Marriage Institution: When and how did it start!

Discussion in 'History' started by Buddha1, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    In science nothing can be assumed without adequate proof.
     
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  3. River Ape Valued Senior Member

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    History is not science. "History is the singular. Science is the plural."

    History attempts to describe and explain (generally complex) one-off events, e.g. how a particular tribe organised its domestic arrangements at a particular time. We may generalise across peoples and periods, but each is unique in its particulars, and the variables 'chaotic'.

    Science attempts to describe and explain (basically simple) repeatable events, using experiment and observation. Each event may be separate, but they have a collective unity, varying by parameter or quantifiable variable.

    The historian gathers evidence, and weighs it in his experience of the 'human condition'. The scientist uses statistical analysis to arrive at a degree of probability.

    (The above is hopelessly simplified -- but I am not writing a thesis!)

    History does not furnish "adequate proof" in the sense that science might.
     
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  5. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    You mean history is more prone to be understood in different ways according to one's perception of our society?

    Does everyone agree that science has no role to play in deciding "histroy"?
     
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  7. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    So let's say what you've told us here is generally what is believed to be a 'historical fact' based on our present knowledge about human nature and behaviour, and by judging how major societies have functioned for more than 2,500 years.
     
  8. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    You make the important points very effectively River Ape. I would add this.
    We know that humans differ significantly from other animals in the length of time the offspring are dependent upon adult support and guidance. Clearly there were strong evolutionary pressures to have this adult support consist of the mother and the father. The evolution of sexual intercourse as a recreational, as well as a procreational, activity helped bind the father to the mother, and thus provide support for the children as they progressed to adulthood.
    The existence of alpha males and alpha females as power centres in troops of our primate cousins was doubtless duplicated amongst our technologically primitive ancestors. At what ever point language developed beyond the mere "give me a piece of that raw meat or I'll rip your arm off" stage, that heirarchy would have been formalised within the troop, with a tribal chief, medicine woman, and various hangers on.
    I can think of absolutely no reason that the heterosexual bonding pattern, evolved to improve survival prospects for offspring, would not have been similarily formalised into an early form of marriage.
    Thus, although some would prefer to shy away from this, we see that once again, a central facet of our culture is no more than a formal expression of our evolved animal character.
     
  9. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

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    There is a fundamental flaw in the question posed by this thread.
    One presupposes that marriage institutions did start.
    Now. We can look at several cultures around the world and see that, in fact, marriage has become a prevalent method of social interaction, but because of the meddling of missionaries and other cultural smearing, we'll never know for sure just how common the institution was pre-Western hegemony, nor can we know what the institution would have been like if it were different from 'classical' western marriage or some of the other mainstream marriage styles.

    Their are several aspects of the question to address.

    First. There is Buddha's intent. I think that everybody here is well-aware of his anti-female (or pro-man) agenda. I wonder exactly what it is that he wants out of this thread. Several things have been brought up, and he seems to be unable to address them in any significant manner. Is here merely wanting to gather information without taking part in a discussion? I can see that he's found the discrepancy between history and science. And the difficulties in anthropological research. But, with this he seems to wish to invalidate marriage as a viable institution and in the end turn this to a discussion on how men should be with men and only with women to breed?

    Buddha. You are a serious trip. Do you have anything else on your mind?

    Second. One should beware of thinking too simplistically. How can one answer the question of the beginning of marriage? The question is poorly asked. There are a variety of cultures around the globe. Alive and dead. Marriage differs from one to the other. Some are surely connected. Some are not.

    Marriage is likely a concept that arose spontaneously several times. I highly doubt that the institution has a single source. For it to do so, the earliest human culture pre-diaspora would have to have the institution. I seriously doubt that such is the case.

    It shouldn't be a surprise that marriage has come up so often in so many cultures. Our bodies are designed for it in many ways. Look at testicle size. Halfway between gorilla and chimp. Gorilla the single male with a herd of females. Chimp who fucks like a nympho for purely social reasons. Man exists in the middle. Not biologically monogamous or our testicles would be smaller, but neither extravangantly promiscuous like the chimp.

    However, different cultures provide different requirements for marriage.
    Pre-neolithic societies would mostly focus upon care of offspring, I should think. While post-neolithic societies begin to think of paternity and inheritance.

    It's interesting to think that the patriarchal shift in our society occurred because only the paternity of the child can be questioned. The maternity is never in doubt.

    The mystery of childbirth was very likely the original magic. The great question. It's no wonder that the earliest religions would be female-centric. Even with all the knowledge of reproduction that we have today... I still find it magical.

    And it's ironic to consider that this very birth of magic was later the cause of the subjugation of women.

    Third. The general theme of answers seem to indicate a male-dominant society.

