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    This is the userpage of Slrubenstein, a great guy and a dedicated and skillful Wikipedian, who contributed more than 30,000 edits to Wikipedia since his first edit on December 12, 2001 to his last on March 1st 2012.

    Being a cultural anthropologist by profession he made most of his contributions in areas related to human culture, but he was also a prolific editor in other areas, contributing hundreds of edits to pages such as Jesus, Race and Franz Boas. In the world of academia he was a recognized expert on the culture of the Shuar people of Ecuador, as well as an ardent spokesperson for indigenous rights. He was also a dedicated proponent of free knowledge, and over the 11 years he edited he also made many important contributions to developing the basic policies and guidelines by which Wikipedia operates. He will be sorely missed by the Wikipedia community and by all who knew him.

    The tale of the fool, the naif, the adventurer, the wiseacre, may be the best weapon against the myths of the state.

    — Steven Rubenstein, 2002.

    Hi. I used to believe I had nothing to say about myself beyond what I contribute to articles, which I hope reflects my knowledge and interests but not my biases, and to talk pages, in which I try to be honest about my biases, especially if someone asks. I still think that as a Wikipedian I am best judged by my work on Wikipedia, although those who now care to, may judge me by what I read and what I watch. Of course, I am always willing to answer a question if you ask me.

    Anyway, I now believe I can do what so many other Wikipedians have done on their user pages: introduce myself:

    Everyone has one question. For the Little Prince, the question is whether his drawing #1 frightened them. If they answer "Why should I be frightened of a hat?" he knew that they understand nothing.

    Here is my question:

    Do you believe that ...
    (CHOOSE ONE: Michaelangelo's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or statue of David, the Dome of the Rock, The Gilgamesh Epic, the Iliad, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Diderot's Jacques the Fatalist, Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn," Arnold's "Dover Beach," Melville's Moby-Dick, Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, Forster's A Passage to India, Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge, Greene's The End of the Affair, Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, Fowles's The Magus, Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy (see [1], [2], [3]), Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony or Ninth symphony, Ellington and Coltrane's Duke Ellington & John Coltrane, and for the cognoscente, Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town," and Elvis Costello's "Alison")
    ...expresses some great truth?

    If the person answers yes (or can answer yes to an appropriate addition), I know they will understand why the fact that I think the Bible was written by human beings and that many parts of it are not historically accurate does not mean that I think it a fraud or an anachronism, nor does it mean that I am a blaspheming heretic, but on the contrary that I believe it to be a divinely profound and truthful work. And if the person answers yes, they will understand why as a scientist I think that research with living people, the aim of which is to understand how they make meaning of their lives and their world — something that cannot be measured and subjected to statistical analysis, and research that is not reproducible — is nevertheless among the most significant and valuable research one can conduct and learn from.

    If the person answers "no," I know that they understand nothing.

    I think of those people who would answer "no" to my question whenever I read this passage from Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum:

    Idiot. Above her head was the only stable place in the cosmos, the only refuge from the damnation of the panta rei, and she guessed it was the Pendulum's business, not hers. A moment later the couple went off — he, trained on some textbook that had blunted his capacity for wonder, she, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the infinite, both oblivious of the awesomeness of their encounter — their first and last encounter — with the One, the Ein-Sof, the Ineffable. How could you fail to kneel down before this altar of certitude?

    Foucault's pendulum does not rotate. It swings back and forth, as the earth rotates beneath it

    There is one other question I think is rather important (actually, I suspect "my one question" is really a corollary of this question, or this question is just a cruder version of "my one question"):

    Do you believe that a text has only one true meaning, generally that intended by the author of the text?
    If you answer "yes," you are, by my definition, a fundamentalist, whether the text you are thinking of is The Bible, The Communist Manifesto, Euclid's Elements, Moby-Dick, or something else. If this be the case, sooner or later you and I will find it very hard to understand each other.

    Two Poems by Bertholt Brecht

    A Bed for the Night

    I hear that in New York
    At the corner of 26th street and Broadway
    A man stands every evening during the winter months
    And gets beds for the homeless there
    By appealing to passers-by.

