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Re: [Habermas] Re: Ritual Performance and Formal Pragmatic Analysis - addendum

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  • Kenneth MacKendrick
    Guten Morgen. I d just like to add... If one is going to develop a theory of aesthetic experience, symbolic action, or aesthetic participation, it is essential
    Message 1 of 20 , May 1, 2009
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      Guten Morgen.

      I'd just like to add...

      If one is going to develop a theory of aesthetic experience, symbolic
      action, or aesthetic participation, it is essential to be mindful of the
      pitfalls of the philosophy of consciousness. I'm thinking of Habermas's
      review of Richard Rorty's _Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature_ where
      Rorty exposes three myths: the myth of the given, of thought as
      representation, and of truth as certainty. After summarizing this,
      Habermas remarks, "There are no uninterpreted experiences
      (/Erfahrungen/) that are accessibly only privately and elude public
      assessment and correction" (Habermas, "Richard Rorty's Pragmatic Turn"
      in On the Pragmatics of Communication, 349). In a wider context,
      Habermas's concepts of the lifeworld designates the reservoir of
      background assumptions and implicit, unthematized knowledge). An
      experience that is without interpretation, in Habermas's view, would not
      be an experience worth speaking of. He writes, "Experiences are always
      new experiences and provide a counterbalance to everything with which we
      have grown familiar" (Habermas, "Actions, Speech Acts, Linguistically
      Mediated Interactions, and Lifeworld," in OPC, 236).

      I don't have a copy of the essay in German, but I think there is a
      worthwhile distiction to be made here between the term /Erlebnisse/
      (subjective experiences - experience in an active sense, receptivity) in
      contrast to /Erfahrung/ which, it seems to me, has more to do with
      experience as knowledge, or experience as know-how. The qualitative
      difference between the two terms is often unmarked in English
      translation. Perhaps someone more familiar with Habermas works in
      Deutsch could comment further. I would imagine that there is something,
      although I'm not sure how much, to be said about the relation between
      experience (/Erlebnisse/ // /Erfahrungen/) and interpretation that would
      address the relation of experience to the lifeworld, aesthetics, symbol
      formation, and ritualization.

      tschüß,
      ken

      Kenneth MacKendrick wrote:
      >
      >
      > Stephen,
      >
      > Thanks for the interesting thoughts.
      >
      > I don't know how this intersects with your interests, but I've been
      > trying to think about how we might relate a communicative-theoretic to
      > ritual. Catherine Bell has developed one of the most sophisticated
      > approaches to ritual and ritualization, largely articulated through the
      > work of Bourdieu (whose work I don't know especially well). A formal
      > pragmatic approach would certainly offer insights of a different kind
      > than Bourdieu's logic of practice.
      >
      > I take your point regarding the ill-phrased "inarticulable meaning." The
      > difficulties of theorizing meaning with regard to either music or ritual
      > come out of the peculiarities of symbol and performance. Rituals aren't
      > teleological, nor are they communicative in the sense of illocutionary.
      > It would also be awkward to describe ritual as a form of strategic
      > action. There is too much going on in performances that is unaccounted
      > for in the schema that Habermas's has worked out. It seems that
      > ritualization may be a limit case for communicative action. The best
      > I've come up with so far is that rituals are "incommunicative," which
      > basically means that rituals are incomplete forms of communication,
      > since their illocutionary force is directed at supernatural powers
      > rather than an alter. This is what accounts for their symbolic meaning
      > and their simultaneous meaning-less nature (i.e. ritualization creates
      > power in a quasi-communicative way). Rituals are filled with multiple
      > and indeterminate meanings, imbued with power and expression, but in an
      > ambiguous way... one can take many things from a ritual experience, and
      > since they are graphic, the range of possibilities is only incompletely
      > accessible from a third person perspective. I think this addresses your
      > concerns with participation.
      >
      > Perhaps Victor Turner's concept of symbolic action will suffice and save
      > me the trouble of articulating a theory of incommunicative action.
      >
      > Re. Habermas on aesthetics. This is a continual thorn in Habermas's side
      > that critics and sympathizers keep driving in. Albrecht Wellmer (in The
      > Persistence of Modernity) has managed to convince Habermas more than
      > most about the dynamic nature of aesthetics and aesthetic experience.
      > There are other important works, many which have yet to be translated
      > into English (e.g. Martin Seel) that would be relevant. Lambert
      > Zuidervaart, J. M. Bernstein, Maria Pia Lara, Hans Joas, and even Axel
      > Honneth have all in one way or another sought to address what they
      > perceive to be a over-emphasis on the discursive in Habermas's thought.
      >
      > Seems that my contribution is kind of pithy after your response, and I
      > didn't even get to mention "meditation on foulness" as a perfect example
      > of symbolic action.
      >
      > cheers,
      > Ken
      >
      >
    • Stephen Evans
      Ken, A formal pragmatic approach to ritual would, I think, be extremely valuable and could fill out what Bourdieu has done--I could imagine working with the
      Message 2 of 20 , May 3, 2009
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        Ken,
        A formal pragmatic approach to ritual would, I think, be extremely valuable and could fill out what Bourdieu has done--I could imagine working with the material that he records... I certainly don't have the time to get into it now. I've applied for a grant from my uni. to explore the relation of ritual enactment of mythology to the conduct of everyday life, and if I got it I could sneak in a little formal pragmatic analysis as well--but the grant board has no idea what I'm talking about.

        I would probably (haven't thought this through) think of a ritual as a (quasi)communicative situation in which the participants (quasi)communicate with each other, including spirits & deities as participants. Anyway, we would have to delimit ritual--what counts as ritual and what doesn't, exactly when does one begin and when does it end. When a farmer makes offerings to the deities of the land before ploughing--does the rite end when the ploughing starts, or is the ploughing part and parcel of the rite? The beginning and ending of weddings in Northeast Thailand are ambiguous, with all sorts of subsidiary and/or associated ritual situations. To what extent is negotiating the bride-price a ritual? etc.
        Then different kinds of ritual would have to be identified & catagorized: Communion, Baptism, Confession, Protestant Conversion (interesting in the pretense of not being a ritual). Making offerings to Buddhist monks in order to feed one's dead relatives, chanting, floating the bones down the river 100 days after cremation, drunken dancing on holy days. And yes, meditation on foulness, fresh corpses, on decomposed corpses, on skeletons, on disarticulated skeletons, on the dust of very old skeletons.

