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Lecture

November 6: Science

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Department
Anthropology
Course
ANTH 2200
Professor
Victor Barac
Semester
Fall

Description
SCIENCE ▯ Concepts: Magic, Science, Religion Science magic and religious have been intertwined from the beginning and continue to be intertwined Philosophy’s greatest critique of anthropology is that anthropology doesn’t really apply its terms and make them properly accessible Tylor emphasised belief as being central – distinction between beliefs in deities is no different than primitive people’s beliefs in supernatural entities Durkheim dropped belief from the equation and says society was the important part – society formed the fundamental categories of knowledge ▯ What is science? What is science? Method used to explain nature – always subject to modifications and corrections through systematic observations Theory and research  explanations and description Science is theory and is empirical ---rooted in human observation (observable to the senses) Falsifiable Have to be able to prove your ideas through empirical work Centrality of networks and communication Social institution --- networks of communication --- publishing in journals and making your facts available to everybody Latin allowed intercultural communication so more people could share information about science What about ancient Greeks, Romans, medieval Arabs, Chinese, and Europeans? Some have very sophisticated technology and philosophy but did they have science? An important strand and thought did not think they did – science has its own historical origin How can science coexist with religion and magic? Sir Isaac Newton was both a religious man and a scientist Godel was a mathematician befriended Einstein – one of great works is the mathematical proof of god Jack Parsons – JPL – into magic and dark magic – basically started the entire fuel project for NASA Religion magic and science are not as separate as we think of them to be What is the common ground of religion, magic, and science? They all exist to control Magic rituals control and influence things in a distance; religion tries to control your destiny somehow (soul, heaven, hell, reincarnation etc); science – idea that everything is explainable by science ▯ Real Science Arose Only Once Real science arose only once: in Europe... In this regard it is instructive that China, Islam, India, as well as ancient Greece and Rome, had a highly developed alchemy. But, only in Europe did alchemy develop into chemistry. Moreover, only this very exceptional instance offers any basis for suggesting that magic is primitive science. On the other hand, there are substantial grounds for the claim that science developed out of religion, out of the fundamental axiom of Christian theology that God had created a logical universe based on universal laws that could be discovered through reason and observation. ---- Rodney Stark (2001) Very rarely does a person use the methods of science in their daily lives --- people are not rational inherently – they rely on others to tell them to tell them what is the right thing to do Science is the same institution because we rely on others to do it for us because science is work – you need the time and the equipment to do it ▯ Main Branches of Philosophy Philosophy has a way explaining the world that is trickled down into all aspects of the world Epistemology Study of the nature and origin of knowledge Where does it come from? Truth, belief, justification Truth – important in discussions of relativism – some opinions are dumb and some are actually good – we can’t be totally democratic we have to take each discourse on its own merits and evaluate or discard it What is the standard of evidence? How do you judge it? Metaphysics Ontology – “on being” / study of first principles What are our assumptions about the nature of the universe? Cosmology, natural and supernatural entities Is there a valid distinction between natural and supernatural or did we create it? Logic Science of argument Monitoring our statements and if they’re accurate and consistent or not Aesthetics Theory of beauty, taste, sensory perception, critical reflection Aspects of what is good and what is beautiful Ethics Theory of morality and action/ good-evil; right-wrong What is right and wrong and how is that construed? With some idea of philosophy it sharpens your methods and makes you more attune to social science ▯ Science and the supernatural? What is the best way to study “supernatural” phenomena? In anthropology you can study it easily because it is a social phenomenon Anthropologist has to observe something and then have the guts to tell the academy back at home what he say ie) a dead body waking up 3 days later Stoller – studied sorcery among Songhai – became a sorcerer himself Philosophy Ontology Have to ask what the supernatural entities are made of in the local culture – can you communicate with them? – how do you know they are there? – how do you approach them? Epistemology How do you know about these supernatural entities? Did you experience it? Were you taught it – formally or informally – was there any experiment involved? Was their artistic knowledge involved? Methodology When you ask all these philosophical questions how do you implement them in a real life study? – do you use questionnaires? Interviews? Surveys? Participant Observation? Life history? 4.9% of the world is ordinary matter and energy 26.8% is dark matter 68.3% dark energy ▯ Venn diagram slide on connection between Magic, Science and Religion Supernatural: entities outside of typical nature; challenge the laws of matter Gods: supernatural beings with consciousness and desires – spirit beings Magic: refers to all efforts to control supernatural forces – body of knowledge to get stuff accomplished --- no overarching theological concept necessarily Religion: information to get stuff accomplished – including statements about supernatural – have explanations and theory of where supernatural meet – revelations: extremely powerful maybe the most powerful way to obtain information Theology: explanations about god based on reasoning of revelations – the will of the gods ▯ Alchemy and Chemistry Alchemy in the Middle Ages What it was considered to be a part of: Meteorology: the study of sub-lunar matter Metallurgical assay Identifying matter and minerals Salt refining Not just food, pulp and paper, textiles etc Dye and pigment Glass and ceramic improvements Artificial gemstone Creation of fake jewelry – perfecting the art of deception Incendiary weapons Creation of firepower and guns Chemical luminescence How to generate light from chemical reactions Brewing Creation of alcohol Medicine and pharmaceuticals Use of minerals to bolster health and treat illness Transmutation of metals Some alchemists involved in transforming base metals into gold Minority pursuit until 15 century – later that it becomes more actively perused Distortion or misrepresentation of alchemy really ▯ Why did alchemy become popular with both educated and uneducated in the 16 century? Rise of Renaissance neo-Platonism Reinterpreting Plato – before Aristotle – Plato founds almost all of the philosophical things Rise of renaissance is return of much of the Greek writings and learnings because in the middle ages if it wasn’t religious it was destroyed Medical reform movement of 16 C. th Involved a new interest in observation and experimentation – a part of history of alchemy Technological and industrial potentials recognized Subject for esoteric religious speculation during early modern era Institutional shifts --- post middle ages where religion was the only thing that was important it moves itself into the university, court, medicine realms From monastery, court, to medicine th Enters the university in early 17 century --- chemistry comes from alchemy ▯ Alchemy always had a religion component – linked with Hermes Trismegistus Hellenistic – post Alex the Great – Hermes is a part of this culture Hellenic – era of ancient Greek city states – Athens, Sparta etc Hermes Trismegistus – blending (syncretism) of Hellenistic and Egyptian Combination of Hermes (Greek trickster god or transformation); and Toth (Egyptian god of mediation, magic; god that associated wit
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