LOCAL, DISTRICT AND IMPERIAL CULTS IN ANCIENT EGYPT
"The earlier generation" writes Hermann Kees in the first chapter of his book 'Creed and Gods in Ancient Egypt' (1953) favoured "a systematically theoretical direction, which was in most cases decisively dependent of certain religio-historical theories developed by theology." Kees sees the culminationpoint of this generation working primarily historically and mythologically in H. Brugschs study 'Religion and mythology of the old Egyptians' (1884/ 88). At the same time we find also the signal, which indicates the end of this type of research and interpretation. It is A. Erman's 'Egypt and Egyptian life in antiquity' (1885/ 86). And after the century turn, essentially stimulated by the writings of Sir J. G. Frazer (The golden Bough), an ethnological methodology gained influence in the history of religion of Ancient Egypt.
What was decisive for this new perspective was the "colorful mosaic of the local cults" as A. Erman describes the situation in his study of the Egyptian religion of 1934. Brugsch's "theology of Egypt" had merely shown the late afterlife of "the heliopolitan doctrines in the godly system of the late temples", and at the same time had pressed all gods of Egypt into the straitjacket of the heliopolitan nineness... ". This attempt has to be considered as failure. In contrast to Brugsch, research must, as Maspero definitely had demanded already, above all emphasise the clarification of the local traditions and their cultural and historical basis. Sethe too with his work "Prehistory and oldest religion of the Egyptians" (1930) had made the practical attempt "to gain a historic picture of the oldest religion and simultaneously of prehistory based on an analysis of the oldest literature, ....". But Sethe moved many historic processes "into an unknown primordial time", which in fact can be easily placed into the general and tangible historical view of Egypt without constraint."
Kees starts from a broadly spread typology of cults and cult places. He describes in detail animal cults, plant cults, holy objects and divinities in human form. These are the four main classes in which he presents his knowledge of the sources and facts. Among the holy objects there is a considerable amount of things like "demarcations, mounds, stones, pillars." Under the latter above all several objects are found which show representative character for settlements, relations to settlement names and also temporally cyclical indicators. The same is valid also for 'scepters, weapons and signs of power'.
With this exceedingly abundant and objectively accessible materials Kees reconstructs the whole territorial history of Ancient Egypt using the genealogically related god systems and their specifically local cults. It is "doubtless the best way to gain knowledge about the essential traits of the Ancient Egyptians, to capture their own remarks as far as possible, in regard to their worship of gods and their relevant cult objects." And: "The oldest and most primitive form of worship of gods in Egypt is found in the local divinities, ..."
This is a tremendous change of viewpoint for those who know to some extent the history of Egyptology. Not the imperial history supported essentially by mythical concepts stands now in the foreground anymore. With his approach Hermann Kees turns the direction completely, describes a history from below, shows the development of the centrally important systems of deities not supported by imperial myths anymore. They appear connected in long genealogical derivations as toposemantic part of the territorial system. He describes the village- district- and imperial system as an evolutionary system of gods. The cults stand in the new frame of a territorial organisation which evolved from below, from small local settlement units to the large imperial organisation. The systems of gods are mutually connected through complex and politically variable genealogies, through which social hierarchy, political power and administration are increasingly built up.
Thus, Kees very plausibly outlines the development of religion in Ancient Egypt in fact as constitutions anchored in the physically represented cults. From local toposemantic cults it is increasingly organised on regional levels, forming spatially limited and relatively autonomous district systems, with their local main places. And ultimately the system culminates on the imperial level, with the state cult associated with the king. This system has developed in the Nile valley well over 1000 years from predynastic village cultures. Precondition and requirement of this system is a cult tradition focussed on place with its large formal diversity produced essentially by a specific type of human behaviour. To get an impression how this looks like: a similar toposemantic cult system is found in present India in the framework of agrarian Hinduism. It is still widespread and shows quite similar, traditionally preserved forms (s. Egenter 2001)
The 'Egyptological turningpoint' presented by Hermann Kees can not be without effect on our anthropological understanding of religion, because the 'New Kingdom' of Ancient Egypt is at the same time the milieu where the Judeo-Christian religion had its origins. And the Euro-Mediterranean line of this complex also produced the preconditions for our scientific concept of religion. However, neither Jewish nor Christian theology strive to clarify these important interfaces. Both evidently profit from the corresponding expressions of power and control. Cultural relationships are put into the foreground, the theological relations are covered up. However, these connections were dealt with in a separate study (Egenter 2000) presenting the religio-anthropological reconstructions of the author in details. We shortly resume the most important points of this 'Millennium-essay' in the following.
