OpEd News Interview with Marcia Pally on Commonwealth and Covenant July 6, 2016
Broadcast July 6, 2016

The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

Marcia Pally; individuality, separateness, separability and situatedness

Podcast submitted By Rob Kall         

Copyright © Rob Kall, All Rights Reserved. Do not duplicate or post on youtube or other sites without express permission. Creative commons permissions for this site do not apply to audio content or transcripts of audio content.

Professor Marcia Pally, Multilingual Multicultural Studies, New York University

Institute of American Language and Culture, Fordham University

Guest Professor, Theology Faculty, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

Author of Commonwealth and Covenant

http://www.marciapally.com

Very rough interview notes

Rob: What’s the goal of the book

principles discussed in faith traditions that could be very helpful to help us decide how do we pick a president,

Rob: What is ontology?

the explanation for how the world works– world view, what you think the setup is

IF we’re going to enhance human flourishing we have to look at how we work, how the world works. If we don’t know how the world works, how we work, we won’t be able to”

Rob: Next concept or three concepts: “separability-amid-situatedness.”

what kind of creature are we as human beings.

One is we are different people, each differentiated from the next. Everybody is distinct and different.

At the same time we become who we are through the relationships that we have, starting from infancy. We develop our unique selves through interacting with our situations. We begin interacting with people nearby, but our layers of interactions rather quickly extend out.

Even the educational opportunities that parents have may not be decided by people in the neighborhood– people rather a distance away.

In shorthand we are separate amid situatedness. That’s what we have to take into account in our political economic, technological”

All of these policies and regulations need to take into account that we are separable but

Rob: Individuality and relationality

individuality is tied to separability

Relationality is combination of your individuality, you as a distinct person in all of the relationships that affect you and that you affect– it’s a reciprocal phenomenon. We have relationships because we are distinct and different.

That starts to sound like your work.

The reason why cooperative work, networks, and so on yield more and better, human flourishing is because we are separable and situatedness.

If we took our separateness our separability amid our situatedness and took it seriously we would a lot better at policies.

Rob: This comes back to how your ideas tie in with choosing a presidential candidate and policies.

When you choose someone you are choosing someone with policies– regulating

I propose we would do better if the policies and people were developing from the recognition and appreciating that we are separable and unique among our relations. WE have reciprocal impact and reciprocal ”

Example: imagine a logging company. The owners want the highest profits and therefore to cut down as many trees as possible. The workers want to keep their jobs, so they want to cut down trees. The local residents may not think that’s the best route because of the devastation of the environment. Ecological groups may protest. We have a lot of players here” who appear to have different interests. We can view it as a competitive, agonistic, dog eat dog, who’s going to get the most for themselves. Or you can think about it this way.

Actually, everybody wants forests for the future. Everybody shares that goal.

Joel Hunter– begin by asking why the other side is for the other side. What are they afraid of, what do they dream about , what do they hope, for what are their anxieties. IF everybody around the table does that that’s a start for a resolution where everybody contributes to the solution, nobody is left out, because every body has in mind the reciprocal impact of everybody around the table.

Picture a society or culture where that’s just the way people did things.

most importantly– that’s the jumping off point for getting creative. Because you have everybody involved, because you understand the principle of relationally you start thinking out of the box.

Separability can lead to disconnection, individualism, competition, exploitation

situatedness can help cooperation but can also lead to top-down excesses, can lead to “the other.”

Rob: I try to summarize

Not quite a balance.

Rob: I Bring up connection consciousness

That would be consciousness of relationally

WE are wired or set up to work through connections.

Darcia Narvaez has written a very important book, Neurobiology and the development of human morality.

Human babies come into the world expecting playmates, parents, neighbors, networks.

That’s how the brain develops

We develop relationally.

Biology has been saying it for the last 40 years.

Theology has been saying it for the last 2-3000 years.

Love thy neighbor as thyself. means we develop in relationship to our neighbor near and far” and if we take that into account in developing how we treat others we’re going to have better flourishing.

When we don’t you get too much individualism or too much

Rob: When I think of too much I think of narcissism, psychopaths and sociopaths.

There’s nothing wrong with the individual persons that we are but we run into a problem when we have too much separateness or individualism

With excessive situatedness dictatorship, top down oppression, conformity controls, not enough space to develop individually,

We are separate and distinct amid our relations.

Rob: makes me think of Ayn Rand and libertarianism.

Let me start with Adam Smith, the supposed guru of greed, competitive dog eat dog capitalism.

Quote. Each of us should put ourselves in the situation of the other”

At all times in the market consider the duress falling to others and to imagine what that would feel like happening to you.

SO you get someone like Ayn Rand or any other politician or economist or the culture on Wall Street , looking without caring what happens to other people, you’re going to get a poor outcome.

