Knowledge, Morality, and Causality in a 'Luckless' Society: The Case of the Chewong in the Malaysian Rain Forest
Signe Howell is arguing that the Chewong’s understanding of causality in human existence has no conceptual room for luck or fortune. Metaphysically derived knowledge is applied in daily and ritual practice, ensuring a life that, ideally, is prosperous and devoid of unwanted or dangerous events. In egalitarian Chewong society, every person is responsible for the correct application of this knowledge for the benefit of oneself and others. The premise for well-being is dependent upon the relationship between every individual Chewong man and woman and the numerous conscious beings that populate their environment. Sociality can be understood only from this perspective.
It is argued that cause is a universal category of human understanding, but that an understanding of cause cannot be separated from a wider examination of the ontology and cosmology in each case. Chewong maintain that the occurrence of specific events may be traced to the correct application of relevant knowledge, that is, knowledge predicated upon a mutuality between humans and a variety of nonhuman beings that guides daily interaction between them.