academic world of that aira.}

p. 42 (quoted from Hallowell 1924/1926:8-9) Hallowell's anthropology

"Animals ... have essentially the same sort of animating agency which man possesses.

{a similar consciousness/awareness}

They have a language of their own,

{The animals supposedly speak a human-like language among themselves whenever human are out of earshot -- this model being based on dream-experiences.}

can understand what human beings say and do,

{They supposedly understand humans better than humans understand themselves.}

have forms of social or tribal organization, and live a life which is parallel in other respects to that of human societies.

{The animals make use of the same sort of cultural accoutrements as do humans (wigwams, bows-and-arrows, etc. etc.) whenever they are out of sight of humans; but all these vanish (temporarily) whenever humans are about to catch sight of them -- again, this model is based on dream-experiences.}

Magical or supernatural powers are also at the disposal of certain species; they metamorphize themselves ..., upon occasion, into human form;

{This is all very feasible to such animals because the animals are assumed to be the waking-world countreparts of the fully-divine animal-deities which are to be encountred during dreaming.}

some of them may utilize their powers to aid man in his pursuits ... .

{just as their fully-divine forms would in the dream-world}

Dreams may become a specialized means of communication between man and animals,

{When dreams are actually employed for such communication (animal-deities talking with humans in dreamings), this is known as shamanry, and highly esteemed by all involved.}

or by the interpretation of the cries or movements of certain creatures, man may be able to guide his destiny for good or ill.

{This is a process of taking omens from animals (while the human observer is awake). It is more reliable if the human practitioner be a shaman with spirit-helpers (operating in dreams) already in those animals' guises.}

Animals may become deities on their own account,

{referring to animals encountred in dreams or in waking visions (phantasms)}

or the temporary

{Actual occupation of an animal by a deity may occur, occasionally with the result that the wild game-animal wandreth into a human encampment, and is slain there by human hunters (examples of this being from Hudson-Bay area and from tropical-forest South America).}

or permanent abode of "gods" or "spirits,"

{This is usually in the form of a wild praedator-animal's persistently assisting a human hunter.}

or for other reasons come to assume an especially sacred character.

{such as, a dolphin's regularly guiding ships into port}

They may also become the messengers of a deity,

{such as, birds whose calls indicate the presence of prey-beasts}

play the role of "guardian spirits" to man, become culture heroes or a demiurge.

{such as, in many myths}

On the other hand, a belief in the transmigration of human souls into animal form may prevail.

{this being commonplace in, e.g., certain isles Indonesia}

Frequently, too, animals appear in the ancestral tree of man".

{as in totem-poles of British Columbia}

Hallowell 1924/1926 = A. Irving Hallowell : "Bear Ceremonialism in the Northern Hemisphere". AMER ANTHROPOLOGIST 28:1-175.

{In actuality, the human-style language, human-style material culture, powers of metamorphosis, etc. are proprely considered to be traits only of the anthropoid deities who control the animal-species, who never so much as display any of this to the ordinary waking-world animals themselves -- for those ordinary animals would be spooked and frightened by noticing any of it. Although the animals' divine controllers remain invisible (except to shamans) in the waking state, they (and their cultural accoutrements) are quite visible when visited by humans in dreams.}

pp. 44-6 defiance against strictly materialist scientism

p. 44

[quoted from Hallowell 1942, p. 1] "No one is more aware than the ethnologist that human beings always live in a meaningful universe, not in a world of bare physical objects and events."

{And no one is more in denial of this fact than the strict materialist, who must totally deny even the possibility of the existence of any meaning nor purpose anywhere in the universe, or at least must assert that any semblance of meaning or of purpose whatsoever is sheer illusion to be fiercely combatted.}

p. 45

"his famous essay "Ojibwa Ontology" (1960) ... republished the ... "Ojibwa Metaphysics of Being"".

p. 46

""Ojibwa Ontology" (1960) ... substitutes ... the concept pimadaziwin."

Hallowell 1942 = Alfred Irving Hallowell : The Role of Conjuring in Saulteaux Society. Philadelphia : Univ of PA Pr; Oxford University Press, 1942. (reprinted NY : Octagon Bks, 1971)

{Ojibway & Ottawa polite generosity : "Pimadaziwin counters such socially disapproved and collectively disruptive acts as inhospitality, stinginess, greediness, and, especially, ridicule. ... achieving this goal requires constructive interaction on the part of each person with "dream visitors" who confer power on the individual to overcome personal adversity (1955:121)." (Melissa A. Pflüg : ""Pimadaziwin" : Contemporary Rituals in Odawa Community". AMERICAN INDIAN QUARTERLY, Vol. 20, No. 3/4, Special Issue: To Hear the Eagles Cry : Contemporary Themes in Native American Spirituality. (Summer - Autumn, 1996), pp. 489-513.) http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1185789?uid=3739896&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21104927577547 }

Hallowell 1955 = Alfred Irving Hallowell : Culture and Experience. Philadelphia : Univ of PA Pr.

p. 46 pronoun-based "philosophy"

(The author admireth Martin Buber's pronoun-oriented "philosophy" of "I-It modes of intersubjectivity", etc.)