You need to think creatively and relationally

There are a bunch of books on economics and how we should be developing policies to bring greater numbers of people out of policy and to sustain the middle class. ”

There are several very good economic books discussed at Davos, UN, G8, etc. but they are not implemented because we lack the world view. When I read your work about connection s

Rob: what is Intersubjectivity and how does it tie into your writing

The awareness of connection consciousness– you have your distinct subjectivity and intersubjectivity includes looking at the subjectivity of others, not just two, there may be 117 in the room. The exchange and exploration of the subjectivities that are yours and that surround you.

That gives you the accumulation of ideas.

The beauty of intersubjectivity, or connection consciousness or relationally is that you are aware that you come to better solutions by working with the perspectives of other.

other biologists

Narvaez, herity, Pfaff have looked at our wiring, and the disservice even destruction

if we lack relationally,, if we lack connection to and playfulness– to o there.

95% of our evolutional development is as hunter gatherers, which saw many many more benefits to cooperation than to competition. We see this in likelihood of offspring survival. If you have two groups both chasing an animal for food, if they compete, people will die, if they cooperate, everybody eats.

Rob: you use Ontology of relationality theologies of relationally

either as inspired words of God or illuminated text, we shave something to learn from them.

Ontology or relationally is describing relationally without God Talk.

theology of relationally is describing WITH god talk.

Theology of relationality

God– cause of causes, source of sources,

The cause of causes is the reason there is anything at all.

we have particulars. Heat, particles, energy.

Human beings are different from the cause of causes. An order of magnitude of difference.

It’s not something in the world, not even quantum in the world.

We have to have something of the cause of causes in us, metaphorically, in order to exist at all.

Bottom line, we are very different from the cause of causes, but in intimate relations,

Aquinas called it God working intimately within us.

We are different, but in intimate relation with whatever that is.

Existence is difference in relation.

That’s the theological basis

The structure of existence is the

we are going to be different in relation.

Theology provides ground level explanation for individuality, separability amid our connection

We are in God’s image. We cannot be in God’s image the way we look in a mirror.

What does being in God’s image mean. IT can’t mean a one to one reflection

It means theological, although we are different from the causes, we have something of that in us.

Being in God’s image is one poetic way to say that the condition of existence is being of deep relation.

Rob: You Say covenantal interdependence among persons constitutes our relationship with God.

Religious traditions talk about covenant.

Contract you protect interests. In a covenant you protect the relationship

It’s a deep bond between at least two different being or could be many where the purpose is the flourishing of all.

David BrookS article, How Covenants Make Us which cites your book, refers to the difference between contract and covenant

Creating situatedness requires a different way of thinking. When we go out and do a deal, we make a contract. When we are situated within something it is because we have made a covenant. A contract protects interests, Pally notes, but a covenant protects relationships. A covenant exists between people who understand they are part of one another. It involves a vow to serve the relationship that is sealed by love: Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people.

People in a contract provide one another services, but people in a covenant delight in offering gifts. Out of love of country, soldiers offer the gift of their service. Out of love of their craft, teachers offer students the gift of their attention.

The social fabric is thus rewoven in a romantic frame of mind. During another period of national fragmentation, Abraham Lincoln aroused a refreshed love of country. He played upon the mystic chords of memory and used the Declaration of Independence as a unifying scripture and guide.

These days the social fabric will be repaired by hundreds of millions of people making local covenants — widening their circles of attachment across income, social and racial divides.

We have a primary reciprocal responsibility for the flourishing of others, as they have for you. It acknowledges that the future depends upon it, a common fate, that we have to look for a common good.

It is because we are, as creatures, that way.

Idea of co-creatorship and moral correspondence

co-creatorship– because we have cause of causes in us, we have the capacity to act as co-creators, with God, in our human capacity. Not only do we have the capacity to act in this world, going with the grain of creation, we have the capacity to do this because we have moral correspondence, the capacity to develop ourselves our policies, our institutions, going with the grain of relationally, going with the grain of connection conscioussness. to further the way we are wired to optimally go.

The capacity is

Rob: Is it limited to human. Frans de Waal describes morals in animals.

Many animals exist relationally

It’s not only lactation. It’s the entire interaction and layers of interaction between her or his surrounding. It’s holding, communicating, talking, language itself as a communicative phenomenon.

Narvaed holds that failure to have a cooperative supportive network severely hampers development in humans, in specific ways.

It’s described in parallel ways in the

If a child is in a tense or fearful situation often, if the adults and community are anxious, fearful, angry, neurochemical reactions become the facilitated pathway. The defense against becomes the facilitated

aggression, freeze o r flight. Narvaez descries how, depending on how the aggressive, fearful, competitive or nasty environment the child is in the child will develop responses— competiveness, obsequiousness, servility

That environment violates the cooperate, connectedness that is our setup.

Narvaez and others talk about cultures that develop high anxiety, competitive ness as standard operating procedure. The next generation w ill develop that and that gets passed down t through generations in a downward spiral. Narvaez have said our current modern culture has slipped, in my terms into excessive separability– self absorption, greed, competitiveness.