    It won't change the world
    It won't improve relations among men
    It will not shorten the age of exploitation
    But a few men have a bed for the night
    For the night the wind is kept from them
    The snow meant for them falls on the roadway.

    Don't put down the book on reading this, man.

    A few people have a bed for the night
    For the night the wind is kept from them
    The snow meant for them falls on the roadway
    But it won't change the world
    It won't improve relations among men
    It will not shorten the age of exploitation.

    On the Critical Attitude

    The critical attitude
    Strikes many people as unfruitful
    That is because they find the state
    Impervious to their criticism
    But what in this case is an unfruitful attitude
    Is merely a feeble attitude. Give criticism arms
    And states can be demolished by it.

    Canalising a river
    Grafting a fruit tree
    Educating a person
    Transforming a state
    These are instances of fruitful criticism
    And at the same time instances of art.

    Comments or Questions for me

    Since I have been here people have posted questions and comments to my user page and talk page indiscriminately. I have archived all of this material on this page. But if you wish to make a comment, please do so on my talk page.

    The rest of this page is somewhat self-indulgent

    Some pages I care about

    Since I started contributing to Wikipedia I have edited a number of pages. However, there are a few where I am especially proud of the research I did in order to contribute to the article:



    Biblical canon

    Cultural anthropology

    Cultural evolution

    Cultural and historical background of Jesus

    Cultural relativism


    Ethnic group

    Franz Boas

    Incest taboo

    Jivaroan peoples

    Judaism and Christianity

    Karl Marx





    Policies and guidelines

    Over the years I have at times put considerable work into:

    No original research

    Disruptive editing

    which I believe have helped maintain the encyclopedic quality of Wikipedia.

    Essays on Wiki-Process

    Wikipedia:Advice for new administrators

    Wikipedia:The role of policies in collaborative anarchy

    The Durova Incident (by JzG) (Note: I care about this very clear-headed and informative analysis of one of the many overblown incidents here that are symptomatic of a whole set of systemic problems at Wikipedia. I did not play any significant role in the incident, and did not write or edit this page.)

    The continued harassment of Slim Virgin (an account by the victim) (Note: I neither wrote nor edited this page, but consider it another very instructive example of a crippling weakness of Wikipedia.)

    Dealing with harassment on wikipedia by User:JzG

    Essays on Wiki-Research

    Advice on researching with Wikipedia

    Suggestions for excellent content by User:AndyZ

    Librarian's Guide to the way Wikipedia works by User:DGG

    Librarian's view of Wikipedia and Reliability also by User:DGG

    Some of my favorite books and poems


    Matthew Arnold

    Ray Bradbury

    J. M. Coetzee

    Denis Diderot

    Umberto Eco

    E.M. Forster

    John Fowles

    Graham Greene


    John Keats

    Ursula K. Le Guin

    William Somerset Maugham

    Herman Melville

    Rainer Maria Rilke

    Philip Roth

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    John Steinbeck

    Leo Tolstoy


    Various Authors


    Daniel Boyarin

    • A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity (1997) The University of California Press ISBN 0520212142

    Abraham Joshua Heschel

    • God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism (1976) Farrar, Straus and Giroux ISBN 0374513317
    • The Prophets (2001) Perennial Classics ISBN 0060936991

    Max Kadushin

    • The Rabbinic Mind (2001) Global Publications at SUNY Binghamton University ISBN 1586840940

    Yechezkel Kaufmann

    • The Religion of Israel: From Its Beginnings to the Babylonian Exile (1972) Schocken ISBN 0805203648

    Franz Rosenzweig

    • The Star of Redemption (2005) University of Wisconsin Press ISBN 0299207242

    Leo W. Schwarz, editor

    • Great Ages and Ideas of the Jewish People (1977) Modern Library ISBN 039460413X


    For the Neophyte

    Ruth Benedict

    • Patterns of Culture (1989) Mariner Books ISBN 0395500885

    Marvin Harris

    • Our Kind: Who We Are, Where We Came From, Where We Are Going (1990) Perennial ISBN 0060919906

