Tag: SCHARFE Martin

Welt 3 – II

This is no academic lecture, just some thoughts. I read Popper’s Three Worlds (Tanner Lecture on Human Values, delivered at The University of Michigan, April 7th 1978), where he defends his view against Monists and Dualists. I think that is a good introduction into his thinking and he notes further areas in his writings where he developed one or another thought. As I see it now, there is no comprehensive depiction of his ideas, a kind of reader – and especially not in the German or European “Kulturwissenschaft”. Scharfe, whom I mentioned earlier and who started all this, would have found and discussed such a feedback, but Popper’s Three Worlds seemingly had no further impact on the academic discussion about “culture” here.

Popper distinguishes three “worlds” (sphaerai?). World 1 is the area of the Physical, the Material, the world of things and bodies and their laws: Rays, waves, atoms, magnetic fields, currents, dust, stars, rivers, houses – you get the idea.
World 2 is the area of the subject (und des Subjektiven!), the cognitive and inner-soul processes and feelings, thinking, consciousness and un-consciousness, anger, hate, greed, happiness, resignation, melancholia, dreaming also the area of concentration, rememberance, knowing and forgetting, comparing etc.
World 3 is the area of those things that emerge from the bodily and intellectual activities of man, seperate from him and then live their own life: The spoken word, the written word, stories, images, pictures, thoughts, plans, theories (right AND wrong), art, myth, science, arguments (NOT argumentation, that is World 2), rules, structures.
That is culture.
All three worlds are real and pretty autonomous. Chemical or other processes in world 1 simply happen. World 2 is also relatively autonomous: I hear a tune again – the physical and chemical processes are the same, but added is the memory, my memory, it happens in my brain. But the tune, be it a folk song or Beethoven’s Fifth, IS. Whether I hear it or not. It exists. All three worlds do interact with each other. World 2 creates Welt 3: Humans write texts, find problems, think. Welt 3 Makes Humans: Without language, rules and structure and knowledge we can not exist. And via world 2 Welt 3 changes world 1: Mathematical formulae, technology for concrete building and atomic reactors – it is all there, stored, usable and gets used: Welt 3 objects become tools to change world 1 via the subjective world 2, for example an engeneer’s head.
It has interesting consequences for the method (Methodologie) and general idea about culture, cultural objects (Objektivationen) in the area I call my science (Volkskunde, I insist on this Begriff, call me old-fashioned). And, as mentioned above, except Scharfe seemingly no one thought about this in the last 40 years at one of those institutes. All the ideas about museums, the “cult” around objects, the sheer nonsense and the plain boredom you can encounter in these sacred spaces of – what? What IS there? In the last 30 years or so the discussion always was about “the human”, the “structures”, the “relations” – generally the question what “culture” is or at least could mean was circumnavigated and replaced by theatrical presentations, by teacheresque showings or – and that happened a lot – by ideological discussions, or better: argument-throwing.
No further details here. Read Sir Karl’s lecture and think for yourself.

Two citations (later thrown in, sorry):

Mention should also be made of the close relationship between
what I call world 3 and what the anthropologists call ‘culture’.
The two are very nearly the same. Both can be described as the
world of the products of the human mind; and the term ‘cultural
evolution’ covers very much the same as I should call ‘world 3
evolution’.
However, the anthropologists are inclined not to distinguish
the world 1 embodiments of world 3 objects from the world 3
objects themselves. This leads to a great difference between their
outlook and mine, and between our two views of the universe.

The feedback effect between world 3 and world 2 is of particular
importance. Our minds are the creators of world 3; but
world 3 in its turn not only informs our minds, but largely creates
them. The very idea of a self depends on world 3 theories, especially upon a theory of time which underlies the identity of the self, the self of yesterday, of today, and of tomorrow. The learning of a language, which is a world 3 object, is itself partly a creative act and partly a feedback effect; and the full consciousness of self is anchored in our human language.
Our relationship to our work is a feedback relationship: our
work grows through us, and we grow through our work.
This growth, this self-transcendence, has a rational side and a
non-rational side. The creation of new ideas, of new theories, is
partly non-rational. It is a matter of what is called ‘intuition’ or
‘imagination’. But intuition is fallible, as is everything human.
Intuition must be controlled through rational criticism, which is
the most important product of human language. This control
through criticism is the rational aspect of the growth of knowledge and of our personal growth. It is one of the three most important things that make us human. The other two are compassion,
and the consciousness of our fallibility.

I slept the last days, read nothing and wrote no letters. Slowly I become a human again as the cold creeps back. My sleeping patterns are really mixed up, I need another job: My days are lost to sleep or I am busy trying to get my things on, the nights are spent awake, my mind-setting changes in a no-good way, and after all it’s not enough cash to come out of dept. It is good enough to keep me afloat but it is not good enough for much longer, the personal cost is too high. I have two weeks to find something better.

