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Sunday, 17 July 2016
Culture from Outside

Religion and Cultural Memory (tr. Rodney Livingstone),
Jan Assmann, Stanford University Press, 2006, page 30

Identity-free knowledge is important, Assmann claims:

One of the most important fubctions of such exotic disciplines as ethnology, Oriental languages and culture, or old American studies is to investigate the formulation of horizons is the social nexus of bonding lnowledge and cultural knowledge. Only when we examine culture from the outside can we perceive the extent to which it is informed by memory.

Put another way, the memory scientist needs to be able to examine, dissect and discuss culture in orde to understand how it works and how it is formed. If the culture is still operative, if there are still people whose identity depends to a greater or lesser extend on cultural memory, then that gets in the way of an impartial scientific examination.

No-one has any real idea what druids did, taught or thought. The modern recreation (or perhaps re-invention would be a better word) of the druid myth - we can safely say 'myth' because although no-one doubts that druids did once exist, there is almost no fact to go with that cultural memory tag - makes a scientific investigation more difficult because people will argue with or block lines of enquiry that conflict with the identity they have created for themselves.

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: 0