Could you give an example of the kind of difficulty you have in mind? I am thinking here that in many 'traditional' cosmologies there exist disharmonies between divinities and humans which go beyond their occupying polar positions; or between how things were to begin with and the problems people must now resolve; or between dreaming states and waking interactions.
Nold, I wonder whether you have come across and or would like to comment on PJ Wilson's work on building in social evolution, The Domestication of the Human Species. He argues that our thought processes and practices are littered with building metaphors, such as the notion of an 'architectonics' of thought etc. and that the discovery of structural possibilities such as the beam/lintel initiated step changes in human cognition.
Thanks Nolde, I read this with interest. I was especially interested in your criticisms regarding Wilson's difficulty in treating space and the result that various metaphors appear in the text which are not grounded in any prior reasoning. Could you elaborate how you view the concept/factuality of space? One obvious route is to say that spatial reasoning is somehow a priori in the way individuals think, another is the circular proposition a la Durkheim that spatial thinking is an imprint of empirical social relations which are then refashioned by how people think. In certain respects your argument above has a Durkheimian or perhaps Comtean feel to it in its emphasis on religious objects as focii for human building and dwelling; is that a correct interpretation?
Dear Nold thanks very much for your thoughtful reply,
I don't think we can ask for a general concept or factuality of space. Homogeneity is lost insofar as the human condition is involved. On its largest dimension it can be considered as a homogeneous condition, but this is not real for humans. The terminology changes into 'half-spaces', 'center-markers', 'fixed-points', 'river systems' (Ganges in India!), etc.. On the other hand, the transition to the modern condition: 'loss of center' (Sedlmayr)!
It seems intuitively true to say that 'space' itself is not 'real for humans'. But while there might not be a concreteness to 'space' that we can point to and say 'look this is the real space 'within' which the other concretenesses find their commonality', do not all these myriad, non-homogeneous conditions group themselves when we think about them? Your reply suggests that they do, which then may 'lead' us to an 'underlying' or 'overarching' something (space) that groups them. Supposing we said that our ability to group and organise in this way is only post-hoc and a result of evolution, would this not nonetheless imply that the further we 'go' in time, the more capacity we have to talk of 'space' as the 'big' concept vis-a-vis the 'small' concepts such as 'river-system', 'center-marker' and so on? This might then mean that, as we reach further and further back in time, the thinking of the people concerned becomes more and more concrete until it disappears into its own concreteness, ceasing to be 'thought' - a kind of regress which is itself difficult to comprehend.
I will try to read your rtf ASAP because I am very interested in how you deal with this concern.