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Re: Ronald Hutton on Proto-Indo-Europeanism?!

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  • Wade MacMorrighan
    Below are many of the peroblematic issue I related to an acquaintence this evening re: Hutton s material, as a whole. However, while he may have been polite
    Message 1 of 7 , Nov 1, 2007
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      Below are many of the peroblematic issue I related to an acquaintence
      this evening re: Hutton's material, as a whole. However, while he
      may have been polite (which he is), that does not negate that he
      chose to mitigate the formiddible discipline of IE studies when he
      could have drawn on them at length! This simply cannot forgive
      *"some"* of what he wrote in "Pagan Religions", because nearly the
      entire book is problematic (as well as everything he's written); and
      it is his "authoritative" assertions that are equally as specious (to
      bed polite about it!):

      (I apollogie for the gramma; it was written in the heat of passion.)

      Christopher, please don't take this the wrong way, but know that I am
      writing this because I am deeply passionate about history! But, what
      Hutton is tellig you is not entirely factual--at least not as he
      presents it, I'm afraid. You must understand, my friend, is that what
      he writes are not OBJECTIVE historiographies (which is what
      historians are SUPPOSED to write), but polemics--which means that
      Hutton can be as biased as he wants and only present the information
      in a very narro manner. However, having read many books by many
      scholars and authorities--even sources on which Hutton claimed to
      have relied--I became quite jaded when it came to my attention that
      through a lot of misleading work I have essentially been lied to by
      Prof. Hutton (perhaps, as far as he considers it, well-meaning). I
      don't know about you, but *I* certainly don't like feeling as though
      someone's attemtping to pull the wool over my eyes, rather than
      giving me the WHOLE story, and allow me to make an informed decision;
      rather than an edited version essentially out of conrext which is
      what a lot of sensationalist journalists do!

      Often I have found that Hutton will attempt to prove his case by
      citing a scholar as being in agreement with himself (which is not any
      actual "argument" in the strict sense of the term); but, when I
      checked with what these scholars were saying, most of them didn't
      agree eith him--they either didn't reach the same level of extremism
      as he (Hutton claims that no pagans were burned as witches, but none
      of his cited sources make this claim); or that his sources actually
      claim something--and present counter evidence--countering what Hutton
      claims they do (Hutton claims there was never any whiff of
      possibility that paganism could have survived throughout the medieval
      period; but his sources state something quite contrary, and even
      present formiddible evidence to back it up! Hell, JB Russell and
      Kieth Thomas go on at length about pagan worship in the middle ages--
      Thomas even speaks about the worship of the gods of the planets!
      Hutton never bring this up, so much as in passing!). Hutton is also
      skillful at ad homminem arguments as a method through which to
      dismiss evidence! But, Hutton also platantly misrepresents the works
      of other scholars (such as Carlo Ginzburg!), as though Ginzburg's
      material cannot speak for itself--he will not allow anyone to use
      research as counter-evidence to his unless he first pre-approves it!

      His material is also full of unsubstantiated claims. While his
      material is also hypocritical--he does exactly what he criticizes
      other scholars and theses of doing (for which he rejects them). For
      example, he says an argument can't be based soley on the similarities
      when there are differences (despite how MINOR these differences may
      be!), when he has based pseudo-arguments of his own based soley on
      the similarities! He also shifts the burdon of proof, and alleges
      that he need not prove his case in order to demollish any counter-
      theories, which is specious reasoning. Then there's also Indo-
      European studies (a formiddible academic discipline) that is
      absolutely rejected as being extent, as a potential anwer to the
      topics his material concerns itself with. Then he also posits his
      personal OPINIONS as though they are unequivocal FACTS--for example,
      in Triumph of the Moon he claimns that not ONCE through history was
      any Goddess woirshipped through the hieros gamos ritual in order to
      acquire geographical of physiological fecundity; but Sumerologist,
      Samuel Noah Kramer states quite the opposite in his formiddible
      examinatin in "The Sumerians"! Then there's also his habit of baing
      FIRM and UNEQUIVOCAL CONCLUSIONS based upon very limited knowledge--
      they make him sound as though he has an exhaustive knowledge on any
      given topic, when he doesn't and is simply in error in claiing what
      he is without qualifying his assertions!

