vlion: cut of the flammarion woodcut, colored (Default)

A major question I have is how to bridge incommensurable worldviews. Of particular relevance to me is the worldview of the ancient Near East (otherwise known as the period the Christian Old Testament came together).

Currently I am working through a few books by John Walton - http://www.amazon.com/John-H.-Walton/e/B001IGOV8C. I don't mind saying: this is hard material, and requires some genuine mind-bending for me.

Of particular note are these ideas that I've gleaned so far:

  • supernatural/natural divisions did not exist in the minds of the time
  • detailed ontologies and taxonomies were not a thing in that time and place.
  • the world was flat, and the sky was flat, and the mountains supported the sky: the Great Waters were outside this. This of course was how the world was.

It's unclear to me whether religion existed as a category we would today understand as religion. Based on my reading of AskHistorians on Reddit (professors, grad students moderate and require sourced answers), it would seem that religion was closer to government in the West today; part of the weft and woof of the way things were ruled; deity was part and parcel of how the world worked.

Some random conversations with a Hindu chap on twitter suggest that this might be closer to Hindu thought than not. The Enlightenment and Greek ideations lay heavy on any attempt to bridge these gaps of ontological metaphysic.

There are further ideas here regarding what qualified as truth that I can't grasp yet. I am going to have to soak, deeply, in these books to be able to grasp them and then communicate them.


It's my thought that a similar (and smaller) gap exists between people who understand a technology and people who don't. And, for that matter, deeply rural people in the West and, say, lifelong urban dwellers in NYC.

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