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Cultural Traditions and Narrative. 

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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07 May 2019 20:19
 
Jefe - 06 May 2019 06:21 PM

A helpful way to approach this might be to ensure egalitarian laws and social structures are in place to preserve traditions, customs and heritage sites (the good bits) while ensuring that groups are prevented from violating the egalitarian rights and privileges of others outside of their traditions, customs and sites.

A modicum of obey the laws of the land to help prevent the harmful traditions and customs might also be a nice touch.

This way all the traditions personally held ( that don’t hurt or negatively affect others)  can be followed to a citizenry’s heart’s content, so long as they aren’t bugging other citizens.  And under-cover ugliness can be prevented/punished - so we don’t end up with ‘traditional involuntary amputation’....etc…

I guess my concern is about so called ‘good bits’. How do we qualify that?

I feel like a lot of our calendar observations are neutral at best. I think a lot of them, while not directly harmful any longer preserve and provoke harmful things. Nationalism, chauvinism, war, gluttony, racism, sexual exploitation and so on. I’m not passing judgment necessarily. The Cleveland Indians logo might well be just harmless fun. I’m just wanting some kind of structure that makes the decision to keep or discard these things consistent.

Further, I think bad in general that we celebrate things compulsively out of habit and product placement with little to no effort invested into their origins or significance. Most major holidays in the U.S. I’d argue. Do you think that it’s enough to say ‘well, the kids enjoy it’? (Trading religion for holidays but, again use whatever example you like)

 

 

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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07 May 2019 20:39
 
Brick Bungalow - 07 May 2019 08:19 PM
Jefe - 06 May 2019 06:21 PM

A helpful way to approach this might be to ensure egalitarian laws and social structures are in place to preserve traditions, customs and heritage sites (the good bits) while ensuring that groups are prevented from violating the egalitarian rights and privileges of others outside of their traditions, customs and sites.

A modicum of obey the laws of the land to help prevent the harmful traditions and customs might also be a nice touch.

This way all the traditions personally held ( that don’t hurt or negatively affect others)  can be followed to a citizenry’s heart’s content, so long as they aren’t bugging other citizens.  And under-cover ugliness can be prevented/punished - so we don’t end up with ‘traditional involuntary amputation’....etc…

I guess my concern is about so called ‘good bits’. How do we qualify that?

I feel like a lot of our calendar observations are neutral at best. I think a lot of them, while not directly harmful any longer preserve and provoke harmful things. Nationalism, chauvinism, war, gluttony, racism, sexual exploitation and so on. I’m not passing judgment necessarily. The Cleveland Indians logo might well be just harmless fun. I’m just wanting some kind of structure that makes the decision to keep or discard these things consistent.

Further, I think bad in general that we celebrate things compulsively out of habit and product placement with little to no effort invested into their origins or significance. Most major holidays in the U.S. I’d argue. Do you think that it’s enough to say ‘well, the kids enjoy it’? (Trading religion for holidays but, again use whatever example you like)

I’m sure there are well-being and mental health stats out there that demonstrate a benefit from holidays and anticipation of the time - whether it be religious, family-time, or a break from the routine of work/school.

Anecdotally, when my sister-in-law was suffering from spinal cancer many years ago, we ensured that there was a holiday on the near horizon for her, booked to someplace she drew pleasure from visiting.  The anticipation and planning for these holidays helped stave off her depression about the terminal nature of her condition.

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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08 May 2019 04:06
 

For my part I don’t remember what our disagreements about monotheism are.  I’m not even sure what position I hold on it, absent a context of specific concerns or questions.  But as you say, let’s move on.

Of course I consider some cultural traditions immoral and maladaptive.  Some have to be, since some cultural traditions enshrine our attempts at moral norms, and it will hardly do to say everything we come up with is good and adaptive.  Harris offers one example of a society where its primary cultural organization is, for all intents and purposes, built around maladaptivity; the Taliban, as he says, offers another.  I agree with both his examples, though not the use to which he puts them.  But in any case, asserting perfect adaptive equilibrium in our traditions would make about as much sense as asserting absolute knowledge in science.

That said, I am still unclear what these outwardly benign traditions harboring dangerous tendencies toward intuition are.  The examples you give are not going to regress to their behavioral origins through continued use absent a complete breakdown of our society, and this fact seems to me sufficient evidence that their barbaric or toxic origins have already been adequately thrown away.  If you have more specific examples in mind for your central concern, I’d be interested.  I am just not seeing what that concern is, beyond the generality—the certainly true generality—that “bad culture informs bad intuitions.”

