m of care – aug 18
18-08-2021 a reading group: ‘The Dawn of Everything’ by #DavidGraeber and David Wengrow
via nika dubrovsky fb share:
David Greber and David Wengrow’s book reading group ′′ The Blossom of Everything ′′https://youtu.be/AcKiGDc_gIA
wasn’t aware this was happening.. not on museum of care calendar either.. maybe it was just for those people above?
notes/quotes from 1 hour video:
steve: d&d setting out to make point that the time is right to really assess new scholarly lit on antiquity and pre history that challenges a lot of conventional assumptions about human existence.. contending that now is a good time to put aside this infantile conception of human history.. made me wonder.. *how might we consider human history in ways that avoid teleologies.. these stories that as we narrate then fall into the trap of being in a trap of narration
teleology: the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes... Theology the doctrine of design and purpose in the material world.
human history et al
steve: what the two davids maintain is that scholars are products of the very institutions that mold them.. and that they have subscribed largely to an idea of human existence that assumes a primordial social equality.. and that that’s really not the best question.. and that it reduces narratives to teleologies because there’s already this social evolution built into it
2 min – steve: so how might we consider in ways that acknowledge change and continuity simultaneously w/o a-privileging a certain kind of narrative/construct that’s prefigured.. obviously i don’t have answers to that myself.. but i think this is really the question they start out with.. how can we *write a history that’s fair to the evidence but also speculative in nature so that we can attend to the possibilities/surprises that the human past seems to be telling us
i think *this is all part of our intoxication (from being in sea world).. i think we have no idea what legit free people would be like.. ie: perhaps we wouldn’t even care/talk about writing history.. perhaps that’s not the deeper question we need to be asking.. to get to the *possibilities/surprises..
i’m thinking we need to let go of that altogether.. if we want to try something legit different..
3 min – nika: i think one of the major outcome of the book could be that if you break out of the debates.. (between left and right).. fighting over human nature.. *if we start to believe that there is no such thing as human nature.. then the whole political debate will change.. completely..
*yeah.. at least that it’s undefinable.. unwritable.. undebatable.. et al.. ie: language as control/enclosure
4 min – nika: the other thing.. one of achievements of occupy.. was all around the world.. the debate of inequality.. such a focus of politicians.. et al.. so to attack the notion of inequality in this book was such a brave/brilliant move.. very much about shaping political debate of our times.. so hopefully we’ll see lot of changes in everything.. *starting w political parties and how we constitute ourselves..
5 min – steve: ‘the birth of the left’.. article that reviewed these issues.. i’ll be honest.. i don’t know how persuaded i am that the line from rousseau to leftism to social science is as strong as the two david’s suggest.. i’m still thinking thru that one.. that’s what i like about the argument though.. they are really challenging the left to look at how they have framed questions in particular ways.. you know david’s work had already disrupted the ideas of vanguardism.. but now he’s going against the entire project of the left.. so it’s provocative.. and i’m still personally uncomfortable with it
7 min – nika: but why are you uncomfortable with it.. because it’s not really a leftist project.. and i think he’s explaining this very well.. the very idea that humans have this kind of good nature.. and of paradise .. this lost eden.. make us .. actually stop any revolution (i think that’s what she said).. so nothing is possible.. we have to just wait when things getting better
8 min – nika: i was just talking about your (simona) tweet that i really like..about what is really behind the new book (she reads tweet – below in red).. i think it really summarize the problem.. so if we think there is no single ideal past/human-nature.. then everything would be different.. including our practical steps of how we can live right now.. i think that was very short/brilliant summary of the whole book.. so i think the revision of history is more like the argument.. and i think that’s why david was really happy to work w wengrow.. who can provide a real back up for all these crazy thoughts. . *if you can prove that all these things happen differently than we read in the textbooks.. then if history is diff.. then life right now is diff..
