Cultural Traditions What is your opinion/reaction/ideas about how cultural characteristics, particular religions such as Hinduism, affect(ed) the level of human development or civilization of cultures and people? -I know little about Hinduism and what it sees as sacred, besides the female cow. It would hold that if they find the cow to be sacred, they would not slaughter it and therefore the meat in their society would have to come from somewhere else and not taking precautions to limit breeding among the cows, it would produce a surplus of the population which would then demand more labor and capital from the individuals looking after the cows. I know the Hopi Indians of the southwest consider the snake to be sacred and often include it in religious ceremonies and dances, though I do not believe it is a sacrificial animal. Chapter 6 1. How does the "sacred cow" protect small-scale farmers from starvation? -By having a ?surplus? of cattle, Harris suggests that this would allow smaller farmers to be able to begin the agricultural process because they need animals to plow the fields, but as the status sits, only about 18% of cultivators had one male cow or none. 2. What groups think the Hindu doctrine of ahimsa causes the mismanagement of cattle? -The British who were recently colonized there; and Moslems. 3. Why are "irrational" practices, such as old-age homes for cows and natural selection, rational? -Old age homes are supported by public charity and are rational in the eyes of Hinduism because the cow is considered sacred and no acts of violence should be committed. Therefore, they believe it best to let animals die of natural deaths, and a little portion often leave some to neglect because they will not directly kill them (so naturally, old age homes sound more humane). Natural selection is generally always relevant because selecting the better milking cow or the larger animal will result in similar, better suited offspring which will give more milk and dung that farmers need. Chapter 7 4. What does Heston say is the central issue in the Indian cattle complex discussion? -The main focus of the Indian cattle discussion should be focused more on economical factors instead of religious ideologies, according to Heston. He states that having a surplus of cattle is not necessarily bad competition between human and beast, but is bad between beast and beast; if there were less freely grazing cattle, there would be more feed available to a limited number of cattle and less land needed to feed them so there would be more area for human needs. 5. What is cultural determinism? -Cultural determinism is the phrase used to describe how the culture we are born into determines our actions, behaviors and values. It is exactly what many are offering as an explanation to the cattle surplus in India because of the belief that Hinduism holds cows sacred while also not wanting to commit acts of violence, so the surplus population goes unchecked without slaughter; therefore, to some, Hinduism has determined how Indians go about raising their cattle and farms. How do the readings support and/or challenge your opinions on Religion expressed above? -Harris would argue against my statement that a surplus of cows would actually help small scale farmers and that, in the end, it is really not a ?surplus? at all because many farmers only have one, if any, cows. But, Heston would argue a different point from me that the surplus is not necessarily competition between human beings and cows, but between the better cows and those not wanted for the amount of feed that would be available. Both authors, though, do not limit the surplus simply to the religious ideology which varies from what I thought before because I originally suspected that if the female cow was sacred, then obviously there would be a surplus of female cows because they would not want to slaughter them; after reviewing the authors views, I see how different characteristics, benefits and consequences contribute to the surplus and not just religion.
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