      Here are two reviews about his books, The Pagan Religios of the
      British Isles that tacle many problems within this text--even
      pointing out factual inaccuracies and evidence he didn't even take
      the time to consider:

      * http://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/hutton_review.html
      * http://www.asphodel-long.com/html/pagan_religions.html

      My conclusions, Christopher, we know a hell of a lot more that what
      Hutton is telling us that we do. Something has made him cynical, so
      we must know try to find out what that could be. Heck, you also need
      to reconcile the fact that DOZENS upon DOZENS of Historians present
      pagan History *vastly* different than Hutton does--and this makes
      Hutton no more correct than they, simply because Hutton happens to be
      an extremist zealot!

      Also, it is worth commenting on that there's a formiddible branch of
      research coming out of continental Europe, Asia, Africa and India
      that you will likerly not even be aware of--British and Academic
      writers (including Hutton) don't even mention it's existence, giving
      one a misleading impression! (I don't know about you, but I dont like
      feeling as though I'm having knowledge kept from me, or made less
      accessible to me!) But, what these hundreds of scholars have found
      (and one could easily write a list as long as my arm in a 10 pt.
      font!) is that medieval witchcraft-belief is inseperable and tracible
      to endemic shamanic and pagan antecedants (period!). This was a MIND
      BOGGLING revalation when I discovered this wealth of academia that
      British and American scholars either aren't aware of, or simply
      rejected it without a thought, because it counters their preferred
      school of thought. But, they still haven't any right to mislead
      their readership in this way by phrasing their works authoritively as
      if no respectible scholzrs writing today have reached any conclusions
      differing rom threir own! Suffice it to say, Hutton's material is
      simply full of POOR methodology, I'm afraid. (And, I really don't
      like saying that, either, because it makes it hard for me to trust
      ANYONE!). Then there's also his uncritical reliance onto Prof. Norman
      Cohn as the only evidence with which to reject Murray's thesis, along
      with all it's plausible variants (which most specialists, sucha s JB
      Russell, state is unwise and overly extremist!), when he has been
      emonstrably proven by comparing Murray's actual writings alongside
      Cohn's claims, that Norman Cohn actually lied about her! Nor did
      Hutton seem to care (for he uncritically endorses Cohn without
      qualification!) that Cohn engages in ageist and sexist tactics with
      which to dismiss a scholar, thesis, or entirely uncoerced trial
      testimony!

      Of course, I could go on, and on, and on, my friend in all of the
      problems I have found in Prof. Hutton's material. It's simply not up
      to the quality of that sort of material that Pagans ought to be
      quoting as though it represents empirical fact! Hey, Hutton was
      roundly castigated in a reply written by the Iron Age dept. currator
      for the British Museum (Dr. Hill) in responce to Hutton's claim that
      a famous bog body cannot be used as evidence oif human "sacrifice";
      so, Dr. Hill had to state that Hutton was clearly 20 years behind the
      latest research!

      All my best, and happy reading! Incidentally, I have a selection of
      recommended historically-based books on the first blog entry at my
      CovenSpace Profile, including the Holidays (it's like Myspace for
      Witches and Pagans): http://MacMorrighan.CovenSpace.Com