    Hortense Powdermaker

    • Stranger and Friend (1966) W.W. Norton & Company ISBN 0393004104

    Eric Wolf

    • Europe and the People Without History (1997) University of California Press ISBN 0520048989

    For the Veteran

    Gregory Bateson

    • Naven (1958) Stanford University Press ISBN 0804705208

    Franz Boas

    • Race, Language, Culture (1940) The University of Chicago Press ISBN 0226062414

    Alan Tormaid Campbell

    • To Square with Genesis: Causal Statements and Shamanic Ideas in Wayãpí(1989) The University of Iowa Press ISBN 0877452482

    Terrence Deacon

    • The Symbolic Species: The Coevolution of Language and the Brain (1998) W. W. Norton & Company ISBN 0393317544

    Johannes Fabian

    • Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes its Object (2002) Columbia University Press ISBN 0231125771

    James Ferguson

    • The Anti-Politics Machine: "Development," Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho (1994) University of Minnesota Press ISBN 0816624372

    William H. Fisher

    • Rain Forest Exchanges: Industry and Community on an Amazonian Frontier (200) Smithsonian Books ISBN 1560989831

    Ronald Frankenberg

    • Village on the Border: A Social Study of Religion, Politics and Football in a North Wales Community (1989) Waveland Press ISBN 0881334855

    Morton H. Fried

    • The Evolution of Political Society: An Essay in Political Anthropology (1967) Random House
    • The Notion of Tribe (1975), Cummings ISBN 0846515482

    Judith Friedlander

    • Being Indian in Hueyapan: A Study of Forced Identity in Contemporary Mexico (1975) Bedford/St Martins ISBN 0312073151

    Thomas Gregor

    • The Mehinaku: The Dream of Daily Life in a Brazilian Indian Village (1980), University Of Chicago Press ISBN 0226307468

    Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar

    • Laboratory Life (1986), Princeton University Press ISBN 069102832X

    Claude Lévi-Strauss

    • Tristes Tropiques (1992) Penguin Books ISBN 0140165622

    Robert F. Murphy

    • The Dialectics of Social Life (1971) George Allen and Unwin ISBN 0043010490

    Yolanda and Robert F. Murphy

    • Women of the Forest (1985) Columbia University Press ISBN 0231060890

    Marshall Sahlins

    • Culture and Practical Reason (1978) The University of Chicago Press ISBN 0226733610

    Gerald M. Sider

    • Lumbee Indian Histories: Race, Ethnicity, and Indian Identity in the Southern United States (1994) Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521466695

    Michael Taussig

    • Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America (1983), University of North Carolina Press ISBN 0807841064
    • Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing (1991) University Of Chicago Press ISBN 0226790134
    • The Nervous System (1991) Routledge ISBN 0415904455
    • Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses (1992) Routledge ISBN 0415906873
    • Defacement: Public Secrecy and the Labor of the Negative (1999) Stanford University Press ISBN 0804732000

    D. Lawrence Wieder

    • Language and social reality: The case of telling the convict code (1974) Mouton ASIN B0006C9O5E

    Paul Willis

    • Learning to Labor (1981) Columbia University Press ISBN 0231053576

    Social Sciences and the Humanities

    Jessica Benjamin

    • The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem of Domination (1988) Pantheon Bools ISBN 0394757303

    John Berger

    • Ways of Seeing (1995) Penguin Books ISBN 0140135154

    Marshall Berman

    • All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity (1988) Penguin Books ISBN 0140109625

    Martin Buber

    • I and Thou (1971) Free Press ISBN 0684717255

    Nicholas Cook

    • Music: A Very Short Introduction (2000) Oxford University Press ISBN 0192853821

    Jonathan Culler

    • On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism After Structuralism (1983) Cornell University Press ISBN 0801492017

    Charles Darwin

    • The Origin of Species (2004) Castle Books ISBN 0785819118

    Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari

    • Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1983) University of Minnesota Press ISBN 0816612250

