From Nature and/or Culture to Cosmos

During the 20th century the distinction between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ has played an important role in modern intellectual life.

The notion of ‘nature’ presumes some kind of privileged ability on that part of ‘naturalists’ to directly access ‘reality’.

In  ‘reality’ Naturalists employ a cultural code to craft representations and to judge the well-formed-ness of such representations.

And ‘culture’ – seen so often in opposition to ‘nature’ – is itself part of what we would classify as ‘nature’ if we opted to use such a category.

There is no resolution to such a paradox.

Rather, accepting the implications, accepting that ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ have their limits as conceptual tools, we may gain a fleeting insight into an almost electric ‘thing’ which is greater than either of those parts of life when viewed through there prism like filters.

I find that defining "cosmos" as "nature+culture" provides an ability to move beyond those limits.

In place of cross-cultural studies and cultural fieldwork, i prefer to talk of cross-cosmos explorations, in which it is necessary to attempt to gain some understanding of how life must be experienced in different Ways.

Not that i  have it all figured out – far from it.

But – this i know – we in the West must stop looking so hard with Westernising eyes at the Ways of other peoples.

We must cease this process of trying to ‘objectify’ the lives of different peoples.

The task we set ourselves by such presumptions – the study of other peoples –  can never be achieved. The presumptions of privilege are misplaced.

What we can achieve are better means of relating from one cosmos to another.

And then we realise that what other peoples require at this time is not to be better understood in terms of modern anthropology but to have the space to breath!

A lot more Zen is required, and a lot less modern academic ‘stuff’.


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