{Pronoun-based metaphysics is too meagre and limited to be useful. Freud's "Ego-Id" distinction is, in fact, worse than useless.}

p. 47 conceptual slippage in anthropology

"Hallowell's ... conceptual slippage ...

{This false allegation on K.M.M.'s part is itself based on deliberate slippage.}

confounds (a) subjective belief with philosophical and behavioural integrity, and

{Wrong! AmerIndian religions are based firmly on in integrity within one's dreaming, on ethical dealings with deities therein.}

(b) non-empirical spirituality with empirical experience."

{False! All spiritual evidences are entirely empeirical, whereas materialism is a fallacious delusion.}

pp. 48-9 intentional, relational, interpersonal causality

p. 48

"Indigenous understandings of causality ... are

knowledge systems (not belief systems) {but, if so, they could not include material objects, for materialism is a mere fanciful belief-based conjecture}

{Unlike the idiotic and absurd systems of Yhudism, Christianity, and >islam, AmerIndian (and most African) metaphysics is securely based in direct personal experience (including of encountres with deities in dreams or in visions).}

that stress the intentional, relational and interpersonal character of reality ... .

{The only actual reality is the dream-universe, whereas material-world relations are mere fanciful illusion.}

p. 49

Indigenous peoples ... stress

who is dividually, and therefore collectively, acting, rather than what causes.

{The "who" would mainly be waking-world humans and dreaming-world deities. The "what" would be mere inert material substances, which are not deemed capable of independent action.}

They emphasize interdependence, influence, mutual responsibility and respect".

{Yea : but primarily in regard to supernatural deities encountred in one's dreamings.}

pp. 50-1 universality of cosmic interrelations, etc.

p. 50

"Hallowell expressed dissatisfaction with cultural relativism, suspecting that

a personal universalism existed behind cultural differences. ...

{The "personal universalism" is a public ethics which is everywhere accepted and revered -- except by class-ruled tyrannies (such as feudalism and capitalism), which unethically plunder and enslave the world's populations, proving the viciousness of their social system and of their violently despotic monotheism.}

p. 51

Hallowell also extended the meaning of sociality to include cosmic interactions."

{The term "cosmic interactions" would necessarily mean 'relationships with or amongst cosmic deities'.}

p. 51 fallacies of standard anthropology

"Cartesian anthropology has followed three trajectories that have undercut the interpersonal meaning of the term "social" ... .

First, Cartesian science has made objectivity the be-all and end-all of research; this claim is conceptually slippery because

{Not at all! Descartes made subjectivity (such as, "I think and therefore I am") foremost in his metaphysics, which is famous for its intensely subjective viewpoint.}

objectivity ... ignores the fact that social life is ... interpersonal.

{The most significant aspect of our social life is our social interactions with deities, such social interactions transpiring mainly during dreaming.}

Second, Cartesian science contends that any aspect of life that cannot be ... made subject to ... replicable test ...

{Descartes's subjectivity-based science must be essentially restricted, in replicable tests, to personal experiences.}

exists in a non-empirical ... places ... ;

{The material world is thus non-empeircal.}

if animism is an ... inter-species heritage, this contention is not true.

{The religious content of "inter-species heritage" is entirely confined to dreaming and trancing, and therefore this contention is entirely true.}

Third, sociality emerged in Cartesian thought only as reifications ... (the patterns, but not the motivations of social life), ... ceremonial organizations and

the patterns of ritual activities (but not the everyday communicative rationale and efficacy)."

{What is pertinent is not the "everyday, but rather the "everynight" (viz., during dreaming) communication and its rationale.}

p. 52 animist meaningfulness vs. "scholarly" overlooking (neglecting) of meaningful knowing and of valuing

"Animism compels us to recognize impersonal, subjective and interpersonal meanings, and thus the slippery hybridities that/who emerge from cross-cultural encounters (... Christen 2009; Shorter 2009; Vilac,a & Wright 2009; Lokensgard 2010).

{Because animism is a metaphysics of relating souls to bodies, and waking-state beings to dreaming-state entities, pertinent hybridities would be the dreaming/waking composite, and the dreaming/trancing composite.}

Scholars ... have depersonalized "nature", ... and have overlooked worlds of engaged being, relational ways of knowing and other-oriented valuing."

{The only actually pertinent forms of "nature" are the metaphysical nature of the dreaming-universe, and also of the trancing-universe.}

Christen 2009 = K. Christen : Aboriginal Business. Santa Fe` (NM) : SAR Pr.

Shorter 2009 = David Delgado Shorter : We Will Dance Our Truth : ... Yoeme Performances. Lincoln : Univ of NE Pr.

Vilac,a & Wright 2009 = A. Vilac,a & R. M. Wright (edd.) : Native Christians : ... Christianity among Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Burlington (VT) : Ashgate Publ.

Lokensgard 2010 = Kenneth Hayes Lokensgard : Blackfoot Religion ... . Farnham (Surrey); Burlington (VT) : Ashgate Publ.


Graham Harvey (ed.) : Handbook of Contemporary Animism. Acumen Publ, Durham; ISD, Bristol, 2013.