    As the difficulties of anthropology have already been pointed out, I don't need to go into great detail explaining just how difficult it is to understand our earliest beginnings. We have a difficult time comprehending our ancient past post-writing, let alone those long-ago days before history even began. The oral traditions that undoubtably once heralded that ancient past is long gone. What remains is horribly twisted by time and so nothing remains.

    However, there are clues. And many of these clues lead one to conceive of early society being not patriarchal. But more of an egalitarian society. In these societies, women would not have been considered property. They would have been considered equal partners. In hunter-gatherer societies, this is the norm. However, even in the early neolithic sites such as Catalhoyuk in central Turkey, the egalitarian status remains. The shift to a patriarchal society didn't occur (in certain key cultures) until quite a bit later.

    Joseph Campbell, in his Masks of God, followed the trail of myth and has deduced a period of time where the previous ways of life were turned upside down and the myths similarly were disturbed. The twisting of myth is seen most prevalently in the Old Testament of the bible where certain key myths from earlier societies exist but with the events garbled and the key players shifted in significance.

    Eve being blamed for the fall for instance. And the serpent being evil. In earlier societies, it has been posited that the central religion was a goddess worship. This earth goddess was connected with a serpent. Her husband. A bringer of wisdom. In the bible, the serpent deludes Eve into eating the apple. Thus eating of the Tree of Knowledge. Key details coincide. But are twisted. A moral conundrum.

    (Interestingly, the fruit is often seen in earlier myths as the change from immortal humanity to a mortal one. The key concept is usually a murder amidst the early god-like beings. With the evidence (usually the head) being hidden by burial (original guilt) but being discovered because from the buried body grew a fruit. Generally the principle staple of the region. This myth is seen in widely seperated cultures and is likely descended from some of the original myths carried by early man in his diaspora from Africa. However. Campbell's work, while immensely interesting and well-written, is all guess-work and thus should be taken with a grain of salt. Very interesting read though. I recommend to anyone interested in this sort of thing.)

    Fourth. Seeing as how the beginnings of our culture is lost to us save through interpretation of fossil remains and such, a key method of determining some of these questions is by looking at cultures that exist today that still live in a hunter-gatherer state. Societies that are almost unsullied by cultural contamination. That still maintain some sort of cultural integrity.

    The San bushmen have been brought up. This culture is thought to represent the most primitive state of our history. The San represent how our ancestors who spread out from Africa likely lived. (Of course, one should always keep in mind that the San have likely developed certain customs after the diaspora and thus aren't a perfect representation.)

    The aborigines of Australia and the Philipines are next. I have no direct knowledge of their marriage customs, but this would be a place to look. There are lots of Australians on this site. Perhaps some of them have some knowledge to share. The Australian aborigines have been contaminated quite a bit, I think, so perhaps the aborigines of New Guinea would be a better place to look. Even so, I'd be interested to hear about either/or.

    After this, we begin to encounter huge gaps. Very few tribes exist that could be said to be such ancient peoples as this. They've long ago been assimilated or annihilated. However, some do exist.

    Pacific Islanders would be a place to look. They have been heavily missionaried (by both Christians and Islam) but the history of what they were still remains. There was a sexual freedom on the islands. More than freedom. Young islanders were often educated in sex by older islanders. Young boys with older women. Young girls with older men. I'm not sure if there was any concept of marriage until the missionaries came and covered up all those nubile titties. (Bastards!)

    Next, there are two other cultures that I read of a while back that I feel I should mention.

    The first is the Bari of Brazil. The second is the Na of china. I'm tired of typing off the top of my head here, so I'm going to quote a couple of passages I wrote about these long ago in another thread. The passage about the Bari is a synopsis written by me. The passage about the Na is an excerpt taken from an article in Discover magazine (in which I read of both of these cultures.)

    "The Bari don't believe that there is a single father for their children. The women can be serviced by several men during her pregnancy. And each of these men must accept responsibility for the child. The child being formed is "washed" by the semen of the various men and nourished by it. It is not necessarily common (especially after missionaries have had their way with the people) but it's not uncommon either. It seems that the Bari have stopped talking about it much because they know it is not our way, but they still practice it. They even have a saying about why it is good. It seems that the woman becomes sexually voracious during pregnancy. And if only one man (her "husband") were to satisfy her, he would wear himself out. Look, they say, she gets fat because she he's doing all the work. He get's skinny because she's just laying there. Now, I hope that they're exagerrating and the women do more than just lay there (Seems like they enjoy it, so why would they just "lay" there?) But, they have a point. They also have sexual freedom. Once a child has completed puberty, they can have sex with anyone they want, as long as they don't break the incest taboo."

    The marriages of the Bari only exist as long as the participants wish. Many hunter-gatherer marriages are like this.

