The Amerindian Perspective

While reading a short paper on Amerindians in Brazil, I came across this interesting concept and thought I’d share it.

“According to Viveiros de Castro (2005), the Amerindians believe that each animal species sees itself as human. Being as such, the leopards would see humans as prey (as if they were, for example, wild pigs) and, because of this, they attack them. This is what is called an “Amerindian perspective”. In accordance with observations, Amerindians perceive animal groups as if they were societies, with social organization, chiefs, shamans, etc. In other words, they understand that these animals are organized and think just like them, the humans. Viveiros de Castro explains that, while we, Westerners, perceive that we share nature with the animals – due to being animals ourselves – that we also differentiate ourselves from them by possessing culture. The Amerindian understands that they share a common culture with the animals but that they differentiate themselves from them via nature, by being a different species.”

“Segundo Viveiros de Castro (2005), os ameríndios acreditam que cada espécie animal se vê a si mesma como humana. Assim sendo, as onças veriam os humanos como caça (como se fossem, por exemplo, porcos selvagens) e, por isso, os atacariam. A isso ele chama de “perspectivismo ameríndio”. De acordo com suas observações, os ameríndios percebem os grupos de animais como se fossem sociedades, com organização social, chefes, pajés, etc. Ou seja, eles entendem que esses animais estão organizados e pensam da mesma forma que eles, humanos. Viveiros de Castro explica que, enquanto nós, ocidentais, percebemos que temos uma natureza comum com os animais – por sermos também animais – mas que nos diferenciamos deles por possuirmos cultura, os ameríndios entendem que compartilham com os outros animais a cultura e que se diferenciam deles pela natureza, por serem de espécies diferentes.”

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