Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Keris Warung Kopi
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 18th August 2018, 09:26 PM   #1
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,889
Default Culture & Perception

I just stumbled across this:-

http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/...section=science

I am guessing, but I imagine a very large number students of the keris would have been aware of the core matter of this study, what I find interesting is that academia has created a new discipline to study something that has been obvious to so many people for so long.

I truly do love the way in which academia functions, it seems as if there are boundless possibilities for career advancement:- too many people in front of you in your own speciality? no problem, create a new one.

But seriously, one of the recurring things that come up for discussion in this Forum is the old tangguh system of classification. I doubt that anything about keris study confuses people as much as this system does. In this article that I have linked to, you will recognise very easily the clear reasons why people from Western Cultures, and/or people who have been educated in a way that tends towards a Western Cultural pattern have very great difficulty in coming to terms with the variables that we encounter when we immerse ourselves in tangguh --- or even when we just stick our collective toe into the tangguh pond to test the water.

Put very, very simply:- if one is not Javanese, or is unable to understand the way in which Javanese people understand the world, one has very little possibility of understanding the tangguh system of keris classification --- let alone the keris itself.
A. G. Maisey is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 20th August 2018, 04:49 PM   #2
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 4,141
Default

Hi Alan,

Your view of academic thinking is not fully precise. Physics, math, biology, - "hard" sciences in general,- employ validated and objective methodologies. It is the " soft" field where your irony ( sarcasm?) is fully justified.
They create an aura of " science" mostly by employing highbrow titles for their fields of occupation. In not so distant path they would be called just "cultural anthropologists". Now they are " cultural neuroscientists". Which means, that instead of just observing people, they employ psychological tests of dubious validity and recently they got access to high-tech machinery: functional MRIs, PET scans etc. Statistical analyses are getting more and more convoluted and always support their pre-test hypotheses.


So, yes, I fully agree with you that one can only chuckle at the attention lavished on their mumbo-jumbo by the popular press. One can still recall the hilarious " Sokal Affair"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair





But there is a dark side to their popularity. They purport to show that adults from different cultures have inherent differences in the way their brains view real world and are capable of reaching logical conclusions.

Does it mean that the " analytical" approach of Western cultures largely depends on the ethnicity of the observer/analyzer? And that non-Western races by virtue of their " Oriental" or " African" upbringing are incapable of rigid scientific thinking? Were they born with their brains holistically "pre-wired" for generations or were they brought up that way by their environment ( and how about early childhood experiences?). Is a Burmese or African person by virtue of his/her ethnic origin sufficiently competitive with a Caucasian in their ability to solve analytical problems?
Are they equally suitable for participating in the modern economy/academia/ research/political life? Indeed, our glorious 21st century demands analytical
brains, and those by and large belong to the Westerners, rather than Orientals, don't they?

Somehow there is a whiff of racism there, is it not?

The original IQ tests ( early cultural neuroscience) were created to weed out mentally-feeble people from immigrating to the US. Individuals from the British Isles had the highest scores, whereas Italians and Eastern European Jews cumulated at the bottom. As a result, there were calls by the "cultural neuroscientsts" to severely limit immigration from those localities. One minor detail was conveniently omitted: the tests were administered in.... English.
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th August 2018, 07:18 PM   #3
David
Keris forum moderator
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: The Great Midwest
Posts: 5,590
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
But there is a dark side to their popularity. They purport to show that adults from different cultures have inherent differences in the way their brains view real world and are capable of reaching logical conclusions.

Does it mean that the " analytical" approach of Western cultures largely depends on the ethnicity of the observer/analyzer? And that non-Western races by virtue of their " Oriental" or " African" upbringing are incapable of rigid scientific thinking? Were they born with their brains holistically "pre-wired" for generations or were they brought up that way by their environment ( and how about early childhood experiences?). Is a Burmese or African person by virtue of his/her ethnic origin sufficiently competitive with a Caucasian in their ability to solve analytical problems?
Are they equally suitable for participating in the modern economy/academia/ research/political life? Indeed, our glorious 21st century demands analytical
brains, and those by and large belong to the Westerners, rather than Orientals, don't they?

