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Lecture 4

HIST 2C Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Chartres Cathedral, Units Of Paper Quantity, Clifford Geertz

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Ruiz Teo

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Discussion 2
perception of reality in the medieval period
“Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” - Magritte
This is not a pipe”
~ an image / a representation (not something that is the real
thing itself)
There is no document of civilization which is not at the same
time a document of barbarism” - Benjamin
- are perceptions/images culturally relative?
- how to define culture and analyze it?
“I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be
therefore a scientific process” - Clifford Geertz
- Thick description: “an interworked systems of construable
signs (what, ignoring provincial usages, I would call symbols),
culture is not a power, something to which social events, be-
haviors, institutions, or processes can be causally attributed;
it is a context, something within which they can be
intelligibly-that is, thickly-described.
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- how do you know what a chair is?
- experience (you’ve seen a chair, you’ve used it, etc.)
- question a cause / effect relationship to explain people’s actions
- attributing the mystic experience to the outside instead of looking inside
- question of description
- Geertz: does not want to depend on causal attributions
What is mysticism?
- epiphany
- prior belief
- individual experience
- “Mysticism is the direct intuition or experience of god, and a mystic is a person who
has, to a greater or less degree, such a direct experience - one whose religion and life
are centered, not merely on an accepted belief or practice, but on that which he re-
gard as first hand personal experience” - Underhill pg 24-25
- direct experience, no on mediating it
- a mystic dangerous for the church (?) ~ a relationship with god which no longer re-
quires the church to tell you what and how to believe
How do we know what reality is?
-Platonism: mind ~ closer to mysticism (way of knowing god without knowing all these
theories about god)
- St. Augustine: church father (the only way you can know god is through love and
personal experience)
- truth is not outside but inside you (god is an experience within the mind)
- real world (illusion) vs. ideas (true knowledge you have)
- allegory of the cave: when you’re in the world, you are inside the cave and you do
not know that there is actually sun/light/etc. outside ~ the mystic experience is
stepping outside of the cave (the real world is a cave, true in the form you see it,
but an illusion as you have not yet accessed what is real) ~ you have to move out
of this world, but you have to come back as well (to narrate that to everybody else)
-Aristotelianism / Scholasticism: 5 senses & sense perception ~ primary doctrine of
the church from the 12th century onwards
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