    "The Na of Yunnan Province in China, for example, have a female-centric society in which husbands are not part of the picture. Women grow up and continue to live with their mothers, sisters, and brothers; they never marry or move away from the family compound. As a result, sisters and brothers rather than married pairs are the economic unit that farms and fishes together. Male lovers in the this system are simply visitors. They have no place or power in the household, and children are brought up by their mothers and by the mothers' brothers. A father is identified only if their is a resemblance between him and the child, and even so, the father has no responsibilities toward the child. Often women have sex with so many partners that the biological father is unknown. "I have not found any term that would cover the notion of father in the Na language," writes Chenese anthropologist Cai Hua in his book A Society Without Fathers or Husbands: The Na of China. In this case, women have complete control over their children, property, and sexuality."


    Hmm.
    I could probably come up with some other things to say. But I suppose that's enough for now. Let's see how much stamina exists in this thread.
     

  10. are youciting these as marriage contracts that predate history? because i always thought history was any recorded evidence (both primary and secondary sources) of human activity. so if this is a record how can it not be history?
     
  11. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    O.K. now that the term History is becoming clearer I realise why this thread should have been in anthropology, rather than in History. But since we are here, let's consider this both from the angles of anthropology and history (and from other angles such as sociology, pscyhology, wild life and most of all simple human common-sense).
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2005
  12. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    .....and thirdary, and fourthary, and fifthery......and thousandary

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  13. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    Last edited: Dec 23, 2005
  14. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    I don't know what Bhudda1 is posting, as I still have him on Ignore. I should just like to say that I almost certainly disagree with him. Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2005
  15. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    ..

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  16. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    There is also a fundamental flaw in presupposing that the marriage institution was always there, since there are heavy pointers from animal life and many human societies that point against it, and the fact that heavy social investment goes into making marriage institution work. Especially, when you yourself admit that there are no way to determine exactly that they existed. If the major social institutions falsely portray marriage to be universal amongst all life-forms, it makes sense to start a thread from a different premise. (Have you noticed how they teach young people about Papa bear and mama bear)

    The truth fears no one. And whatever my intentions are, if you're sure of what the truth is, I can not fool others. But if you are not sure of the truth yourself (as you hint) it helps not to prejudge anything and be willing to take in new concepts regardless of the intentions of the initiator.
    I do want to gather information here --- as I do in other threads, and I want to do it objectively, without caring whether they support my contention or not.
    *
    See, something good always come out when you enter into a discussion sincerely. Too often we have vague unfounded notions about things that we take to be 'eternal truths'. Discussions open our doors to new information, if we are open minded enough.
    *
    If it is indeed a viable institution and an indisputable natural human instinct, do you think someone can invalidate it so easily? Please have more faith in what you support, if you lack that faith, then be open to new information.

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  17. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    Now, wait a minute.....let me clarify rightaway --- to be pro-man does not mean to be anti-woman. I'm not against anybody, I'm only against individuals and institutions that are oppressive. I'm not even against man-woman bonds. I'm against 'heterosexuality' because it is an oppressive ideology and because it is forced on people.

    Some of my assertions may seem anti-woman but only if you look at it from a heterosexual ideology's point of view. I'm against giving unwarranted powers to women to exploit men. I guess man-woman politics will happen as long as men and women are forced to live together. And certainly making them equal (same) is no solution.

    I'm all for the rights of women to live as per their natural needs and ambitions.
     
  18. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    I agree it is a handful. Don't you think fighting the heterosexual system is a full time job?
     
  19. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    Makes sense. But the idea of putting a man and a woman together into a social contract must have initiated somewhere, even if it happened before the Man left Africa. My guess would be that it started when Man left Africa and decided to inhabit distant lands.

    That depends on what you term as spontaneous. I agree that once people knew this could be done, and they were faced with an accute shortage of population, they would be forced/ prompted spontaneously to force their men and women to enter into marriage.

    But if you are suggesting that human beings are spontaneously inclined to get married, then you have to look at several things which go against this simplistic assumption.

    You don't have far to go. Look in a 'free' society like the west. How many people get married in Europe --- the last I heard was 20%, and it is often men who shun marriage in both traditional and heterosexual societies. Am I wrong? Isn't that the common stereotype of men in both these societies? I have personally seen several young men trying to put off marriage by as many years as possible (I'm not talking about putting off sex!)

    So you agree that the earliest human cultures did not have the marriage institution?
    *
     
  20. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    Shit. He must be talking to himself.
     
  21. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

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    Sigh!

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    .....there are other pebbles on the beach!
     
  22. jayleew Who Cares Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry to confuse you. Marriage predates history is my comment, because it has been around probably longer than recorded history. If you are a Christian, then it was around from the beginning. The evidence below is for as early as 2500 BC
     
  23. River Ape Valued Senior Member

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    You mean like Roman Catholicism?

    It is interesting that Mariolatry can flourish amid some very macho cultures. Or maybe not as macho as we think if it is really the mothers of the guys posing as the Alpha Males who actually rule the roost!
     

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