The eternally burning thorn bush
In this essayistic study the thesis is maintained that the whole cult system of ancient Egypt, that is to say including its most elementary cult system locally generated in predynastic village cultures at the time of the New Kingdom, supports the imperial cult of Amun around Theben and thus supports the power of the pharaonic throne in the constitutional framework of the Egyptian theocracy. If further it is assumed that Moses had taken this political top of the constitutional pyramid as model for his own theocratic project of a Hebrew state in Palestine, eight points can be taken as a consequence which can be described as a 'positivistic theology'.
Eight methodological points
• This cyclic cults system physically handed down was abstracted by Moses first in verbalized form and adapted to the situation of the Hebrews in Egypt. Later it was fixed by script.
• The historico-traditional dimension of the Egyptian model, that is to say the highly complex and deep-rooted village-and-district-cultsystem is omitted. It is replaced by some Hebrew cult traditions (Sukkoth festival etc.).
• In regard to the theocratically conditioned alliance with God there are indicators of different cultural layers used by Moses, that is, a synthesis of elements reflecting on one hand the influence of the very advanced Egyptian civilization (Jahwe, The Holy Load, the sacred tent, golden sacrificial instruments) and an equipment of traditional Hebrew culture on the tribal level (Elohim, Jethro's thorn bush sanctuary in the shepherd milieu, animal sacrifices, Sukkoth festival etc.). With the verbal and written abstraction the identification is reduced on notions and names, which can be interpreted with arbitrary contents merely supported by 'belief'.
• The Jewish scripts as well as the Christian texts have essentially remained theocratical constitutions despite changes and adjustments. At the shepherd-sanctuary of the 'eternally burning thorn bush' Moses has attributed himself his state founding order.
• Still today modern science of religions fundamentally and generally is based on the concept 'belief' which was defined in absolute terms in medieval scholasticism and theologically postulated as primary term of religion. With this theoretical measure the factual relationship of cult and belief is reversed, that is to say, it was arbitrarily decided in favor of the latter. The cult as physical behaviour thus follows what is established historically from written sources like myths, fables, legends etc. and corresponding beliefs, not the other way round. Indeed, the hypothesis can be turned to the opposite and then makes sense anthropologically.
• Research into elementary forms of religion in modern times was theologically prejudiced. It apriori searched for 'belief' and primarily in the sense of absolute spirituality. Even in the wider scientific domains of research into religions, for instance in ethnology or folklore studies, or in the fields of non European high culture disciplines (Sinology, Indology, Japanology, etc.), one was not aware to what extent the absoluted spirituality of religion, in fact, is a very late Eurocentric scholastic-neoplatonic paradigm.
• Almost all theories on primitive religion are in this sense prejudiced (for example Tylor's Animism etc.).
• Evidently this apriori disposition greatly simplified research into religion, particularly in ethnology or in the disciplines related to non-European high cultures like Indology, Sinology, Japanology. It was enough to know the early texts and the corresponding myths in order to interprete surviving traditional rites from related deities and corresponding mythical narratives. If on the other hand the cults are conceived as primary, the meanings of a given religion can only be described and reconstructed after detailed surveys of the cults of a certain region with all its variations, which may request extensive field research. All the cults of a defined area have to be known factually. <4>
In this framework late Roman and medieval Christian religion was something quite different than what is outlined by Mühlmann. Based on the antique tradition of divine genealog, it worked essentially on the synthesis of two different cult systems (Nicaea 325). This was an ancient legitimate technique to give depth to theocratic constitutions. The Christian concept had no temporal depth at those times and therefore was welded together with a verbally abstracted and scriptwise fixed antique theocracy to form a deeprooted continuum. With great political sensitivity for his time, Constantine the Great has procured temporal depth for the popular figure of Christ by combining it with the ancient Hebrew God. For about 150 years this combination supported large parts of the Roman empire. With the Edict of Thessalonike (380) the synthesis became state religion. In 391 Christianity was confirmed as Roman state religion in this form (Athanasianism) .
