Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology by Mary Douglas

By Mary Douglas

First released in 1970, this vintage textual content represents a piece of anthropology in its widest feel, eploring issues similar to the social which means of average symbols and a dead ringer for the physique in society. Bringing anthropology into the world of religion,Natural Symbolsenters into the continuing debate in non secular circles surrounding which means and formality. Written opposed to the backdrop of scholar uprisings of the overdue Sixties, the e-book took heavily the innovative fervor of the days, yet rather than looking to ruin the rituals and logos which could govern and oppress, Mary Douglas observed as a substitute that if transformation have been wanted, it could possibly merely be made attainable via higher figuring out. Expressed with readability and dynamism, the passionate research which follows from this continues to be some of the most insightful and profitable reports of human habit that has been written.

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Extra info for Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology

Sample text

The Dobu Islanders have long provided the stereotype of a witch-dominated cosmology. Among these far-ranging traders much respected and even feared by distant partners, each man has his own collection of formulae for success and competes passionately against his neighbours and kinsmen. It would be worth re-analysing FortuneĆ¢ s (1932) great pioneering study with a view to deciding whether the Dobuans are to stay classed as < previous page page_142 next page > < previous page page_143 next page > Page 143 nervous inward-turning paranoiacs obsessed by fear of persecution or as bold tycoons who protect their magical recipes as so many industrial secrets for use against their rivals.

Their culture is often seen as a choice, a preference for the simple life. Thus the Mbuti pygmies, after a period of lush living in the Bantu village, scamper back gleefully to the forest in the spirit of children repairing to their holiday camping to enjoy candlelight and sausages. Thus the reaction against the American middle class consciously prides itself on embracing poverty. In their personal life-style, their aesthetic sense, many in the Movement reject affluence and its associated symbols.

For instance, though it seems clear from the material offered that the Dinka think certain actions symbolizing desired ends really do help in themselves to achieve those ends, the author seems at times to want to rationalize this magical element away. (Horton, 1962:78) The book thus reviewed draws a very subtle, delicate line between the expressive and efficacious functions of Dinka ritual. In my view, Lienhardt offers a brilliant insight into the way in which symbolic action controls experience.

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