    Jacques Derrida

    • Of Grammatology (1998) Johns Hopkins University Press ISBN 0801858305
    • Dissemination (1983) University of Chicago Press ISBN 0226143341

    Isaac Deutscher

    • The Prophet Armed: Trotsky 1879-1921 (2003) Verso ISBN 1859844413
    • The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky 1921-1929 (2003) Verso ISBN 1859844464
    • The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky 1929-1940 (2003) Verso ISBN 1859844510

    Frantz Fanon

    • The Wretched of the Earth (1965) Grove Press ISBN 0802150837

    Michel Foucault

    • Discipline & Punish : The Birth of the Prison (1995) Vintage ISBN 0679752552
    • The History of Sexuality : An Introduction (History of Sexuality) (1990) Vintage ISBN 0679724699

    Paulo Freire

    • Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000) Continuum International Publishing Group ISBN 0826412769

    Sigmund Freud

    • Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1997) Touchstone ISBN ISBN 0684829460
    • Three Case Histories (1996) Touchstone ISBN 0684829452
    • The Interpretation of Dreams (1980) Avon ISBN 0380010003
    • Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (2000) Basic Books ISBN 0465097081

    Anthony Giddens

    • Central Problems in Social Theory (1979) University of California Press ISBN 0520039750

    David Halberstam

    • The Best and the Brightest (1993) Ballentine Books ISBN 0449908704

    William Hinton

    • Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village (1997) University of California Press ISBN 0520210409

    Bruno Latour

    • We Have Never Been Modern (1993) Harvard University Press ISBN 0674948394

    Jonathan Lee

    • Jacques Lacan (1991) University of Massachusetts Press ISBN 0870237373

    Karl Marx

    • Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1963) International Publishers ISBN 0717800563

    Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

    • The German Ideology: Including Thesis on Feuerbach (1998) ISBN 1573922587

    Louis Menand

    • The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (2002) Farrar, Straus and Giroux ISBN 0374528497

    James Miller

    • The Passion of Michel Foucault (2000) Harvard University Press ISBN 0674001575

    Juliet Mitchell

    • Psychoanalysis and Feminism: A Radical Reassessment of Freudian Psychoanalysis (2000) Basic Books ISBN 0465046088

    Ray Monk

    • Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius (1991) Penguin Books ISBN 0140159959

    Friedrich Nietzsche

    • Beyond Good and Evil (1989) Vintage ISBN 0679724656
    • The Genealogy of Morals (2003) Dover ISBN 0486426912

    Stephen C. Pepper

    • World Hypotheses: a Study in Evidence (1961) University of California Press ISBN 0520009940

    Thirty-nine of my favorite movies

    Movies I have a soft spot for

    "Great" movies I hate

    How I learned to hate Chick Flicks

    The answers to two common questions


    For repeated vandalism by an anonymous IP address, it is helpful to take the following additional steps:

    1. Trace the IP address (cf. and add {{whois|Name of owner}} to the user talk page of the address. If it appears to be a shared IP address, add {{SharedIP|Name of owner}} or {{SharedIPEDU|Name of owner}}.
    2. For repetitive anonymous vandalism, particularly where registered to a school or other kind of responsive ISP, consider listing it on Wikipedia:Abuse reports.

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    User:Slrubenstein/archive 1

    User:Slrubenstein/archive 2

    User:Slrubenstein/archive 3

    User:Slrubenstein/archive 4

    The Closet

    The Closet Shelf

    User:Slrubenstein/The box on the shelf in the closet


    My Sandbox

    My filing cabinet

    WP:Areas for Reform

    I agree to multi-license all my contributions, with the exception of my user pages, as described below:

    Multi-licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License versions 1.0 and 2.0
    I agree to multi-license my text contributions, unless otherwise stated, under Wikipedia's copyright terms and the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license version 1.0 and version 2.0. Please be aware that other contributors might not do the same, so if you want to use my contributions under the Creative Commons terms, please check the CC dual-license and Multi-licensing guides.