        Cheers,
        S
      • Tommy Beavitt
        An experience that is without interpretation, in Habermas s view, would not be an experience worth speaking of Although, of course, this logic is circular:
        Message 3 of 20 , May 4, 2009
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          "An experience that is without interpretation, in Habermas's view, would
          not
          be an experience worth speaking of"
          Although, of course, this logic is circular: by speaking of an experience it
          necessarily comes "with interpretation", so the responsibility for the
          interpretation of experience lies always with the speaker and cannot be laid
          at the door of some prior interpreter.

          To put it another way, by speaking of an experience we explicitly imbue it
          with interpretative value.

          Tommy

          On Fri, May 1, 2009 at 1:15 PM, Kenneth MacKendrick <
          mackendr@...> wrote:

          >
          >
          >
          > Guten Morgen.
          >
          > I'd just like to add...
          >
          > If one is going to develop a theory of aesthetic experience, symbolic
          > action, or aesthetic participation, it is essential to be mindful of the
          > pitfalls of the philosophy of consciousness. I'm thinking of Habermas's
          > review of Richard Rorty's _Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature_ where
          > Rorty exposes three myths: the myth of the given, of thought as
          > representation, and of truth as certainty. After summarizing this,
          > Habermas remarks, "There are no uninterpreted experiences
          > (/Erfahrungen/) that are accessibly only privately and elude public
          > assessment and correction" (Habermas, "Richard Rorty's Pragmatic Turn"
          > in On the Pragmatics of Communication, 349). In a wider context,
          > Habermas's concepts of the lifeworld designates the reservoir of
          > background assumptions and implicit, unthematized knowledge). An
          > experience that is without interpretation, in Habermas's view, would not
          > be an experience worth speaking of. He writes, "Experiences are always
          > new experiences and provide a counterbalance to everything with which we
          > have grown familiar" (Habermas, "Actions, Speech Acts, Linguistically
          > Mediated Interactions, and Lifeworld," in OPC, 236).
          >
          > I don't have a copy of the essay in German, but I think there is a
          > worthwhile distiction to be made here between the term /Erlebnisse/
          > (subjective experiences - experience in an active sense, receptivity) in
          > contrast to /Erfahrung/ which, it seems to me, has more to do with
          > experience as knowledge, or experience as know-how. The qualitative
          > difference between the two terms is often unmarked in English
          > translation. Perhaps someone more familiar with Habermas works in
          > Deutsch could comment further. I would imagine that there is something,
          > although I'm not sure how much, to be said about the relation between
          > experience (/Erlebnisse/ // /Erfahrungen/) and interpretation that would
          > address the relation of experience to the lifeworld, aesthetics, symbol
          > formation, and ritualization.
          >
          > tschüß,
          > ken
          >
          > Kenneth MacKendrick wrote:
          > >
          > >
          > > Stephen,
          > >
          > > Thanks for the interesting thoughts.
          > >
          > > I don't know how this intersects with your interests, but I've been
          > > trying to think about how we might relate a communicative-theoretic to
          > > ritual. Catherine Bell has developed one of the most sophisticated
          > > approaches to ritual and ritualization, largely articulated through the
          > > work of Bourdieu (whose work I don't know especially well). A formal
          > > pragmatic approach would certainly offer insights of a different kind
          > > than Bourdieu's logic of practice.
          > >
          > > I take your point regarding the ill-phrased "inarticulable meaning." The
          > > difficulties of theorizing meaning with regard to either music or ritual
          > > come out of the peculiarities of symbol and performance. Rituals aren't
          > > teleological, nor are they communicative in the sense of illocutionary.
          > > It would also be awkward to describe ritual as a form of strategic
          > > action. There is too much going on in performances that is unaccounted
          > > for in the schema that Habermas's has worked out. It seems that
          > > ritualization may be a limit case for communicative action. The best
          > > I've come up with so far is that rituals are "incommunicative," which
          > > basically means that rituals are incomplete forms of communication,
          > > since their illocutionary force is directed at supernatural powers
          > > rather than an alter. This is what accounts for their symbolic meaning
          > > and their simultaneous meaning-less nature (i.e. ritualization creates
          > > power in a quasi-communicative way). Rituals are filled with multiple
          > > and indeterminate meanings, imbued with power and expression, but in an
          > > ambiguous way... one can take many things from a ritual experience, and
          > > since they are graphic, the range of possibilities is only incompletely
          > > accessible from a third person perspective. I think this addresses your
          > > concerns with participation.
          > >
          > > Perhaps Victor Turner's concept of symbolic action will suffice and save
          > > me the trouble of articulating a theory of incommunicative action.
          > >
          > > Re. Habermas on aesthetics. This is a continual thorn in Habermas's side
          > > that critics and sympathizers keep driving in. Albrecht Wellmer (in The
          > > Persistence of Modernity) has managed to convince Habermas more than
          > > most about the dynamic nature of aesthetics and aesthetic experience.
          > > There are other important works, many which have yet to be translated
          > > into English (e.g. Martin Seel) that would be relevant. Lambert
          > > Zuidervaart, J. M. Bernstein, Maria Pia Lara, Hans Joas, and even Axel
          > > Honneth have all in one way or another sought to address what they
          > > perceive to be a over-emphasis on the discursive in Habermas's thought.
          > >
          > > Seems that my contribution is kind of pithy after your response, and I
          > > didn't even get to mention "meditation on foulness" as a perfect example
          > > of symbolic action.
          > >
          > > cheers,
          > > Ken
          > >
          > >
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Kenneth MacKendrick
          Stephen, I have had ample opportunity to observe that there is much confusion about the study of religion, esp. regarding granting agencies as well as
          Message 4 of 20 , May 4, 2009
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            Stephen,

            I have had ample opportunity to observe that there is much confusion
            about the study of religion, esp. regarding granting agencies as well as
            colleagues and administrative bodies. It isn't uncommon that as soon as
            someone finds out I'm not particularly religious, they then ask, "Well,
            if you're not religious - what DO you do?" (apparently a salary can be
            justified by faith alone!).