here’s my take on that tweet:
while reading david on creative refusal – last page (16):
The battle @davidgraeber and @davidwengrow fight in *The Dawn of Everything* is not so much about historical revision, as it is about getting rid of the illusion of a one-shot revolution that takes us back to a single ideal past.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/SimonaFerlini/status/1423554211258712067
not that there was a perfect time to go back to.. because all history was/is played out in sea world.. but that doesn’t mean we can’t leap to ie: eudaimonia\tive surplus.. to an undisturbed ecosystem (not a one shot revolution.. a revolution in reverse.. a revolution of everyday life.. revolution as instigating utopia everyday
via our findings:
2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people
let’s be that creative in our refusal.. ie: a nother way
10 min – michael: to steve.. i don’t know if it’s really an attack on the left.. and the attack on rousseau as the image of the left been going on for long time.. et al
12 min – federico: steve’s question is taking me in a whole diff direction.. how to avoid teleology.. which seems to underpin the davids reasoning in the first chapter.. i had the sensation they’re setting the stage.. but the meat of argument still to come (have only read thru ch 2).. on h/g to agri to capitalist.. one argument against teleology is that h/g societies are not destined to become agri.. same for all subsequent stages.. but also true that societies have become agri from h/g in diff parts of world.. one doesn’t lead to another.. but there are certain trends.. i think that’s not teleology.. there are certain forces.. i wouldn’t call that human nature.. i would call that the way humans relate to their environ and the constraints they have to deal with and how they react to them.. which brings invention of agir.. which was not really an invention.. ie: of course h/g new that if you drop a seed in the ground.. et al.. they knew their environ inside out.. but the social decision to rely on agri for main subsistence.. that’s something that came up in diff parts of world independently.. so teleology seen as only one narrative.. *but one that leads to us.. this is a very incomplete thought.. but just what i’ve been thinking about so far
yeah.. all that is sea world.. we have no idea how legit free people (call it human nature if you like.. but it’s not.. can’t be.. anything static).. we just know (have written history and counter history et al) what *whales are like
16 min – robin: i’m just thinking of the changes in my life time.. when i was young.. there weren’t as many books.. they were almost treated as living that you could engage with.. whereas now.. more books/thinking.. but people have less time to read.. so almost the idea of taking them as serious exemplars seems to be of a past era.. so maybe we’re in a position where we can construct a new narrative that isn’t quite as simplistic as earlier ones.. the thing that impressed me about the first chapter was jung’s quote.. whatever possessed him to say that was probably an entirely diff chain of causality to anything discussed in the chapter.. very apt quote.. but diff time frame of causality
can’t find jung quote
19 min – simona: i think the idea the two davids are fighting is that of progress in human evolution.. the very idea of an evolution of what comes later being better than before.. and civs better than civs.. i think david g’s work .. am starting to put pieces together.. i think the main idea is to show the many possibilities of human beings.. how there is no direction/progress in human history.. instead many possibilities in history that is our product.. and thus can be changed.. (hard to understand.. keeps cutting out).. how to better serve society..
22 min – nika: i totally agree w simona that it’s against progress of course.. but interesting that (benemin – frankfort school?) was a very depressive person.. and david was very cheerful and one of reason to write book was to find a path for us to hope for something and have a real possibility that’s why they always use this word ‘possibility’ every other sentence.. so it’s kind of this notion of no progress not in a way that there is no better world coming up.. but the very idea that progress was used as regressive.. ie: soviet, marxism, determinist ideas of human nature.. whatever it means.. fascists et al.. the whole notion was destructive.. so i think this is against progress as i grew up in
24 min – nika: but back to the 2nd question of enlightenment.. i don’t understand that.. of our possibilities of imagination.. and science.. (like looking at) bhaskar.. and history of magic.. which look like 2 descriptions of world.. idea that we’re not only controlled by world.. but we can affect world.. depending on what we do .. world will be diff.. in this first chapter.. that’s exactly what they write about.. (steve) can you comment on this 2nd question
25 min – steve: yeah.. that’s one of the things that is so fascinating about the epistemology they’ve put together.. it’s a social theory of action and they define action as human actions that aren’t able to be predicted.. david has written elsewhere about what makes life worth living .. most magical .. are the surprises.. and so it’s an epistemology built on surprise rather than some other kind of presupposition.. t.. so they’re actually trying to construct.. at least my read of it.. based around moments/time there are alts.. time where societies get stuck.. but have w/in them the means still to surprise.. because *as long as someone’s human.. they’re capable of being unpredictable..
