Burning ghost wrote: ↑
October 22nd, 2018, 4:55 am
I should add that I do agree with both yourself and Fool in regards to Geertz style, but he deosn’t really express that here much. I’ve read some work of Levi-Strauss, Eliade, Renfew, and Geertz. Geertz is the most free-wheeling and seems to express himself and his views rather than give a scholary account in this book. Levi-Strauss is more rigid and Eliade more “sympathetic” (prob. not the best word to use hence the “”), and this particular work of Geertz does carry a feeling of dismissal toward religious people in some way yet he does point out some very interesting things and this particular book reads a little more like a Pop Science book in places.
Sure, I wouldn't dismiss him in response.
As from the above quote from Langer, used by Geertz, I think it is reasonable enough to assume that he means commonly used symbols that are used to orientate us physically and mentally become habitual and unquestioned - over time concepts are pruned and even split apart
Even that smal addition of this is the result over time (and I would add 'for many believers') makes a huge difference. Then we are looking at what happens much of the time, for more casual participants and especially casual participants who have grown up in the religion. It doesn't fit those who actively explore the practices of the religion, perhaps in apprentice type formats - say ashram meditation in Hinduism or becoming shamans in indigenous and other contexts. It fits less well with people who have powerful experiences, people who start offshoot religions, mystics or those in the 'priest' role. It also would not fit people who dive back into what had been a casual relationship with their religion in crisis, addiction, etc. I would think there are other examples.
I would guess if we looked at people's knowledge of science, for example, we might find similar 'clothed in objectivity' in their ideas poorly filtered from memory from school, bad interpretations of science writers (or even poor science writing), never habnig understood, etc.
It would be odd to sum up science based on causal 'participants' way of getting information/practices and moods. To have a description based ONLY on that.
Initially if something “works” (serves a purpose) it likely carries with it many parts that don’t suit the purpose at all. Given that we have an innate need to understand our positioning in the world (both physically and mentally/psychologically speaking) it serves us to bolster our position so as to anchor ourselves in “reality” - if we didn’t, as Langer points out, then we’re hobbled.
So he is not really talking about what is and isn’t “factual.” He is talking how concepts are “clothed” in objective reslity - hence we can talk about this. If we cannot relate any concept to an objective reality then there is no concept.
To me this would hold for things like golf coaching, even at high levels of coaching golf. Psychotherapy, parenting books, political ideas, pedagogy and more. Here we have something in the short form summation of religion and it strongly emphasizes this. I find it hard to merely take it as a neutral description of religion.
I don’t see anywhere him saying that “religion” is ontologically off; if anything he is looking at “religion” because he sees it as a important human phenomenon.
I think it is implicit in the language he uses.
To move to my thoughts and away from trying to explicate Geertz’ words ... what I personally take away from this is a view of the definition being one that essentially describes human nature and “religion” being opened up to me as something like an attempt to refine our sense of “being” - many pitfalls ensue. What remains a very curious for me is something both yourself and Fool have pointed. That is “religion” as an item of society and “religion” as the personal experience. Anthropolgy deals with very broad categories of human behavior that are all entwined with each other (Geertz himself points this out and his attempts here were to drag anthropology into the well established scientific fields - he notes that Malinowski, Freud, and others all offered new ideas to this field by taking onboard more empirical information, so “metaphysics” is far from his mind.)
I doubt he was thinking: now I will take a metaphysical stand on religion. I am sure he was trying to be descriptive. However our metaphysical stands seep into our descriptions. Also anthropology has to be heavily qualitative. You have to go through individual members and, it seems to me, try to remove as much as one can of one's own cultural assumptions. More goal than possiblity is perfection in this, but it is pretty easy to modify his summation to make it neutral AND I don't think it would lose any explanatory power.