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The Fractal SelfScience, Philosophy, and the Evolution of Human Cooperation$
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John L. Culliney and David Jones

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824866617

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824866617.001.0001

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Out of the Dreamtime

Out of the Dreamtime

(p.30) 2 Out of the Dreamtime
The Fractal Self

John L. Culliney

David Jones

University of Hawai'i Press

Chapter 2 diverges from science to follow some primordial strands of thought on origins. An intimate, participatory universe was anticipated before human beings began to articulate worldviews in philosophic or scientific terms. Our search for the fractal self begins by tracing prototypes recorded in myths and oral histories. Anthropologists, such as Levy-Bruhl, concluded that people in remote traditional cultures understood themselves as embedded with nature. Their demigods, such as Coyote, Maui, Hermes, and Dionysus, roamed their environs and instigated changes and events for good or ill. Shamans interpreted and engaged natural forces and negotiated with nature on behalf of humans. Such figures embodied qualities of the fractal self. The break came in the West. Early cosmogonies featured characters such as Gaia and Ouranos, avatars of intimacy with nature and exalted authority respectively. However, as influenced by Plato and Aristotle the development of Abrahamic religions situated humans apart from the rest of nature and under the rule of an omnipotent, transcendent God. The identity of the self at one with nature ultimately subsided and was brutally suppressed in much of the world. However, Daoism and Buddhism remained attuned with ideas of humanity as deeply interdependent with the natural world.

Keywords:   mythology, creation stories, demigods, shamans, Gaia, Aristotle, Plato, Abrahamic religions, Daoism, Buddhism

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