Tag Archives: psychology

Carla Drift – Study Humanities 2


In line with psychology and history, I studied the history of legislation and the limited role of language in the field of emotions, culture and character.

I studied the history of Law to receive a better understanding in the organisation of the society and the relations between individuals themselves. Long ago, everything was private and group law. In birds, the occupant of a territory has just a little better chance than an intruder – usually the intruder disappears unless the occupant is careless or is unable to defend his territory. The occupier needs the  territory to have sufficient food for the young birds.

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A similar mechanism plays a role when people assert right on an area. In addition, people have developed customary law and hospitality for visitors. This hospitality is sometimes confined in guest law [2] – often exchanges of gifts as “objects in the middle” take place to achieve and consolidate confidence between inhabitants and visitors.

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A long time ago, rulers already used law to show who had the say – was the boss [4] – in a given area. One of the oldest laws is the codex of Hamurabi [5]. With the dissemination of this Codex in cuneiform on pillars within his empire, Hamurabi showed who had control over the habits and the order within his reign. This codex of Hamurabi was a long list of penalties for infringements – most sentences had characteristics of “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Almost all penalties could be bought off with an “object in the middle” to restore confidence – the penalty on accidentally wounding the neighbour at work could be bought off with transfer of cattle to restore mutual confidence.

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In addition to the right between people, there was also law that was aimed at the general interest. A part of this public law was included in treaties between kings and rulers themselves. The difference between these kings and rulers and the contemporary warlords is in many cases only gradual. The difference shows in the degree of cruelty and tyranny; occasionally the rulers and kings are wise and moderate. These treaties usually start with a recital that included the order and the habits already established between the parents or ancestors of the rulers; after the recital followed the agreements built on the former order and finally the provisions for non-compliance were mentioned in the Treaty. These sentences ranged from war statements to full eradication of family and populations.

Another form of public law was the law of war in which the habits for war and sieges were determined. A few examples. A city may usually prevent siege and looting by handing over a ransom until the time came when the city was completely surrounded; then only a complete surrender was acceptable. The looting of the city after the surrender or sacking took a set time of usually a few days. After that time the booty was distributed among the conquerors; after the conquest the inhabitants of the city were usually without rights for a certain time – sometimes they fell into slavery.

In addition to these forms of public law, there was also Community law – for example the use of common pasturage. By the end of my studies I read a study about old Irish law [7]; It is surprising how common this legal form – with many forms of mutual duties of care – still is. Much attention was given to preserving the general interest. Recently in our world, the Community law also includes the right of education, development and deployment for betterment of society. In the interest of the community, punishments such as “eye for an eye” are often changed in, inter alia, education and social reintegration.

In the field of language I studied how language reflected the relationship between people and how the world view is reflected in language. Later on our Odyssey we will encounter many examples.

Erich Fromm [8] has stated in one of his studies that we have lost the language for intensity and association. During my studies I noticed that our language is also very limited for expressing emotions, culture and character. In our contemporary society we cannot express ourselves adequately on emotions, love and culture. We do not discus much about these topics – language was not an adequate means for communication about deeper emotions between my great love and I. We always could communicate our emotions much better by using behaviour, movements and body language. The important decisions between my great love and I were always made intuitively – our underbelly was far more important than our thoughts and words. I once read that when French ask “Comment ça va?”, this “ça” relates to the lower abdomen – a beautiful thought. Probably we communicate in the field of emotions, culture and character more by behaviour such as body language and hospitality, openness and acceptance on the one hand, and ignoring, excluding and aggression on the other hand. In Holland until about 30 years through the pillarisation, the inhabitants were absolute masters in living next to each other with complete different religions. Nowadays ignoring between children is seen as a form of bullying – maybe this modus vivendi in Holland prevented far worse actions.

In my job I kept myself busy with statistics and correlations between results of investigations; staff and students in the Humanities could use some help in this area. As a limited intellectual challenge, I followed the developments of population mathematics; later I used this knowledge in different studies about crimes against humanity. This intellectual challenge I kept for myself – it seemed to me a good idea to play hide and seek at this point, because this form of mathematics was not included in the curriculum for humanities.

