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Re: [xmca] Levy-Bruhl, concrete psychology and "primitivism"

I was hoping someone might analyze this passage for me, but I guess I'll have to do it myself!

Much of the babalawo's talk takes the form of advice, recommendations, obligations for the future conduct of the client. What she has to do, or ought to do, includes “go to the church and make mass for you deceased relatives,” “look after your mother, by phone,” “arrange a sacrifice,” “pray,” “wear your hair loose,” and so on. In the excerpt above, the advice is to stop lending her clothes.

It is worth considering in detail the way this advice is offered. In this excerpt it is grounded in what “Orula says” (93) but immediately a warrant is added: “because that is stealing your luck” (we have translated suerte as ‘luck,’ but it could equally be ‘fate’). This is then clarified, and then the babalawo recommends to the client that she make her own observation; if she does so, she will see that her sister, who on occasion uses her clothes, is happy, content, while she, the client, is not (94-96). This is presented as an empirical demonstration of the Orula’s point: due to the fact that her sister has worn her clothes, the client’s astral has been stolen. It also counters a possible rebuttal: the “If not…” can be glossed as “If you don’t believe me, consider this…” The consequence of this is that the client is unhappy, while her sister is happy. The babalawo then offers additional clarification, “because…” one can wash ones clothes a hundred times, the astral of the person who wore them cannot be removed (96-98). This displays a counter to a possible qualification that the loss of one’s astral might be prevented by the simple expedient of washing the clothes that have been borrowed. Then he adds what could be taken as an appeal to his authority, or a confirmation that he himself lives by the advice he is offering to her: “We, the religious, don’t loan our clothing…” (98). This functions as backing to the validity of the central claims. He elaborates further; not only clothing should not be shared, but also shoes, towels, soap. Nor do they do the reciprocal: they don’t “wear the clothes of another person” (101), this countering the possible objection that if the effect works one way, it ought to work in the opposite direction, but this has not been mentioned. 

The passage displays a complex and subtle argumentative organization. It starts with the central claim, then a warrant (“because…”), then a more explicit statement of the mechanism that is claimed to be operating (“wear someone’s clothes… steals their luck”), then it counters a possible rebuttal, then counters a possible qualification. Then a backing is provided, and a further warrant. Finally, another possible qualification is countered.

Recall Toulmin's model of argument:

Attachment: Toulmin.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document

On Feb 21, 2012, at 9:54 AM, Martin Packer wrote:

> Steve mentioned the presentation I gave at ISCAR, on a study conducted by a student here in Colombia (Silvia Tibaduisa) of the babalawo. I discussed an excerpt from a divination session; here it is:
> Let me ask a little question. You live in a aparte-studio... in an apartment, with other people. What person wears your clothing?
> Yes. Sometimes my cousin or my sister uses them
> Orula says not to lend your clothes any more, because that is stealing your luck. That the person who wears someone’s clothes steals their astral, steals their luck. If not, make an observation yourself, of how your cousin lives and how you live. She's all happy, all content, and you’re not. That is how someone’s luck, stability, leaves them. Because [when] one lends their astral, although one washes it 100 times, it takes holds of the astral of the other person as well, and if it’s a negative astral, it also includes one. We, the religious, don’t loan our clothing, we don’t bathe with the same towel or the same soap. We don’t lend underwear, socks, shoes, anything. Because these are one's personal things and that takes hold of your astral. Nor wear the clothes of another person.
> The English reads a little oddly because I prefer literalish translations. There are a number of interesting characteristics to this exchange, but I want to focus on the reasoning involved. I would suggest that it is perfectly recognizable to us. Substitute a more familiar premise: not "when someone wears your clothes they steal your astral" but "when someone uses your toothbrush they give you bacteria" and the rest follows logically, doesn't it?
> Martin
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