Notions #4 – Meeting Death with Curiosity

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…

 

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Members of the Azande – a culture in which any misfortune, from a death in the family to stubbing one’s toe, might lead to the murder of a ‘witch’

 

Breathe, Choose

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:

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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

b98142c90a5e515acd2dee8e9e901930Meditating 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.

9 thoughts on “Notions #4 – Meeting Death with Curiosity

  1. Hi kinchski,

    I submitted this comment just a few minutes ago, and somehow it disappeared. So here is my third attempt:

    This is a somewhat multifaceted post; or a post with multifaceted notions, of which I applaud, given my own multidisciplinary backgrounds and degrees.

    I would like to extend the narratives and territories of your post further with the following. Regarding objectivity and anthropology, you are welcome to read the section “Compromise and Subjectivity: Special Pleading and Relativist Fallacy” in my special post published at soundeagle.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/the-quotation-fallacy/

    Whilst you are there, look for the three theories: social constructivism, social constructionism and symbolic interactionism.

    Like

    1. Hi there, not being a WordPress tech I can’t help with the disappearing comments.. How annoying though!

      I’ve only just started looking into Anthropology, so interested to learn more, thanks for the link!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My earlier comments disappeared probably because they have been relegated to the spam folder. You can always unspam them.

        I suspect that changing a setting on commenting may be the solution such that commenters may leave web links in their comments without the risk of WordPress automatically consigning their comments to the spam or junk folder. 🙂

        Like

      2. Please be informed that you might need to use a desktop or laptop computer with a large screen to view the rich multimedia contents available for heightening your multisensory enjoyment at my websites, some of which could be too powerful and feature-rich for iPad, iPhone, tablet or other portable devices to handle properly or adequately.

        Like

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