            Re. rituals. I'm not that worried about such a strong delineation of
            what counts and what doesn't count. I'm not sure this would even be
            possible from a strictly third person perspective. Certainly defining
            ritual is no more or less complicated than defining sex or religion.
            When does "religion" begin and "culture" end? What is a "sexual act?"
            This is why it may be helpful to speak of rituals and ritualization. The
            concept of ritualization as Catherine Bell develops it provides a more
            nuanced and dynamic aspect to the field.

            best,

            ken



            Stephen Evans wrote:
            >
            >
            > Ken,
            > A formal pragmatic approach to ritual would, I think, be extremely
            > valuable and could fill out what Bourdieu has done--I could imagine
            > working with the material that he records... I certainly don't have
            > the time to get into it now. I've applied for a grant from my uni. to
            > explore the relation of ritual enactment of mythology to the conduct
            > of everyday life, and if I got it I could sneak in a little formal
            > pragmatic analysis as well--but the grant board has no idea what I'm
            > talking about.
            >
            > I would probably (haven't thought this through) think of a ritual as a
            > (quasi)communicative situation in which the participants
            > (quasi)communicate with each other, including spirits & deities as
            > participants. Anyway, we would have to delimit ritual--what counts as
            > ritual and what doesn't, exactly when does one begin and when does it
            > end. When a farmer makes offerings to the deities of the land before
            > ploughing--does the rite end when the ploughing starts, or is the
            > ploughing part and parcel of the rite? The beginning and ending of
            > weddings in Northeast Thailand are ambiguous, with all sorts of
            > subsidiary and/or associated ritual situations. To what extent is
            > negotiating the bride-price a ritual? etc.
            > Then different kinds of ritual would have to be identified &
            > catagorized: Communion, Baptism, Confession, Protestant Conversion
            > (interesting in the pretense of not being a ritual). Making offerings
            > to Buddhist monks in order to feed one's dead relatives, chanting,
            > floating the bones down the river 100 days after cremation, drunken
            > dancing on holy days. And yes, meditation on foulness, fresh corpses,
            > on decomposed corpses, on skeletons, on disarticulated skeletons, on
            > the dust of very old skeletons.
            >
            > Cheers,
            > S
            >
            >
          • Kenneth MacKendrick
            Tommy, I m not sure that all experience comes with interpretation, so I think it is worth making a distinction between an active concept of experience
            Message 5 of 20 , May 4, 2009
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              Tommy,

              I'm not sure that all experience comes with interpretation, so I think
              it is worth making a distinction between an active concept of experience
              (learning) and some other kind of experience (pain, trauma, ecstasy, for
              example). An experience that one cannot remember is an experience and it
              has not been actively (consciously) interpreted. Perhaps we could speak
              of interpreted experiences and processed experiences (perceptions and
              sensations that are felt and registered but short-circuit the learning
              curve).

              best,

              Ken

              Tommy Beavitt wrote:
              >
              >
              > "An experience that is without interpretation, in Habermas's view, would
              > not
              > be an experience worth speaking of"
              > Although, of course, this logic is circular: by speaking of an
              > experience it
              > necessarily comes "with interpretation", so the responsibility for the
              > interpretation of experience lies always with the speaker and cannot
              > be laid
              > at the door of some prior interpreter.
              >
              > To put it another way, by speaking of an experience we explicitly imbue it
              > with interpretative value.
              >
              > Tommy
              >
            • Gary E. Davis
              Re: [Habermas] Re: Ritual Performance and Formal Pragmatic Analysis A lot of themes have been brought up recently, between Stephen and Ken, all to the good.
              Message 6 of 20 , May 4, 2009
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                Re: [Habermas] Re: Ritual Performance and Formal Pragmatic Analysis

                A lot of themes have been brought up recently, between Stephen and Ken, all to the good. But the Habermasian relevance is about what's relevant for public life, not the depth-structure of ritual---though Ken's exposition dramatizes that much CAN be said about ritual. Much can be done to show what ritual is and means. Anyway, it seems to me that a baseline sense of ritual would be useful, going forward, especially for readers like myself who aren't specialists and especially for the Habermasian context, which is about the merits of communicability.

                So, here's a consensus view, I take it: The "ritual" entry from the 1997 _Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology_ (there's a 2002 edition, but Google doesn't offer that):

                http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en-us&q=ritual+in+Encyclopedia+of+social+and+cultural+anthropology&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

                It that URL doesn't work, google "ritual in Encyclopedia of social and cultural anthropology," and the first entry will be exactly that. The Google pages lack the last paragraph of the article, so here's that, beginning with the last line of page 492, which Google provides:

                "...[Carnival] was a means of expressing// these differences, but also the means by which these differences were constructed. ¶ This approach sees ritual and social structure as part of the same process, mutually informing each other. Ritual does not merely represent social structure, nor conceal it, but acts upon it, as social structure acts upon ritual. Put this way, rituals can be seen as the significant sites of political contest between different social groups. Because they involve symbols, rituals are particularly evocative, but they are also particularly malleable. They can therefore lead to change, as much as they evoke tradition and continuity. As Kelly and Kaplan put it, 'rituals in ongoing practice are a principal site of new history being made, and [the] study of the plural formal potentialities of rituals could be basic to efforts to imagine possibilities for real political change' (Kelly and Kaplan, 1990: 141)."

                The article's synoptic on Victor Turner is especially useful. I want to return to this, relative to recent postings between Ken and Stephen.

