Peter Farb

American academic and writer

Peter Farb (25 July 19258 April 1980) was an American author, anthropologist, linguist, ecologist, naturalist and spokesman for conservation, and free lance writer for 30 years in the areas of the natural and human sciences.

Quotes edit

Man's Rise to Civilization (1968) edit

Man’s Rise to Civilization As Shown by the Indians of North America from Primeval Times to the Coming of the Industrial State (1968)
  • A human being cannot survive alone and be entirely human. It is through the nature of their social and political institutions that the differences and similarities among cultures are to be accounted for.
  • The members of a society do not make conscious choices in arriving at a particular way of life. Rather, they make unconscious adaptations. ...they know only that a particular choice works, even though it may appear bizarre to an outsider.
  • Culture is all the things and ideas ever devised by humans working and living together.
  • The astonishing cluster of them [geniuses] that appeared in Athens during the fifth and fourth centuries B. C. ...what changed was the culture, which allowed exceptional minds to flourish.
  • The Shoshone, as well as those peoples around the world who still survive at the least complex levels of social organization, know that romantic love exists. But they also recognize it for what it is—in their case, a form of madness. ...they regard the participants with tolerance and patience, for they know that the illness will soon go away. ...To them, only someone mentally backward would base an institution so important to survival as marriage on romantic love. is a life and death business.
  • An isolated human in a simple society is usually a dead human...
  • An incestuous marriage establishes no new bonds between unrelated groups; it is an absurd denial to the right to increase the number of people whom one can trust. Marriages in simple societies are... usually alliances between families rather than romantic arrangements between individuals.
  • Complex civilization is hectic... such hunters and collectors of wild food as the Shoshone are among the most leisured people on earth.
  • The more simple the society, the more leisured its way of life.
  • The Shoshone did not wage war, because it served no purpose.
  • In the far north, where humans must face the constant threat of starvation, where life is reduced to the bare essentials—it turns out that one of these essentials is art. Art seems to belong to the basic pattern of life of the Eskimo, and of the neighboring Athapaskan and Algonkian Indian bands as well.
  • The environment does not determine the character of human culture; it merely sets the outer limits.
  • Balanced reciprocity is as much a social compact as it is an economic advantage. It is particularly important in hunting-gathering societies, where no individual could possibly accumulate a surplus, live independently of other members of the band, or become so successful in the quest for food as never to need meat from someone else's kill.
  • Sharing is a kinsman's or a friend's obligation, and it is not in the category of a gift.
  • The debate as to where "magic" ends and "religion" begins is an old one, and it appeared to have been settled some decades ago when scholars concluded that no discernible boundary was to be found. As a result, the two were often lumped together in the adjective "magico-religious"...
  • The League [of the Hodenosaunee] favorably impressed the White settlers, and some historians believe it to have been one of the models on which the Constitution of the new United States of America was based.
  • We are in the habit of thinking in terms of great leaders largely because the leaders themselves want it that way. The pharaohs ordered that a record of their accomplishments be carved on stone; medieval nobles subsidized troubadours to sing their praises; today's world leaders have large staffs of public-relations consultants. No culture can be explained in terms of one or more leaders...
  • To say that the invention "was in the air" or "the times were ripe for it" are just other ways of stating that the inventors did not do the inventing, but that the cultures did.
  • The seventeenth-century Iroquois... practiced a dream psychotherapy that was remarkably similar to Freud's discoveries two hundred years later. The Iroquois recognized the existence of an unconscious, the force of unconscious desires, the way in which the conscious mind attempts to repress unpleasant thoughts, the emergence of unpleasant thoughts in dreams, and the mental and physical (psychosomatic) illnesses that may be caused by the frustration of unconscious desires. The Iroquois knew that their dreams did not deal in facts but rather in symbols. ...And one of the techniques employed by the Iroquois seers to uncover the latent meanings behind a dream was free association...
  • For a tribe to endure, it must find some way to achieve internal unity—and that way usually is external strife. The tribe exists at all times in a state of mobilization for war against its neighbors. The slightest incident, or often merely a desire to increase prestige, is enough to set off a skirmish, and in such circumstances hatred against external enemies must be unremitting.
  • At the time of the Europeans discovery of North America, the American Indians already cultivated a wider variety of plants than did the Europeans.
  • Social scientists of the past spoke glibly of an "agricultural revolution," a time during which human populations suddenly soared, cities were founded, and many trappings of civilization made their appearance. ...The food-production revolution turns out to be a slow evolution, a long period of experimentation rather than a sudden explosion.