Ariel, i believe what Alan (as well as this article) is talking about is cultural differences, not racial ones. If someone of Javanese racial origin was born and raised within the American cultural system they are likely to have a similar world view as most other Americans do (with understandable variations) and may indeed have the same trouble understanding tangguh and the keris as the average American of European decent might have. I dare say that with the Westernization that has taken hold in other parts of the world such as Indonesia that many Javanese don't even fully understand this subject as they attempt to conform to the Western ways of thinking in order to operate within an increasing world economy that is driven by the West. I do not think what we are talking about here has anything to do with the analytical capacity of various racial origins as much as how different cultures process data and apply it to their lives and cultural artifacts. I also do not think that the article suggests that people in South East Asia are not capable of analytical thinking, just that they analyze the data differently. Clearly the many great Asian minds that have been involved in countless breakthroughs in science and medicine over the years shows that people from these collectivistic cultures are quite capable of analytical thinking.
But i do believe that the territory of this question you seem to be pursuing is both off topic and inappropriate for this forum and topic. This is not the place for deep discussions on science and it's relationships to racism. I might also suggest the the term "Oriental", while sometimes used to describe objects from that area is generally considered an inappropriate when used to describe the people of that area.
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th August 2018, 10:03 PM   #4
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,889
Default

Ariel, I did not refer to "academic thinking", I referred to "academic function".

Pause a moment and you will realise that there is a gulf between these two concepts. Insofar as "academic function" is concerned the particular element of function to which I referred is just as likely to be encountered in the hard sciences as in the soft ones.

As you yourself would be well and truly aware there is a great deal of pressure placed on academics to publish:- "publish or perish". You know that as well as I do. So if publish one must, and one cannot find something new to publish about, one reviews past ideas, concepts, publications and revisits something that still has a bit of life left in it.

My remarks, and indeed my opinions, relating to some aspects of academia might better be thought of as cynical, rather than sarcastic or ironic. My cynicism has been generated by the fact that in my own family I number more than a few academics, amongst my close personal friends I can count a few more, and for many years I have assisted, let us say, "apprentice academics" in their attempts to enter a somewhat vicious calling.

However, having said all that, I do agree with your comments in respect of the so-called 'soft' fields of endeavour. I do quite a lot of reading in anthropology and related subjects, most especially as those subjects which relate to my own special interests, and sometimes I find myself very disappointed because of methodologies employed and conclusions reached --- and that is not even thinking about the demonstrable, outright, error.

But when all is said and done, I am not an integral part of academia, thus all of this is simply something that it amuses me to observe.

Forgive me, but I do feel that your reference to ethnicity and race have no part in anything that relates to my original comments. I reserve comment on your remarks in this context.
A. G. Maisey is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 21st August 2018, 11:22 PM   #5
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 4,141
Default

Alan,
I did not have you in mind.
I was referring to the article you cited. Its author clearly separates Western culture and thinking ("individualistic", "analytical" etc ) from non-Western ones ( "collectivist", "holistic" etc).

I do not like when an entire ethnicity/ race is put on a psychological couch and every member gets slapped with a uniform label.
Humans should be viewed as individuals, not as homogeneous members of a breed.

Journalists like to sensationalize any information often caricaturing the message. Their rendition of the event or thought then goes to the wide public and infects it.
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 01:07 AM   #6
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,889
Default

I agree with your comment on journalists Ariel. As a group they tend to serve the interests of the leaders of the society in which they work. There is a book by a gentleman by the name of Andre Vltchek :- "Indonesia" & a sub title something about "fear" that is perhaps one of the best commentaries of which I am aware, on Indonesian society since independence. For anybody with an interest in this part of the world it is well worth reading.

I also agree that in the article I linked to, a distinct association between ways of thought and culture is central to the author's presentation. However, I cannot agree that such an association is either factually incorrect or politically incorrect. Different societies have varying cultural bases, Australian tribal Aborigines do not see nor evaluate their world in the same way, or even a similar way, to the way in which a New York stock broker sees and evaluates his world.

Now, consider this hypothetical:- Joe Dingo's great-grandfather was 100% tribal, he lived in the north west of NSW, a pure blood Kamilaroi man.

Joe's grandfather moved into a mission station on the outskirts of Moree and learnt to read and write, obtained his lower school certificate and when he left school he got a job in the hardware store in Moree.

When Joe's father finished his 5 years of high school education he moved to Sydney. He got a job as a builder's labourer and moved into an Aboriginal community in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.

Joe needed to leave school at 14 years and 10 months of age, because his father died young and he needed to work to support his mother and younger brother and sister. He was working as a stoker at the old Bunnerong power station when the NSW government minister responsible for electricity generation made a political visit to the power station and went around glad-handing all the workers. When he got to Joe, he shook his hand had nice little political conversation with him, and in this conversation he said words to this effect:- "Joe, if you go to night school and get your intermediate certificate ( the lowest school leaving certificate in the 1950's) come and see me, and I'll get you an office job".

Well, for the minister this was just political hype, filmed and reported in the newspapers, but for Joe it was a promise of a better job and a better life. So Joe went to night school, got his certificate, contacted the minister (who had forgotten all about his promise, but made good on it anyway) and got his office job as a clerk with the government organisation that retailed electricity.

But Joe didn't stop there. He went back to night school and got himself a qualification in accountancy, then he began applying for a job as an accountant with the organisation he worked for, and he eventually got one.