                Gary



                --- On Thu, 4/30/09, Kenneth MacKendrick <mackendr@...> wrote:
                From: Kenneth MacKendrick <mackendr@...>
                Subject: Re: [Habermas] Re: Ritual Performance and Formal Pragmatic Analysis
                To: habermas@yahoogroups.com
                Date: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 2:08 PM

















                Stephen,



                Thanks for the interesting thoughts.



                I don't know how this intersects with your interests, but I've been

                trying to think about how we might relate a communicative- theoretic to

                ritual. Catherine Bell has developed one of the most sophisticated

                approaches to ritual and ritualization, largely articulated through the

                work of Bourdieu (whose work I don't know especially well). A formal

                pragmatic approach would certainly offer insights of a different kind

                than Bourdieu's logic of practice.



                I take your point regarding the ill-phrased "inarticulable meaning." The

                difficulties of theorizing meaning with regard to either music or ritual

                come out of the peculiarities of symbol and performance. Rituals aren't

                teleological, nor are they communicative in the sense of illocutionary.

                It would also be awkward to describe ritual as a form of strategic

                action. There is too much going on in performances that is unaccounted

                for in the schema that Habermas's has worked out. It seems that

                ritualization may be a limit case for communicative action. The best

                I've come up with so far is that rituals are "incommunicative, " which

                basically means that rituals are incomplete forms of communication,

                since their illocutionary force is directed at supernatural powers

                rather than an alter. This is what accounts for their symbolic meaning

                and their simultaneous meaning-less nature (i.e. ritualization creates

                power in a quasi-communicative way). Rituals are filled with multiple

                and indeterminate meanings, imbued with power and expression, but in an

                ambiguous way... one can take many things from a ritual experience, and

                since they are graphic, the range of possibilities is only incompletely

                accessible from a third person perspective. I think this addresses your

                concerns with participation.



                Perhaps Victor Turner's concept of symbolic action will suffice and save

                me the trouble of articulating a theory of incommunicative action.



                Re. Habermas on aesthetics. This is a continual thorn in Habermas's side

                that critics and sympathizers keep driving in. Albrecht Wellmer (in The

                Persistence of Modernity) has managed to convince Habermas more than

                most about the dynamic nature of aesthetics and aesthetic experience.

                There are other important works, many which have yet to be translated

                into English (e.g. Martin Seel) that would be relevant. Lambert

                Zuidervaart, J. M. Bernstein, Maria Pia Lara, Hans Joas, and even Axel

                Honneth have all in one way or another sought to address what they

                perceive to be a over-emphasis on the discursive in Habermas's thought.



                Seems that my contribution is kind of pithy after your response, and I

                didn't even get to mention "meditation on foulness" as a perfect example

                of symbolic action.



                cheers,

                Ken



                Stephen Evans wrote:

                >

                >

                > Thank you Ken for your very insightful & clarifying comments and

                > especially for what seems obvious to me: "What a musicologist may say

                > about Bach is irrelevant to the experience of an inability to

                > articulate linguistically what one feels."

                >

                > I want to say first that I've been pushed a bit farther than I wanted

                > to go here. If a practice (ritual, musical performance etc.) expresses

                > meaning that is inarticulable, it seems paradoxical to say:

                > "inarticulable in principle" since "in principle" tends to apply to

                > cognitively artuculated matters. Of course the same reservation

                > applies to the phrase: "inarticulate (let alone inarticulable)

                > meaning," since "meaning" too tends to refer to articulated

                > statements. As Ken notes, "unelaborated meaning [of ritual] is,

                > strictly speaking, 'meaning-less' since its effectiveness is secured

                > precisely by means of not elaborating the meaning," (but I return to

                > that below) and as he suggests: the need to clarify a definition of

                > "meaningful" . I'm pushing the definition of "meaning" out a bit.

                >

                > Second, I want to say that my example, retort, really, was poorly

                > chosen, or at least poorly articulated. The experience of listening to

                > music, and the feelings ("felt meanings" if you will) that it arouses,

                > is aesthetic, and in JR's schema would count as part of the subjective

                > world to which each one has privledged access. As such these

                > "meanings" would be strictly private and I would not want to call them

                > "meanings" in any strict sense. What one articulates of these feelings

                > is judged in terms of--implicit validity claims have to do

                > with--sincerity and conformity to cultural aesthetic standards. But

                > beyond what strikes me as JR's profoundly weak grasp of aesthetics

                > (but I'm not competent to judge), there is in Beethoven something

                > communicated that is not "only" aroused emotion and that is shared.

                > Whether I am sincere when I say how it makes me feel, and whether my

                > justifications for feeling that way reflect cultural standards, does

                > not exhaust the communicative dimension of music. What I'm after here

                > is not the experience of listening to music, but the acts of

                > participation. Ken suggests that one response to music is imitation,

                > and this comes closer to what I want to say. One dances, for example,

                > in a kind of mimesis of the music and in a kind of response to it. One

                > dances with others in what becomes a spontaneous rite externalizing

                > and sharing /something/ that stays with the participants and that is

                > aroused again the next time the dance begins and taken up again in a

                > continuing interaction. I want to call that "something" meaning, and

                > that continuing interaction "conversation" , though they are

                > non-linguistic (one might say pre- or proto-linguistic. Or "incomplete

                > utterances", but except for an exploration of the origins of language,

                > I don't see the point. These "conversations" are quite full and

                > self-sufficient in their own realm). I'm thinking specifically of the

                > periodic festivals up in the village, that are very much

                > Dionysean--music, alcohol, and dancing in the streets dancing without

                > a partner, but with everyone; but I think the same sort of thing

                > happens occasionally in more "civilized" settings, though channelled

                > into "safer" expressions. But also playing in a band or orchestra-the

                > players interact with each other and with the audience (which may more

                > or less be participant) in what may be called a "meaningful"

                > conversation. They may well know enough music theory to discuss what

                > they are doing--both before and after--but that is a /different/

                > conversation (not that the knowledge of theory does not interact with

                > the actual playing. In the history of music there seems to be

                > something of a dialectic between theory and composition, the one

                > building on and outdistancing the other in a continual resolution that

                > never resolves. But that's another topic.).

