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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.

RfA candidate S O N S% Ending (UTC) Time left Dups? Report
RfB candidate S O N S% Ending (UTC) Time left Dups? Report

No RfXs since 18:06, 16 February 2024 (UTC).—cyberbot ITalk to my owner:Online

Frequently used templates


This page is often frequented by trolls. Do not feed the trolls by attempting to argue with them.


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.