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Symbols

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Symbols and ritual ... Symbols – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Symbols


1
Symbols
2
Types of symbols
  • Visual

3
Spatial
4
Kinesthetic
5
Also
  • Verbal (spells/prayers words have meaning in
    excess of their literal meaning)
  • Aural (music, drumming)
  • Other smell/touch.

6
Metaphor
  • Metaphor as building block
  • Linking two distinct domains of experience
    together
  • Component we want to know more about is
    illuminated by identification with what is known,
    e.g.
  • If heaven IS (like) a garden or palace
  • If god IS (like) a king
  • Then other imagery to describe heaven or god will
    be taken from similar domain

7
Power of symbols
  • Symbols conventional
  • there must cultural consensus to understand them
  • Sometimes arbitrary but seem natural to those
    familiar with them
  • Anthropology of religion is very much about
    learning the meaning of symbols

8
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9
What do we mean when we use symbols?
  • Symbols are gateways to understanding
  • Provide perspectives by offering new way to
    perceive phenomena
  • Mystical perspective symbols become real
  • E.g. Eucharist in Catholicism

10
Symbolic actions, or real?
  • Central ritual of Christianity
  • Is whats going on -- miracle/magic/symbolic?
  • Breadbody/wine/juiceblood
  • A cognate of Jewish bread and wine sharing
    after services
  • Transubstantiation vs. primarily
    symbolic/memorializing

11
Symbols and action
  • What do symbols mean to people as they make sense
    of experience?
  • Symbols concentrate (summarize) lots of
    connections together into a singularly powerful
    form (the flag, the cross, the idol)
  • Geertz on how symbols direct and synthesize
    thinking to help people make sense of life

12
Motivating symbols
  • Victor Turner argued that symbols have cognitive
    and emotional elements (what they make people
    think and what they make people feel)
  • Motivate people to action
  • Are both cognitive and emotive
  • Allow people to think about the world and also
    act upon it

13
Belief and coercion?
  • Do people all think the same way about symbols or
    act in the same way concerning them?
  • Symbols as collective representations
  • Durkheim
  • Compliance and defiance
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