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Circular Epistemology and the Bushman Shamans: A Kalahari Challenge to the Hegemony of Narrative

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The Kalahari Bushmen shamans of southern Africa practice an implicit cybernetic epistemology based on the idea of thuru, referring to the never ending shape-shifting aspect of nature. It is argued that their way of thinking and being in relationship demonstrates how difficult it is to express any understanding of circularity and systemic process through narrative means. Challenging the hegemony of literacy and narrative, Bushman epistemology points toward different interactional forms of evoking sacred knowing. Social science and psychotherapy disciplines, most notably the .eld of family therapy, though historically influenced by cybernetic thinking, too easily abandon Gregory Bateson's call for the importance of circular and ecosystemic understanding. With an imaginary dialogue between Bateson and a Bushman shaman, scholars and therapists are encouraged to re-instate dynamic circularity as the heart of human encounter.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2005

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