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Posts on the Andean Cosmovision

Why a Swan?

Our intellect is a very important part of our existence. It’s main task is to determine what is true and what is false. This is the context of both science and Western religion. While they differ in how they determine true from false they both take on this task.

Let us consider a performance of the ballet Swan Lake. A ballerina appears on the stage dressed as a swan. This is not the appropriate context for the scientist to leap up and shout “Don’t be fooled, that is not really a swan!”, nor is it appropriate for a priest to leap up and shout out “Look, its a giant swan, it’s a miracle!”. Nor does the ballerina stop, upon entering the stage, to announce “Please do not be fooled, I am not really a swan” nor to announce “It is important that you believe that I truly am a swan”. These considerations are appropriate in the correct contexts, but there are times when something very important is going on and the judgements of the scientist and the priest are simply not relevant.

The title of this post comes from the same-titled chapter of the book ‘Steps to an Ecology of Mind’, by the anthropologist Gregory Bateson, from which this particular thought arose.

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2 Comments

  1. have just discovered the salka wind & this post has me howling in laughter
    love it gracias can not believe almost 13 yrs later this is first posted comment
    i hope you do not mind i intend to commit this story to memory and repeat it except of course sometimes my memory fails me
    tomorrow i go look to buy your book, now for more salka wind

    • Oakley Gordon

      February 22, 2024 at 9:40 pm

      What a great comment to read right before retiring for the night. Thank you. I am glad you like the post.

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