Re: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the future)

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Tue Jan 06 2009 - 12:10:08 EST

Hi David,

You wrote;
> Bernie -- research the aboriginal "dreamtime" and you'll see its not
> really analogous to what we would call a "vision." Its a different,
> non-materialist ontology combined with a mytho-poetic origins story
> (good description, Murray?). It resonates in many ways with the ANE
> understanding of ontology and cosmic origins.

Last things first! Yes, it's the "resonance" with ANE ontology that strikes me as important. Sometimes I think we miss that the ANE people were not proto-deists - that is, they didn't think their gods had acted "back then" and then withdrew from the world. Rather, their origins stories were a fundamental part of their everyday existence and gave substance to their perception of reality. Their origins stories, in other words, were as much about the present as the past. I'm not sure our notion of "history" or "myth" (or related terms) quite captures this, and I'm not sure we can do justice to the Hebrew scriptures with such categories.

As for your description of the Dreaming, I don't think it too far off the mark although I'd tweak it in two ways; First, the mytho-poetic story is an expression (we might say an incarnation) of the Dreaming - so it's not so much a case of ontology COMBINED with story, as ontology EXPRESSED through story. And, second, EVERYTHING is, in fact, an expression of the Dreaming. This is true both in terms of human culture (so Aboriginal law, art, song, ceremony, concept of sacred space, etc) AND the natural order. Actually, one should possibly just stop at saying the Dreaming is just an ontology, plain and simple, whilst human cultural artifacts (again, story, law, art, etc) are attempts to connect with and express fundamental reality? Like most ontologies outside one's own cultural grid it's a bit hard to pin down precisely!!!

So, this said, perhaps I'd reword your description to "Its a different, non-materialist ontology expressed through story, song, dance, law, tradition, and other cultural forms."


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Received on Tue Jan 6 12:10:45 2009

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