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Darcia Narvaez's 2014 Book and Donald J. Trump's 2016 Presidential Primary Campaign (REVIEW ESSAY)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) May 7, 2016: In the spirit of a hunter-gatherer of ideas, Rob Kall, founder of OEN, recently interviewed Darcia Narvaez in psychology at the University of Notre Dame about her award-winning integrative 2014 book Neurobiology and the development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom (Norton). It received the American Psychological Association's 2015 William James Award -- named after the Harvard pragmatist philosopher and psychological theorist William James (1842-1910). Today the Compartment of Psychology at Harvard is housed in William James Hall.

Rob Kall's interview of Darcia Narvaez prompted me to buy her book. No doubt OEN readers are aware that Rob Kall tends to be really, really interested in charming psychopaths. But I tend not to be as interested in them as he is. However, I agree that charming psychopaths can be problems, as can non-charming psychopaths.

In any event, I may have a somewhat different squint on Darcia Narvaez's 2014 book. I'd like to discuss four of the numerous integrative themes she works with in her remarkable book:

(1) small-group hunter-gather people;

(2) early childhood development;

(3) David Bakan's work on agency and communion;

(4) Paul D. MacLean's work on the triune structure of the human brain.

(1) For more than 50 years, I have studied the work of the American Jesuit cultural historian and theorist Walter J. Ong (1912-2003).

On the one hand, Ong uses the various verbal expressions primarily oral culture and primary oral culture and primary orality (= primary oral culture 1.0) to refer globally to all of our pre-literate and mostly pre-historic human ancestors.

On the other hand, Ong uses the various verbal expressions secondarily oral culture and secondary oral culture and secondary orality (= oral culture 2.0) to refer globally to our still emerging cultural matrix under the influence of communications media that accentuate sound.

In Ong's bold essay "World as View and World as Event" in the journal American Anthropologist, volume 71, number 4 (August 1969): pages 634-647, he makes sweeping characterizations.

On the one hand, Ong claims that the prestige culture in Western culture as exemplified in antiquity in the work of Plato and Aristotle is characterized by the world-as-view sense of life.

Also see Andrea Wilson Nightingale's book Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy: Theoria in its Cultural Context (Cambridge University Press, 2004).

On the other hand, Ong claims that all of our pre-historic and pre-literate human ancestors embodied cultures characterized by the world-as-event sense of life.

Also see David M. Smith's chapter "World as Event: Aspects of Chipewyan Ontology" in the book Circumpolar Animism and Shamanism, edited by Takako Yamada and Takashi Iromoto (Sapporo, Japan: Hokkaido University Press, 1997, pages 67-91).

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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