Sunday, August 9, 2020

Heidegger and Mayans

Nice description of Heidegger's idea of an individual (Dasein) in his culture's "thrown-ness" from Schele & Freidel's A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya

As we grow to adulthood, every human being acquires a special way of seeing and understanding the world and the human community. This is a shared conception of reality, created by the members of a society living together over generations, through their language, their institutions and arts, their experiences, and their common work and play. We call this human phenomenon "culture", and it enables people to understand how and why the world around them works.
This leads the chapter attempting to explain how they experienced their world. As the authors explain the sacrament of blood-letting, they come to an interesting analogy
In our world, for example, we could not imagine letting blood from our bodies, as the Maya did, in order to communicate with our ancestors. Such violence seems crazy and "uncivilized" to us. On the other hand, the ancient Maya would find our war-time custom of drafting young men to go and fight in the place of the leaders of our nation both barbaric and cowardly. Maya lords fought their own battles and a king often paid for defeat in the coin of his own capture and sacrifice.
This is a fascinating book which also serves as a primer for basic hieroglyphic translation.

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