After the downfall of Western Rome (476) on one hand this synthesis became the pacifying instrument for Central, Northern and Eastern Europe. On the other hand, a supra-imperial Roman clerical theocracy was formed against the Franconian and Ottonian emperors. This superseding process of traditional scriptless societies (Celts, Germans) with the Christian synthesis of ancient oriental theocracy produced two characteristic side effects. On one hand autochthonous elements of local cults were integrated into the superseding system, on the other hand local traditions were apriori devalued and primitivised by the urban-educated institutions in the framework of forced conversion. It was a dispute, around which the whole Middle Ages revolved for about 1000 years (universals-dispute, identity-struggle and investiture-debate). From these 'mechanisms' ultimately emerges what Mühlmann reports as "the highly blatant, abstruse, paradox, and monstrous" mentality of the Middle Ages. It is important to be aware that this theocracy is supported by written texts which support the theocratic truths. It is therefore quite mistaken, to demand "scientific enlightenment" from such a theologically supported system. In the framework of theology, history claims to be absolutely true. Evidently, still today religion maintains this dominant position of written history and thus in general influences our historical consciousness.
With this we are again at Mühlmann's refusal of the Middle Ages. Evidently he is confronted with these problems, but has not understood their constellation. Paradoxically it is what he vehemently rejects, this later Roman and medieval history of 1000 years and its tremendous impacts on the European "spirit", which in fact structures his whole book fundamentally and ultimately lets it end in unsolvable contradictions.
We can likewise guess here something important, namely the following: if we are successful in finding empirically plausible principles as equivalents for the historically supported claims of the 'absolute spiritual', then we can definitely ask ourselves whether the cartesian dichotomy of natural and 'spiritual' sciences is still justified. In other words, we would have to question the latter whether we would have to consider them as a speculative construct.
THE UNIVERSAL RELEVANCE
OF TOPOSEMANTIC CULT TRADITIONS
Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, Japan
and the European May poles
Thus we have to consider the following scientific problem: how is it possible to scientifically study autochthonous cult traditions objectively, spatially and in temporal conditions without using the conventional, absolutey spiritualised concepts of religion?
in the agrarian hinterland of Japan, in about 100 villages, the present author has explored annual cults of the village deity (ujigami). The study can be taken as exemplaric answer to the question above. The toposemantic fibroconstructive markers as main contents of the study clearly indicated the prehistorical depth of the local traditions and justified an ethno-pre-historical approach. The results are fairly similar like those of Hermann Kees in view of his evolutionary cult system which builds up primary from local villages and secondary district centres ultimately supporting the imperial system of Ancient Egypt. The emphasis was not on belief, but on a highly precise phenomenological description of the cultic behaviour in the framework of the traditional spatial and temporal organisation of the settlements concerned.
Cults were clearly recognised as territorial demarcations, as setting up 'nuclear bordermarkers', cyclic renewals of perishable signs set up in the middle of villages. Local territorial rights and social hierarchy (founder line), an elementary type of aesthetics (pro-portion), spatial organisation of the village in the environment (physical 'transcendence' or 'metaphysics') and an overall order or 'ontology (polarity) were anchored in a complex traditional cyclical archive of local 'history'. The representative of the founder house 'owns' the (village-) deity, is chief of the village executive committee, is a kind of local king, as well as local main priest of the cults. We have called this structural system 'settlement core complex'. Evidently it is rooted in neolithic times and might have basically prepared the grounds for the human capacity of permanent residence, of forming settlements, a capacity which developed in neolithic times. It also serves to clarify the origins of theocratic town formation and state organisation with social hierarchy and trifold function of early kingship (territorial ruler, highest judge and uppermost priest).
In regard to tectonic criteria a categorically polar structure, a polar axial system can be discovered in this demarcation system, which can extend its local meaning vertically or horizontally thus organising the environment spatially into wider frameworks (from local polarity of 'above and below' to the cosmic polar relation of 'heaven and earth' (see in this context the spatially expansive phaseology of the term 'cosmos' in contrast to 'cosmetics': Kerschensteiner 1962). The whole complex of early empire formation from prehistoric village complexes can be interpreted in new ways.