27 min – steve: but when we become stuck.. that’s when we lose our humanity.. so that made me then think.. they’re critiquing enlightenment thinking/notions of progress.. so then what is it about enlightenment/modernist/capitalist thinking that simultaneously limits our imagination but we’re creating a world that seems to be more complex.. that paradox has long fascinated me.. also a question that in interviews david g wrestled with.. ‘why is it despite the 2nd law of thermo the universe has gotten more complex’.. his answer to that was .. ‘because humans play’.. if he were here i want to say.. say more
more complicated.. not more complex (in a positive sense).. we’ve been detailizing sea world.. that’s all
play is key.. but has to be all of us to get back/to an undisturbed ecosystem
29 min – nika: michael.. can you plain simplification/reduction.. western science as methodology to find out nature’s laws and then control them.. and how it’s some how connected to our ideas of social structures as well
michael: in terms of enlightenment it was a battle as to who gets to make knowledge.. the epistemology was.. how do you know what’s true? you ask the king/priest/authority.. that’s what hobbes claims you should do if you want to know.. so people said.. we don’t have to seek out authorities we can figure out ourselves.. they say the enlightenment as very enlightening and creating a process where more people were engaged.. aristocrats wanted some science but wanted to make sure legit people in charge ‘modest witnesses’ .. male/aristocratic.. modeled off treason act in civil war ie: in order to accuse someone had to be ‘modest witness’.. more and more people became able to do that.. but even today.. ie: need phd to do ‘legit’ science.. pay 90 000.. not that science hasn’t improved.. but slowed down.. when you take the rationality and apply it from few people wealthy’s perspective.. you take away that liberatory ness of science.. so many claim science needs to be democratized.. in many more ways.. so instead of being anti science/progress.. one wants to be democratizing science/progress.. to open it up.. lots of people have expertise because in a community.. that’s kind of the challenge of enlightenment.. image and limitation of progress
yeah.. like 8b.. everyday.. experimenting.. like a 5 yr old again
34 min – nika: does the whole idea of experiment/objectivity-of-science.. come from democratize it.. if don’t rely on aristocratic male to verify.. maybe they rely on some objective reality like experiment.. the book i’m reading now about history of magic.. they have diff tools to decide what is true and not true that doesn’t have anything to do w repeated experiments and so on.. but also it was not this hierarchical system.. magic in diff community could be performed by diff groups.. like insane people could be magical.. so my question about enlightenment.. is it a kind of correlation historically that in same time became democratization of social hierarchy and we use this reduction/simplification in order democratize our knowledge process.. am i understanding you correctly michael
36 min – michael: i think the term enlightenment was an overall political term connected to who gets to make knowledge and knowledge becoming a more collective enterprise.. so people could challenge religious authority.. the specific experimental process is always in debate and it’s diff for diff types of science but the obvious principle is .. it’s not just democratic.. we can all vote to say what happens.. we have to interact w the world.. the phenom people are studying.. and people can debate and come up w something.. how you interpret that phenom will be diff by diff people.. so you want to democratize that interpretation.. so i kind of steer away from saying.. the facts are out there and we’ll find the objective truth because if you look at say atomic physics.. what are the facts? should you build nuclear weapons/power.. are there useful things like telecommunication devices from quantum mechanics that build tv/computers.. those are things you can do w it.. and you can debate about the facts and what are the best ways to use knowledge about those things.. does that help w the question a bit?