The best I can do at this point is suggest that certainly commemorating immoral events or figures is morally offensive, and rightly so, to victims of those events, as well as to their moral supporters.  So Calhoun Street should go.  So should statues of Robert E. Lee.  But that said, I don’t think commemorating those assholes runs any risk of leading us back to a pro-slavery position, much less a civil war (e.g. their toxic origins), even if—as happens with the alt-right—these symbols become, because they are already implicitly, racist symbolism.  But even with these I have to ask: do the commemorations they represent breed bad intuitions, or are these bad intuitions brought sui generis to them, and then gather around them?  Are they creating toxic or barbaric behaviors or are they serving as a focal point for existing ones that would otherwise already be there, ones we need means of dealing with such that removing these offensive commemorations are only the first and rather ineffective step?  This question seems to me the question that emerges from your concerns here.

Would you agree?

[ Edited: 08 May 2019 05:47 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Garret
 
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Garret
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08 May 2019 06:18
 

Cleared, since we’re moving on.

[ Edited: 08 May 2019 06:22 by Garret]
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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08 May 2019 07:41
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 08 May 2019 04:06 AM

For my part I don’t remember what our disagreements about monotheism are.  I’m not even sure what position I hold on it, absent a context of specific concerns or questions.  But as you say, let’s move on.

Of course I consider some cultural traditions immoral and maladaptive.  Some have to be, since some cultural traditions enshrine our attempts at moral norms, and it will hardly do to say everything we come up with is good and adaptive.  Harris offers one example of a society where its primary cultural organization is, for all intents and purposes, built around maladaptivity; the Taliban, as he says, offers another.  I agree with both his examples, though not the use to which he puts them.  But in any case, asserting perfect adaptive equilibrium in our traditions would make about as much sense as asserting absolute knowledge in science.

That said, I am still unclear what these outwardly benign traditions harboring dangerous tendencies toward intuition are.  The examples you give are not going to regress to their behavioral origins through continued use absent a complete breakdown of our society, and this fact seems to me sufficient evidence that their barbaric or toxic origins have already been adequately thrown away.  If you have more specific examples in mind for your central concern, I’d be interested.  I am just not seeing what that concern is, beyond the generality—the certainly true generality—that “bad culture informs bad intuitions.”

The best I can do at this point is suggest that certainly commemorating immoral events or figures is morally offensive, and rightly so, to victims of those events, as well as to their moral supporters.  So Calhoun Street should go.  So should statues of Robert E. Lee.  But that said, I don’t think commemorating those assholes runs any risk of leading us back to a pro-slavery position, much less a civil war (e.g. their toxic origins), even if—as happens with the alt-right—these symbols become, because they are already implicitly, racist symbolism.  But even with these I have to ask: do the commemorations they represent breed bad intuitions, or are these bad intuitions brought sui generis to them, and then gather around them?  Are they creating toxic or barbaric behaviors or are they serving as a focal point for existing ones that would otherwise already be there, ones we need means of dealing with such that removing these offensive commemorations are only the first and rather ineffective step?  This question seems to me the question that emerges from your concerns here.

Would you agree?

I’m still forming an opinion which is why I solicit input.

I don’t think it’s necessarily an imminent risk of returning to slavery or infanticide or whatever the case may be. It’s more a matter of stultifying potential progress by celebrating something regressive to our current state.

Also, I feel like mindless adherence to traditions simply cannot be great for cultural progress. Particularly when our traditions in the U.S. are so subject to the revisions of target marketing. It may not be a danger exactly but it isn’t empowering. Our popular Christmas images, for instance are essentially Coca Cola illustrations. I feel like we could do better than that.

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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08 May 2019 08:47
 
Brick Bungalow - 08 May 2019 07:41 AM
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 08 May 2019 04:06 AM

For my part I don’t remember what our disagreements about monotheism are.  I’m not even sure what position I hold on it, absent a context of specific concerns or questions.  But as you say, let’s move on.

Of course I consider some cultural traditions immoral and maladaptive.  Some have to be, since some cultural traditions enshrine our attempts at moral norms, and it will hardly do to say everything we come up with is good and adaptive.  Harris offers one example of a society where its primary cultural organization is, for all intents and purposes, built around maladaptivity; the Taliban, as he says, offers another.  I agree with both his examples, though not the use to which he puts them.  But in any case, asserting perfect adaptive equilibrium in our traditions would make about as much sense as asserting absolute knowledge in science.

