Tag Archives: Norse

Naming ceremony

As Knauft (2010) described, before seven months old, “a human spirit is not thought to be completely rooted in their bodies, and they aren’t even given a name” (p.39). This naming ceremony practice reminds me of the ausa vatni of the Old Norse cultures when infants were only named after inspection and acceptance of the father, giving the child the rights and inheritances of the family (Ward, n.d.). Through the ausa vatni, the child was protected under the law of murder; otherwise, the child could be abandoned and left to die without recourse. The differences between the Gebusi and the Norse, though, are obvious. In my culture, infanticide is surely taboo. In fact, my family cherishes the entire process of bearing a child and bringing a new life into the world. In stark contrast to both the Gebusi and the Norse, we tend to name our children very early, even before birth. Some of our children have even gained nicknames prior to birth.

It is difficult to objectively experience the beliefs and rituals of other cultures when they are by design emotively raw. The taboo of our society is important for us to understand for our acceptance and longevity within our own culture. As we learn to vilify practices that are not condoned within our society, we develop a visceral response when these practices are witnessed. It is understandable, but it is not helpful to juxtapose one culture with our own, subjectively, when we are attempting to understand more about it. The visceral reaction will certainly prove detrimental to our experience in creating a judgment versus creating an understanding. Perhaps this is the same reason that human cultures have abhorred other cultures throughout human existence.


Knauft, B. (2010). The Gebusi: Lives transformed in a rainforest world (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Ward, C. (n.d.). Old Norse names. The Viking Answer Lady. Retrieved from http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/ONNames.shtml

Ancient Suffragette City-State

I am a little disconcerted after reading Solomon and Higgins’ (2010, Chapter 10) discussion of sexual inequality throughout the ages. Though they are quick to point out many patriarchal societies and how they negatively effect the carriage of any woman’s philosophy through time, they fail to recognize societies that recognize the female and hold her in as high esteem as her male counterpart. Citing Aristotle, they are quick to point out the male-centric society of ancient Greece, but fail to educate us on the Spartan woman.

According to the historian Richard Monk (2006), “Sparta had an entirely different view of gender. Essentially, it ignored it” (para. 5). He continues to describe the Hellenistic age, post-Peloponnesian War, where the women of Sparta were on equal footing with men. This was also true, in fact, of Athens at the same time, though it is neglected by most historical scholars (Scott, 2009, p. 34). The fourth century (B.C.E.) was certainly a turning point for women’s rights in Greece (Scott, 2009, p. 39).

Two other key societies worth mentioning are the Norse and the Iriqouis (Vivante, 1999, p. xv; Ward, n.d., para. 9).

My thoughts on the importance of women in sociopolitical philosophy are the same as my thoughts for men. I do not distinguish between them. Any person with a stake in a society should be able to choose whether to have their voice heard or not. Sometimes, a message not spoken has the weight, if not more, than one that is. Speaking of women, specifically, I feel that they should be afforded the opportunity to enjoy the same rights, roles, and responsibilities of any person within their society. Unfortunately, societies throughout history seemed to not share my view.

Many early female philosophers have been lost to time and suppression by the patriarchal societies that failed to notice their worth. One stands out: Hypatia. Unfortunately, where she found freedom to express her views in public, she also found a horrible death in public.

“Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as  poetic fancies.  To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible  thing.  The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through  great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after years relieved of them.  In fact men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable.” – Hypatia


Monk, R. (2006, April 19). Greek civilization – What about the women? Retrieved February 25, 2010, from http://ezinearticles.com/?Greek-­Civilization-­%96-­What-­About-­The-­Women?&id=181596

Scott, M. (2009, November). The rise of women in ancient Greece. History Today, 59(11), 34-40. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete.

Solomon, R.C., & Higgins, K.M. (2010). The big questions: A short introduction to philosophy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cenrage Learning.

Vivante, B. (Ed.). (1999). Women’s roles in ancient civilizations: A reference guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Ward, C. (n.d.). Sigríð stórráða Tóstadóttir: Queen Sigríð the Proud. The Viking Answer Lady. Retrieved from http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/SigridStorrada.shtml