                >

                > The musicologist may, more-or-less completely /describe/ a piece of

                > music, but that description is not its meaning. Similarly the

                > ethnologist may more-or-less adequately describe a ritual (or marriage

                > customs) but those descriptions are not the meaning of the act.

                >

                > (I just had supper & a beer and discussions about Star Trek and Lord

                > of the Rings with my son, who is a professional musician. I brought up

                > this issue--he had trouble with the concept of inarticulate meaning as

                > applied to music--for him the performance of the music is itself the

                > articulation of the meaning... and that meaning cannot be put into words).

                >

                > Ken floats the interesting possibility, if I understand him correctly,

                > that the (feeling of?) meaningfulness of non-verbal experience might

                > "have to do with the impact of outside stimuli (such as music) on an

                > organism that has undergone a transformation through the acquisition

                > of language..."

                > 1) that assumes a passive experience, while I'm thinking of

                > meaningfulness more in terms of active engagement.

                > 2) might it not be the other way round: that a rudimentary structuring

                > of stimuli in meaningful ways is prior to and leads to the acquisition

                > of language? Or more likely, a dialectical relation (somewhat like

                > music theory, composition, and perfomance?) .

                >

                > Gary writes:

                > >G: Though a ritual may be performed without speaking, its meaning for

                > interaction must be articulable in order for it to be questioned or be

                > interpreted within the ritual's culture; and for the ritual to be

                > discussable with someone outside the culture.

                >

                > S: But that an inarticulable "meaning" cannot be interpreted,

                > questioned, or discussed with someone outside the culture does not

                > ipso facto show that it is not a meaning in some sense. Or might there

                > be other, non-verbal, modes of interpretation, questioning,

                > discussion? As in music, or any art, there is mutual interpretation

                > and questioning that is not at all verbal or cognitive.

                > Monet-Degas- Cassatt-Cezzane- Van Gogh-Gaugain. There is a conversation

                > going on here, mutual interpretations and questionings, and a history,

                > that the art historian can only indicate. But there is no verbal

                > equivalent.

                >

                > Ken, responding to Gary's offering above writes:

                > >KGM: ... The proper performance of a ritual

                > requires normative agreement. The performer, A, must perform the ritual

                > under the watchful gaze of B, who in their capacity as a judge, has the

                > authority or expertise to say "yes" or "no" to the appropriateness of

                > the activity.

                >

                > >But this doesn't quite capture what's going on here.

                >

                > S: Indeed. As a former Buddhist monk (and Buddhism is highly

                > ritualized) and participant in an animist society, I have only rarely

                > experienced a situation with the "watchful gaze of B ...[the]

                > judge..." unless B is the community itself (monks or villagers) with

                > everyone watching everyone else, and of course younger, newer members

                > getting more watching & correction. My take is that ritual is the

                > highly stylized reenactment of mythology, and in the process evokes

                > the world of the myth, making it real. And there is not always a sharp

                > distinction between everyday activities and rituals. Emphatically, it

                > is not performance before a passive audience, and when the ethnologist

                > /looks at/ a ritual he is doing what no one in the culture does.

                >

                > A young woman, a college student, say, comes to the monastery and

                > ritually makes an offering to the monks--sending the spiritual

                > component of food and flowers, as well as her love, to her dead

                > granny. If she is not sure of the proper motions the monks will tell

                > her what to do, kindly, gently (but no "watchful eye") the monks will

                > chant the incantation sending the /punya/ (Sanskrit/Pali usually

                > mis-translated "merit") to the dead granny (who might get hungry and

                > angry and cause trouble if one doesn't make these offerings). In the

                > process, the world of the Buddha and the first generation of monks and

                > lay devotees is evoked and the girl, the monks, and the granny all

                > become mythical beings in that world--in which, by the way, all this

                > makes perfect sense. And it doesn't matter a whit if one performs

                > other rites that are supposed to make one rich and one only becomes

                > poorer and poorer (partly because of spending so much on the rites):

                > one has entered that hyperreal world in which one /is/ wealthy by

                > virtue of performing these rites.

                >

                > Now, I've described a rite and said what the performance accomplishes

                > for the participants (roughly!). Have I articulated its meaning? No

                > more than does the musicologist articulate the meaning of Beethoven. I

                > might say that the meaning of these rites is to maintain the social

                > hierarchy (as an instantiation of the eternal-divine- social structure

                > in the myths)--but that is a function not a meaning.

                >

                > Ken is quite right that "Social norms surrounding rituals often

                > sanction or discourage the elaboration of meaning -- one of the most

                > common ways of criticizing a religious practice is to give meaning to

                > a ritual hitherto un- or under-identified. "

                >

                > But it is also possible that the elaborated-- articulated- -meaning does

                > not coincide with the (inarticulate) meaning of the practice perse.

                > And this is what got Bourdieu thinking and led to the "logic of

                > practice": that ethnographers' descriptions and explanations of ritual

                > and ritualized behaviour (including his own)--and the descriptions and

                > explanations of the participants themselves-- rarely correspond to

                > actual practice and actual use (conformity to or divergence from) of

                > the ritual standards. Ken suspects that "it is possible to observe

                > certain differentiations within ritual-based cultures that play one

                > aspect against the other (intention vs. performance) as actors jostle

                > for power, legitimacy, or status." Bourdieu has documented this in

                > considerable detail. Ritual appears to be infinitly variable and

                > differentiable- -like language.

                >

                > Ken's suggestion that we could talk about rituals as analogous to

                > linguistics is pretty much the direction that I am going with this.

                >

                > A final note: this started as an attempt to explicate Bourdieu's

                > notion of a logic of practice and I continue to refer to him. However,

                > the ideas & arguments are my own--I'm not aware that he ever wrote

                > specifically about inarticulate or inarticulable meaning.

                >

                > Cheers,

                > Stephen

                >

                >


























                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Kenneth MacKendrick
                The encyclopedia entry is a long distance from a consensus view. For Kertzer, rituals are ubiquitous. He would have little problem defining an argument as a
                Message 7 of 20 , May 5, 2009
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                  The encyclopedia entry is a long distance from a consensus view.

