Dance of Person and Place, The: One Interpretation of American Indian Philosophy

Dance of Person and Place, The: One Interpretation of American Indian Philosophy

by Thomas M. Norton-Smith
     
 

Ever since first contact with Europeans, American Indian stories about how the world is have been regarded as interesting objects of study, but also as childish and savage, philosophically curious and ethically monstrous. Using the writings of early ethnographers and cultural anthropologists, early narratives told or written by Indians, and scholarly work by… See more details below

Overview

Ever since first contact with Europeans, American Indian stories about how the world is have been regarded as interesting objects of study, but also as childish and savage, philosophically curious and ethically monstrous. Using the writings of early ethnographers and cultural anthropologists, early narratives told or written by Indians, and scholarly work by contemporary Native writers and philosophers, Shawnee philosopher Thomas Norton-Smith develops a rational reconstruction of American Indian philosophy as a dance of person and place. He views Native philosophy through the lens of a culturally sophisticated constructivism grounded in the work of contemporary American analytic philosopher Nelson Goodman, in which stories (or “world versions”) satisfying certain criteria construct actual worlds—words make worlds. Ultimately, Norton-Smith argues that the Native stories construct real worlds as robustly as their Western counterparts, and, in so doing, he helps to bridge the chasm between Western and American Indian philosophical traditions.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781438431321
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
06/01/2010
Series:
SUNY series in Living Indigenous Philosophies
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
180
Sales rank:
764,312
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Foreword xi

Acknowledgments xv

1 Common Themes in American Indian Philosophy 1

First Introductions 1

Four Common Themes: A First Look 9

Constructing an Actual American Indian World 14

2 Nelson Goodman's Constructivism 17

Setting the Stage 17

Fact, Fiction, and Feeders 19

Ontological Pluralism 26

True Versions and Well-Made Worlds 32

Nonlinguistic Versions and the Advancement of Understanding 36

3 True Versions and Cultural Bias 39

Constructive Realism: Variations on a Theme by Goodman 39

True Versions and Cultural Bias 43

An American Indian Well-Made Actual World 51

4 Relatedness, Native Knowledge, and Ultimate Acceptability 55

Native Knowledge and Relatedness as a World-Ordering Principle 55

Native Knowledge and Truth 63

Native Knowledge and Verification 68

Native Knowledge and Ultimate Acceptability 74

5 An Expansive Conception of Persons 77

A Western Conception of Persons 77

Native Conceptions of Animate Beings and Persons 82

An American Indian Expansive Conception of Persons 93

6 The Semantic Potency of Performance 95

Opening Reflections and Reminders About Performances 95

Symbols and Their Performance 97

The Shawnee Naming Ceremony 102

Gifting as a World-Constructing Performance 105

Closing Remarks About the Semantic Potency of Performances 115

7 Circularity as a World-Ordering Principle 119

Goodman Briefly Revisited 119

Time, Events, and History or Space, Place, and Nature? 120

Circularity as a World-Ordering Principle 122

Circularity and Sacred Places 128

Closing Remarb About Circularity as a World-Ordering Principle 133

8 The Dance of Person and Place 135

American Indian Philosophy as a Dance of Person and Place 135

Consequences, Speculations, and Closing Reflections 138

Notes 141

Bibliography 153

Index 159

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