It is the introduction to David E. Young and Jean-Guy Goulet's edited volume "Being Changed by Cross-Cultural Encounters: The Anthropology of Extraordinary Experience." The introduction gives a good idea of the general approach to extraordinary experience employed by Young and Goulet in editing the book, and should serve as a useful spring-board for thinking about different ways of thinking about anomalous experience. What do such experiences mean? How should we interpret them? How do we treat experience as data? What are their implications? What does it mean to accept the "native" interpretation? Should we accept the native interpretation? Where does the anthropologists' responsibility lie? These are important questions and I hope they stimulate some interesting discussion. (P.S. I heartily recommend the book).
Post by markschroll on Sept 11, 2012 0:06:17 GMT -5
I'm unable to access this article due to my lack of knowledge of how to use the Internet tools of this forum. I have previously read and discussed in a 2010 publication "Toward a New Kind of Science and its Methods of Inquiry" I had in Anthropology of Consciousness, 23 (1), 1-19, the article Goulet, Jean-Guy A. and Bruce Granville Miller. 2007 Introduction: Embodied Knowledge: Steps toward a Radical Anthropology of Cross-cultural Encounters. In Extraordinary Anthropology: Transformations in the Field. J.-G.A. Goulet and B.G. Miller, eds. Pp. 1–13. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. Is the article you posted from this book? Let me know and I hope I'm able to figure out how to view this article you posted, Jack, without making a trip to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln library as I'm busy with other papers for the next couple of weeks. I'll wait for your reply before I post any substantive comment, and thanks for creating this forum!
Post by markschroll on Sept 11, 2012 4:09:46 GMT -5
I just read this brief Introduction, and I too revisited these concerns in my article "Toward a New Kind of Science and its Methods of Inquiry" (cited in a previous post); it's a summary of wrestling with these concerns for more than 20 years. I argue that if you're going to investigate shamanism or any extraordinary experience you need to experience them, be transformed by them, and write about them using Jurgen W. Kremer's ethnoautobiographical methodology. This approach does not exclude quantitative (objective) methods of analysis. We need both. Moreover arguing for one approach over another is just a huge waste of time, yet journals, books and conferences have invested themselves in "proving" that one approach is superior to the other. Indeed spending so much time arguing about methodology that there isn't any time left to discuss actual experiences. Hence the thesis I argue for in "Toward a New Kind of Science and its Methods of Inquiry."
Similarly the Emil Durkheim view of "social facts" is not a position I to which I subscribe. This is like saying if people believe in the Easter Bunny it is "real" because people believe it is real. Some people (like Felicitas Goodman) were okay with investigating shamanism as a "social fact," and this is her choice--and its an approach that has filled libraries. If this is valid research, we might as well include studying people who hunt Easter eggs. I have referred to this as "ritualistic symbolism without somatic understanding" (Schroll, 2005). See "Toward a Physical Theory of Religion." Anthropology of Consciousness, 16 (1), 56-69. Consequently I do not subscribe to this "social facts" or "belief systems" approach because it does not help us to answer the question if "possession states", "divination," or "extraordinary healing" is real. Because if these phenomenon are not real (what I have called in Schroll 2005 "a somatic tradition of mystical experience", then I have better things to do with my time. By "mysticism" I mean more precisely "transpersonal states of consciousness" that produce phenomenon we refer to as "psi" or "psychical". Likewise if someone can prove that psi, or psychical or transpersonal states do not exist, then okay, because I have plenty of other things to work on. But then you are going to have to convince me that a lifetime of experiencing a variety of extraordinary phenomena is the result of my having a mental illness, or repeated misinterpretation, or that I'm just plain lying. But if that were the case I could simply write science fiction and horror stories and save myself a lot of trouble.
Finally I am open to "multiple interpretations of reality" across cultures. I support this because for those of us who grow up in cultures dominated by Euro-American science (such as the USA, Canada, Australia, Ireland, England, Scotland, Western Europe, and increasingly everywhere the Internet can reach) we are enculturated to believe only in material reality. Because of this, I believe it is another way of blocking our inquiry to say that "extraordinary experiences" are not necessarily from another dimension. If these phenomenon are not from another dimension, then they are part of material reality--and if this ends up being proved as true its okay--but I don't want to waste my time studying them. Because I want to know if there is an "ultimate reality", and this is why I've spent more than half my life engaged in conversations with physicists and philosophers.
Finally I have only been speaking in broad general terms here as I lay out my position. I look forward to getting into specific examples of extraordinary phenomenon and discussing ways to experimentally investigate these phenomenon.
Post by Jack Hunter on Sept 11, 2012 4:48:43 GMT -5
I do not subscribe to this "social facts" or "belief systems" approach because it does not help us to answer the question if "possession states", "divination," or "extraordinary healing" is real. Because if these phenomenon are not real (what I have called in Schroll 2005 "a somatic tradition of mystical experience", then I have better things to do with my time.
So Mark, would you say that it is incumbent upon researchers to assess the truth value of experiences of, for example, telepathy while in the field? To find quantifiable evidence that it was a genuine phenomenon? A sort of parapsychological anthropology?
Post by markschroll on Sept 12, 2012 4:17:48 GMT -5
The researcher in the field who encounters phenomenon such as telepathy should begin with an accurate as possible ethnoautobiographical account. This will provide a starting point for further inquiry toward assessing the authenticity of this experience. Examples of how this is done can be found in Krippner, S. & Villoldo, A. (1986) The Realms of Healing. (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Harper & Row, and in Villoldo, A. & Krippner, S. (1987). Healing States. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
I'm continuing to make revisions on the Bohm articles for the project with Charles Laughlin, so I'm unable to write more at this time. I hope what I've said helps (and I'm still figuring out how to use this forum).
I'm currently reading this book. Very interesting stuff. Even better than the paranthropology anthology.
A few thoughts so far:
Is it the way we perceived reality that is malleable or is it reality itself? I find the idea of reality being malleable to be difficult to agree with. We find that idea a lot in parapsychology, with people like Dean Radin claiming that thoughts can alter reality big time, even future thoughts could "come back" from the future and alter current reality. The thing is, if reality is truly malleable that way by thoughts and/or by cultures (and so on), science is not possible. How can you replicate experiments if reality is changing all the time? And if replications are not possible how science as a project is possible? The fact that science was so far possible in human history seems for me to point to the fact that reality is somehow stable. Of course, reality can be stable but it's possible that we don't perceive all it can be based on our culture. That's an interesting speculation.
The first article about dreams: I agree with the author that enthnographers should be allowed to relate dreams as they affect the way they interact with native people, as part of their fieldwork. But beyond that, I didn't see anything truly paranormal in her account. It's still interesting that in that culture dreams play a more important role than in western culture (except in psychoanalysis interpretation of dreams maybe).