The next post is more about my daily life in Amsterdam – also a kind of hide-and-seek.
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[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogels
[2] See also: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastrecht
[3] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastfreundschaft
[4] Man Leben would have remarked that “bhâsh” has the meaning “to speak, to name” in Sanskrit.
[5] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Hammurabi
[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi
[7] See also: Kelly, Fergus, A Guide to Early Irish Law. Dublin: Duldalgan Press, 2005 (first edition in 1988)

Carla Drift – Study Humanities in Amsterdam


After my third academic year, I moved in the beginning of the summer holidays with the help of study friends from Delft to Amsterdam. I had found my new room with support of the charming man with whom I had followed the lecture series philosophy in Delft that were given by Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen. Halfway through the lecture series I understood that his name was Man Leben. He introduced me to friends of him who lived in the inner town of Amsterdam; they had a room available on the first floor. My whole study time in Amsterdam I lived in this room; I soon changed from a lodger to a housemate with my share in the overall domestic life – cooking, cleaning, a drink at the end of a busy day and very occasionally a feast. The friends of Man were happy with a nice person in their house and I needed this domesticity after I had left Delft with empty hands. Later more about this.

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In Delft, I had followed the compulsory courses of humanities and philosophy. In addition, I chose to follow many additional courses in this area. I could not continue my technical scientific study in the direction I had in mind. After discussions with many people about my motives, I chose to continue my study in the field of humanities in Amsterdam – already the second mainstream of my study in Delft.

With my Bacholor in a technical study, I hardly receives any exemptions for subjects in the humanities. I read quickly and fortunately I could pass the compulsory courses in a high pace. Within a year, I had caught up with my study to beginning Masters level.

My study included psychology, especially focused on the development of people and behaviour of people in their daily life. In Delft, I had already studied the hierarchy of needs described by Abraham Maslow. Additionally, I studied how people learned to look and see; what processes play a role in imprinting and imaging. Imprinting and imaging can take place by looking at examples of parents and opinion makers, but it can also happen physically by eating spoiled food – afterwards the food that is associated with the sickness, will never taste pleasant anymore. I studied greed in relationship to survival of people; in doing so, I read many studies on the role of individuals in conflict and warfare, the consequences of these conflicts on individuals and the interactions between both. By glorification and honouring of heroic deeds during the warfare, individuals and societies are made ready for acceptance of the horrors of warfare. According to the inprinting in people and society, these horrors are required to achieve a higher goal in the field of religion, survival, prosperity or overcoming of basic fears; often these horrors are even glorified. Later, I followed a special topic on the interaction between literature and art on the one hand and warfare violence on the other hand. After following this subject, I always looked different at certain expressions of art. A number of Dadaist and surreal artists have acquired their visual language in the trenches of the first world war; they literally have seen the horrors – corpses and horses – hanging in the trees.

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In the field of sociology, I studied group behaviour with my special attention to imprinting and imaging by initiation rites and groupthink. Also changes within groups – caused by the corresponding group dynamics – and the impact of these changes on the personal life of group members were studied by me. During the beginning of the first World War, the participation of young men was voluntary, but if this “voluntary” participation was not done, than the young men and their families were physically and mentally completely excluded from the local community – more examples follow later during our Odyssey.

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I studied how history took shape over time under the influence of prevailing images of reality within a society. Often history was written by the victor or by the ruling class. By tradition the ruling class imposed upon society whether hunting of animals was a noble activity – a privilege of the nobility – or ordinary poaching – by people without privileges. The same way of imaging determined when a conquest had to be seen as a triumphant benefit for society or vile robbery of legal property. The reality and the associated image were often adapted to the needs and wishes of ruling class or to the emerging new class of rulers. One hundred years ago, the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin has noted quite rightly that within a year the revolutionaries in Russia would be worse than the tsar in their imaging and in their actions [5]. By the end of my study, I studied with great interest “The History of the personal Life” composed by Philippe Ariès [6] and George Duby [7]. This study showed that although everything changes, very many old elements remain active in a modified form. According to old Roman law, a father has the right to accept or reject a child after birth: the baptism of a new-born baby may still be a remnant of this old patriarchal law. The Roman Empire persisted in Belgium and the southern Netherlands in the Church provinces of the Roman Catholic Church. The chasubles of the priests in the Catholic Church still show strong resemblances  with the prevailing mode in Rome in the fifth century after Christ.

In the following post more about my study of the history of law and language.


[1] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrealism

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eerste_Wereldoorlog

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Bakunin

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippe_Ari%C3%A8s

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Duby