We suddenly receive fairly objective informations about the development structural prototypes of religion in the framework of prehistorical settlement organisation. With this background we also can understand the paradoxical acceptance of religion as a system of harmonious polarities with aesthetic qualities and culturo-genetic implications. Particularly among non-urban populations but also in scientific milieus it develops a surprising continuity into our modern times. It is a history which develops from the local, artificial 'tree of life' along an extensive perception and conception to become a geocentric or even heliocentric and planetarian axial system without touching the basic implication of its basically harmonious structure. <5>
We can now show anthropologically how this primary categorically polar system of per- and conception developed from constructive behaviour ('constructivity' Yerkes 1929) and was active essentially during mesolithic times in what we called categorically polar analogies between artifacts and natural forms (History of discovery of natural form). From this point we can not understand nature as something absolute anymore, but as a structural system of forms organised by man in specific ways. We can reconstruct the long history of discovery of natural form. And evidently this history of 'discoveries' must be related to the 'history' of the increasing size of the human brain.
Most important therefore would be to set up a new 'anthropology of religion', which critically questions its own premises and at the same time keeps the potential open to consider the sources also from the legal perspective in order to recognise them as local, regional or imperial constitutions.
The Ancient Testament for instance is very clearly and essentially a theocratical constitution. From the Jewish side too it is considered officially as 'the law' (Thora). Medieval scholasticism has transformed it into what we call religion in the framework of European Christianisation. Its central meaning was originally the theocratic alliance with God. The conception of a 'selected people' should consequently be understood from the cultic side. The relation was developed traditionally as is shown on the cattle-breeder level with the elementary relation of Moses to the 'Eternally burning Thorn Bush'. The essential aspect on this level is the protection of a certain territory. In front of the herdsman's sanctuary Moses attributes himself the exodus from Egypt and ultimately the Hebrew state foundation.
THE CARTESIAN DUALISM AND ITS ORIGINS
Of course, Mühlmann can not be reproached: the cartesian dualism is part of the humanities, more precisely, a problem of the history of philosophy. Nevertheless, the fact that Mühlmann does not discuss the problem, is particularly surprising because in his history of anthropology the word philosophy is definitely not a foreign word.
That Mühlmann does not enter into the problem, but puts it aside, is an important point of the present report. In the wider context the example should show that by uncritically keeping up the disciplines we are dragging over centuries basic problems which could be resolved with systematical anthropological methods. That the ecclesiastic dogmatism has its secular history we have already hinted to (see essay on 'Eternally burning Thorn Bush'). We have also mentioned that the medieval formation of religion included the discussion of quite concrete conditions and from quite contradictive positions (universalism dispute, identity struggle and investiture debate).
We have mentioned also, that ethnology played a strategic role in Egyptology, in so far as it suggested that the formerly dominant mythical interpretations derived from theology and from the history of religion were questionable in Egyptology. It provided impulses to replace the mythical concepts by a traditional history of constitutions in which physically represented deities in local temples formed the nuclear borders. In the framework of the corresponding genealogies of deities they were the basic toposemantic reference system initially for the formation of local villages, of districts and finally supporting the Egyptian empire (Kees).
On one hand this calls for the following: anthropology (as well as ethnology) should know the European history of medieval religion to some extent in order to avoid, that the results of theology and the theologically based 'science of religions' is integrated into anthropology without any critical revision (Klass 1995; Glazier 1997; Klass/ Weissgrau 1999; Lambeck 2002). In another sense this is very important: the cartesian dualism should not be considered in the conventional micro-theoretical framework of the history of philosophy only, it should rather be dealt with in a macro-theoretical perspective of the anthropology of cognition. Its origins then become very clear. This will be discussed shortly in the following.
Rural and urban dichotomy
The science of written history forces the other sciences to accept a prehistory structured according to its own historical methods of dated sources. Archaeology deals with this 'prehistory'. On one hand it shows us its documents dug out as prehistorical sources, not really indicating clearly that these sources made of durable materials might be extremely limited indicators of the corresponding culture. This misleading aspect comes to the mind of the anthropologist who works with an anthropologically defined term of 'material culture'.
Further, those who think dominantly in culturo-geographical and spatial dimensions and - from the conditions of ethnology - know culture also as an extremely complex behaviour, will not be satisfied with the simplified distinction of history and prehistory. Rather they will focus on an ethno-pre-historically defined and consequently much more complex opposition of existential spaces which can be characterised by basically different categories. Essential is the contrast of rural and urban space. This contrast of fundamentally different existential spaces is dealt with in another article (Egenter 2001, see plate 1). The essential point consists in the contrast between the 'rural' space attributed to hominisation, assuming an artifact depth of 22 million years and, on the other hand with the much newer development, the urban existential space structured quite differently as a secondary implantation into the primary rural type of space organisation (plate 2). We want to limit us here on the most essential framework of cognitive anthropology.