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Welt 3 – I

No, not third world. Third world (Dritte Welt, tiers monde) dates back to the French demographer Alfred Sauvy’s (Eng., Ger.) article from 1952 in L’Observateur “Trois mondes, une planete”. He describes and categorizes circa 130 states as economically underdeveloped in comparison to the “First” and “Second” world, that could roughly be equaled with “The West” and “The East” – remember we are right in the Cold War at the beginning fifties. Later the “blockfree states” (Ger., Eng.) led by Egypt (Nasser), India (Nehru), Indonesia (Sukarno) and Jugoslawia (Tito) referred to themselves sometimes as “third world”, but this use of the phrase did not really get accepted.
“Welt 3” refers to the “Drei Welten Lehre” * von Sir Karl Popper (Eng., Ger.). Sir Karl may best be remembered for his thoughts about science itself (Wissenschaftstheorie: Falsifikationismus (Ger., Eng.), society (Gesellschaftstheorie) as given in his book “Offene Gesellschaft” (Ger., Eng.) and his role in the “Positivismusstreit” (Ger., Eng.). He is seen as founding figure of a philosophical direction called Kritischer Rationalismus (Ger., Eng.).
A science consists always of its own history – and strangely enough in this “cultural science” called Volkskunde no reception of the great thinkers ideas took place since they were first formulated in the end-sixties. To my eternal shame I have to confess that I covered Popper in my seminar only regarding the “open society” and the “Positivismusstreit”, in the shady and lawless border areas to sociology – sociologists, what do they know?
M. Scharfe is the first who attempts to use Popper’s thoughts in his outstanding book “Menschenwerk”, to what I was referring here.
I am too tired to explain “Welt 3” now, it will follow suit.

P.s. Here‘s the Stanford article about Popper.
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* This “article” is a stub. But gives an interesting link leading to Popper’s lecture given 1978 about the “Three worlds” in Michigan (pdf, 27 pages).

Mythos

In the course of seminars we always at some point came to the question: What is “Mythos” and why do have intellectuals and thinkers have dealt with that topic?
Martin Scharfe is a very learned man and as a kind of sum he published 2002 his book “Menschenwerk. Erkundungen über Kultur” (roughly: “Man’s deed: Reconnaissance of Culture”, an English edition is desirable) where he dedicates a chapter to the question “Was ist Mythos?” (What is Myth?). He leans on the work of Hans Blumenberg, whom I already mentioned on this site, “Arbeit am Mythos”, a fine, useful and learned book.
After all “Mythos” is a story that never gets old and never ends – the “Moderne” and the modern science did not make the myth obsolete. Mythos is the effort to explain the origin – obviously other kind of explanations do not work, are insufficient. The Mythos stands at the beginning of all. Scharfe, following Blumenberg, gives four points, describes four functions of Mythos.
(1) It helps man to stand against the impact of hostile forces as forces of nature and unpredictability of man himself. As Blumenberg puts it, Mythos is un-frightening man (“entängstigen”), bans angst, reduces the absolutism of reality, helps man to win distance; Mythos enables man to leave back the old terror as monstrosity – in one sentence: The world looses monsters. (“Die Welt verliert an Ungeheuern.”)
(2) Mythos does this by giving names (“benennen”). The terror is nameless, the highest grade of fright has no name and no face. The Mythos is a story and there are beings or entities with names: The Mythos transforms the nameless numinous (“numinos”) vagueness into nominal definiteness, he makes the “Unheimliche” approachable, speakable.
(3) It is not the case that Mythos and ratio (“Vernunft”, reason) are opposite and excluding each other. Blumenberg calls that a “late and bad invention”. They are not only no contradictions – Mythos has and is a kind of ratio of his own: It is ratio. So it does NOT vanish when the modern science “takes over” – the question is whether the latter really does. Science is not total, Mythos is.
(4) If one sees Mythos not only and always as a regression in barbarity the idea and the dialectics of enlightenment can be seen in a new light. Blumenberg speaks of the “tortous connection of myth and enlightenment”, and his word of “myth as enlightenment and enlightenment as myth” is not just a joke or play with words.

Adam and Eva eat the apple. They do against the divine command, follow their own idea. The beginning is marked not with a crime, but a sacrilege, a “Frevel”. As Kant and Schiller pointed out, they leave the old order of the instinct, in which the animals remain.
Eva’s first son is Kain, a man of the field, a farmer and founder of the first settlement (Gen 4,17); her second son is Abel, a shepherd. No human knows why Abel’s offering of an animal was pleasant to God and Kain’s grain not. They were on a field and Kain beat Abel to death. The text reveals nowhere what GOd meant about the sacrifices. Kain thought his sacrifice to be lessened – he was offended, he was jealous, he could not control his impulse. He is no criminal, he is man in full when he does his deed. The mark protects him from being killed, but he has to wander. The mark of Kain is the mark of man: He has the possibility to decide, he knows right from wrong, he has moral. He fails.
For the cultural theory it is important to note the power of the impulse and the knowledge of man about good and bad, that stand at the beginning.
Prometheus is a Titan, a mortal. He not only doubts the total knowledge of the Gods – he laughs about them. In the end he creates humans of his own and steals the fire. He gets punished.
His sacrilege – as the others – is culture-causing. He is – among other things – the founder of medicine. Aischylos lets the chorus say in his drama “Prometheus bound”: I made men cease from contemplating death. Dass Sterbliche auf ihren Tod hinstarren, schaffte ich ab. (That the mortals stare upon their death – I abandoned that.”

On the beginning is the sacrilege, die Untat, der Frevel, outrage. Man gets the highest and best what mankind can get – itself, the way of life, technology – by committing a monstrosity, bound to and by the results, the consequences of the ruthless deeds, the flood of pain and “Kümmernis” the offended celestial beings let descend on humanity – have to let descend.