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68010Re: Proto-Indo-European religion

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  • cafaristeir
    Sep 5, 2011
      Hi Slag !

      Thanks for this long reply.
      Dumézil may be right or wrong about his "tripartite" ideology of PIE religion and society, that's a matter of scholarly investigation. But I still don't what this analysis has to do with politics of modern times... Dumézil himself never sought to be a politician (as I am myself French, I would be aware of that...) nor claimed that his theories about Tripartition should be applied to the political systems of the XX°century. It is unlikely that - personnally speaking - he was a supporter of "Papal supremacy" since he was a free-mason. In France, in the beginning of the XX° century, free-masons, who had an enormous political influence, were the hardest foes of the Catholic Church, and the climax of their struggle were the 1905 laws which abolished the official recognition of religions by the State, a reform that considerably diminished the political weight of Catholicism in France.
      And, about "fascism", let's remember that today's most influential figure of Indo-European studies in France, a disciple of Dumézil, Bernard Sergent, is a former trotskist !

      Frankly, you may be right in your criticisms of the tripartition - I do respect that and am looking forward to see your own researches - but you're completely going a wrong way if you want to prove the shortcomings of that theory just by putting forward reproaches about Dumézil's supposed political opinions. What's the hell about which vote he used to cast ? You're just shooting a bullet into your own foot (furthermore, political debates go beyond the scope of that forum and may lead to exclusion)



      > The reason I think Dumézil was a Catholic Fascist is because his arguments are recognizable as Catholic Fascism while there is no linguistic basis for them.
      >
      I do agree that there are not a lot of linguistic arguments which support the Tripartition.
      But, precisely, Dumézil's research is comparative mythology, not comparative linguistics. It is primarily on the field of comparative mythology that Dumézil's arguments must be defended or attacked. The English and French languages haven't dramatically changed for two centuries but most societies in which French and English are spoken have completely changed since the end of the XVIII° century. As Don Ringe wrote, the fact that we can't reconstruct a secure PIE word for "finger" does not imply that Indo-Europeans had no fingers.


      > The specific argument that society is inevitably divided into three classes was made by Thomas Aquinas who is thought of as a great thinker by the Roman Catholic Church. But it's not just a theory, it was very conspicuous in history from various events, such as the coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III in 800 CE, and by the interdiction of Henry II of England in 1174, which resulted in a de facto acknowledgment of the ultimate power of the Papacy over the kings of Europe. It's a power play of course and the RCC wanted to have ultimate power over kings and warriors (and leave them to control the lower and larger class). This situation held in western Europe until the invention of the printing press and the Protestant Reformation, which of course was as much about who got to tax farmers and choose the king as it was about religion.
      >
      This tripartite division according to the Catholic Church predates Thomas Aquinas. It was already found at Adalbéron de Laon : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adalberon_(Bishop_of_Laon)#Works



      >
      > It is also accepted by a number of other authors that publish in the Journal of Indo-European Linguistics and this is despite the fact that even Dumézil admits he can't prove his own argument. For example, he says, referring to his own research in support of the tripartite division of society, especially concerning evidence for any gods that would be deifications of the Third Function:
      >
      > "After 30 years there is a disequilibrium in the results" and further, "Thus though the insights gained through the comparative study of the twin gods and heroes [representing in his mind the Third Function]... no general structure has yet appeared and one may doubt whether the future will disclose one" p. ix-x in The Destiny of the Warrior.
      >
      Yes, there is a disequilibrium. This may be due to the fact that the "upper classes" (the priests and the warriors) always seek to glorify themselves for the posterity while the main concern of the "third state" has mostly been survival.


      > It's hard to prove a negative of course because it more or less requires that one search everywhere to prove that the evidence is nowhere. But this chart at
      > http://faculty.oxy.edu/yokatta/dumezil.paradigm.htm
      > or faculty.oxy.edu/yokatta/dumezil.paradigm.htm
      > whichever link works, goes a long way toward demonstrating the lack of evidence for the theory. It represents a set of concordances that are supposed to align various gods/clans/whatnot according to the trifunctional division.
      >

      I read Dumézil's main work "Mythe et Epopée" and most of his conclusions - provided that the sources he uses are right - seem very convincing. But I join partly your point of view when one seeks to extrapolate the results of his mythological comparisons to other fields (ex: the organization of society) though there is actually no proof for this. In fact, Dumézil himself was aware of that and condemned this "structuralist" use of his own research. Just read pp. 14-15 of the 3° part of "Mythe & Epopée" :
      "Je ne connais de "structures" théologiques, mythologiques, institutionnelles, etc. (...) que celles qui sont inscrites dans les documents indiens, iraniens, romains, irlandais, etc; et, pour les temps qui précèdent ces documents, que celles qui résultent de leur comparaison. Aucune n'est imposée a priori ni par extrapolation (...)"

      So, let's not confound Dumézil with some overzealous "structuralists"...


      > Stefan Arvidsson ascribes to Momigliano and Ginzburg the flat statement that the arguments fit with fascism when he says: "Momigliano and Ginzburg argued that Dumézil's theory about the Indo-European tripartite ideology had more to do with the Fascism of the 1930's than with prehistoric religions. According to the two historians, Dumézil's work amounted to an attempt to confer historical background and legitimacy on the Fascist dream of a society that would be harmoniously integrated and, at the same time, hierarchically divided into leaders, soldiers, and workers," p. 2, Aryan Idols.
      >
      > Momigliano is right that it's fascism, but it isn't "leaders" that Dumézil wants in his first function, it's priests. It's these attempts to prove that members of the First Function were priests with sovereignty that make me think he was a Catholic Fascist. In 1929, there was a rapprochement between the Catholic Church (represented by the Pope), and the government of Italy, represented by Mussolini. As I understand it (this is not my field) Mussolini was not a Catholic Fascist, because Il Duce wanted to be Il Duce. But the Pope wanted to be Il Duce too, and if he couldn't, he would settle for being the skirt behind the throne. I think that's the source of Dumézil's constant dithering between whether sovereignty is invested in the First Function or the Second Function or both, while in real life there really is only one king at a time.
      >

      It's Ginzburg and Momigliano who wanted Dumézil's tripartition to be a "justification" of Fascism, not Dumézil. Where did he write that ?
      If I followed G & M way of thinking, I should then call Darwin a "biologistic nazi", because of his "struggle for life" theory...


      > Dumézil's theories never add up to a coherent system, much less a linguistic argument. The fact that he seems to be looking for anything to fit his trifunctional view with a priesthood at the top of a rigid hierarchical society makes it look like he came in with the Catholic theology and set about trying to prove it. I don't find his arguments convincing with regard to Proto-Indo-European society or religion.
      >
      Whether you find his arguments convincing or not, this has nothing to do with some kind of "(catholic) fascism"...
      By the way, if you want to fight against someone who blends Indo-European studies with Fascism theories, I strongly suggest you to have a look at J.Haudry's most recent "works" ;-)

      Olivier
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