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Cross-cultural conversations at cross-purposes

Part of my argument in the recent neoliberalism debate was that,

evidence of discontent about any aspect, be it ever so narrow, of what have been identified as neoliberal transformations is taken, without further justification, as a rejection of all of the phenomena that have been so identified

My point was that just because lots of people in different countries are critics of, say, structural adjustment programmes, we cannot leap to the conclusion that they share the same conception of the state and civil society and all agree on the proper balance of power and resources between the two; their motivations and assumptions might be quite different in each case.

This is a formal problem of cross-cultural description or comparison: the conversation at cross-purposes. We recognize something familiar in other people’s statements, and rush to fill in the rest from our own common-sense ideas, which may be quite different. My favourite example of this is one that operates in both directions — a reciprocal conversation at cross-purposes. (more…)

Evolution and Religion Part III

 

Russian Mother Heroine
Russian Mother Heroine

This post is the third in a series in conversation with Martin Michael Blume, prompted by his original post on www.scilogs.com. See my first post, Michael’s reply, and my second post

Dear Michael,

Thanks again for taking the time to engage with me earlier. Sorry that this is a bit of a long reply…

In your comment you note:

the fundamental questions remains: Why are only “religious” communities able to augment this in-group cooperation not, say, political parties or sport clubs?

This is certainly an interesting question, and one that is not affected by the objections in my previous post, but I do have some reservations on this count too.

(more…)

Highly Recommended: Laszlo Montgomery’s The China History Podcast

 

mao stalin

The China History Podcast comes all the way from sunny Claremont, California, courtesy of Laszlo Montgomery, and is highly recommended. I’ve been listening to it on and off since last summer and have learnt a lot from it.

It’s a great introduction to some key episodes and themes in Chinese history, and the host has a nice, calm, leisurely style of delivery that makes a good contrast for turbulent history he is usually recounting. And at 3-4 episodes a month, of 30+ minutes each, this guy is amazingly productive.

People’s Daily Online: Tibetan Buddhist temples in China’s Inner Mongolia

The People’s Daily Online has published a small gallery of Tibetan Buddhism temples in China’s Inner Mongolia. Photos 4 and 5 are of Baruun Hiid in Alashaa League in the far west of Inner Mongolia. 6 and 7 show Badgar Hiid, near Baotou, somewhere I have spent quite a bit of fieldwork time.

Jiangsu cadre: “Humanistic Buddhism shares common origin with the socialist core value system”

台湾佛光山开山宗长星云大师一行来江阴考察–地方–人民网.

I just came across this article in the online version of the People’s Daily, the Chinese government newspaper. It reports on a visit by Master Xing Yun, the leader of Fo Guang Shan, to a city in his native Jiang Su Province in southern China. The local cadre who greeted him said (my translation):

…Master Xing Yun’s “Do Good Deeds, Think Good Thoughts, Speak Good Words” [the “Three Goods”] and his other views all share a common origin with the socialist core value system, they can assist people to establish a proper view of life and of values, and it is very worthwhile to study and honour them.

(more…)