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Humanities, Volume 2, Issue 1 (March 2013), Pages 1-118

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Research

Open AccessArticle Surprise and Uncertainty—Framing Regional Geohazards in the Theory of Complexity
Humanities 2013, 2(1), 1-19; doi:10.3390/h2010001
Received: 20 November 2012 / Revised: 17 December 2012 / Accepted: 26 December 2012 / Published: 4 January 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (593 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper analyzes the concepts of uncertainty and surprise as key variables of a socio-ecological system’s behavior in the context of the theory of complexity. Experiences from the past have shown that living with uncertainty is part of our daily life and surprises
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The paper analyzes the concepts of uncertainty and surprise as key variables of a socio-ecological system’s behavior in the context of the theory of complexity. Experiences from the past have shown that living with uncertainty is part of our daily life and surprises are only surprising because our perspective of system trajectories is basically linear and non-dynamic. The future of humanity is dependent on the understanding of the system’s behavior and needs a change in perspective of linearity to non-linearity and from the planning imperative to a management hedging uncertainty and surprise. In the context of humanity’s future, the theory of complexity offers a new perspective on system trajectories and their understanding of surprises and uncertainty. There is a need for a Gestaltwechsel—a change in perception—which helps to see things differently and fosters the search for new answers to emerging questions at the human-nature interface. Drawing on the case study of hazard management the paper will explain the necessity of analysis system’s behavior and the taking into account of multi-agent behavior on the micro level which led to emergent behavior on the macro-level of the system. Regional geohazards are explained as the regional impact of an uncontrolled risk based on a state of a natural feature that has a direct impact on a regional population being affected by the appearance of a hazard and its development into damage. By acting in space, time and connectivity, people construct hazardscapes and change risk into regional geohazards. This concept shows relevance for future mitigation and adaptation measures. The theory of complexity can help in engendering the necessary shift in perspective. What is non-linear dynamic thinking as suggested by the theory of complexity? Why is the consideration of the system’s behavior crucial and not just the number of system’s elements? What is the role of agents in these systems? In addition, there are practical implications too: What does this shift in perspective mean for future hazard management and the future of humanity? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanity’s Future)
Open AccessArticle From Human Past to Human Future
Humanities 2013, 2(1), 20-55; doi:10.3390/h2010020
Received: 22 October 2012 / Revised: 28 November 2012 / Accepted: 28 November 2012 / Published: 9 January 2013
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Abstract
This paper begins with a refutation of the orthodox model of final Pleistocene human evolution, presenting an alternative, better supported account of this crucial phase. According to this version, the transition from robust to gracile humans during that period is attributable to selective
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This paper begins with a refutation of the orthodox model of final Pleistocene human evolution, presenting an alternative, better supported account of this crucial phase. According to this version, the transition from robust to gracile humans during that period is attributable to selective breeding rather than natural selection, rendered possible by the exponential rise of culturally guided volitional choices. The rapid human neotenization coincides with the development of numerous somatic and neural detriments and pathologies. Uniformitarian reasoning based on ontogenic homology suggests that the cognitive abilities of hominins are consistently underrated in the unstable orthodoxies of Pleistocene archaeology. A scientifically guided review establishes developmental trajectories defining recent changes in the human genome and its expressions, which then form the basis of attempts to extrapolate from them into the future. It is suggested that continuing and perhaps accelerating unfavorable genetic changes to the human species, rather than existential threats such as massive disasters, pandemics, or astrophysical events, may become the ultimate peril of humanity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanity’s Future)
Open AccessArticle The Legal Translator’s Approach to Texts
Humanities 2013, 2(1), 56-71; doi:10.3390/h2010056
Received: 29 November 2012 / Revised: 2 February 2013 / Accepted: 7 February 2013 / Published: 18 February 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (136 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Translation can be a basis for humanistic investigations when translation is seen as a personalized activity. The article describes, on the basis of hermeneutics, the specific perspective from which a translator may approach legal texts. Various aspects have to be considered in such