Two different systems of cognition can be distinguished in relation with these two types of existential space (plate 3) and (plate 4).
1) The categorically polar harmonious system of cognition from Meso- and Neolithic village culture. What we call religion in the historical sense is a survival structured according to polarity, respectively its spatial extension (along any toposemantical axiality) to form a unity of heaven and earth.
2) A second categorically analytical system derived from the primary. In sequence of ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian formations of empires it develops in the field of presocratic thought (Heraclitus) into an idealistic line (Platon) and an empirical one (Aristotle). These dualistic lines can be understood as an analytical splitting of polar cognitive systems of the ancient Near East (e.g. Upper and Lower Egypt forming a unity) taken over from predynastic villages and developed into larger scale. The idealistic line will be split again in the field of medieval scholasticism and following enlightenment into
a) a primary absolute spirit which was scholastically and neoplatonically absoluted from the polar system, that is the cartesian res cogitans, what we call religion.
b) an empirically materialistic world, objective, without metaphysics, the cartesian res extensa, what we understand today as science in the empirical sense.
In the framework of cultural anthropology two types of structural fieds of world culture are obtained
1) Rural agrarian traditions
2) Urban monumental and script-historical structures
These structural fields with their charcteristic system of categories (time: cyclic / linear; space: local / universal; categorical organisation: polar / analytic; etc. (s. plate 3) are intermingled until today as the two most important continuities. One is small scaled and definitely local, the other is more dense spatially and forms wider interurban networks.
It is easy to imagine in this way how polarly structured rural cult festivals continued to exist in rural zones below their religious and political superseding. Since territorial demarcations were the most important existential condition, these traditions were kept on on the basic level. Evidently the historically founded 'higher' religions have integrated locally developed axial polarities. In the framework of early city states which extended their spatial control horizontally, the vertical axial systems too were interpreted in spatially extended ways. It meant, for instance, that the upper categorical component was projected on visible celestial bodies (Echnaton syndrome) or later - in regard to the scientific results of astronomy - were related to the extensive and ultimately universal concept of the skies.
Within modern societies such structural conditions of the earlier rural 'religion' have survived as reminiscences of the still omnipresent village cultures. Thus the basic structure of modern religion, the irrational conditions, the polar interdependence of heaven and earth, could be interpreted as a reminiscence of preurban village cultures, supported also by the survivals of traditional agrarian societies, as they are described by ethnology and folklore studies.
Since this cognitive system of polar harmony essentially had been developed from empirical conditions of Neolithic agrarian traditions, it was accepted and preserved particularly in its extensively interpreted form on a popular level. This spatially extensive, universal and supra imperial clerical construction got into conflict with astronomy (geo- and heliocentrism), but on the long run profited enormously from the universalisation of the skies: it implied the globalisation of its theocratical claims. On the other hand this polar system of universal dimensions got into conflicts with the rising analytical sciences. They were focussed on the skies as a scientific subject. But it should be noted that for instance Kepler, and many others, took their fascination for the research of the skies originally and fundamentally from religious concepts, or more precisely they admired the harmony between heaven and earth, were fascinated by the spatial organisation of the heavenly bodies and their geometric and orderly movements.
In other words, we can question the European 'spiritual' history with ethnological and anthropological principles by viewing the rural and urban existential space from the origins of the latter in parallel ways and considering the relevant structural conditions as continuities. The empirical preconditions of the 'civilisational spirit' are evidently produced in the rural space of 'hominisation'.
MÜHLMANN'S FINAL CHAPTER IN DISCUSSION
Let us return to the final chapter of Mühlmann. We want to shortly resume it and critically comment it in regard to the newly found criteria.
Under the subtitle 'ethnographical sociology' Mühlmann spreads a wide field of contradictive social theories. Similarly under the title 'Ethnographical mythology and phenomenology of religion'. Evidently the heterogeneous problems can be seen as a product of mistaken projections.
'Turning away from objectivistic concepts of culture', 'History of scriptless societies', 'Origins and extension of the great language groups' are further subtitles. Under 'Cultural history' three problems are dealt with, but the basic problem of the term culture, its quasi absolute imprecision, is not mentioned.
A further subchapter is devoted to 'Nicolai Hartmann's teachings of the <spiritual>'. Hartmann's concept is evalued positively by Mühlmann. Here too we find ourselves in the cartesian program. But maybe the whole concept could be positively revised by setting the emphasis not on the personal and objective but putting the objectivised spirit in an evolutionary sense at the beginning, deriving the others from it.
