Comparing Ideas, Images, and Activities
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: State University of New York Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This book began as a thematic paper session that I organized for the Comparative Studies in Religion Section at the 2004 meeting of the Ameri-can Academy of Religion. Since then, the project grew into an intergen-erational and international endeavor that could not have been completed without the efforts of many people. Above all, I am grateful to the volumeâs ...
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Shubha Pathakâs introduction speaks of the earlier wave of comparat-ists, the worst of whom (the universalizers) tried to reduce various religions to a much too common denominator, and the very worst of whom (the hierarchizers) strove primarily to demonstrate how their own religion was better (which usually meant older and/or Truer) than all the others. Mircea ...
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Although the field of religious studies long has been a province of compar-ativists, their current representatives now turn a critical eye to the projects of their predecessors. Comparative religionists today eschew their antecedentsâ tendencies to reduce different religions to their common denominator (to see only one religion where there are many) and to assert the superiority of their ...
Part I: Figuring Religious Ideas
Chapter 1: Marking Religion’s Boundaries: Constitutive Terms, Orienting Tropes, and Exegetical Fussiness
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Religion cannot reasonably be taken to be a valid analytical category since it does not pick out any distinctive cross-cultural aspect of human life.When everyone around you is demonstrating that no one can walk, itâs a good âMichel Serres to Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Despite warnings about the futility of efforts to define religion, many ...
Chapter 2: “Epic” as an Amnesiac Metaphor: Finding the Word to Compare Ancient Greek and Sanskrit Poems
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Among the richest sources of ancient mythology available today are the protracted praise poems that capture heroesâ quests to live (and die) up to the ideals of their societies. Such poems now are known commonly as âep-ics,â and the assumption that they, as members of the same genre, share cer-tain characteristics underlies any cross-cultural comparison of these works. ...
Chapter 3: Conceptions of the Self in the Zhuangzi: Conceptual Metaphor Analysis and Comparative Thought
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Language belongs in its origin to the age of the most rudimentary form of psy-chology: we find ourselves in the midst of a rude fetishism when we call to mind the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of languageâwhich is to say, of reason. It is this which sees everywhere deed and doer; this which believes in will as cause in general; this which believes in the âego,â in the ego as being, in the ego ...
Chapter 4: Theorizing Embodiment: Conceptual Metaphor Theory and the Comparative Study of Religion
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In this chapter I take up Edward Slingerlandâs claim that conceptual metaphor theory and the field of cognitive linguistics of which it is part of-fer not only a powerful methodology for comparison, but also âa convincing and coherent theoretical grounding for the comparativist project itself.â1 In making this proposal, Slingerland addresses a conspicuous deficit in the his-...
Part II: Figuring Religious Images
Chapter 5: Bathed in Milk: Metaphors of Suckling and Spiritual Transmission in Thirteenth-Century Kabbalah
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The ï¦orm oï¦ Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah is characterized by the use of vivid divine imagery to communicate a complex theology of in-terdependence between divinity and humanity. Within this vocabulary of images, one of the most unusual is that of God as a nursing mother. This image, appearing in the thirteenth century in some of Kabbalahâs most influ-...
Chapter 6: Metaphors and Images of Dress and Nakedness: Wrappings of Embodied Identity
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Religion ï¶ery much works by using powerful images and metaphors of embodied social reality. In this essay, I will examine the images and meta-phors of dress and nakedness which abound in Christian visual and verbal culture. I will argue that this imagery of dress and nakedness is about differ-ent aspects of identity and care of the self. Undressing and dressing figures ...
Part III: Figuring Religious Activities
Chapter 7: Poetry, Ritual, and Associational Thought in Early India and Elsewhere
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In reality, . . . the contiguity and resemblance of stimuli do not precede the constitution of the whole. âGood formâ is not brought about because it would be good in itself in some metaphysical heaven; it is good form because it comes into What is metonymy, aside from associative thought based on contiguity? And what is its significance for the study of religion, distinct from the bur-...
Chapter 8: Spatial Metaphors and Women’s Religious Activities in Ancient Greece and China
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Men and women were commonly associated with different spheres in premodern societies. Whereas women belonged to the house and their major responsibilities involved housekeeping and childrearing, men moved in ex-tradomestic spaces and pursued success in political, economic, military, and intellectual occupations. The gendered spatial differentiationâfemale and ...
Chapter 9: In Search of Equivalence: Conceiving Muslim-Hindu Encounter through Translation Theory
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From the sixteenth century to the early colonial period, the region of Bengal was notable for its vibrant religious activity, activity that was often closely allied to political and military fortune, economic expansion, and the opening of new lands for cultivation. As population grew, the delta region became the site of numerous encounters of religious communities, not so ...
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As Wendy Doniger observes in her foreword to this volume, compara-tive religion has been through at least three major hermeneutical phases. The first (exemplified by Mircea Eliade) tended to essentialize and universalize religious phenomena, while the second (championed by Jonathan Z. Smith) sought to emphasize differences, in order to bring out nuances and context ...
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Page Count: 314
Publication Year: 2013