  • Numerous sophisticated inventions undoubtedly originated in the New World. They include many aspects of plant domestication and horticulture, the hammock, the tobacco pipe, an intricate system used for ventilating and cooling ceremonial chambers, the enema, the hollow rubber ball, the toboggan, and numerous other objects and ideas that were brought back to the Old World after Columbus.
  • What makes the Hohokam noteworthy is the development of irrigation works. The earliest... dates from some 2,000 years ago. ...They built dams that redirected the flow of water into irrigation canals, some of them... extending for more than twenty-five miles. ...They built flat-topped pyramids and ball courts, where they used rubber balls imported from Central America. The Hohokam may also have been the first to use the technique of etching with acid in their remarkable designs on marine shells.
  • The culture of the Anasazi is still the best known of all prehistoric southwestern cultures. ...Their architecture... is distinctly their own, and unique among all the southwestern cultures.
  • The Hopewell fused elements of the Adena, the Archaic, and other Woodland patterns of life. Thus, it cannot technically be identified as a culture. ...Rather, the Hopewell people were an amalgam of many societies whose customs varied greatly, but who were bound together by... a cult of the dead and a trade bond... a network of trade linked widely separated areas of the continent.
  • The most imposing characteristic of the Mississipian is the pyramidal mound, built not to cover a burial but as a foundation for a temple or a chief's house.
  • At various stages of evolution, the Indian cultures were presented with only a limited number of possibilities. The members of certain kinds of societies—the small band, the large band, the tribe, the chiefdom, the state, and variations of these—tended to make characteristic choices concerning religion, law, government, and art... Such choices were not... consciously made... For a particular society, they either worked or they did not work.
  • By the seventeenth century, observers had reached the firm conclusion that American Indians were in no way inferior to Whites, and many writers took special pains to salute the Noble Red Man. The Jesuit missionary Bressani... reported that the inhabitants "are hardly barbarous, save in name. ...marvelous faculty for remembering places, and for describing them to one another." ...can recall things that a White "could not rehearse without writing." Another Jesuit enthusiastically corroborates... "nearly all show more intelligence in their business, speeches, courtesies, intercourse, tricks and subtleties, than do the shrewdest citizens and merchants in France."
  • Only a few years after the permanent settlement of Virginia, some fifty missionaries arrived to begin the massive task of converting the heathen. The Indians on their part, did not respond with alacrity to the idea of adopting a culture that to them, in many cases, seemed barbarous, indeed.
  • When the Pequots resisted the migration of settlers into the Connecticut Valley in 1637, a party of Puritans surrounded the Pequot village and set fire to it. About five hundred Indians were burned to death or shot while trying to escape... The woods were then combed for any Pequots who had managed to survive, and these were sold into slavery. Cotton Mather was grateful to the Lord that "on this day we have sent six hundred heathen souls to hell."
  • The Puritans failed miserably in their dealings with the Indians of New England, with scarcely a glimmer of kindness to illuminate black page after black page of cruelty and humiliation. ...conversion of the heathen was not one of the compelling motives—or justifications—for the Puritan settling of New England...
  • The desire of Whites to occupy Indian lands, and the constant rivalry between French and English traders for furs gathered by the Indians, led to many skirmishes and several bloody wars, all of which involved Indians on both sides. The Whites were determined to fight it out with each other—down to the last Indian. These battles culminated in the French and Indian War of 1763, which represented a disaster to many Indian groups in the northeastern part of the continent. In May, 1763, an Ottawa warrior by the name of Pontiac fell upon Detroit and captured the English forts, one after the other. Lord Jeffery Amherst... distributed among the Indians handkerchiefs and blankets from the small pox hospital at Fort Pitt—probably the first use of biological warfare in history.
  • Following the War of 1812, the young United States had no further need for Indian allies against the British, and as a result the fortunes of the Indians declined rapidly. By 1848, twelve new states had been carved out of the Indian's lands, two major and minor Indian wars had been fought, and group after group of Indians had been herded westward, on forced marches, across the Mississippi River.
  • ...the intensity of the indignation was in direct proportion to a White's distance from the Indian. On the frontier, the Indian was regarded as a besotted savage; but along the eastern seaboard, where the Spaniards, Dutch, English, and later Americans had long since exterminated all the Indians, philosophers and divines began to defend the Red Man.