Under the subtitle 'Cultural anthropology and behavioural resarch' Cassirer's symbolic systems are discussed. Man appears as the 'creator' of his own spirit, impressed by his own creations, the world of his languages, myths, religions and science. But all this can be interpreted quite differently if one has gained some concrete ideas about the autonomous evolution of physical symbols.
The validity of modern research on animal behaviour (ethology) and its rash analogies regarding human behaviour can be questioned basically. Particularly because they do not consider the cultural dimension and thus create invalid grounds for comparison.
In this chapter Mühlmann also mentions the search for universal categories of culture. Kluckohn (1953) did not reach far with his 'transcultural' categories, he says. Not only physical conditions like nutrition and shelter, need for sexual supplementing and mutuality are important, but, symbolic thought, aesthetic values and obligatory norms and concepts of order are very important parameters too. In this context there is doubtless a potential to find more meaningful insights by using transcultural homologies. The endless manifold of cultural forms is very likely a product of our analytically differenciating methods. This manifold disappears, if we think in structural analogies. Finally new protocultural behaviours can be found among our biological neighbours, which let us write our prehistory in new ways (Egenter 1983, 2001).
Doubtless the history of institutions has not been written yet in anthropology. The 'Study of cultural dynamics' suffers from the fact that we want to do research into something which nobody can define. Culture a functioning whole? Who tells us how it 'functions'? With conventional optics an impossible attempt, if one is conscious of the endless Eurocentric projections.
Important however is Mühlmann's reference to Ogburn's concept of 'accumulation'. In his introduction he says: "The history of science is full of survivals ... relics, which were transferred from more ancient complexes of culture into newer ones, but which do not continue as alien objects in the new environment, but often appear with new motives and are embedded in the new conditions." Maybe this too could be a new starting point. The continuity of structural cultural 'cores' (J.H. Steward 1955) could be contrasted and combined with cultural accumulations in complementary ways. A new type of cultural dynamism appears, which can be read as cultural evolution.
The critique of the term and the method of 'cultural change' can be shared. Mühlmann writes: "...whether we should not search for other more differenciated terms to come more close to the processes themselves." The problem is again caused by the term 'culture'. Evidently in Mühlmann's view the term is not yet found which meaningfully supports the evolution of culture.
In the subchapter 'The revolutionary turning point' the antinomia worked on by G. Gesemann (1943) of patriarchal-tribal forms of life and centralised state institutions is mentioned. It probably could be seized more efficiently under the term 'dichotomy of rural and urban structures' working on it as the most important constellation of cultural history. Man and the art of settlement, of building, of architecture in the framework of structural history (ethno-pre-history). In the framework of a 'rural and urban anthropology' rural and urban domains could form the most important complementary parameters in view of an evolutionary theory of existential space organisation.
Mühlmann sees the cultural change in non occidental countries essentially as a "transfer of occidental revolutionary ideas, political and social, on non-occidental countries, particularly on those formerly superseded in the framework of colonial history and today in those new states in which their leading social strata are indoctrinated by the West;..." His idea is further characterised: "Of revolutionary impact were not only the ideas of the French revolution but also the Judaeo-Christian and the Islamic eschatology, ..." This combination is surprising. But Mühlmann is convinced that "tribal societies can fall into a strong existential crisis through contacts with civilisation and by being 'superseded' by foreigners...." Here too a new anthropology should develop objective standards to unmask the pseudoscientific value schemes, which are at the base of such superseding processes and do the utmost to prevent them.
In a further title 'The growing problems with the term <folk>' is discussed. Folk-anthropology? National anthropology? The combinations show: the terms are outdated.
The intrusion of sociology is another problem. Mühlmann confronts it with 'intentional' criteria. "The criterion for the sociological definition of an ethnic unit can only be found in the communal conscience of a community and in the autonomous delimitation of a group,...". In this context Mühlmann hints to the cultural and political background of terms defining groups like clans, caste, etc.. "Thus ethnos is always a political term."
Further, the "...identification of national traditions and language community... can not be maintained anymore today." Mühlmann gives plausible reasons. Another line works with the influence of political sociology: 'Sociology of war.' Tribal feuds have a great influence on the formation of common cultural tradition. "War and peace belong together dynamically", Mühlmann says, But: Anthropology of war? It will doubtless not explain the essence of a society.