Joe had two sons. They both went to Sydney University. They both finished up as lawyers, one took silk (ie, he became a barrister). I think one of Joe's sons is currently living in the USA.

I said this was a hypothetical, well the only thing that is not true in this hypo is Joe's name, his real name was Aubrey, I knew him for 30 years and he was possibly the most decent man I ever knew.

Now tell me Ariel, is it even remotely possible that Joe, or his sons thought in a way at all similar to the way in which Joe's great grandfather thought?

Of course it is not. They do not see the world in a similar way, they do not have a similar value system, they do not think in the same way as their Kamilaroi ancestor.

And why does the thought pattern change in these people?

It is because of a change in the sociocultural influences to which they were subjected.

"Culture" may be defined as " the customs, and social behaviour, and the ideas of an identified group of people, or of a society".

It is impossible to separate culture from the way in which the people who own a culture process information, and the way in which they process information both influences and is influenced by, the way in which they see their world.

Yes, I agree with you Ariel that human beings are individuals, but each individual is subject to the influence of the society in which he lives, and to its culture.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 22nd August 2018 at 08:12 AM. Reason: spelling
A. G. Maisey is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 01:34 AM   #7
David
Keris forum moderator
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: The Great Midwest
Posts: 5,590
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I was referring to the article you cited. Its author clearly separates Western culture and thinking ("individualistic", "analytical" etc ) from non-Western ones ( "collectivist", "holistic" etc).

I do not like when an entire ethnicity/ race is put on a psychological couch and every member gets slapped with a uniform label.
Humans should be viewed as individuals, not as homogeneous members of a breed.

Actually Ariel, unless i have developed some kind of block and have simply missed it despite numerous readings i cannot find the place in this article where it claims that Western individualistic thinking is "analytical" while Eastern collectivistic thinking is not. In fact i cannot locate the word "analytical" anywhere in the article at all. Clearly both individualistic and collectivistic cultures can be "analytical", but they tend to analyze in different ways. The example given in the article is the fish tank, where most collectivistic thinkers analyze the background while the individualistic thinkers focus on the fish. Both are analyzing. This is not a value judgement of good or bad, though certainly i would much prefer to consider myself a collectivistic thinker who interprets the world through a greater sense of interconnectiveness and wholeness. But the opposite of "holistic" is not "analytical".
The other misconception you seem to be working with is that this article is discussing a question of race/ethnicity. I do not believe it is. It is discussing how different cultures think and react, not different races. Though you have not seen to fit to comment upon it, i already suggested that a person that is ethnically/genetically Malay who is brought up in Western culture in most likely going to think and behave like a Westerner. Culture is a matter of nurture more than nature IMHO. I do not believe anyone is biologically disposed to one way of thinking or another based upon their DNA.

Last edited by David : 22nd August 2018 at 03:05 AM. Reason: grammar
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 08:52 AM   #8
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 4,141
Default

David,
Please re-read Alan’s reference:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/...section=science

It is quite short and you will easily find each and every word you refer to.

It speaks of societies defined as Western and non-Western and describes their prevailing way of thinking, clearly separating between the two.

Any interested reader, having read the article, will likely think about its implications. I have described the most malignant one. Hope you were able to figure out my personal attitude toward it.

There are plenty of people around who would be only glad to validate their biased attitudes by this “scientific research”.

Each and every society is composed of a multitude of individuals with various life stories. The “societal” and consequently “ethnic” or “racial” approach might have been valid in a pre-industrial era, when people born in a particular village were dying there as well, without any benefit of exposure to proper education, foreign cultures etc. Painting “ culture”, “society” , “ Western vs. non-Western” in the 21-st century as immutable definitions using a test of fish aquarium and presenting it as “neuroscience” would be laughable had it not been David Dukes around.
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 01:30 PM   #9
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,889
Default

Ariel, I choose to believe that you have moved your discussion in this present direction because of the socio-cultural influences that you yourself have been subjected to. The message that I understand from your post #8 is that in your opinion there is no longer any distinction between the multitude of societies and cultures that are spread across the world. Please forgive me if I have misunderstood the point that you are trying to make, but this is how I interpret your words.

You speak of the 'pre-industrial era', 'proper education' and so on as if these are universally available to every person on the face of this planet.

You're surely not serious, are you?

I know you to be a highly intelligent and an accomplished man, it is beyond my understanding of how a man of your intelligence and ability could form such an opinion --- if indeed this is your opinion, and I hope that you will correct me if I have misunderstood your words.

I would very gently suggest that even in societies that share a common, or related cultural foundation, there are sociocultural differences and variations that cause multi-national organisations to indulge in very diligent investigation and analysis of a target society prior to commencing operations in that society. Multi-nationals are not known to waste money on research unless they can support a very good reason for it. Even so, it seems that when some multi-nationals move into Australia from an American, or European base, they still manage to get things wrong --- and I am certain that they have similar experiences as they try to adapt to business methods and consumer culture when they move into countries other than the one they have come from.

