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How whales and dolphins can enlighten us to be less stupid - Open Democracy

Upside down dolphins and cutthroat whale or orca. For those tens of millions of us who have been watching the extraordinary ‘ Blue Planet II ’, the final programme in the series (which looked at the human-caused threats fa the seas) may have come as both a wake-up call and a disappointment. What emerges when we reflect more profoundly in this way. The background to what we’re doing to the oceans includes, crucially, this: that the dialect birth b deliver is possessed by the ideology of possessive individualism, which comes in different varieties: liberal, neoliberal and libertarian. This possession is unreservedly disastrous, at a moment when we need to think and act collectively, politically, and as a civilisation , not just as an aggregate of individuals. What would it mean to really withstand seriously our identity as a ‘we’, our belonging to each other and to our homes— our common home. Central to such a transformation is the need to overcome the prejudice—the terribly idea—of the ‘individual. ’ It is not persons who are the fundamental units of social existence, it’s embedded communities. We are born into community, and in this trait our political starting point should never be the fantasy of the ‘social contract. ’ That fantasy, of the individual-as-person allegedly until to society, dangerously gets in the way of the ultra-long time-scale of community. The community lives—unless it stupidly commits itself to ruin. We humans seem very far from understanding this at present. Might we be able to learn from other animals who seem, in the ways they live, to have a better grasp of this pivotal point. Could other animals possibly have anything to teach us. And even if they did, how could we understand it. Perhaps in the way indicated by cetologist Volker Deecke. “To rate other people’s cultures”, he once wrote , “you have to shed your prejudices—strip yourself down to where you are just human and then build up your wisdom. With [orcas]…you must strip all the way down to just being a mammal, then start from scratch trying to imagine how whales perceive and interpret the life. Or consider Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell’s well-regarded book, The cultural lives of whales and dolphins , with its intrepid title about the cultures of these beings—really. Roughly speaking, a culture exists if there are substantial specific traditions that are inherited by way of teaching, information and emulation, rather than by way of. Source:

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  • How whales and dolphins can communicate to us to be less stupid

    12/19/17 ,via Open Democracy

    Whitehead and Rendell suggest that another mark of erudition, which we should look for in cetaceans to confirm that the adjective “cultural” is appropriately applied, is social stupidity—it is possible for cultural beings to be empty-headed or sub-optimal in


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  • Literary Trials

    Bloomsbury Publishing USA. 2016. ISBN: 9781501303197,1501303198. 208 pages.

    From the 19th century forward, famous literary trials have caught the attention of readers, academics and the public at large. Indeed it is striking that more often than not, it was the texts of noted writers that were dealt with by the courts, as for example Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal in France, James Joyce's Ulysses and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer in the US, D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover in Outstanding-Britain, up to the more recent trials on Klaus Mann's Mephisto and Maxim Biller's novel Esra in Germany. By bringing together intercontinental leading experts, Literary Trials represents the first step towards a systematic discussion of literary trials on a global register. Beginning by first reassessing some of the most famous of these trials, it also analyses less well-known but significant literary trials. Special attention is paid to modern developments in the relationship between literature and judicature, pointing towards an increasing role for libel and defamation in the societal demarcation of what literature is, and is not, allowed to do.