Sponsored in partnership with the Boston, California, Chicago, New York, Philip Lee Phillips, Rocky Mountain, and Texas Map Societies
Time: 7:00 pm ET/6:00 pm CT/5:00 pm MT/4:00 pm PT
Title: Indigenous Mapping: Cultural and Psychological Sources
Speaker: Benjamin B. Olshin, retired Professor of Philosophy, History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia
In cartography and other fields, “scientific thinking” is defined as an analytic and systematic way of observing and interacting with the world. “Analytic” in this context means examining evidence and constructing models of the world based on that evidence. By contrast, what characterizes non-scientific, indigenous cultures is — rather derisively — called “magical thinking,” a belief in structures beyond observable physical reality. This talk will examine how apparently non-scientific thinking (i.e., non-analytic thinking) can nonetheless create sophisticated maps and broader systems of knowledge, with parallels in other traditional systems, such as indigenous medicine. The talk will touch upon the underlying cultural and psychological frameworks that produce indigenous knowledge systems and note that such systems still exist deep within the human psyche everywhere — and may reflect how we truly perceive the world around us.
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