ARC-1: Acting as a Way of Thinking by Lisdorf, Anders
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Author(s): Lisdorf, Anders
Title: Acting as a Way of Thinking
Category: conference paper
Keywords: Ritual, Divination, Embodied Cognition, Performance
Abstract: Performance is a central factor in religions around the world, especially religious ritual. This has been duly noted in anthropological treatments. The basic question which has baffled anthropologists, is why perform at all? Why not just say it? The traditional textual paradigm has answered it with a focus on the meaning or �utterances� produced in ritual, thus reducing ritual to just another �code� among others that express a symbolic meaning derived from the cultural system. This does not explain why it should be performed, since it is just another way of speaking.
I would like to suggest that part of the explanatory gap of why rituals are performed as opposed to read or spoken, can be filled by realising that ritual performance also achieves cognitive effects, that could not have been achieved through mere talking. This will be done by considering the case of the most obviously information-procesing type of ritual : divinatory ritual, whose main function is to produce knowledge of what is hidden. By integrating the new insights it can hopefully shed new light on the performative processes involved in religious ritual.
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