Some notions, every week. Here are some:
Objectivity is Impossible
I’m back at uni now finishing my journalism degree but this semester, the only unit I have is an anthropology elective: Anthropology of Witch-Hunts. I’ve always wanted to be a witch and always been obsessed with the sometimes radical differences between human cultures and societies. So, this is great!
One of the key concepts in the discipline (at least the way we’re being taught it) is methodological relativism. That is, anthropologists should not be interested in whether a cultural belief or practice is good or bad, but simply what it means for members of that culture. We should put aside moral judgements in order to better understand.
This is an attempt to remain objective. But to me, it just proves the impossibility of objectivity. If I was accused of being a witch or sorcerer and marked for death by my community, I might well see the anthropologist sitting back and watching as very biased. After all, they are elevating their own desires (for academic excellence and methodological purity) above human life…
A phone lock screen can serve as a therapeutic tool. Most of us look at our phone dozens of times a day, and having something beautiful, affirming, comforting, or inspiring there can be pretty powerful. Here’s mine:
That’s my daughter and my guitar, aka the loves of my life. The words ‘Breathe, choose’ are partly an instruction and partly a reminder. Breathe, then choose, is wise advice. But these words also remind me that I can stop and take that breath; I am still breathing and while I’m still breathing I can make choices, even if the only choice left to me is to just breathe.
“People who do not see their choices do not believe they have choices. They tend to respond automatically, blindly influenced by their circumstances and conditioning. Mindfulness, by helping us notice our impulses before we act, gives us the opportunity to decide whether to act and how to act.” Gil Fronsdal
Approaching Death with Curiosity
Meditating on the inevitability of my own death is one of those counterintuitive things that makes me happier. I’ve been thinking a lot about how death is not just some endpoint to everything we know, nor is it just a reel-change between this life and some hereafter – it’s the last experience we will ever have!
Given that my death will be the last chance I have to savour my one, strange life, I hope to approach it with curiosity.
. . .
Got any notions of your own or notions about my notions? Put your notions in the notion-box below or, if the notion strikes you, swing me a like!
You can read last week’s Notions here
You can read next week’s Notions here
The image used for all these posts is artwork from a Magic: the Gathering card called ‘Horde of Notions‘. It’s beautiful.