38 min – nika: not really.. so my understanding of contemp science.. it’s not only natural but social sciences ie: econ that tells us what is money and how we should live.. et al.. so it looks like it’s using the same methodology of reduction and experiments and so on.. and that’s obviously not working and it’s become magic.. so econ a magical science now.. so it looks like it started in the enlightenment maybe.. and it looks like it started as an attempt of democratization and getting power away from religious authorities but maybe at same time this science becomes religions itself now.. you know
yeah.. all that.. science is killing us
39 min – michael: certainly w econ that seems very much the case.. and many types of sciences.. people like to give authority to their knowledge.. so instead of saying the king told me this they say science told me this and you’re not able to ask any questions.. so science becomes a new sort of king..t and then once you go to explore its methods.. then it becomes very complicated and lots of people are just convinced.. ‘oh that’s too complicated for me and i’ll just ask the scientists’.. and that’s again and again when you engage the public about democratizing science.. they just get very nervous and say ‘that’s too complicated’.. well.. some of it is honestly.. but that doesn’t mean there aren’t debates to be held and more public engagement with what we want to use science to do
let’s use it to undo our hierarchical listening
40 min – nika: i just want to say .. not only that science is trying to hold onto power and control public debate.. it’s also the nature of invention.. ai for ie.. a machine that is built in a way that we cannot possible understand.. layers and layers of software that all interact w each other and there is no overall design that we can change..t
yeah.. exactly.. huge..
ai humanity needs: augmenting interconnectedness.. easy peasy..
41 min – nika: ie: even director of fb can’t figure what is the problem and how to change it.. because computers are talking to each other.. this is nature of machine itself.. it doesn’t have the simple design as a printing press for ie.. so maybe it’s not only about how we can be better.. in this case.. maybe exist a good solution for the science.. but maybe science itself .. kind of .. more complex social activity than enlightenment was telling us in the beginning .. that we just can get rid of the kink and instead use experiment .. and everybody can control it.. i don’t know.. maybe i’m wrong
42 min – michael: lots of people could have an opinion on this as much as me.. but i would agree that science is moving in a diff phase.. i mean it normally moves thru diff phases of diff ideas of how you can get knowledge.. and the algo is a new method for gathering knowledge which doesn’t necessarily rely on *what you can definitely prove thru a rational or geometric thereom and so it’s like an effective guess.. but sometimes it doesn’t seem that effective
43 min – matthew: maybe one way to think about the enlightenment was a transition from appeal to authority.. like rhetorical legitimacy.. like.. ha ha i told you so.. the way science works is you come up with a story that allows you to make predictions.. and so if you’re able to make consistently accurate predictions you can say ha ha i told you so.. and you say that often enough and then people start listening to you.. when your predictions continue to be right.. and one of things that might explain why econ is so bad at being a science is it’s so hard to run the experiments.. like it’s hard to set up.. here’s my theory/opinion..let’s try it out.. because the guinea pigs are hundreds of thousands of humans.. and so ends up devolving into trying to take its cues from math.. as an axiomatic system.. we are coming up with beliefs and we’re going to extrapolate out from them into a system that describes this.. and.. a lot of those axioms like.. humans are fundamentally rational beings that always act in their own best interest.. are just nonsense.. and so have a beautiful castle in sky built on no/shaky foundation.. taking cues from maths than from science.. which – personal feeling – is much better at coming up stories that allow you to make predictions.. then it becomes a much more philosophical convo about whether the stories are true.. that’s what an experiment is.. is the condition met..from story.. what actually happened..
46 min – rico @libero.it: i love any thinker who can title a chapter.. narrative of human history is not only wrong but dull.. i would like to have known this man .. thanks to simona i will be reading.. for today i have only read ch 1.. so i think i’d like to read more.. one thing i found in ch 1 – to respond to nika.. ‘as a result.. all real progress in social science have been rooted in the courage to say things that are in the final anal slightly ridiculous.. the work of marx, freud, strauss being only particularly salient cases in point..’ this is certainly a back handed compliment.. but i think that there’s something complimentary about it as well.. i’m very respectful as science as matthew has pointed out.. it’s a wonderful tool.. and when we think of the democratization of science i think the question.. you ask the question .. who’s paying you.. in a society like ours it’s the question.. t.. and i think that’s one way to take a critical stance toward science.. because there’s a lot of science that’s going around.. science is not a theological word to me (teological yes.. but not a religion).. there are all sorts of sciences going on.. but it certainly is a wonderful tool.. but there are others that are very good ie: poetry, music,..