  • About 1790 the Cherokee decided to adopt the ways of their White conquerors and... established churches, mills, schools, and well cultivated farms... they adopted a written constitution providing for an executive, a bicameral legislature, a supreme court, and a code of laws.
  • Before the passage of the Removal Act of 1830, a group of Cherokee chiefs went to the Senate committee that was studying this legislation to report on what they had already achieved... They expressed the hope that they would be permitted to enjoy in peace "the blessings of civilization and Christianity on the soil of their rightful inheritance." Instead they were... denied even the basic protection of the federal government. The Removal Act was carried out almost everywhere with total lack of compassion, but in the case of the Cherokee—civilized and Christianized as they were—it was particularly brutal.
  • ...five thousand finally consented to be marched westward, but another fifteen thousand clung to their neat farms, schools, and libraries "of good books." So General Winfield Scott set about systematically extirpating the rebellious ones. Squads of soldiers descended upon isolated Cherokee farms and at bayonet point marched the families off to what today would be known as concentration camps. Torn from their homes with all the dispatch and efficiency the Nazis displayed under similar circumstances... No way existed for the Cherokee family to sell its property and possessions, and the local Whites fell upon the lands, looting, burning, and finally taking possession.
  • ...they were set off on a thousand mile march—called to this day "the trail of tears" by the Cherokee—that was one of the notable death marches in history.
  • Up to 1868, nearly four hundred treaties had been signed by the United States government with various Indian groups, and scarcely a one had remained unbroken. By the latter part of the last century, the Indians finally realized that these treaties were real-estate deals designed to separate them from their lands. In the last three decades of the nineteenth century, Indians and Whites skirmished and then fought openly with ferocity and barbarity on both sides. Group by group, the Indians rose in rebellion only to be crushed...
  • General Phil Sheridan... had urged the destruction of the bison herds, correctly predicting that when they disappeared the Indians would disappear along with them; by 1885 the bison were virtually extinct, and the Indians were starving to death on the plains. ...the Indian Wars finally ended; and with the enforced peace came an economic recession in the West, for the United States government had spent there about one million dollars for every Indian killed by 1870.
  • The Whites were in full control ... remnants were shifted about again and again... All of which led Sioux chief Spotted Tail, grown old and wise, to ask the weary question: "Why does not the Great Father put his red children on wheels, so he can move them as he will?"
  • A well-intentioned movement had gained support to give the remnant Indian populations the dignity of private property, and the plan was widely adopted in the halls of Congress, in the press, and in the meetings of religious societies. ...the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887 ... provided that after every Indian had been allotted land, any remaining surplus would be put up for sale to the public. The loopholes... made it an efficient instrument for separating the Indians from this land. ...The first lands to go were the richest—bottom lands in river valleys, or fertile grasslands. Next went the slightly less desirable lands... and so on, until all the Indian had left to him was desert that no White considered worth the trouble to take. ...Between 1887, when the Dawes Act was passed, and 1934, out of 138 million acres that had been their meager allotment, all but 56 million acres had been appropriated by Whites. ...not a single acre [of which] was judged uneroded by soil conservationists.
  • The victory... was complete except for one final indignity. That was to Americanize the Indian... to exterminate the cultures along with the Indians. ...Orders went out from Washington that all male Indians must cut their hair short, even though many Indians believed that long hair had supernatural significance. ...Army reinforcements were sent to the reservations to carry out the order, and in some cases Indians had to be shackled before they submitted. ...attention of the Americanizers was concentrated on the Indian children, who were snatched from their families and shipped to boarding schools far from their homes... usually ... for eight years, during which time they were not permitted to see their parents, relatives, or friends. Anything Indian—dress, language, religious practices, even outlook on life... was uncompromisingly prohibited. ...They had suffered psychological death at an early age.
  • Within a century or so after the discovery of America, more than fifty new foods had been carried back to the Old World, including maize, turkey, white potato, pumpkin, squash, the so-called Jerusalem artichoke, avocado, chocolate, and several kinds of beans. (Potatoes and maize now rank second and third in total tonnage of the world's crops, behind rice but ahead of what is probably man's oldest cultivated grain, wheat.) The European has turned for relief to drugs and pharmaceuticals the Indians discovered: quinine, ephedrine, novocaine, curare, ipecac, and witch hazel.
  • No sooner did the first Whites arrive in North America than a disproportionate number of them showed that they preferred Indian society to their own. ...Throughout American history, thousands of Whites exchanged breeches for breechcloths.
