Comparative Religion

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By Bruce Lincoln

During this daring theoretical paintings, Bruce Lincoln explores the ways that fantasy, ritual, and class carry human societies together--and how, in instances of trouble, they are often used to take a society aside and reconstruct it. with out overlooking the function of coercive strength within the upkeep (or overthrow) of social buildings, Lincoln argues his thesis with compelling illustrations drawn from such diversified parts as Platonic philosophy, the Upanishads of India, African rituals of kingship, historic Celtic banquets, English gentlemen's golf equipment, the Iranian Revolution, the St. Bartholomew's Day bloodbath, expert wrestling, and the Spanish Civil warfare. expert wrestling, Lincoln indicates, might be seen as a drama of class during which the yank dream of chance is determined forth, challenged, and at last firmly reestablished in good-versus-evil encounters among wrestlers classified by way of their relative "Americanness." The exhumation of nuns' mummified corpses through leftist forces and their sympathizers in the course of the Spanish Civil conflict, frequently brushed aside by way of liberal historians as an embarrassing aberration, is extra effectively comprehensible as a ritual during which the Spanish Catholic Church, which had lengthy performed the function of "the faith of the prestige quo," was once symbolically uncovered as corrupt in either an ethical and concretely physiological feel. Discourse and the development of Society attracts on paintings within the fields of background, anthropology, sociology, non secular reviews, classics, indology, and semiotics to illustrate the a number of makes use of of delusion, ritual, and symbolic class in effecting ideological persuasion and evoking the feelings that bind humans to each other inside of targeted social groupings whereas setting apart them from others, who're thereby outlined as outsiders. This wide-ranging interdisciplinary research presents difficult new insights into the advanced dynamics of social team spirit and alter.

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Extra resources for Discourse and the Construction of Society: Comparative Studies of Myth, Ritual, and Classification

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2. They can attempt to invest a history, legend, or even a fable with authority and credibility, thus elevating it to the status of myth and thereby make of it an instrument with which to construct novel social forms. 3 They can advance novel lines of interpretation for an established myth or modify details in its narration and thereby change the nature of the sentiments (and the society) it evokes. 1. Discourse and the Construction of Society Obviously, these strategies can be combined, for instance, when a group seeks to deprive one narrative of authority while claiming authoritative status for another or when a new line of interpretation is advanced for a familiar story and is then used to justify a change in its status.

This is not the place to belabor either the logic or the self-serving nature of the Eurocentered taxonomy that grants a privileged position to history, that is, those past-oriented narratives that meet these criteria: ( 1 ) a numeri­ cally specified position in the sequence of elapsed time can be affixed to them; (2) written sources attest to them; and (3) their only significant actors are human. In general we are not inclined to accept the truth-claims of stories that fail on one or more of these counts, and for these we reserve a bewildering array of other designations: myth, legend, folktale, and the like.

Having offered such a definition of Myth, it is necessary, of course, to define authority, on which the definition of Myth hangs. 22 That is to say, a narrative possessed of authority is one for which successful claims are made not only to the status of truth, but what is more, to the status of paradigmatic truth. 3. Classification of narratives. more important) akin to that of revolutionary slogans and ancestral invoca­ tions, in that through the recitation of myth one may effectively mobilize a social grouping.

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