      Take Care,
      Wade MacMorrighan

      ------------------------------------------------------------

      Can you see why I have such problems with him as a so-
      called "authority", now? ;o) (As if feeling as though I'm not being
      given the full story weren't bad enough! *G*) Though, perhaps I
      just hold Historians to a higher standard then they apparently hold
      themselves? Ya' know, it also comes to mind that I was sadly
      castigated years back for stating that Hutton should have writtem a
      propper Introduction to his book deeply explaining what methodology
      he was employing, and why; the only reason I can imagine hat he did
      not, was because it might have opened him up to some sort of
      scrutiny. Often, it has come to my attention, when reading his
      sources, that...if a scholar takes a middle of the road approach,
      Hutton goes further in taking an extremist approach, should the
      matter be undecided or qualifiable! Oh, and not once throughout his
      Pagan Religions did he mention the conclusiuons reached by most
      specialists in the field of Celtic Studies thtough many Journal
      articles: the rites and concept of the Soveeignty-Goddess an Sacral
      Kingship whereby the King/Chieftain was ritually mated to the land
      (as a goddess, or genius loci); I had to learn about that on my own
      through these specialist journals[!]--i was he, after all, who
      aledges to have an interest in such matters, and claims to have kept
      up with ALL the relavent scholarship on such topics in his Pagan
      Religions.

      Whew...okay, it's time for bed. Have a great Samhain!

      Take Care,
      Wade MacMorrighan

      > You'd have to be more specific. In my correspondences with him he
      has
      > always been most polite, not giving any impression that he thinks
      there is
      > anything wrong with IE studies. His Triumph of the Moon is
      groundbreaking and
      > authoritative, as are his work on seasonal festivals. He does
      regret some of what
      > he wrote in The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles, and
      wishes
      > Americans would stop buying it so the publisher will let him put
      out another
      > edition.
      >
      > Ceisiwr Serith
      >
      >
      >
      > ************************************** See what's new at
      http://www.aol.com
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • CeiSerith@aol.com
      Hutton s lack of interest in PIE come from two sources. First, he is a minimalist. He is very insistent on not going beyond the presence of hard evidence.
      Message 2 of 7 , Nov 18, 2007
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        Hutton's lack of interest in PIE come from two sources. First, he is a
        minimalist. He is very insistent on not going beyond the presence of hard
        evidence. This sometimes leads him to deny the existence of things that others are
        convinced are reasonable to extrapolate from what is known. Second, he is
        British. British academia has not been friendly to comparative IE studies.
        In part this is because of the trauma of Max Mueller. I personally think that
        there is also the fact that Dumezil was French.
        He and I have had our disagreements in the past, but I do consider
        himself to be a friend. I also think that he is a careful scholar, and that it is
        admirable that he is willing to admit that he made mistakes in The Pagan
        Religions of the Ancient British Isles, and to wish to correct them. His work on
        the history of Wicca is seminal.
        All in all, I like the man, and think he is a good scholar, even if he
        does find my interest in PIE religion somewhat bemusing.

        Ceisiwr Serith



        ************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com


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      • Wade MacMorrighan
        Yes, he is a very pleasant fellow, I am sure! However, is it so objectionable to ask that he be more forthcoming and put all his cards on the table, or
        Message 3 of 7 , Nov 18, 2007
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          Yes, he is a very pleasant fellow, I am sure! However, is it so
          objectionable to ask that he be more forthcoming and put all his
          cards on the table, or substantiate his claims, and reamidy all of
          the problems I have noted within his texts?! I *still* can't believe
          that he was allowed to blatently misrepresent the sources he was
          citing--he was claiming that there was never any whiff of paganism in
          the early-modern period and citing various scholars in support of his
          positionl but, those scholars actually state the exact opposite!
          Also, he often retains old ideals that can really only be kept if one
          were ignorant of count academia! For example, this past August he
          maintianed that Pan was never a great-god, because this is a modern
          invention by we Witches! But, there is ancient evidence for the
          exact opposite, as well as one scholar who write an academic
          monograph on Pan (I forget hius mame of the titme, but he's French
          and it was translated through the Univ. of Chicago Press). So, why
          are British scholars so deeply opposed to French scholars (as well as
          European academia as a whole, so it seems!)? It actually seems
          racist, Friend! Personally, I wouldn't allow someone's country of
          origin or education allow to rather thoughtlessly disregard the
          importance of their work, merely because it disagrees with me, a
          Hutton ahs done. I mean, Gabor Klaniczy has practically dozens of
          seriously advanced degrees and has reached the same conclusions as
          damn-near every scholars writing throughout Europe, India and Asia.
          So, what does this British bias have to do with, anyway? It greatly
          concerns me, I'm afraid...

