Lecture 15 3/20/2013 5:08:00 PM
A figure of speech in which a term is applied to designate
something else in order to suggest a resemblance.
The association assert a meaningful link between two expressions
from different semantic order.
It allows to understand one thing or idea in terms of another,
constructing an analogy between them
An association based on similarity.
It compared without the use of “like” or “as”
Ex: you are an angel.
The figurative image of a metaphor allows one to say something
that encompasses more than the literal meaning.
Examples of Key Metaphors:
o It take society as a model to explain other orders of reality,
such as the biological ones (molecules or cells)
o It takes the image of the body to explain other orders of
reality, such as the society.
Technological or computer metaphors:
o It takes technology and machines to explain other orders of
reality, such as the human mind.
The use of metaphors in constructing worldviews:
Key metaphors have served as the foundation of worldviews.
An encompassing picture of reality created by members of society
Our western worldview distinguishes between different orders of
The physical world with its own laws
The customs, social institutions, arts.
o Supernatural: What goes beyond the laws of nature.
Is the distinction between the natural, cultural, and supernatural
order of reality a universal?
A figure of speech in which a thing or concept is not called by its
own name but by the name of something intimately associated with
For ex: do you want to drink a bottle?
A relation is made between the container and the contained.
In the context of a metonymy, the part can stand for the whole
For ex: in witchcraft, the hair or the nails of someone can stand for
the whole person
The difference between metaphors and metonymies:
Metaphors are based on similarity
Metonymies are based on contiguity i.e. contact or proximity in
time or space.
Examples of Metonymies:
“Hollywood” to refer to the US cinema industry
“the White House” to refer to the government of the US
“The crown” to prefer to royalty
“a dish” to refer to an entire plate of food.
Something that stands for something else, be it a word, an image,
or an action.
Are symbols universal?
Ideas and practices that postulates a reality beyond that which is
immediately available to the senses. Trying to make a general cross-cultural definition of religion is very
Does a religion necessarily implies a belief in God or Gods?
Does a religion necessarily implies a distinction between the sacred
and the profane?
o Beyond or above the physical human experience. God, gods,
spirits or forces existing apart the material universe.
o Existing or operating within; inherent. God, gods, spirits, or
forces pervading everything in the universe.
o The doctrine or belief that there is only one God.
o The belief of more than one God. It refers to a pantheon: a
collectivity of Gods.
o An account of theory of the origin of the universe
o A collection of traditional stories (myths) concerning the early
history of a people or explaining the origin of some natural or
social phenomenon and typically involving extraordinary
beings or events.
The British anthropologist Tylor first brought a definition of animism
in the 19thcentury.
From Latin anima: everything is animated
Not only humans, but plants, animals, lakes, thunder, clouds, and
many other things we consider as natural phenomenon” have human qualities, such as consciousness, emotions and social
The forces of the universe are personalized.
As used in the 19 century by the evolutionist anthropologist Tylor,
animism was considered a primitive superstition, a system of belief
that attributed spirits or souls to things, to any rational person are
“obviously” mere objects of nature.
The difference of interpretation has its roots in different worldviews.
Animist systems do not base their interpretation on our worldview.
We have to understand this system based on its own logic. Animism
is based on a very different worldview than the western one: it does
not stand on the divide between nature and culture
Since everything is considered as a potential person, relationships
between humans and non-humans (plants, animals etc.) are thus
In animist systems, by contrast, the world of dreams, like that of
myth, is continuous with that of one’s waking life.
Does this mean that they confuse dream experiences with those
they have while awake?
How can we study animist without being ethnocentric? Without
judging it based on our own western standards?
Shamans have the ability to recognize the person aspect i.e. the
sentience, emotions, social systems of non-humans (plants,
They therefore the specialists in the mediation between their social
group and these other entities.
A shaman is born with this ability or have to gain it through a long
Shamans have a special institutionalized languages to communicate
with non-human entities: shamanic songs, dreams, drum beats or
the use of hallucinogenic drugs. Dreaming in the West:
In the west, we are encourages to think of dreams or visions as
hallucinations; images that exist in the unconscious mind.
We consider the dream world as the very opposite of the solid
Dreaming in animist systems:
No! Dreaming allows the self a degree of mobility—both in space
and time—denied in waking life.
Dreams allow to experience things from a different perspective,
where it is possible to fly, to transform and to travel in far away
Dreams are not an illusion but a way of being in the world: they
reveal different aspect of the world to the dreamer.
This is why so much importance is given to dreaming as a source of
The origin of the term “shaman”
It comes from the Tungus people of Siberia where the phenomenon