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ANAHITA  January 2000

ANAHITA January 2000

Subject:

Re: The White Goddess by Robert Graves

From:

John Gainer <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 24 Jan 2000 14:28:15 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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    I don't know that we need to refer to undergarments and capacity for
violence when discussing reactions to Robert Graves' "The White Goddess."  My
remark that academicians generally don't make positive remarks about that
book was meant only to give one point of view.  Social scientists usually try
for an objective interpretation of hard data and one of the criteria by which
their arguments are judged is whether the results can be repeated.  For
example, say a sociologist wants to study goddess worship.  He or she would
probably start with a questionaire given to a large sample of people (around
100).  The rule of repetition means that another researcher on the same topic
should get approximately the same results from a similar questionnaire from a
similar sample of people.  This lends credibility to the results of each
study.  In anthropology say a woman goes to live in a village of people who
live by hoe-agriculture.  She makes observations on their way of life, comes
to certain conclusions about their belief systems.  The same rule of
repetition applies.  Say a man comes along and lives with the same group of
people some time later.  His observations and conclusions may differ somewhat
but both researchers bolster each others' studies if they document
essentially the same behaviors and beliefs.  This is just part of the
scientific method of study.  And it is popular in the social sciences
nowadays largely because this method proved so useful in the physical
sciences.  Also, it is a good way of minimizing the  problem of individual
bias (although, obviously, if our two different researchers have the same
biases it's not good enough).
    But then you read Robert Graves' book.  A lot of what he wrote was based
on his meditations, on his impressions, on totally subjective content.  That
doesn't make it worthless, but you can count on most academicians opposing
his views because of his methodology.  It's the same with Joseph Campbell and
his wonderful books on mythology.  I loved reading them but they're not for
the strictly scientific minded.
    But then, who needs to be strictly scientific about everything, all day
long, every day?

Diana Gainer

Don Taylor wrote:

> ##
> A deprived-by-ignorant-teachers student reveals,
>
> "I've taken courses in Folkloristics, Anthropology, and Sociology at
>  undergraduate and graduate levels and never had a professor or lesser
> ranked
>  lecturer who had anything good to say about "The White Goddess" by Robert
>  Graves."
>
> Those of whom this student speaks couldn't carry Graves' jock-strap.
> Jock-strap
> reference lifted from Larry Holmes-- who couldn't either, but could beat
> the hell
> out of all the teachers in question ( and Graves) at the same time.
>
> Are you nuts to even bring up the question?
>
> Taylor,
> retired and glad of it.
>

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