                  For Kertzer, rituals are ubiquitous. He would have little problem
                  defining an argument as a ritual since it is an "action wrapped in a web
                  of symbolism." The problem with Kertzer's position, at least as I
                  understand it, is that it overly-universalizes ritual; the same problem
                  is found in Geertz's definition of religion as worldview (Talal Asad's
                  critique of Geertz is quite good, and can be found in his book The
                  Genealogy of Religion). Also, Kertzer discusses rite and ritual in
                  relation to politics, not religion. His definition seems to be provided
                  for political theorists who haven't given much attention to ritual. For
                  that reason I use his work in a first year Religion class. It serves as
                  an excellent introduction but I it comes up short when situated
                  alongside the more sustained studies of rituals and ritualization by
                  Jonathan Z. Smith, Catherine Bell, Victor Turner, or Roy Rappaport. I
                  like Kertzer's work... but I don't think his 7 page introduction can be
                  used as the basis for a theory of ritual.

                  The next passage in the definition: "This assumes that ritual has a
                  communicative role" means, in Habermasian terms, that it is social, at
                  least if we're keeping with Kertzer. It seems to me that Weber's concept
                  of "social action" has been transmogrified into "communicative role"
                  which is misleading here without qualification.

                  The last sentence in the paragraph is also problematic: rituals have a
                  purpose, but not necessarily a telos (see Hans Joas, The Creativity of
                  Action); many rituals do not seem to have functional equivalents, and
                  the meaning of rituals because they are symbolic is indeterminate - it
                  is a whirlpool of meanings that can only be teased out discursively (a
                  nice explanation of this is in Mary Douglas, Natural Symbols, the first
                  two or three chapters). Of course the analysis of meaning, especially
                  within living communities, goes beyond description and further engages
                  the ritualist from the position of alter. Likewise, contrary to the
                  parachuted quote of Kelly and Kaplan, rituals often relate to tradition
                  but, as Bruce Lincoln shows, not always. This point is made in Gary's
                  post in the extended quote. Rituals are used to create power and
                  repetition and the appearance of tradition is one of several tools at
                  the disposal of religious elites (Bruce Lincoln, Discourse and the
                  Construction of Society).

                  The final passage is on track - much of the waters of ritual theory have
                  been muddied by Nietzschean themes as well as the influence of Carl
                  Jung, Mircea Eliade, and Joseph Campbell... yes, ritual is caught up in
                  social processes.

                  I think, if we want to pursue the case of ritual and ritualization on
                  the Habermas list, we should work within the Habermasian field, at least
                  to start. In truth, I think Habermas's communicative-theoretic possesses
                  enormous potential to provide new and productive insights in the field.
                  But, at this point it is undeveloped and there are issues that need to
                  be addressed.

                  Habermas has written remarkably little on ritual in all of his works.
                  The most sustained passages can be found in TCA, vol. 2 in the section
                  on Durkheim. This section in TCA, vol. 2 shows how rituals can be
                  conceived as part of processes of individuation and socialization. It is
                  worthwhile noting that Habermas scarcely mentions rituals at all in the
                  section on disenchantment in TCA, vol. 1 pertaining to rationality and
                  rationalization. He sees rituals as mediators between mythic and modern
                  worldviews, almost like social stepping stones along the way of an
                  evolution to a higher stage of communication.

                  When thinking about Habermas and rituals I think we're largely in the
                  realm of three figures: Parsons, Durkheim, and Cassirer (although
                  Cassirer seems to play a fairly minor role, at least until his essays on
                  Cassirer in The Liberating Power of Symbols and Time of Transitions).
                  All three of these scholars are read and criticized drawing on insights
                  from American pragmatism, esp. Mead. It is worth noting that Habermas
                  never proceeds by topic. His writings unfold one thinker at a time.

                  I would recommend starting with Victor Turner, Roy Rappaport, Catherine
                  Bell, Bruce Lincoln, or Jonathan Z. Smith and work from there. One could
                  also start with Cassirer, Van Gennep, or Durkheim if a "classic" scholar
                  is preferred.

                  Ken


                  Gary E. Davis wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > So, here's a consensus view, I take it: The "ritual" entry from the
                  > 1997 _Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology_ (there's a
                  > 2002 edition, but Google doesn't offer that):
                  >
                  >
                  > http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en-us&q=ritual+in+Encyclopedia+of+social+and+cultural+anthropology&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
                  > <http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en-us&q=ritual+in+Encyclopedia+of+social+and+cultural+anthropology&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8>
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • Gary E. Davis
                  Ken, The kind of problem (or problematic ) you have with the _Encyclopedia_ definition is that it IS a consensus position, i.e., the common ground on ritual
                  Message 8 of 20 , May 5, 2009
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                    Ken,

                    The kind of problem (or "problematic") you have with the _Encyclopedia_ definition is that it IS a consensus position, i.e., the common ground on ritual amid all the variability that can be associated with the interest. It is not favoring religious ritual, but taking a broader, anthropological view. All of your points cohere as a tacit objection to an anthropological view of ritual that is not defined by religious studies.

                    This was exactly why I chose the Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology: A broader anthropological view of ritual is called for, relative to Habermas and relative to Stephen's interest in modernization in Thailand (or institution of genuine democracy), which calls for senses of symbolic action and social integration of which religious ritual is one species and should be understood as just one species. Taking a functional view of ritual (rather than originist, as religious studies might tend to do) relative to social integration, it's no wonder that Habermas, so involved as he is in symbolic action, social integration, and communicative action (which includes, don't forget, the dramaturgical action mode, i.e., Victor Turner's forté) that he wouldn't need to focus on ritual as such, let along constraining the notion in religious terms, inasmuch as ritual is a kind of symbolic action with communicative purpose (be it communicating to the gods or
                    performing commissive acts that legitimate or attest fidelity, etc.)

                    More on this later.

