Magic, Myth, & Religion

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Magic, Myth, & Witchcraft

Class Notes up to Midterm

1-24-2013

Symbols and Ritual Symbolism
Theoretorical perspective that shape the social science exploration of religion Core concepts today over Symbols

Symbols
The complexity of human communication is made possible through the ability of humans to create and use symbols They permit people to discuss abstract topics
To explain the irrational or things we cannot see or physically interact Example: Taj Mahj (is a symbol)
The world of religion is a symbolic world
We interact with symbol all the time
We assign meanings to things*
Cultural constructs that often do not have universally recognized meanings. They are ARBITRARY! Stand for emotions and complex philosophical concepts They do not have to be physical
Example: Langauge is a system of symbols
Displacements > the ability to use symbols to refer to hints and activities that are remote from the user Meaning of a symbol is not intrinsic, it does not emanate from the symbols itself, as if it are a quality that it inherently possesses Example: The blue bottle of water that turns red when it rains > some might be seen by special people Symbols are important elements in religious practices, and religious rituals center on symbols and the manipulation of symbols The gesture of the body is a symbol

Actions that possesses a symbol
Humans beings are Meaning Makers according to Max Weber Symbolic Classification: the attempt to create and assign meanings to ideas, things actions Example: The age 16, 18, 21
In each of these markers we are not solely dealing with biology, but with classifications > it is what these mean or represent to us that determines behavior towards Difficult cultures will assign objects, people, thing, events to mean something

Victor Turner********
Important for his study of symbols in ritual processes The making of symbols in ritual is to make beliefs, idea, values, sentiments, and psychological dispositions, visible, audible, and tangible called ritual symbolization Symbols are POLYSEMIC and MUTLI-VOCAL

One symbol many stand for many things and have many meanings Dominant Symbols > appear in many different ritual contexts, come times presiding over the whole procedure sometimes over particular phases The meaning-content of dominant symbols possesses a high degree of constancy and consistency throughout the total symbol system Symbolism don't have to signify religious meaning, but also kinship, social, culture Example: Mudyi > tree sap, mother's milk, and semen

Turner study the ubiquitous nature of this symbol in this african society Example: the heart

Geertz********
He made the individual actor central to research methodology, but shifted focus from the actor to what the action symbolized, or the symbolic aspect action Interested in how the symbol interacted with people This symbolic action is public, and the meanings of those symbols and actions are public as well He was not interested in symbol in and of themselves > BUT in how they explain social processes Symbols get their meanings from the public roles they play in people's lives > NOT from the relationship they have to each other This is a more general approach in studying symbols

The Body as Symbols in Religion
All humans have bodies
It belongs to both the individuals and to the wider social body It is a vehicle for symbolizing individual and society
There is continual interaction between the embodied individual and the social and natural world of which the individual is a part We are even assigning meaning to ourselves as well as to other

Mary Douglass********** The body as symbol
Emphasized the...
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