A further field of problems is shown in Mühlmann's relation to the contradiction between myths of decent among ethnic groups and the scientific reconstructions of their ethnic origins. According to Mühlmann such origins are difficult to know. "The reasons which peoples invent for their ethnical cohesion and their consciousness of unity are not combinable with the facts, but they are evidently parts of the 'objective spirit' and are thus real and effective." Here too Mühlmann shows to be rigidly fixed on the Eurocentric structure of disciplines, which are satisfied with verbalisations. However, to someone who knows an ethnic group not only from its verbal traditions, but also from its factual existential conditions including spatial organisation, traditional rites and cults in details, it is evident that verbal traditions not only refer to such rites and cults but often emphasise them ontologically and partially give them imaginary meanings. The Eurocentric interpreter often 'believes' such verbal traditions to the letter, taking them as 'myths' and 'legends'. Often these verbal traditions not only consist in descriptions of rites and cults with their physical contents, but often carry important legal and territorial implications through time.
The following too is very questionable. Analysing the revolutionary changes in the newest epoch of mankind Mühlmann sees the rise of "a <world-openness> towards the future in the precarious sense, that it does not allow any prognosis." However, today this would not be accepted anymore. We have arrived at the borderlines of the technically feasible today. A new type of 'man and environment' concept forces us to interprete the evolution of man beyond the schizoid dualism of Descartes. We have to start anew, using empirical parameters focussed on definable terms like settlement, environment and habitat. On one hand the goal consists in finding counter arguments against the totalitarianism of present consumerism. On the other hand its aim is also to reduce the threat of catastrophical reactions of the closer and wider environment before it is too late.
CONCLUSIONS AND PROSPECT
Some notes in view of a possible future
Based on Mühlmann's 'History of Anthropology' we have tried to trace new lines in the framework of a new habitat- or settlement- anthropology, at the same time critically setting the conventional disciplinary system into the background. Eurocentric projections have become visible. Finally our sights were focussed on a habitat-anthropology which can be used globally.
It is evident that such a concept corresponds to an urgent need. It is important to have a new understanding of the human condition beyond cultural diversification. It would have to be a type of interpretation which questions conventional systems. The world's present dramatic activities are to a great extent based on speculative and outdated concepts. New cross cultural anthropological theories should provide reasonable conditions for humans.
The difference of cultures can be seen as a product of historical methods, which have to be revised. Methods should be propagated which transgress these diversifications and put the similarity of cultures into the foreground. The structural conditions of the humanities should be reflected in new ways on the interdisciplinary level. Natural sciences too and their relation to the 'spiritual' sciences or humanities have to be defined in new ways.
Unfortunately the present 'zeitgeist' develops into the opposite direction. We are in the phase of a global domino-effect of fundamentalisation (Reagan/ Creationism; Vatican/ Poland/ Eastern Europe; effects on Islamisation). As a whole it implies a regress towards a medieval historism, just the opposite of what we propagate. This regress puts us into a paradoxical modern Techno-Middle-Ages, which reduces human self-knowledge down to religion. In fact this means absolute subordination under antiquated theocratical sturctures. In addition, increasing commercialisation of media and daily life produce dangerous nivellations. New masses are created which can be manipulated in the frame of political power. It is important therefore to take a new Enlightenment into consideration.
The intensely diffused religions are a decisive problem. Viewed in the frame of a scientific anthropology of religion they are all historistic constructions. They can only be kept up because many still have a naive medieval confidence into the validity of written history. Many are not conscious of the fact that written history is the youngest of basically six 'histories' which define our modern world:
- cosmology (Big Bang theory, 12/13 billions)
- geology (2 billions)
- biology (1.5 billions)
- physical anthropology (22 millions) and
- cultural anthropology (2 millions)
- finally: written history: (5 thousand)
According to the most elementary principles of the historical method, temporal dimensions of some thousands of years can not have much in common with those cosmological dimensions which account for 12 or 13 billions of years. The story of creation in the Ancient Testament for instance can be related clearly to the canon of settlement foundation texts of those times. Evidently they had constitutional implications (Babylonian creation myth: text acc. to Winkler 1906).
Consequently, what in fact is spatially interpreted illegitimitely in universally extended dimensions, could be reconstructed easily in ethnological terms: the local cults handed down locally as they are still found in India in agrarian Hinduism (Egenter 2002) or in Japan within traditional village Shinto (Egenter 1980, 1982). Evidently their local 'myths' refer to their own settlement foundation, not to the creation of the world in an universal sense!
