AR Projects

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Here's a link to a copy of my method questions paper: [1]

Here are some bad sentences from a paper I wrote last year on Marx:

"The public education system, with its facade of humanitarianism, enacts this violence on Native American students in their spread of capitalist values, which assumes the emptiness of the minds of students, instead of recognizing the complexity and the wealth of Native American languages, philosophy, cosmology, religion, rituals, and artwork, to name a few examples."

"The capitalist mode of production forced onto the indigenous peoples of North America, largely through education, not only violently replaced a mode of production, but also stole languages, consciousness and “species being” from an entire continent of people."

And in my introduction, I have a here's what I'm going to do, roadsign sentence: "I will focus primarily on the Navajo for my examples, and will discuss education as a tool of oppression both through boarding schools and more contemporary public school education systems. I will touch on the loss of the historically developed species being with that of another development of species being, the introduction of the concept of property and ownership as replacing a reciprocal relationship with nature, and the abstract, linear concept of time of the capitalist (time as money) as overpowering philosophies of cyclical time as found in Earth’s natural changes."

Here is a conference paper I presented in January titled, "The Power of Words and the Appearance of Lived Space in Navajo Culture". [[2]]

Some thoughts from/on said paper:

Phenomenology as a way to embed meaning back into our relationship with the world pairs nicely with Navajo ritual language use. The Navajo culture places emphasis on one’s relationship with the world, which makes it of particular value to phenomenology, as it strives to relate experiencers with the world before they become separated. My paper addresses Heidegger’s notions of language in his later works and applies language to Husserl’s possibilities for perspectival appearances of objects (the experience of something as something). I will then detail how the Navajo language impacts the perspectival appearances of objects of its speakers and discuss language use as a response to the world and a response to being in the world.

The relationship between consciousness and objects is vital for Husserl. Mental processes are always about something, geared towards something. In The Idea of Phenomenology, he writes, “Cognitive mental processes (this belongs to their essence) have an intention, they refer to something, they are related in this or that way to an object. This activity of relating itself to an object belongs to them even if the object itself does not” (Husserl, 1964, 43). They do not stand apart from objects, just as we should not be concerned (for Husserl) about objects standing as objective things in the life-world. We always see something, we never just see. The relationship is the thing to be investigated, and he identifies this as “givenness.”How something is given is in the relationship between the conscious acts of the experiencer and the object; it is never one-sided. The conscious acts shape what something appears as; the appearances as should not be mistaken for the objects themselves, the of inherent in conscious acts.

Heidegger claims language has a foundational relationship to man’s very being. Humankind is not in control of language, as it tries to be; language is in control of humankind (Heidegger, 2008, 348). Belonging, being a part of and in relationship with one’s lived space, can be achieved with language. Heidegger uses the example of poetry as a means with which to belong to one’s lived space; the poet’s perspective is of belonging, which, in turn, would impact the perspectival givenness of their lived space. Poetry is not the only language use that can serve to promote belonging to lived space. The Diné use of ritual chants demonstrates their belonging to their lived space and functions in a similar way as poetry in measuring the breadth of human existence; it also impacts what Diné speakers see objects in their lived space as. Joseph Epes Brown, an expert in Native American traditions, writes, “It is through such ritual means that purity of being and world is sought, that fragmentation gives way to relationship, and human and world become one” (120). The perspectival appearance of their lived space for the Diné is one of belonging.

Navajo ritual language seems to be the most significant factor influencing perspectival givenness within their culture. The Navajo have many rituals but all rites are to bless, purify, protect, and care for their community, land, animals, or themselves. I will explain that for Navajo speakers, objects appear as either contributing to or disrupting the original harmony. Objects appear as malleable and changeable. Objects appear as things which Navajo speakers are responsible for nurturing. Objects appear as vulnerable to your language use—if language is used correctly, then objects will flourish, if language is used incorrectly, then objects will suffer. Objects additionally appear to Navajo speakers as intertwined with themselves—everything belongs to the one same thing, and everything was constructed with similar substances. Objects do not appear as things understood separately from one’s own experience of them. This is one possibility among many of how objects appear and is one response to being in the world.

Navajo language’s impact on the perspectival appearance of objects allows nature to appear in a more valuable way than other languages or cultures might. The Navajo landscape reveals itself as sacred to the Navajo. Heidegger addresses standing-reserve as one possibility of what things appear as, is one response to the world. An alternative is the perspective of the Navajo culture, in which the world appears as sacred and always already intertwined with human beings. This response to the world is more fruitful than the response of separation or standing-reserve because it allows for more meaningful relationships with the world and allows for a more valuable breadth of human existence than that of standing-reserve. In such a culture, natural landscapes are viewed as integral to human existence. For the Navajo, one is always already in a relationship with Earth; one is intertwined with nature. The relationship with the land and the human is one of reciprocal care and tending. The human being belongs to the Earth; human thought and speech is also Earth’s thought and speech.

In conclusion, this paper, by closely examining Navajo ritual use, sheds a new light on one possibility of how the world might appear to us as embedded with meaning. Navajo language and culture are valuable contributions to phenomenological studies.