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Translation can be a basis for humanistic investigations when translation is seen as a personalized activity. The article describes, on the basis of hermeneutics, the specific perspective from which a translator may approach legal texts. Various aspects have to be considered in such texts, since the cultural and legal background is evident in linguistic aspects at the text level. Different text types are rooted in a specific legal system and fulfill their function within a special field of law. Comparative law does research on the differences in legal concepts, whereas translation uses this knowledge as a basis. Legal terminology presents various levels of abstraction and appears in texts besides general language words. Well-grounded understanding along with subject knowledge is necessary for legal translation. This should be combined with proficiency in writing in the legal style. The translator tries to make source cultural and legal aspects transparent for target readers, as translation is always a means of comprehension that furthers communication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Translation as the Foundation for Humanistic Investigations)
Open AccessArticle Creating/Curating Cultural Capital: Monuments and Museums for Post-Apartheid South Africa
Humanities 2013, 2(1), 72-98; doi:10.3390/h2010072
Received: 5 February 2013 / Revised: 14 March 2013 / Accepted: 21 March 2013 / Published: 21 March 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1650 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Since the first democratic elections in 1994, South Africa has faced the challenge of creating new cultural capital to replace old racist paradigms, and monuments and museums have been deployed as part of this agenda of transformation. Monuments have been inscribed with new
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Since the first democratic elections in 1994, South Africa has faced the challenge of creating new cultural capital to replace old racist paradigms, and monuments and museums have been deployed as part of this agenda of transformation. Monuments have been inscribed with new meanings, and acquisition and collecting policies have changed at existing museums to embrace a wider definition of culture. In addition, a series of new museums, often with a memorial purpose, has provided opportunities to acknowledge previously marginalized histories, and honor those who opposed apartheid, many of whom died in the Struggle. Lacking extensive collections, these museums have relied on innovative concepts, not only the use of audio-visual materials, but also the metaphoric deployment of sites and the architecture itself, to create affective audience experiences and recount South Africa’s tragic history under apartheid. Full article
Open AccessArticle Stories of Snow and Fire: The Importance of Narrative to a Critically Pluralistic Environmental Aesthetic
Humanities 2013, 2(1), 99-118; doi:10.3390/h2010099
Received: 8 January 2013 / Revised: 19 February 2013 / Accepted: 12 March 2013 / Published: 21 March 2013
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Abstract
Written narratives enable humans to appreciate the natural world in aesthetic terms. Firstly, narratives can galvanize for the reader a sense for another person’s experience of nature through the aesthetic representation of that experience in language. Secondly, narratives can encode and document for
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Written narratives enable humans to appreciate the natural world in aesthetic terms. Firstly, narratives can galvanize for the reader a sense for another person’s experience of nature through the aesthetic representation of that experience in language. Secondly, narratives can encode and document for the human appreciator as writer an experience of nature in aesthetic terms. Through different narrative lenses, the compelling qualities of environments can be crystallized for both the reader (who vicariously experiences nature through language) and the human appreciator (who directly experiences nature through the senses). However, according to philosopher Allen Carlson’s “natural environmental model” of landscape aesthetics, science provides the definitive narrative that represents nature on its own terms and catalyzes appropriate appreciation. In this article, I examine Carlson’s claim and argue for an environmental aesthetic philosophy of narrative multiplicity. Such a model would draw from scientific, indigenous, and journalistic narrative modes toward a critically pluralistic environmental aesthetic of the natural world. The ethical framework I propose—the function of which I characterize simply as narrative “cross-checking”—acknowledges the value of narrative heterogeneity in expressing and generating aesthetic experience of environments. This article’s thesis is forwarded through extensive treatment of these three narratives expressed within two examples, one of geographical place and one of environmental practice. As I will suggest, Denali, the prominent Alaskan mountain, can be aesthetically appreciated through the diverse narratives enumerated above. As a second case study, the traditional burning regimes of indigenous peoples reveal collectively how a critically pluralistic environmental aesthetic of narratives can be applied to—and identified to exist within—ecocultural practices, such as firing the landscape. Full article
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