  • Why did transculturalization seem to operate only in one direction? Whites who had lived for a time with Indians almost never wanted to leave. But almost none of the "civilized" Indians who had been given the opportunity to savor White society chose to become a part of it. ...Nor does this problem relate solely to the American Indian. Some of the first missionaries sent to the South Seas from London, in the eighteenth century, threw away their collars and married native women.
  • One of the things that amazed the earliest explorers, almost without exception, was the hospitality with which Indians received them. When the Indians later learned that the Whites posed a threat, their attitude changed, but the initial contacts were idyllic. ...Hospitality and sharing were characteristic of all Indian societies.
  • Why did not Indians enter White society, particularly in view of the numerous attempts by Whites to "civilize" them? The answer is that White settlers possessed no traditions and institutions comparable to the Indians' hospitality and sharing, adoption, and complete social integration. ...Whites who educated Indians did so with the idea that the Indians would return to their own people as missionaries to spread the gospel, not that they might become functioning parts of White society.
  • Voluntary assimilation, known as Indianization in the Americas, is one response that has occurred at other places and in other times when two cultures collided. An unusual manifestation of it is when the whole dominant culture takes up the ways of the conquered. That does not happen very often, but it did occur when the Hyksos conquered Egypt about 1700 B.C. and when the Romans conquered the Greeks in the second century B.C.
  • When today's remnants of Indian societies are examined closely, it is seen how well some have worked out a compromise with their White conquerors—acculturation without assimilation.
  • After the Spaniards settled the Southwest, the Navajo began another burst of cultural borrowing—or, more actually, stealing. Spanish ranches and villages were so depleted of horses—not to mention sheep—that by 1775 the Spaniards had to send to Europe for 1,500 additional horses. After the Pueblo Rebellion against the Spaniards was put down in 1692, many Pueblo took refuge with their Navajo neighbors—and taught them how to weave blankets, a skill for which the Navajo are still noted, and to make pottery. During this time the Navajo probably absorbed many Pueblo religious and social ideas and customs as well, such as ceremonial paraphernalia and possibly the Pueblo class system.
  • By the time the United States took possession of the Southwest in 1848, after the Mexican War, the Navajo had become the dominant military force in the area. ...The American soldiers who marched into Santa Fe had no trouble with the Mexicans, but the Navajo stole several head of cattle from the herd of the commanding general himself, not to mention thousands of sheep and horses from settlers in the vicinity.
  • In 1863, Colonel Kit Carson was ordered to clear the country of Navajo Indians and to resettle any survivors at Fort Sumner in eastern New Mexico, where they could be "civilized." Carson's strategy was the same as that applied against the Plains Indians a little later: He destroyed the Navajo food base by systematically killing their livestock and by burning their fields. Carson's "Long Knives" (his soldiers so named because of their bayonets) also cut off the breast of Navajo girls and tossed them back and forth like baseballs. ...Ultimately, about 8,500 Navajos made what they still call the "Long Walk" to captivity at Fort Sumner, three hundred miles away. After they had been there for four years, the Navajo signed a peace treaty that entitled them to a reservation of about 3,500,000 acres, much less than they had held previously.
  • A culture that is in the process of being swamped by another often reacts by physically grappling with the outsiders. But it may wage a cultural war as well. Such defensive actions have been given various labels by anthropologists: nativism, revivalism, revitalization, and messianism. All are deliberate efforts to erect a better culture out of the defeat or decay of an older one. ...The reactions of primitive peoples overpowered by Eurasian colonial empires have usually been much more extreme. Their lands appropriated, their social system ripped apart, their customs suppressed, and their holy places profaned—they tried to resist physically but they were inevitably defeated by the superior firepower and technology of the Whites. As hopelessness and apathy settled over these people, the ground was prepared for revivalistic and messianic movements that promised the return of the good old days.
  • There are strong parallels between the hope for salvation of the Jews and the hopes of the Indians who followed native prophets, between the early Christian martyrs and the Indian revolts against United States authority, between the Hebrew and the [native American] Indian prophets. ...the Jews and early Christians have served as models for oppressed peoples from primitive cultures... Almost everywhere the White missionary has penetrated, primitive people have borrowed from his bible those elements in which they saw a portrayal of their own plight...They regard the arrest and execution of a native on charges of being a rebel against White authority in the same terms as the trials undergone by the Hebrew prophets or the passion of Jesus.