          Take Care,
          Wade

          > Hutton's lack of interest in PIE come from two sources. First, he
          is a
          > minimalist. He is very insistent on not going beyond the presence
          of hard
          > evidence. This sometimes leads him to deny the existence of
          things that others are
          > convinced are reasonable to extrapolate from what is known.
          Second, he is
          > British. British academia has not been friendly to comparative IE
          studies.
          > In part this is because of the trauma of Max Mueller. I
          personally think that
          > there is also the fact that Dumezil was French.
          > He and I have had our disagreements in the past, but I do
          consider
          > himself to be a friend. I also think that he is a careful
          scholar, and that it is
          > admirable that he is willing to admit that he made mistakes in The
          Pagan
          > Religions of the Ancient British Isles, and to wish to correct
          them. His work on
          > the history of Wicca is seminal.
          > All in all, I like the man, and think he is a good scholar,
          even if he
          > does find my interest in PIE religion somewhat bemusing.
          >
          > Ceisiwr Serith
          >
          >
          >
          > ************************************** See what's new at
          http://www.aol.com
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
        • CeiSerith@aol.com
          In a message dated 11/18/2007 9:38:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, ... are British scholars so deeply opposed to French scholars (as well as European academia
          Message 4 of 7 , Nov 18, 2007
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            In a message dated 11/18/2007 9:38:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
            Wade@... writes:

            >So, why
            are British scholars so deeply opposed to French scholars (as well as
            European academia as a whole, so it seems!)? It actually seems
            racist, Friend! Personally, I wouldn't allow someone's country of
            origin or education allow to rather thoughtlessly disregard the
            importance of their work, merely because it disagrees with me, a
            Hutton ahs done.


            It would be nice, but people are people, and academics are academics. In
            a culture that can be insular, literally and figuratively, as England has
            been through the years, sub-cultures develop, and academia has its own version.
            How many scholars of medieval Irish texts talk to continental
            archaeologists? I know of someone who has pretty clearly found influence between Cornish
            drama and Middle English mystery plays (I think those are the two), but the
            Celticists don't know anything about Middle English, and the English scholars
            don't even have the Cornish on their radar. It happens, without any hint of
            racism. There is even the problem of the availibility of texts; a few years
            ago I was at a conference where some Welsh scholars were commenting on how
            they were hitting all the local bookstores to look for things they couldn't get
            over there. When I told them things were true the other way round as well
            they felt better.
            I can't speak on the question of whether he has misrepresented other
            scholars, because I'm not sufficiently informed about them.

            Ceisiwr Serith



            ************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com


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          • Wade MacMorrighan
            Another problem of mine is, actually, how politicized British academia is--they should acknowledge this in the effort of academic honesty! (I think this is
            Message 5 of 7 , Nov 19, 2007
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              Another problem of mine is, actually, how politicized British
              academia is--they should acknowledge this in the effort of academic
              honesty! (I think this is why he's so ruthlkess and minimalizing
              [towards the importance of] Carlo Ginzburg, because Carlo really
              didn't accept these British scholars at their word--as if it's law--
              and went in to how they have refused to research the concepot of the
              Sabbat due toi Murray's lingering influence [albeit was Cohn
              demonstrably lied about her!], and that they have othergeneral
              problems in the arena of early-modern witchcraft-research--Hutton was
              merely feeling his terf tread upon!)

              However, even when European scholars *were*, for instance, brought to
              Hutton's attention, he seemed to invent reasons to uncritically
              reject their work into the field, such as scholars with whom he can
              easily glean access to: Eva Pocs, Gabor Klaniczy (who has TONS of
              uber-advanced degrees!), etc., etc...

