Mythology: Humans and the Ecosystem

Xochiquetzal: Goddess of Flowers and Love, Codex Borbonicus, c.1525

Every culture in the world, in some way has formed a subjective relationship with the world around it.  According to neuroscience, no attention can be given without subjective context which forms relationship. In the Aztec tradition, Gods, Goddesses and rulers were not only of the environment, but they were in relation to many aspects of the environment.  For instance all portraits of individuals contain other species in connection.  Though both the European cultures and Aztec cultures had advanced civilizations in similar time periods, European portraits don’t share this aspect.


The mythos of modern day science and western understanding:

Though we would like to think of ourselves as void of myth, and a scientific culture; “science” is in itself value laden, as relationship originates and always depends on the right side of the brain, which then drives reason.

A few excerpts from “The Master and His Emissary; The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World” by Iain Mcgilchrist  describe the nature of attention and relationship.

“Attention is not just another ‘function’ alongside other cognitive functions.  Its ontological status is of something prior to functions and even to things.  The kind of attention we bring to bear on the world changes the nature of the world we attend to, the very nature of the world in which those ‘functions’ would be carried out, and in which those ‘things’ would exist.”

“So it is, not just with the human world, but with everything with which we come into contact.  A mountain that is a landmark to a navigator, a source of wealth to the prospector, a many textured form to a painter, or to another the dwelling place of the Gods, is changed by the attention given to it.  There is no ‘real’ mountain which can be distinguished from these, no one way of thinking which reveals the true mountain.

Science, however, purports to be uncovering such a reality.  Its apparently value-free description are assumed to deliver the truth about the object, onto which our feelings and desires are later painted.  Yet this highly objective stance, this ‘view from nowhere’, to use Nagel’s phrase, is itself value-laden.  It is just one particular way of looking at things, a way which privileges detachment, a lack of commitment of the viewer to the object viewed.  For some purposes this can be undeniably useful.  But its use in such causes does not make it truer or more real, closer to the nature of things. ”

“Our attention is responsive to the world. There are certain kinds of attention which are naturally called forth by certain kinds of object. We pay a different sort of attention to a dying man from the sort of attention we’d pay to a sunset or a carburettor. However, the process is reciprocal. It is not just that what we find determines the nature of the attention we accord to it, but the attention we pay to anything also determines what it is we find. In special circumstances, the dying man may become for a pathologist a textbook of disease, or for a photojournalist a ‘shot,’ both in the sense of a frozen visual moment and a round of ammunition in a campaign. Attention is a moral act: it creates, brings aspects of things into being, but in doing so makes others recede. What a thing is depends on who is attending to it, and in what way. The fact that a place is special to some because of its great peace and beauty may, by that very fact, make it for another a resource to exploit, in such a way that its peace and beauty are destroyed. Attention has consequences.

One way of putting this is to say that we neither discover and objective reality nor invent a subjective reality, but that there is a process of responsive evocation, the world ‘calling forth’ something in me that in turn ‘calls forth’ something in the world. That is true of perceptual qualities, not just of values. If there is no ‘real’ mountain, for example, separate from the one created by the hopes, aspirations, reverence or greed of those who approach it, it is equally true that its greeness, or greyness, or stoniness lies not in the mountain or in my mind, but comes from between us, called forth from each and equally dependent on both; as music arises from neither the piano nor the pianist’s hands, the sculpture from neither from hand nor stone, but from their coming together. And then the hands are part of the lived body -or, put more conventionally, are the vehicle of the mind, which is in turn the product of all the other minds that have interacted with it, from Beethoven and Michelangelo down to every encounter of our daily lives. We are transmitters, not originators.”

An attempt to create Harmony

More from Mcgilchrist:

“But i’d rather agree with him, nonetheless, that smiling, laughter and dance are – gloriously – useless: how many of us really believe that when we dance, laugh, or smile we do so ultimately because of some dreary utility to the group to which we belong?  Perhaps there is no end in view.  Perhaps these spontaneous behaviours are pointless, with no purpose beyond themselves, other than that they express something beyond our selves.  Perhaps, indeed, the fact that so many of our distinguishing features are so ‘useless’ might make one thing.  Instead of looking, according to the manner of the left hemisphere, for utility, we should consider, according to the manner of the right hemisphere, that finally through intersubjective imitation and experience, humankind has escaped from something worse een that Kant’s ‘cheerless gloom of chance’: the cheerless gloom of necessity.

So language is a hybrid.  It evolved from music and in this part of its history represented the urge to communicate; and to the extent that it retains right-hemisphere empathic elements, it still does.”

 The Catholic Church and Consciousness 


from wikipedia

The idea that animals might not experience pain or suffering as humans do traces back at least to the 17th-century French philosopher, René Descartes, who argued that animals lackconsciousness.[8][9][10]Researchers remained unsure into the 1980s as to whether animals experience pain, and veterinarians trained in the U.S. before 1989 were simply taught to ignore animal pain.[11] In his interactions with scientists and other veterinarians, Bernard Rollin was regularly asked to “prove” that animals are conscious, and to provide “scientifically acceptable” grounds for claiming that they feel pain.[11]Some authors say that the view that animals feel pain differently is now a minority view.[8] Academic reviews of the topic are more equivocal, noting that, although it is likely that some animals have at least simple conscious thoughts and feelings,[12] some authors continue to question how reliably animal mental states can be determined.[9][13]



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