  • In 1680 the Pueblo Indians, led by a prophet named Popé who had been living in Taos, expelled the Spaniards. ..The god of the Spaniards was declared dead, and the religious ways came out into the open again. ...But when Popé attempted to become the unchallenged leader of all the Pueblo Indians, the movement collapsed. ...The Pueblo confederation soon broke apart and the people warred among themselves. In 1692 the Spaniards marched back to victory.
  • A Delaware Indian prophet appeared [1762] in Michigan and preached a doctrine that he said had been revealed to him in a vision. He called for the cessation of strife by Indian against Indian, and a holy war against the Whites... finally a practical man, an Algonkian named Pontiac, arose to lead them. He formed a confederation and attacked English forts all along the Great Lakes until he was ambushed and his forces utterly defeated. ...Forty years later the Shawnee Prophet ... twin brother of Chief Tecumseh, repeated the promises of the Delaware Prophet... Tecumseh established the greatest Indian alliance that ever existed north of Mexico. He and his emissaries visited almost every band, tribe, and chiefdom from the headwaters of the Missouri River in the Rocky Mountains to as far south and east as Florida. Indians everywhere were arming themselves for the right moment to attack the Whites when, in 1811, Tecumseh's brother, the Shawnee Prophet, launched a premature attack at Tippecanoe... the Indians were defeated by General William Henry Harrison... Tecumseh rallied his remaining forces and joined the British in the War of 1812. He fought bravely in battle after battle, but in 1813 his 2,500 warriors from the allied tribes were defeated decisively, once again by General Harrison.
  • Inspired by the teachings of Smohalla, Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé in Idaho rebelled in 1877. Before he was trapped only thirty miles short of refuge in Canada, he had consistently outwitted and outfought a superior United States Army... although he forbade his warriors to scalp or to torture, the Whites massacred his women and children.
  • The movement known as the Ghost Dance first appeared around 1870... soon after the Union Pacific Railroad completed its first transcontinental run. ...that event inspired the vision of the prophet Wodziwob, who declared that a big train was coming to bring back dead ancestors... a cataclysm would swallow up all the whites and leave behind their goods for his followers.
  • In 1830... Joseph Smith... prophesied that a New Jerusalem would arise in the wilds... The Mormons sent emissaries to the Indians, whom he renamed the Lamanites, inviting them to join the Mormon colonies and to be baptized. Joseph Smith was also to have prophesied in 1843 that if he... lived until 1890—the messiah would appear in human form. ...It was in 1890 that... Wovoka appeared and began teaching the [revitalized] Ghost Dance religion.
  • The Sioux had been forced to submit to a series of land grabs and to indignities that are almost unbelievable when read about today. ...they were being systematically starved into submission—by the White Bureaucracy—on the little that was left of their reservation in South Dakota. ...From Rosebud, the Ghost Dance spread like prairie fire to the Pine Ridge Sioux and finally to Sitting Bull's people at Standing Rock. The Sioux rebelled; the result was the death of Sitting Bull and the massacre of the Indians (despite their ghost shirts) at Wounded Knee in 1890.
  • Every Messianic movement known to history has arisen in a society that has been subjected to severe stress of contact with an alien culture—involving military defeat, epidemic, and acculturation
  • Almost every messianic movement in the world came into being as a result of hallucinatory visions of a prophet. One point must be emphasized about the prophet of a messianic movement: He is not a schizophrenic, as was so long assumed. A schizophrenic with religious paranoia will state that he is God, Jesus, the Great Spirit, or some other supernatural being. The prophet, on the other hand, never states that he is supernatural—only that he has been in contact with supernatural powers. (Of course, after his death, his disciples tend to deify him or at least give him saintly status.)
  • Invariably the prophet emerges from his hallucinatory vision bearing a message from the supernatural that makes certain promises: the return of the bison herds, a happy hunting ground, or peace on earth and good will to men. Whatever the specific promises, the prophet offers a new power, a revitalization of the whole society.
  • What most impresses the people around the prophet is the personality change he has undergone. ...when stress reaches a certain intensity in the culture, only certain individuals feel called forth to become prophets while most do not. In any event, the prophet has emerged in a new cultural role, and his personality is liberated from the stress that called his response into being in the first place. Immune to the stress under which his brethren still suffer, he must appear to them supernatural.
  • The Ghost Dance made its unfulfillable promises at a time when the Indians were ready to rebel. The teachings of the Native American Church spread at a time when the Indians were ready to admit defeat. ...The problem they had to solve was the same as any messianic movement: how to exist with an alien culture yet remain spiritually autonomous. The solution had been to borrow freely from White culture while salvaging what is considered important in Indian religious thought.
