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Lecture 11

Lecture 11 Horton.docx

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Antonio Sorge

Anthropology 2R03: Religion, Magic and Witchcraft January 30 2013 Lecture 11: Horton con’t Recap: - Horton o Says theoretical thinking is pretty universal  Same structure regardless of context  Difference in terms of open vs. closed systems of thought though Theory– similarities btw scientific and traditional thought: - 6. Red herring in existing interpretations: to make much of the difference btw “personalistic” and “impersonal” theories o Pg 147 – in traditional socs, people’s interactions with one another are very rich – every aspect of their daily existence consists of interacting with one another. Western people are a bit more challenged in this regard – interact more with technology than with one another  Acceleration in technology in western soc means we rarely connect face to face anymore  Relate to impersonal theories because we are an impersonal soc  Theories we have to exploring the world are based on impersonal agencies o Theory of light, gravity etc. o All impersonal  Traditional – mode of understanding is mapped by the fact that they interact face-to-face  Understand references to personalistic theories because their entire world is made up of interactions with those who connect to one another o So diff in the style of thinking, but not a diff in scientific thought  Don’t be blinded by the fact that one uses a personal idiom and one uses an impersonal idiom  Both use theory to help explain things that our common sense assumptions and understandings of things don’t  Essential structural similarities between scientific thinking and traditional thinking - When do people resort to theory? o When they need to transcend limited causal vision of common sense  When common sense understandings don’t account for complex things that need to be understood  Then jump to theoretical thinking  The leap to theory is made by everyone in order to understand the wider sense of complex phenomenon  Theoretical thinking allows us to understand a more complex set of interrelations in the world o Horton’s example  Kalabari people  Treat disease in a matter of fact way with little or no reference to spiritual agencies o If an illness doesn’t respond to treatment – has to be a wider explanation  Leap to theory – postulate that a spiritual agency (witchcraft) is causing the illness Differences btw scientific and traditional thought - Open and closed (pg 153-155) o Closed predicament: Traditional socs  Religions, political pt **  “Every strand supports every other strand”  Absence of awareness of alternatives: alternative to one’s belief is chaos  E.g. if Azande didn’t belief in witchcraft, they would have chaos  The world and one’s picture of the world are one  Protectiveness of central tenets o Secondary elaboration o Open predicament: Scientific socs  Plurality of religions.. **  Won’t be persecuted for what you believe in.  Awareness of alternatives to anyone’s picture of the world o Can leave one religion/system for another o Because of this awareness  You need to know that one’s picture of the world is a “map” and that map is not the land  Picture = your understanding of the world  Your understanding =/= everyone elses o Awareness of other understandings  Evans-P quote** o Absolutely accept the theoretical principles of their belief system  Removes questioning when you believe absolutely  Any challenge to established tenets threatens chaos  Fragmentation of belief in soc  Individs have to work out
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