Andreas - I got that phrase from primatologist Frans de Waal who was actually quoting Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson.Yet evolution has been sculpting us for millions of years to function in two completely different ways. To deny this is to deny our human nature – a nature that has us on a short leash.
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It is very hard for me to understand. I do not consider nature has us on a short leash…
De Waal is a primatologist but he writes popular books on what primate studies are telling us about human nature. It’s part of the spirit of our time, that as the Bible is being usurped you might say by Origin of Species, people look to nature and evolution to help craft a value system. I don’t know how wise that is. But it has to be better than using prehistoric symbolism.P233 In the words of Edward Wilson, biology holds you “on a leash” and will let us stray only so far from who we are. We can design our life any way we want, but whether we will thrive depends on how well the life fits human predispositions.
Our Inner Ape, Frans De Waal, 2005
I don’t know what values could possible be derived from the symbols of the Neolithic. What we know for certain is that the female symbols were more prevalent than the male in much of the Neolithic. It may, and probably does, speak to a goddess. But there’s no reason to believe that a culture with a goddess would indicate that there were ‘derivative values’ such as a more peaceful society, more egalitarian, or that there was better treatment of women by men.
Traditional scholarship in various fields—mythology, religion, anthropology, archaeology, psychology, sociology, literary criticism, etc.—has operated from the premise that a distinct psychohistorical line can be drawn between gynocentric (female-centered, feminine) and androcentric (male-centered, masculine) cultural symbol systems and derivative values.
It’s a nice myth. And still a very powerful one. There’s still a matriarchal cult, a cottage industry, and a tourist industry, for images and symbols of Neolithic goddesses or any other pre-Christian goddess images. But my experience of world mythology tells me that the presence of a female deity doesn’t translate or reflect the better or worse treatment of women in a society – or even of a more peaceful or egalitarian society. The move from small tribes to cities and civilization was a move to a less egalitarian society. But that is beside the point.
We have an example closer to home. The ‘Mary cult’ that began in the Middle Ages is associated with Catholicism, whereas the Protestants wonder why people would worship this graven image. But the presence of this goddess in the life of Catholic women hardly translates into more political power compared to Protestant women. From my experience it tends to be just the opposite (with exceptions like Sonia Sotomayor – and Nancy Pelosi).
The polarity between men and women, patriarchal and matriarchal I think is overdone in our time in many ways. We are different in many ways. But many of the most important things in life have to do with values that apply equaly across the sexes; charity, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, integrity, and where to get your hair and nails done
Interesting quote by Bohm, Andreas. I need to read him someday.