This Week | Elisabeth Horowitz – Primitive Thinking

Victoria Adelaide: Ms. Horowitz, your book, Pratiquer La Pensée Sauvage (Practice the Savage Mind) was inspired by several anthropologists who ignited your interest in anthropology and your curiosity about primitive thought. Could you tell us about them?
Elisabeth Horowitz: The Savage Mind is the title of a book by Claude Lévi-Strauss. Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist who began working in Brazil in the ’30s. He was one of a handful to testify on what primitive thinking is. However, before him, at the end of the 19th century, there were a few other anthropologists who played a crucial role in understanding what primitive thinking is. Among them, there were two English, Sir Edward Burnett Tylor and Sir James George Frazer, and one French, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl. Frazer wrote one of the pillars of international anthropology called The Golden Bough, which set the foundations of what we know today as primitive thinking, compiling tales from explorers and missionaries of previous centuries who traveled to Africa, Oceania, and America. Those stories are related to the thought processes of primitive peoples, how they interact with nature, and the rituals they implement in order to get certain things. Regarding Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, he may not have been as famous as Lévi-Strauss, but I believe he was even more interesting. Lévy-Bruhl had never set foot on those territories, but he compiled all the information found in books on international anthropology to show us how sympathetic magic works, how primitive peoples use images, what mana is, and so on. He wrote many books on the topic. The understanding of what primitive thinking is has truly been pioneered by Frazer in England and Lévy-Bruhl in France…

Interview | Dr. Karen J. Meech

Victoria Adelaide: On October 2017, you got the phone call astronomers dream about. NASA had spotted ‘Oumuamua, the very first visitor from another solar system. Can you tell us about that, as well as what ‘Oumuamua stands for?
Dr. Karen J. Meech: We asked some local Hawaiians to suggest a name. They came up with ‘Oumuamua, which means “messenger or distant scout from afar reaching out to us.” We thought this was a nice name for the first interstellar visitor discovered in our solar system. I had just returned from our main annual meeting on planetary sciences on October 21st, 2017. I had been working around the clock for months without a day off, so I was looking forward to doing absolutely nothing on Sunday. That’s when the PI (principal investigator) of the Pan-STARRS survey called me at home and said, “Karen, I think the object that we discovered on October 19th looks like it has an orbit; that means it’s coming from outside the solar system.”…

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