Reader comment on Mark Nepo's passage ...

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    On Sep 25, 2013 Ken Williams wrote:

     I appreciate the example AND the irony in making a distinction between Colombus and Jung to make the point about making distinctions (separating), which underscores the difficulty in 'discussing' (or reasoning in general, which so often engages distinctions and separation). However, without being an expert, it seems another useful and interesting distinction can be made between explorers: Columbus, as noted, and Marco Polo. Columbus returned from his journeys essentially unchanged, whereas Marco Polo returned having adopted many of the customs, wardrobes, and beliefs of the places he'd been to. My understanding is that he paid a price for this adoption on returning home. Polo seems me to have been a true explorer. On another note, I've been fascinated for some time with what appears to be a reverse notion of 'ownership' held by many indigenous peoples. To put it simply, in many cases, indigenous peoples view themselves as being 'owned' by the land and the animals - a profound sense of belonging, within which the modern concept of 'ownership' is unthinkable. On reflection, I have come to suspect our notions of private property and ownership may be rooted in our language, that is, in our Indo-European proclivity for using nouns, which creates an idea of 'things', which leads to the idea that things are commodities to be owned, sold, traded, manipulated, etc. Traditional indigenous thinking seems to have lacked nouns, and were characterized by verb-oriented languages (see Benjamin Whorf's work on Navajo language).


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