Friday, March 20, 2009

Rise of Patriarchal Society - V(ii)

Case Studies:
As I have already argued in my previous post, the (mis)understanding of sexual reproduction developed and limited metaphysical thought in the old cultures. One of the knowledges that pervaded in the past was that semen is seed. That means it's complete by itself to create a life.

The extreme exposition of this theme probably could be found in Sankara(IAAHE)'s 'Knowledge of Self'. If you observe all his nouns and pronouns - king, seer, wise-man, yogin, he - are exclusively males. Indeed, only males need the knowledge of self.

Though he didn't talk about creation in 'Atmabodha' ( I haven't read his other works), we can peruse his source book, Upanishads, to understand his knowledge. There it's clearly given Brahman ('it' that turns into 'he') created other selves.

This is where his understanding of condition and illusion developed. Brahman transformation from 'it' to 'he' clearly showed a condition or an incubator or an earth was added thus the great self (or the great selflessness) became male self.

Ultimately, the knowledge here is that just like the great self the men selves are complete by themselves with their seeds.


Maju said...

Do you really think people was as naive as to ignore the often so obvious similitudes between children and their mothers? I really can't agree with that. Much less since Neolithic, when selective breeding became a common occupation and must have taken in account the mothers' phenotype in order to have any success.

Patriarchy is a matter of power, not just of males over females but also of older males over younger ones (hence the most extreme Patriarchal societies practice psychological castration: cricumcission). There may be this or that associated legends but legends are not the origin of things but a justification or, at best, a fantastic explanation of the origins of things.

Manjunat said...

I don't think people were naive. I think it would have been impossible for them to understand ovary-ovum and testicles-sperm mechanism. The patriarchy we are seeing here is not male physical power over female but rather rejection of females. To achieve Moksha men have to come out of physical relationship with females who are 'illusion'. It's a seed centric world view. In other societies like matrilineal Musuo (thanks to black man) we find the idea that semen is rain. In other words, females grow seeds on their own but males just give nurture. The idea is reversed.

Based on these foundations, I think, many philosophies have been developed. You may remember that the Buddha's mother's name was 'Maya' or illusion.

Manjunat said...

In Tantra, which has the foundation in penis(Siva) and vagina(Sakti), we see sexual gratification as a way to Moksha.

Maju said...

Don't know. Mysogyny is very much intrinsecal to Patriarchy, and rejection of sex is also very common among religious philosophies, often attached to mysogyny.

Papuans, who are just weirdo, IMO, may be a somewhat extreme but also archetypical case of Patriarchal society. They don't reject reproduction (not at all) but feel dirty about sex, maybe because this represents their dependence on women. It is the sharing with women, considered inferior, often not much better than pigs, and directly linked magically to the natural world, what makes them feel dirty. It's not just sex but their sharing with women, which is typically followed by cleansing rituals.

This doesn't mean they don't use other sexual references like their typical penis funds: whose size represent their power.

It's so typical macho! But extreme.

You may remember that the Buddha's mother's name was 'Maya' or illusion.

Yah but I always undertood this is linked to the Indian notion of the World as a female divinity and the perception of it also as an illusion, a virtual reality distinct from some trascendental reality that is supposedly more real (this "illusion" is generally embraced by Hinduism and rejected by Buddhism, if I'm correct).

In Tantra, which has the foundation in penis(Siva) and vagina(Sakti), we see sexual gratification as a way to Moksha.

Which is, IMO, another "middle way" distinct from that of Buddha, where the passions of life are not just rejected, like in ascetic traditions, that emphasize the mind, aka "soul", but embraced and made trascendental. Some of this is also practiced by some Buddhist schools but it seems more natural maybe to exist within Hinduism, albeit as a rather "heretic" school nowadays anyhow. School that by the way is pretty much "feminist", AFAIK and could well preserve some of the oldest and most genuine Hinduist (or should I say "proto-Hinduist"?) teachings.

Manjunat said...

Yah but I always undertood this is linked to the Indian notion of the World as a female divinity and the perception of it also as an illusion, a virtual reality distinct from some trascendental reality that is supposedly more real

Indian notion derived from the fundamental that semen is life. You have to just check that Buddha's father's name was Suddhodhana or pure rice or pure seed. So that gives you the whole concept.

However, I don't have much idea about female centric Indian cosmology even though many communities have goddesses as the main deity (especially in South India). I don't think metaphysical world view ever developed in these communities.

Maju said...

Shakta is female-centered and so is Tantrism (not sure how much one is the other and vice versa)

I don't know too much but remember something that seems important in Tantric Yoga: "Shiva is a corpse without Shakti".

IMO, the matrifocal doctrines may be more into celebration of life and mysticism through life (and not against it), while some patriarchal ones instead seem about negation of life and focused in mere intellectual "joys". Even mysticism and ecstasy (the direct contact with the Divine) is for them something feared.

I have nothing against intellectual joys nor even some moderation, self-discipline and balance (not ascetism) but rejecting life and therefore "God" is a sacrilege, a sign of extreme and deep alienation.