We are in some sense suffering from separateness, ” self absorption”

the good news, is, with Connection consciousness, this can be address. Adults can address this. “.

We are wired for cooperation, for convenient, for reciprocal care and responsibility.

Rob: Theologies of relationality grapple with the most fundamental condition of our lives.

distinction amid relation. Why is this the most fundamental condition of our lives.

as human beings we are creatures who are distinct and unique and we get to be our distinct and unique selves through our relations. When we develop societal policies and institutions we must take these into account. We need to do this when we negotiate when we regulate our banning industries and global trade agreements, and when we choose candidates.

What goes around does come around. It’s in the setup. it’s in the biology, the theology.

The bible is interesting. It is a very shrewd behavior of human behavior.

One of the prime lessons is that if we violate our connectedness, our reciprocal ” the outcome will be tragic, in the short term and the long term

Genesis includes murder of Abel by Kane.

Lying, cheating, chicanery, trickery”. 45 chapters later, Joseph, who was sold off into slavery by his brothers and forgives and reconciles with them

It’s a study of what are the effects of violating reciprocity.

Rob: What does genesis say works.

Reconciliation and the cessation, of lying trickery and cheating.

Violating THE SETUP

we get poverty, disease, alienation, high drop out rate, people abandoned by our society. We are not keeping our relationally in mind.

Rob; You use relationally and reciprocity interchangeably.

they include the idea that we are distinctly valuable and talented, yet develop through our layers of relationships and need to take responsibility for our relationships. THey have the same root components.

Idea of reciprocal impact and responsibility.

How do Attachment, kindness, cooperation tie into your model.

Attachment is the feeling of covenant. We are in the bond that protects the relationship because that’s how things flourish best. I am attached to all who I impact and who impact me.

Kindness is a component o f covenantal behavior–

You talk practically about opportunities for smiling kind connection

This is not feel good naivete. There are complexities. Because we are wired primarily as a matter of evolutionary survival, we will solve our problem better by addressing them from a relational perspective.

We are relational beings and have reciprocal impact.

Rob: Do you have any thoughts on disconnection.

Both separability separateness or disconnection and situation are good things. It’s only when they go out of whack. There are times when we need to be alone– walk in the woods, listen to music. Part of separation is part of being human. It’s only excessive separation that is problematic. If we have policies where we institutionalize disconnection that are nefarious.

Rob: air conditioning, suburbs, gated communities, castes, all disconnect.

they violate the kind of creature that we are. Societies don’t flourish well or for long if you violate the way we are set up to be .

Subatomic particles are in motion. The trajectories are informed and influenced by subatomic particles. The whole ” of matter is relational.

The heisenberg principle. The entity of the subatomic particle is in relation to how you are looking at it. The very foundations of matter and energy are relational.

Carlo Ravelli says nothing comes to be, there is nothing in existence without relationship.

Rob: Relationality is the core of the universe

Karen Barret

Rob: You write how communities that have endured over generations have “clear values and common practices yet clear venues for individual expression even amid highly regulated daily routines.”

Individuality is constructed by all your relations, but all relations are made by separate people.

COmmunities, to flourish need both individuality as well as everybody’s understanding that they share common goods and a common future. The idea of a common future is very important.

I was interested in looking at the way human beings are set up to exist and the policies and institution.

Rob; You explore covenantal communities, like Amana and Oneida.

I look at the covenantal communities from the 1700s on.

Those communities with very strict rules with out permission for individuality did not last long.

OTOH, those communities who could not agree on common goals could not endure.

Common goals, common future and common means of getting to the goals and yet plenty of opportunity for creativity, innovation and individual talents.

It’s a philosophy or world view to pragmatics paradigm–

Rob: What about aboriginal communities? Where do they fit in?

Narvaez looks a lot at the indigenous communities that are hunter gatherer in structure and she notices a few things that are done better there than in our modern western culture that has slid into excessive separability or individualism. There’s quite a few things to be learned about the world views of hunter gather

Rpb: Gift economies.

I talk about gift exchange societies. Very close to the concept of covenant. It’s not I buy you a birthday present. It’s societies of covenantal bonds over very long periods of times and spectacular distances. These relationships are maintained by gift exchange. not valuable in the pragmatic sense, as an expression of the covenantal bond On the surface it can look quite trivial, but it succeeds in cementing the covenantal bond because it confirms the covenantal bond.

It’s a feature of many indigenous, hunter gather societies and covenantal communities.

Marcel Maust studied it.

This expresses that kind of reciprocal care and responsibility. The gift is the symbol of the network and goes with the brain, the way we’re wired.

Rob: We’re going to wrap.

I didn’t write Commonwealth and Covenant to be nice, but to have a hard look at how we are as human beings, how are we structure to flourish and to take that as a framework for our public policies.

Rob: That’s revolutionary.

 

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Marcia Pally

Professor Marcia Pally

Professor Marcia Pally

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