  • The Indians have not only refused to vanish, but have... managed to salvage a part of their native culture through revitalization and messianic movements. ...they are of further interest to anthropologists for the light they shed on such movements in general.
  • A central assumption of this book has been that to examine the experience of humans throughout their 25,000 years on this continent is to hold up a mirror to the culture of Modern America.
  • Today's American bemoans the extermination of the passenger pigeon and the threatened extinction of the whooping crane and the ivory billed woodpecker; he contributes to conservation organizations that seek to preserve the Hawaiian goose, the sea otter of the Aleutian Islands, the lizard of the Galapágos Islands... But who ever shed a tear over the loss of the native American cultures?
  • Millions of dollars have been expended to excavate and transport to museums the tools, weapons, and other artifacts of Indians—but scarcely a penny has been spent to save the living descendents of those who made them. Modern man is prompt to prevent cruelty to animals, and sometimes even to humans, but no counterpart of the Humane Society or the Sierra Club exists to prevent cruelty to entire cultures.
  • Perhaps we, who for so long regarded ourselves as bringers of light to the shadowy recesses of North America, will finally admit that there is much about which the Indians can illuminate us.
  • To do nothing now is to let our children lament that they never knew the magnificent diversity of humankind because our generation let disappear those cultures that might have taught it to them.

Word Play (1974) edit

  • Freedom of speech does not exist anywhere, for every community on earth forbids the use of certain sounds, words, and sentences in various speech situations. ...the habitual liar faces social sanctions ...Speakers are not allowed to misrepresent... to defame other people in public, to maliciously shout "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater, or to utter obscenities on the telephone.
  • Thinking is language spoken to oneself. Until language has made sense of an experience, that experience is meaningless.
  • This inseparableness of everything in the world from language has intrigued modern thinkers, most notably Ludwig Wittgenstein... If its limits—that is, the precise point at which sense becomes nonsense—could somehow be defined, then speakers would not attempt to express the inexpressible. Therefore, said Wittgenstein, do not put too great a burden upon language. Learn its limitations and try to accommodate yourself to them, for language offers all the reality you can ever hope to know.
  • For tens, and perhaps hundreds, of thousands of years, people regarded language as a holy instrument that let them look out upon the world... Only in the last few decades have people suspected that their window on the world has a glass that gives a distorted view.
  • Each language encourages its speakers to tell certain things and to ignore other things.
  • Experiments... have shown that at least one aspect of human thought—memory—is strongly influenced by language.
  • The colors that a speaker "sees" often depend very much on the language he speaks, because each language offers its own high-codability color terms.
  • Wilhelm von Humboldt... stated that the structure of language expresses the inner life of its speakers: "Man lives with the world about him, principally, indeed exclusively, as language presents it."
  • About 1932 one of Sapir's students at Yale, Benjamin Lee Whorf drew on Sapir's ideas and began an intensive study of the language of the Hopi Indians of Arizona. Whorf's brilliant analysis... seemed to support the view that man is a prisoner of his language. Whorf emphasized grammar—rather than vocabulary, which had previously intrigued scholars—as an indicator of the way a language can direct a speaker into certain habits of thought.
  • Whorf asked... Do the Hopi and European cultures... conceptualize reality in different ways? And his answer was that they do. Whereas European cultures are organized in terms of space and time, the Hopi culture, Whorf believed, emphasizes events. To speakers of European languages, time is a commodity that occurs between fixed points and can be measured. Time is said to be wasted or saved... their economic systems emphasize wages paid for the amount of time worked, rent for the time a dwelling is occupied, interest for the time money is loaned. Hopi culture... instead thinks... The span of time the growing takes is not the important thing, but rather the way in which the event of growth follows the event of planting. The Hopi is concerned that the sequence of events in the construction of a building be in the correct order, not that it takes a certain amount of time to complete the job.
  • The weakness of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis... the impossibility of generalizing about entire cultures and then attributing these generalizations to the language spoken to leave numerous facts about culture unexplained. The great religions of the world... have flourished among diverse peoples who speak languages with sharply different grammars. ...Cultures as diverse as the Aztec Empire of Mexico and the Ute hunting bands of the Great Basin spoke very closely related tongues.

Disputed edit

  • If you read Peter Farb's book, Man's Rise of Civilization, he goes through all these different cultures at first contact, and they very often figure out in very different ways, but typically the things that were in common among them, were that the idea of the accumulation of private property beyond your needs was considered a mental illness.

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