                    G

                    --- On Tue, 5/5/09, Kenneth MacKendrick <mackendr@...> wrote:
                    From: Kenneth MacKendrick <mackendr@...>
                    Subject: Re: [Habermas] What is ritual?
                    To: habermas@yahoogroups.com
                    Date: Tuesday, May 5, 2009, 5:51 AM



















                    The encyclopedia entry is a long distance from a consensus view.



                    For Kertzer, rituals are ubiquitous. He would have little problem

                    defining an argument as a ritual since it is an "action wrapped in a web

                    of symbolism." The problem with Kertzer's position, at least as I

                    understand it, is that it overly-universalize s ritual; the same problem

                    is found in Geertz's definition of religion as worldview (Talal Asad's

                    critique of Geertz is quite good, and can be found in his book The

                    Genealogy of Religion). Also, Kertzer discusses rite and ritual in

                    relation to politics, not religion. His definition seems to be provided

                    for political theorists who haven't given much attention to ritual. For

                    that reason I use his work in a first year Religion class. It serves as

                    an excellent introduction but I it comes up short when situated

                    alongside the more sustained studies of rituals and ritualization by

                    Jonathan Z. Smith, Catherine Bell, Victor Turner, or Roy Rappaport. I

                    like Kertzer's work... but I don't think his 7 page introduction can be

                    used as the basis for a theory of ritual.



                    The next passage in the definition: "This assumes that ritual has a

                    communicative role" means, in Habermasian terms, that it is social, at

                    least if we're keeping with Kertzer. It seems to me that Weber's concept

                    of "social action" has been transmogrified into "communicative role"

                    which is misleading here without qualification.



                    The last sentence in the paragraph is also problematic: rituals have a

                    purpose, but not necessarily a telos (see Hans Joas, The Creativity of

                    Action); many rituals do not seem to have functional equivalents, and

                    the meaning of rituals because they are symbolic is indeterminate - it

                    is a whirlpool of meanings that can only be teased out discursively (a

                    nice explanation of this is in Mary Douglas, Natural Symbols, the first

                    two or three chapters). Of course the analysis of meaning, especially

                    within living communities, goes beyond description and further engages

                    the ritualist from the position of alter. Likewise, contrary to the

                    parachuted quote of Kelly and Kaplan, rituals often relate to tradition

                    but, as Bruce Lincoln shows, not always. This point is made in Gary's

                    post in the extended quote. Rituals are used to create power and

                    repetition and the appearance of tradition is one of several tools at

                    the disposal of religious elites (Bruce Lincoln, Discourse and the

                    Construction of Society).



                    The final passage is on track - much of the waters of ritual theory have

                    been muddied by Nietzschean themes as well as the influence of Carl

                    Jung, Mircea Eliade, and Joseph Campbell... yes, ritual is caught up in

                    social processes.



                    I think, if we want to pursue the case of ritual and ritualization on

                    the Habermas list, we should work within the Habermasian field, at least

                    to start. In truth, I think Habermas's communicative- theoretic possesses

                    enormous potential to provide new and productive insights in the field.

                    But, at this point it is undeveloped and there are issues that need to

                    be addressed.



                    Habermas has written remarkably little on ritual in all of his works.

                    The most sustained passages can be found in TCA, vol. 2 in the section

                    on Durkheim. This section in TCA, vol. 2 shows how rituals can be

                    conceived as part of processes of individuation and socialization. It is

                    worthwhile noting that Habermas scarcely mentions rituals at all in the

                    section on disenchantment in TCA, vol. 1 pertaining to rationality and

                    rationalization. He sees rituals as mediators between mythic and modern

                    worldviews, almost like social stepping stones along the way of an

                    evolution to a higher stage of communication.



                    When thinking about Habermas and rituals I think we're largely in the

                    realm of three figures: Parsons, Durkheim, and Cassirer (although

                    Cassirer seems to play a fairly minor role, at least until his essays on

                    Cassirer in The Liberating Power of Symbols and Time of Transitions) .

                    All three of these scholars are read and criticized drawing on insights

                    from American pragmatism, esp. Mead. It is worth noting that Habermas

                    never proceeds by topic. His writings unfold one thinker at a time.



                    I would recommend starting with Victor Turner, Roy Rappaport, Catherine

                    Bell, Bruce Lincoln, or Jonathan Z. Smith and work from there. One could

                    also start with Cassirer, Van Gennep, or Durkheim if a "classic" scholar

                    is preferred.



                    Ken



                    Gary E. Davis wrote:

                    >

                    >

                    > So, here's a consensus view, I take it: The "ritual" entry from the

                    > 1997 _Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology_ (there's a

                    > 2002 edition, but Google doesn't offer that):

                    >

                    >

                    > http://www.google com/search? client=safari& rls=en-us& q=ritual+ in+Encyclopedia+ of+social+ and+cultural+ anthropology& ie=UTF-8& oe=UTF-8

                    > <http://www.google com/search? client=safari& rls=en-us& q=ritual+ in+Encyclopedia+ of+social+ and+cultural+ anthropology& ie=UTF-8& oe=UTF-8>

                    >

                    >

                    >


























                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Gary E. Davis
                    Stephen, re: your most recent discussion titled Discourse and Lifeworld, April 25 Firstly, congrats for getting your recent article published. I suppose it s
                    Message 9 of 20 , May 6, 2009
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                      Stephen,

                      re: your most recent discussion titled "Discourse and Lifeworld," April 25

                      Firstly, congrats for getting your recent article published. I suppose it's one of many.

                      So many issues have been raised in your discussion (let alone the set of exchanges among you, Ken, and me, the past couple of weeks) that it’s not practical to try to do too much in one exchange. So, I’ll focus on what you call “the lynchpin of [JH’s] entire argument.” What argument is that? It’s the argument he’s making in the quote that you’ve used from his essay on discourse ethics. It’s quite appropriate that you’d do that, since your interest is an issue of “culture neutral discourse.”