But it is alienation what has fed civilization to a great extent: depriving people from satisfaction and forcing them into a perpetual state of lack, depriving people from the control of production and forcing them into becoming more and more pawns of a big machine where they are just prescindible pieces.

Going a little far in my elucubration maybe but this seems to be it.

Manjunat said...

The Saktaism that you referred is an amalgamation of three schools.

1. mother centric
2. penis and vagina centric (Tantra)
3. seed centric (Sramanic and Brahmanic)

What you have quoted about Siva being incomplete without Sakti isn't saying much about goddess, if you ponder over it. I mean at the end of the day it's Siva the creator there. It in fact mixes Brahman, Siva in that philosophy.

That is the reason I told pure female centric Cosmology isn't known and probably never existed. And as you said matrifocal ideologies merely interested in procreation part of life they might not have been interested in life beyond and consequently world beyond. I think both are misguided knowledge. I won't see them in positive light. For me both are failed philosophies.

Maju said...

Well, I'm not sure that he matrifocal philosophies are as centeed on mere reproducton as you say. Actually an strict link of sex and reproduction only seem to happen among Patriarchal doctrines (so funtionalist!). Tantra in fact actually suggests sex without reproduction: sex for the sake of it and for mystic trascendance through it.

Siva being incomplete without Sakti

Not incomplete: dead, useless, undivine and even inhuman. In Shakta and Tantra it seems like the male half is only a functon of the female half.

This is in fact is pretty much a bilogical approach: males just can't have children - we are deprived of our biological creative power, unless we complement ourselves with a female - females instead can easily get a "donation" and, in many species, can procreate without males (and even women could do it with our current technological knowledge if Patriarchal morality would have not banned it).

Of course, there's another biological approach to gender differences: the one that places males as the winners of an originally hermaphroditic battle to parasite the other with one's genes (it's what happens among some hermaphroditic species: the winner adopts the male role, while the loser takes that of the female, more costly).

But in both cases the burden and main responsability for creation falls in the female half. Hence Patriarchal mythologies emphasize intellectual creation instead, as it's the only way males can become creators, even if just virtually or idelogically. The only way that the God can replace the Goddess.

In Shakta, Shiva is God but he is because he is the companion of the Goddess. Otherwise he'd be nothing, as males have no intrinsecal creative power (outside of idealistic doctrines).

Btw, this reminds me a bit to the contrast between Hegel and Marx. For Hegel (older, conservative within a Patriarchal society) dialectics meant fight of ideas, for Marx instead it means struggle of realities, of real actors (classes but could be any other living force). Marx is considered "materialist" (realist), while Hegel is said to be "idealist" (virtualist).

I think that the same difference applies to Patriarchal mythologies with their idealism and Matrifocal ones with their materialism.

Just remember that "idealism" is nothing but "magic" (propaganda, persuassion, consensus creation) to control the reality by means of controlling the minds (aka "souls").

Manjunat said...

The quotation about Siva and Sakti is by Sankara (in a work attributed to him, Soundarya Lahari) whose patriarchal creation I just discussed in the post.

Your words about reproduction in other species and present day technological developments are a complete digression. I have yet to come across an instance where these philosophies allude to these facts. It's always male creator god/s.

If anybody reads Saktaism it would be evident that it's a mix the traditions that I have already pointed out. Therefore, it doesn't make much sense talking about supreme goddess concept from that tradition.

I have recently talked quoted studies that dispute universal matrilineal societies in the HG bands of the past. Therefore, application of 'cui bono' is mere speculative. I would consider rejection of females that is against the survival of the fittest anyway is a misguided principle.

Maju said...

I don't think they really reject females: they diminish them and make them like objects, cattle, slaves... For that they may use a hypocritical discourse of rejection of the female condition but it's nothing but a pretext to opress them.

The rejection of sexuality is something somewhat distinct anyhow and has always been reserved for a special group anyhow (allowing for an incorporation of "deviants", like homosexuals, into the system, as well as of children for whom there was no other exit than priesthood - no resources to provide for their would-be family) or has been limited to a idealist disgust for sex and everything bodily.

Like ants, men can live with a class that does not reproduce physically. This has happened with slaves often but also with a more elitist group of priests/monks. In Europe at least monasteries and seminars would be often the destination for the young sons who would not inherit the family farm and hence could hardly provide for a family of their own. It's in fact a growth control system, not a total rejection of reproduction.

It's much like wolves limit the reproduction of their own youngsters, keeping them as auxiliary servants to provide for the new cubs of the dominant couple. Just that in human "idealized" terms.

That's why (hypocritically) the Pope calls for chastity but rejects condoms and abortions and applauds "family values". It's a two edged sword: on one side you should be chaste (especially women, otherwise Patriarchy would be challenged) and, on the other, you must have many children. Sexuality is deprived of its emotional essence and limited to be a tool for the perpetuation the system.

Of course they can't supress the facts of life, but they can call them "evil" and "satanic".