I began this thread because I thought it might comfort a few of the dedicated students of the keris who are regular watchers and contributors, but who are still not able to come to terms with even the most basic of Javanese thought patterns in respect of the keris. The reason that they are unable to achieve these basic understandings is quite simply because they are not Javanese, they cannot understand the way in which Javanese people process information, thus they see the world around them, and of course the keris, in a different way to the way in which a Javanese person might see both the world, and the keris.

This has absolutely nothing at all to do with one frame of perception being better than another, but it does have everything to do with one frame of perception being different to another.

I consider myself fortunate in that I have had a close association with Chinese people from the age of 8, and that I have spent roughly one quarter of my life in Indonesia for the last forty-odd years. If I have learnt anything at all from this, it is that not all people from all societies perceive matters in the same way.

Here is a quote from a conversation with Noor Huda Ismail, Noor is a recognised authority on Islamic extremism in Indonesia, for a time he worked as a correspondent for the Washington Post. The discussion was about the way that Western countries see Indonesia as a buffer state that can be used to ameliorate the expansion of India & China:-

"--- our leaders are now intertwined with Western interests. They see the Western system as their role model that could help them to restore the country (ie, Indonesia). We are Asians and we have very different ways of thinking and solving problems. If our leaders continue to play this game --- defending the interests of the West in this part of the world --- they will be selling their souls and our souls to the devil."

You see Ariel, Asians recognise that the way in which they see and understand something is not necessarily the same as the way in which a highly intelligent person from a Western society might see & understand the same thing, even if those Asians themselves are also highly intelligent.
A. G. Maisey is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 02:28 PM   #10
David
Keris forum moderator
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: The Great Midwest
Posts: 5,590
Default

My humblest apologies Ariel. You are indeed correct that the word "analyical" does appear once in this article. The reason i passed it over may seem odd, but it is actually because that particular passage is enlarged, highlighted and in quotations as if it was pulled from some other part of the article. You might think that would make it more obvious, however i made the wrongheaded assumption that this was an extracted passage from the main article and passed it by assuming it was also included within the article and that i would encounter and read it in context. So there is my "block". My bad. Thank you for pointing it out to me.
That said, i still do not see how this article is posing any of this in a good vs. bad modality. It seems as artifact of your own Western way of thinking that you feel that "analytical" modes of thinking are somehow superior to any other method of approaching a problem. Nor does it say anywhere that Asians are incapable of analytical thinking.
You are also still conflating these concepts of race and culture. What is being discussed here is not how people with a particular skin color or facial features process information. It is the cultures in which we are raised that are being discussed, not the actual ethnicity of the people within those cultures. In indonesia, for instance, you might find people who are ethnic Chinese who were raised within a Javanese cultural mindset. They may not be culturally Chinese at all. This is now the third time i have brought up this point so you will probably ignore it again, but if you take a moment to think about it you may realize that this is not a question of racism at all.
So bottom line here gentlemen... i do not intend to have a discussion here on racism. That is not the issue at hand and i will shut this discussion down if there is an insistence to continue along that tract. It seems completely ignorant to believe that different cultures do not process information and other stimulus in different ways and foolish to think one can understand the ways of foreign cultures without immersing oneself fully in the history, mannerisms and ways of those cultures and acknowledging those differences.
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 02:55 PM   #11
David
Keris forum moderator
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: The Great Midwest
Posts: 5,590
Default

Ariel, if you have not read "Visible and Invisible Realms: Power, Magic, and Colonial Conquest in Bali" by Margret Wiener i would highly recommend you give it a go. One thing that becomes really clear throughout is that the Dutch colonists inability to understand the Balinese culture and modalities of thought was indeed disastrous. Though much has changed in our information age and you may wish to believe that in the 21st century the ways in which this culture processes information has been overcome by our own Western methods i believe you may find you are mistaken.
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 09:50 PM   #12
David
Keris forum moderator
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: The Great Midwest
Posts: 5,590
Default

And just to bring all things back to the keris, which is, i believe we can all agree, the context for what we discuss here, the point Alan is making about understanding the keris, and by extension the system of tangguh, is not only dependent upon understanding the Javanese culture and mindset, but also understanding it as it existed many centuries ago. While it is not doubt true that the world view of many Javanese has been affected and perhaps changed by the dominance of a more Western world view, the keris developed in pre-colonial Jawa and while the tangguh system certainly came along a bit later it was still at a time long before European influences had the chance to Westernize people in the area. I still believe that the general world view of the Javanese people is strongly influenced by the culture of their past at least as much as by the influx of Western thoughts and ideas in the 20th and 21st centuries.
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 12:13 AM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.