50 min – steve: i love the quote you found because it answers a question that i wonder how people wrestle with.. the book is very critical of soc sci and says most of soc sci has started from the wrong source of questions and that intellectual scholars, policy makers in particular, used science to promote reformist goals that are starting from these unimaginative or dull questions.. and so hearing the word ridiculous used along side soc sci.. is really a wonderful thing.. it admits what a lot of policy makers and economists don’t want to admit and that is that their predictions really at bottom aren’t any better than anyone else’s statistically speaking.. that’s not to say sci doesn’t have a value.. but that if we think of an epistemology built around a social theory of action where surprises/unpredictability are the basis of humanity.. then it means *we really need to be looking for constant surprise in addition to the predictability that science does offer.. because yes.. science does offer predictability.. predictability can also be demo’d by the way the kings power is predictable.. ie: if have enough people who believe you are the king.. then you are the king.. graeber said ‘why should we be surprised unpredictability is mysterious’
*whoa.. predictability of what will happen in sea world.. what will happen with dead things.. we have no idea about legit free living things/beings.. it’s all surprise
53 min – steve: the connection davids are trying to make is ..using science to emancipate .. but by relying on simplifications which are inevitable.. there’s a way predictability can be used in emancipatory and ways can be used to constrain and that earlier societies were aware of the implications of sci innovation and they knew that those were avenues to avoid because sci innovation could lend itself to hierarchy and that’s when people would become historically stuck.. when they would assume predictability in one realm makes for predictability in another realm.. we see this in politics.. ie: because rich.. succeeded in that game.. can succeed in a lot of other games..
55 min – michael: so i haven’t read this whole book.. but a short foreshadow article i read.. also written in his book on the democracy project.. but back to steve’s question and this farewell to humanity’s childhood and this image of the noble savage seems to be what he’s making fun of in this farewell.. saying that actually many of these people.. 100s of yrs ago.. where sophisticated socially.. ie: clever enough not to build atomic weapons.. they knew how social relations work.. ie: city w buildings same size.. everyone share.. no palaces.. equality built into it.. countering idea that can’t have equality in large structure
57 min – michael: they had another story where they had a tribe which during one part of year came together egalitarian.. and other part of year in small groups run patriarchally .. h/g more patriarchal.. people had direct experience of 2 diff social structures so could make real choices about politics.. prehistorical people quite sophisticated.. book by stock called against the grain.. ie: many early states hierarchical.. using grain for money.. but often fell apart.. and people fled these totalitarian experiments.. other graeber argues.. when europeans showed up in n america.. discovered group (like this).. that were very careful about constitutions since had experienced collapse.. so people called simple savages..
1:00 – axel: michael was talking about during pandemic feeding/caring for each other.. in ch 1 davids talk about indigenous societies caring for one another.. so i’m thinking that’s potentially related to ideas of the history of humanity and progress and evolution related to peter kropotkin and mutual aid ideas.. so i’m wondering if survival can be considered a teleological end
1:01 – robin: going back to point about who can be an authority.. 1/2 way between enlightenment and now.. you had viewpoint via church of england.. clergy not beholden to parishioners for pay.. so they could give objective truth.. response of druids put in their will.. the clause: ‘no paid priest can officiate at my funeral’.. which i always thought was an awesome thing to say
1:02 – steve: on mutual aid.. graeber .. probably last thing he wrote.. intro to mutual aid.. he concludes that by saying.. it’s incumbent on people to write a history of humanity that puts mutual aid as the central illuminated factor explaining human development.. if you think of what historians have done since discipline of history really started.. ancient greece.. most histories have looked at class conflict being a factor that explains social development.. and kropotkin really put forth this idea that mutual aid should be the main category.. so let’s finish up there.. i like the schedule of every 2 wks.. i’ll send around the next installment.. ch 2
michael: we’re putting together another discussion group during anti ed