                      You’d have to agree that discourse without understanding is quite nonsensical, and how can disagreement be resolved without gaining mutual understanding about what it is that we disagree about? There’s no alternative but the communicative basis we bring from lifeworld tradition, integration, and socialization---three “processes” established elsewhere in his work as “operating only in the medium of action oriented toward reaching understanding” (MCAA, 102). That’s not about reduction of the medium to linguistic communication. That’s not about reducing the interests of communication to resolving disagreement (i.e., seeking mutual understanding). That’s a statement about the sociocentric character of acton that reproduces tradition, integration, and socialization, contrary to Alan Gewirth’s monological view of norm formation.

                      Here, I don’t believe that Habermas is not in disagreement with you. But you’re evidently misunderstanding what Habermas is claiming.

                      Habermas readily appreciates the world-disclosive resourcefulness of language, which is what your new examples of interaction with a child are about. Habermas discusses this in _Philosophical Discourse of Modernity_, and it’s integral to a phenomenological sense of lifeworld, which he also appreciates. But inasmuch as public life is about coordinating action together, linguistic resourcefulness depends on our background capability for reaching understanding, presumably in situations where there is risk of mis-coordination or overt disagreement about what to do.

                      More later, on other aspects of your discussion,

                      Gary



                      --- On Sat, 4/25/09, Stephen Evans <sae57@...> wrote:
                      From: Stephen Evans <sae57@...>
                      Subject: [Habermas] Re: "Discourse and lifeworld"
                      To: habermas@yahoogroups.com
                      Date: Saturday, April 25, 2009, 8:04 PM













                      Finally got a little time. I seem to have come into demand in my old age (62). BTW I just got word that my latest academic offering "Epistemology of the Brahmajalasutta" has been accepted for the May issue of Buddhist Studies Review...



                      I'd like to sideline a couple of issues in order to keep the discussion focused.



                      [...]



                      Bits and pieces:

                      >G: Your quotation of Habermas is extracted from a passage where he's simply

                      "mak[ing] the centrality of communicative action clear," relative to the

                      *"reproduction" * of "symbolic structures."



                      S: Of course. But JH's "there is no other" remains the lynchpin of his entire argument. He must understand language as /fundamentally/ /only/ a medium of communcation for the sake of cognitive understanding, with all other uses parasitic on that (e.g. deception depends on understanding the words and sentences). But it is not at all convincing that the pursuit of mutual understanding is the only /fundamental/ use or function of language. My off-the-cuff example was telling my children to behave (which would probably count as an instrumental and derivative use) but a better example would be speech that evokes a world for the child and situates the child in that world, or better perhaps, that calls the child forth into the shared world of the community. Stories do that, but also, and more importantly, guestures, such as habitual bowing to a spirit shrine, or putting food in the monks' bowls along with running commentary (do this do that) that integrates the
                      child into the magical world of the village, or dinner-table political discussions that, quite aside from the issues discussed, integrates the child into the world of democratic discourse. Must the child understand the words and sentences /in advance/? But if so, that raises the problem of initial understanding- -and of learning new concepts (etc.) throughout life (lifeworld, e.g., is not merely a new arrangement of concepts that I already had before reading phenomenology) . But in any case much socialization relative to the reproduction of symbolic structures is /not/ carried out with speech oriented towards understanding- -you don't want (are not oriented toward) the child to come to /understand/ the world but to draw her /into/ it--and symbolic structures will certainly be reproduced in the process. Certainly, speech oriented toward mutual understanding is a large part of all that, but there is a remainder (and here I /could/ invoke inarticulate
                      meaning), and that remainder calls into question JH's "there is no other" and with it his entire argument for universality.



                      [...]






























                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Gary E. Davis
                      At one point in your April 25 discussion titled Discourse and Lifeworld, you note: S I don t know what my invalid critical point is, but otherwise, I
                      Message 10 of 20 , May 6, 2009
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                        At one point in your April 25 discussion titled "Discourse and Lifeworld," you note:

                        S> I don't know what my invalid critical point is, but otherwise, I
                        couldn't agree more.

                        G: Let's go back to that point, in your April 13 discussion titled "Discourse and Lifeworld". April 25, you recalled:

                        S> I schematized JH's argument for cultural neutrality as the following syllogism, in order to bring it into question:


                        S>> 1) the rules of discourse are implicit in human communication and as
                        such 2) applicable to, and in a certain sense binding on, all
                        communicating humans.

                        G: But then you went on to say immediately:

                        S>> But even if 1) is the case, I'm not sure that 2) necessarily follows (Violence would seem to be implicit in civilization as such...)



                        S> Gary responded:


                        G>> I could agree, except that you seem to want to make a strong inference from

                        this for a critical point which is invalid;....

                        G: You were evidently surmising that Habermas believes that something like your 2) "necessarily follows" from something like your 1). I said, in other words, that I could surmise a sense of your 1) that I could endorse, but didn't endorse, due to the strong inference you evidently sought to make. (Apart from this, "civilization as such" is about the civil-ization of interaction, so, by definition, as normally understood, violence wouldn't be implicit to civilization as such; it would be implicit to the primate-ness of being "human". Your later concern for violence is very important. But it's irrelevant to actual fidelity to regulatives that makes them normative in practice. Violence is a failure of actual fidelity (or the lack of establishment of norms in the first place).

                        G>> ... so it becomes important to make some distinctions: The *potential* for discourse is implicit to the *cognitive* character of the *formal pragmatic* features of modern language, such that increased literacy provides for more cognitively sophisticated questioning, articulation, etc. that are the elements of discursive activity (represented in

                        the ideal speech situation). ... The universality involved is cognitive-linguistic: potentials for differentiation and abstraction are implicit to our form of life, depending on opportunity for mental development. The *potential* is universal because it's inherent to our form of life.



                        S: I don't know what my invalid critical point is, but otherwise, I
                        couldn't agree more. Only the universality of a /potential/ doesn't
                        make it universally valid, good, or desirable....

                        G: Of course. Likewise, the universality of mental capability doesn't entail that such capability will become actualized. But presuming the universality of potential is the generous thing to do, such that self-actualization is presumed to be in principle available to everyone.

                        More later,

                        Gary





















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