That said, I am still unclear what these outwardly benign traditions harboring dangerous tendencies toward intuition are.  The examples you give are not going to regress to their behavioral origins through continued use absent a complete breakdown of our society, and this fact seems to me sufficient evidence that their barbaric or toxic origins have already been adequately thrown away.  If you have more specific examples in mind for your central concern, I’d be interested.  I am just not seeing what that concern is, beyond the generality—the certainly true generality—that “bad culture informs bad intuitions.”

The best I can do at this point is suggest that certainly commemorating immoral events or figures is morally offensive, and rightly so, to victims of those events, as well as to their moral supporters.  So Calhoun Street should go.  So should statues of Robert E. Lee.  But that said, I don’t think commemorating those assholes runs any risk of leading us back to a pro-slavery position, much less a civil war (e.g. their toxic origins), even if—as happens with the alt-right—these symbols become, because they are already implicitly, racist symbolism.  But even with these I have to ask: do the commemorations they represent breed bad intuitions, or are these bad intuitions brought sui generis to them, and then gather around them?  Are they creating toxic or barbaric behaviors or are they serving as a focal point for existing ones that would otherwise already be there, ones we need means of dealing with such that removing these offensive commemorations are only the first and rather ineffective step?  This question seems to me the question that emerges from your concerns here.

Would you agree?

I’m still forming an opinion which is why I solicit input.

I don’t think it’s necessarily an imminent risk of returning to slavery or infanticide or whatever the case may be. It’s more a matter of stultifying potential progress by celebrating something regressive to our current state.

Also, I feel like mindless adherence to traditions simply cannot be great for cultural progress. Particularly when our traditions in the U.S. are so subject to the revisions of target marketing. It may not be a danger exactly but it isn’t empowering. Our popular Christmas images, for instance are essentially Coca Cola illustrations. I feel like we could do better than that.

I agree as a principle that celebrating something regressive stultifies progress without being sure what you mean by this, either operationally or in terms of examples.  If you mean by not having a formed opinion yet that this this is a work in progress, then consider me an interested audience should you eventually form one.

 

 
Garret
 
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Garret
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09 May 2019 00:27
 

I would add that things like monuments and traditions reiterate specific interpretations of the past.  A monument requires power and authority to construct and maintain.  Typically this is invested in the government, though some private monuments do exist (but these still require power and authority).

Traditions and ceremony usually don’t require power or authority, but rather create links to the past, which can be used by authority to create legitimacy.

In the case of a Robert E. Lee statue, this is a reiteration of the honor in fighting to maintain slavery.  Even if the idea of slavery itself isn’t explicitly upheld, the statue celebrates the “honor” with which he fought.  It is an overt attempt to recharacterize the Civil War into something it wasn’t.  Most of those monuments were part of a concerted effort to rebrand the South into the “lost cause” of freedom.  These statues are not an accident that just happen to celebrate people from the Confederacy.  They are a deliberate attempt to rewrite history that has largely been successful. (If someone wants to argue different, I will only take you seriously if you cite primary sources.)

In the case of Coca Cola using images of Christmas, it is using these links to our traditions to establish the legitimacy of its ubiquity in our lives.

[ Edited: 09 May 2019 00:29 by Garret]
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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09 May 2019 07:44
 
Garret - 09 May 2019 12:27 AM

I would add that things like monuments and traditions reiterate specific interpretations of the past.  A monument requires power and authority to construct and maintain.  Typically this is invested in the government, though some private monuments do exist (but these still require power and authority).

Traditions and ceremony usually don’t require power or authority, but rather create links to the past, which can be used by authority to create legitimacy.

In the case of a Robert E. Lee statue, this is a reiteration of the honor in fighting to maintain slavery.  Even if the idea of slavery itself isn’t explicitly upheld, the statue celebrates the “honor” with which he fought.  It is an overt attempt to recharacterize the Civil War into something it wasn’t.  Most of those monuments were part of a concerted effort to rebrand the South into the “lost cause” of freedom.  These statues are not an accident that just happen to celebrate people from the Confederacy.  They are a deliberate attempt to rewrite history that has largely been successful. (If someone wants to argue different, I will only take you seriously if you cite primary sources.)

In the case of Coca Cola using images of Christmas, it is using these links to our traditions to establish the legitimacy of its ubiquity in our lives.

It’s necessary, I think to remember that Robert E. Lee explicitly opposed being preserved in statuary and wrote about it. The majority of those statues were not constructed immediately following the civil war but rather during the Jim Crow era. So, its really a perfect example of how a supposed ‘historical monument’ is really just a symbol of oppression.

 
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