Just a short remark in this framework. In his project of 'world ethics' Hans Küng, the quarrelsome theologist, has fairly high-handedly annihilated the roughly 110 Million of Japanese Shintoists. Thus, paradoxically, Shinto, as a 'religion' which from prehistoric times was basically structured according to environmental ethics, gets its ethical capacities denied from an Eurocentric theological command!
Natural sciences too, particularly the most recent brain research, are progressing. They declare culture as a neurological physiological extension. But there will be always a barrier which can not easily be explained, essentially the formal problems of culture.
Another important point: the tension between history and anthropology. The historical method dominates today. It suggests reliability to many, though there are many stories once valid which many do not believe anymore. The interest for sources changes continuously today. Any type of present, each 'zeitgeist' again and again constructs its own past. Archaeology makes us believe in prehistory and ancient cultures, where often some fragments of findings merely have the character of vague indicators.
The main weakness of history: it glorifies its beginnings though there are only 'cultural changes', transitional fields (e.g. Egypt). Thus history, like a trickster, creates illusions. But, anthropology has a tremendous trump: it can be conceived systematically. It is absolutely clear that an anthropological definition of object culture, and the use of the ethnoprehistorical method, would considerably question the validity of the archaeologist's work. It would reveal the glorious constructions of history as methodologically supported speculations: very likely high ontological values were produced in a 'prehistory' characterised by perishable materials that left no traces for the archaeologist.
Similar things can be said for religion. Surprisingly there are hardly any scientific studies regarding the term 'theocracy'. An objective study would doubtless show, that it implies a globally found antique principle of constitution. Nothing of a unique character! Chosen people? Paradoxically, in the Ancient Testament the cattlebreeder version of the Hebrew God appears clearly described as 'Eternally burning Thorn Bush'. It is a deity in front of which Moses explicitly and for the first time attributes to himself the order to organise the exodus, the migration to a new state to be founded (s. Egenter 2000). On the other hand the 'civilised' higher form of 'Jahwe' is already in the sphere of influence of the 'Akhenaton syndrome'. In other words, religion in the scholastic sense is basically built on a cult system handed down physically. This is then verbalised and later fixed in written form. In this abstracted form the concept of 'god' becomes freely manipulatable. The contents of the term have become abstract and are not objectively definable anymore.
Not only as scientist, as anthropologist, also as common human being, one should ask oneself in this context - particularly in regard to the speculations involved - whether we still can afford today such evident distortions legitimated merely by political power.
In contrast to this: art, how marvellous, the primary system of cognition, still active today and enormously powerful in the whole domain of premodern art. Did art create man? Unfortunately European theory of art is still stubbornly against this new anthropological dimension of art and conservatively keen on the postmedieval Renaissance myth of the profaned creator genius. The art-artist scheme of European art is not competent in ethnology, has nothing to say (Cornelia Rothfuchs-Schulz 1980). There the collective cult-art scheme is important. Not individually conceived subjective 'originality' is the point, but rather 'origo' in the prehistorical and traditional sense. The origins of a settlement are involved. Here too ethnology, using the concept of structural history, could make great discoveries, if - leaning rather towards phenomenologically objective views - it could free itself of its Eurocentric indoctrinations.
Last but not least, philosophy too gains a new perspective towards outside, towards larger horizons. It seems that China has preserved an anthropologically primary world view based on polar harmony. This type of cognition is also found in Ancient Egypt, and appears in the field of the presocrats, in particular with Heraclitus. China developed it to a high concept of harmonious thought. In contrast to this, post-Heraclitan Europe analytically split all what came into its reach into incompatible halves. The presocrats not as 'waiting for Socrates the great', but, as transitional field in which categorically polar systems of the Near East and Ancient Egypt developed into the endless accumulation of analytical differences: in fact the core problem of the Western world.
Potentials were only outlined shortly in this report. In spite of this it has become clear that the emphasis on human space, of settlement as an evolutionary process with corresponding demarcations and spatial organisation new paradigms are presented which can provide new views parallel to the conventional anthropology of the disciplines. Maybe the former could even enter into competition with the latter. What is most important in this concept outlined here is, first, the precision of the considered facts related to dwelling and settling, and, second also, the existential importance of the conditions which support them: the (proto-) human existence in space.
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Notes and Bibliography
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