              Then of course, there is a problem I will always have, until someone
              explains to me how scholars have seemed to allow it: How can he say
              that there never was any whip of paganism surviving or going on
              within early-modern Europe, and then cite a variety of scholars, all
              of whom say they exact opposite! For example, I think it was either
              Monter or Middelfort who commented about the evidence for "the little
              green devils" that he labled as paganism; even Thomas writes at
              length about "the worship of the gods of the planet" during medieval
              Europe. Now, Thomas was one of Hutton's primary contemporary
              sources, but...*none* of this unequivocal counter-evidence seemed to
              make it into Hutton's book. Don't you think that this evidence is
              important, and that Hutton really had no right to seemingly ommit
              it? ;o) I do! Heh heh heh...

              Of course, I've been made jaded, and feel as though I've been lied to
              by Hutton, whether "well-meaning", or not.

              Why is it *so* important to him that Pan can only have been a minor
              god in antiquity--even as recent as his lecture last August--claiming
              this be only a recent invention. This position, however, disregards
              the evidence from antiquity where Pan is clearly a great-god: he was
              portrayed as such by Herodotus (with whom Hutton must be well aware)
              and has been paired with Kybele the Great-Mother. But, even Phillipe
              Borgeaud in his "The Cult of Pan in Ancient Greece" has made such an
              unequivocal case--this is a book that he should have easy access to!
              There is also Socrates' prayer to Pan as the "Highest God".

              How can he so flagrantly ignore all of this unequivocal evidence?
              What gives him the right? Don't ya' think this is rather important
              evidence, eh? Sadly, this has been having a tragic effect on both
              American scholars, as wella contemporary Pagan in the US and the UK--
              such isolationist and quantifiable tactics have long-since started to
              diffuse down from Hutton's material down into our own writings, it
              seems. And, this greatly concerns me!

              Moreover, how long can Hutton go on ignoring this corpus of
              researchers and evidence?! It's astounding (and infurriating)! It
              makes me wonder what else he's hiding--which is intellectually
              dishonest, as far as I'm concerned.

              There is also his dismissal of evidence for Isis as being a great-
              goddess in "The Golden Ass" which he dismisses as "artypical". Well,
              this is fine if he feels this way, but he fails to address two
              important questions: Why is it important to him that she *isn't* a
              great-goddess; and if "The Golden Ass" is atypical of Isis-worship,
              then what *is* "typical"?! So...as I have heard, Isis-worship was
              anything *but* "typical", so.........why characterize some of the
              most important evidence we have from the ancient-world, ever, as
              being "atypical"? What the...?

              Also, he should lay off of ad hominem arguments, too. ;o) But, of
              course, I have some pretty big problems when he so often couches his
              *personal* opinions and other unsubstamntiated claims as though they
              are empirical facts! For example, in "Stations" he says that the
              only reason there are divination rites associated with Samhain is
              because of some allegedly foolish early folklorists; but the *real*
              reason for this, he claims, is because the Christian feast of All
              Saints Day was re: the most earie and dangerous day of the calendar
              year. But, where's the evidence for this assertion, Ron? Hmmm...?
              Then, of course, he states in his "Triumph" that NO WHERE throughout
              antiquity was ANY goddess worshipped with the hieros gamos to tender
              either geographical of physiological fecundity; but eminant
              Sumerologist, Samuel Noah Kramer states the exaxt opposite in his
              formiddible text, "The Sumerians"--so this is one of Hutton's
              opinions, *only*, nothing more (especially not a fact). *G*

              Now, if I may generalize, it seems to me, having ead Hutton's books,
              that he tends to start out with some assumptions that are never
              questioned. More insulting is when I brought these earlier problems
              to the attention of a Prof. who (like Hutton) also happens to be a
              Pagans, and was told that questionins onseself is not the job of a
              Historian; in fact, he went so far as to say that it is not even
              one's student's job to question their professor, but merely to tweak
              them when ONLY necessary (read: NEVER!).

              Okay, Wade, enough ranting... LOL...

              Take Care,
              Wade
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