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Lecture 9

Lecture 9

Course Code
Joseph Bryant

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Lec 09 - Nov 10
-the conviction that mans existence has infinite value
-That god reaches down and helps you
-The universe watches us and we have infinite value
-If a lions life is saved we dont think its bcd god reached down to help and we bring this
notion also on to ourselves
-what is the impact on the viewer
Prehistorical Religion? High mortality rates, short lives spans
-group survival highly dependant upon reporidictive fertility of the women thus mother
goddess/spirit prominence (exaggerated sexual features: breast, hips, vulva)
-Hazard of the hunt need to:
-1. Galvanize hunters’ energy and courage and 2. Obtain consent of animals or control
over animal cults for more than 600 000 yr. Humans were hunters and gathers…
Aspects go Primal/aboriginal religion
-a synthesis: what can be inferred from prehistory (archeology, linguists etc) and the
ethnographi study of contemporary preliterate societies
-We find
-1. Belief in supernatural powers/forces -> religions of god and goddesses
-1. Belief in souls/spirits -> ancestor cults
-Both are systematized and expressed in myth and ritual
-Societies without the state are typically organized by KINSHIP: family lineages or
“blood lines” - descant from a common ancestor, in clans, tribes
-In ANCESTOR CULTS or worship, the dead remain involved with the living as
specialist appeal to the ancestors spirits to give “rulings”, settle disputes etc
-i.e. The hunting and gathering Vetted and Ceylon/Sirlanka shamans call upon and
“incarnatethe YAKU or ancestors, they sepal through his guttural groans, analysis
shows that “approval.disapproval is based upon compliance with the groups moral code
(recall Kritias & social control)
-The ancestors will make sounds that will make interpreted by the shaman and the
priest and they are meant to bring back harmony and make a judicious judgment
-Ancestors are believed to control fertility, the hunt and farming, weather, heath and
illness etc
-Misfortunes are interpreted as occurring in consequence of BREACHES IN THE
-The ancestor spirit - communicating through the ritual mediums - are the CENSORS
-Disputes settlements -- linear and kinship ancestors are prominent -- in the state base
the ancestors are not as large as in the smaller scale society -- this is in relation to the
social control theory that they are kind of a spirit police to have moral control over
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Lec 09 - Nov 10
society -- they control fertility, successes of hunts, weather etc -- offerings are made to
them to make them happy
-In kinship societies when there are misfortunes means that there is a breach in the
moral order meaning that someone has done something wrong - the ancestors are
called upon to diagnose the problem and the shamn will interpret what has gone wrong
asking people to do something to fix the prob
-In collective rituals, the medim
-Durkime emphasize on rlg as a social solidarity - we are extending reverence to our
own social groups, the kinship, who better to rpe the groups then the ancestors
The “primitive” - “moderndebate:
Lucien Levy-Bruhl
-Fonctions mentales dans els societies inferieures (1910) rejects the Tyler - Frazer
school, which divides humanity into infants and aduls rather: premoderns have a
different mentality, where emotional needs override the needs for explanation
-1. MYSTICAL ORIENTATION: perception is informed by emotion, objects are charged
with attachment - repulsion
-2. LACK OF OBJECTIVITY: dreams, visions, etc are taken for the real as ordinary
experiences there is a higher reality - in contrast to The modern scientific mentality who
thinks that dreams and vision are byproducts of our own subjection experiences
-3. PARTICIPATION: reality forms a interlaced nexus, ties and affinities abound - the
pre scientific mind looks for correlation's and connections
-4. PRE-LOGICAL: law of contradiction flouted, as objects are at once themselves and
things other than themselves -- the most controversial claim -- argues that the primitive
people have no problem violating the law of contrition, things can be A and not be A --
this was based on anthropological research -- boundaries are more fluent --
-5. COMMUNION FROM THE WORLD: reality a Thou, a living animate other with
which one mist est harmony and integration -- the contrast with The scientific mentality -
the pre modern mentally views the external world as not a fate and something septreate
but it is a subjective being, the land around them etc are all intimately contected with
themselves - the key to human success is to est a harmonious balance to the external
reality to which we are connected - the large cosmos we live in is an object in which we
-he shows modern and pre modern distinction
MODERN MENTALITY: is characterized by natural/materialistic orientation, logical
categorization into sets, human separation from and mastery over the world
-anthropologists in the field - Malinowaki, Evan-Pritchard - show LB makes primitive
peoples more mystical than they are - they love largely on the place of commonsense
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