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Contradictory Concepts

An Essay on the Semantic Structure of Religious Discourses

Lucian Hölscher

The widespread opinion among conceptual historians is that political concepts are always contested in their actual usage. Religious concepts in modernity are also not only contested; they are constructed on an ontological contradiction. They imply that the object to which they refer exists, and at the same time that it does not. I demonstrate this idea using four religious concepts: religion, God, the beyond, and spirit. I conclude with discussion on the reality status of religious concepts in modern historiography and religious studies.

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Spirit of the Future

Movement, Kinetic Distribution, and Personhood among Siberian Eveny

Olga Ulturgasheva

perceived and construed in animist ontologies. I focus on the Eveny concept of djuluchen —translated as ‘a spirit that travels ahead’ or ‘forerunner’—among a nomadic group of Eveny reindeer herders and hunters in northeastern Siberia ( Ulturgasheva 2012: 43

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Rethinking Anthropological Models of Spirit Possession and Theravada Buddhism

Erick White

developments in rethinking anthropological presumptions about spirit possession within Theravada Buddhist cultural formations. Given a range of initial anthropological assumptions about the nature of Theravada Buddhism as a historical, social, and cultural

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The spirit of business

Pawnshops in Ulaanbaatar

Lars Højer

Exploring the Mongolian pawnshop institution through the analytical lens of anthropological exchange theory, this article argues that commodification has boosted the flow of dangerous agency and ‘spirit’ by easing the flow and exchangeability of belongings. While the distinction between gifts and commodities appears in Mongolian ethnography, it is neither stable nor definite, and it is argued that commodification at the pawnshop might actually serve to spiritually charge people and objects and thereby enhance their social agency and gift‐like aspects.

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Sartre and the Spirit of Revenge

Karsten Harries

The phrase ‘Spirit of Revenge’ is taken from Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, where it names the deepest source of human self-alienation. In Sartre – but perhaps I should be more precise and say in Being and Nothingness – as I will try to show, the spirit of revenge finds paradigmatic expression.

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'. . . And a New Spirit I Will Put Within You'

The Contribution of Rabbi John D. Rayner to the Creation of Liberal Prayer Books

Charles H. Middleburgh

'And a new spirit I will put within you' salutes John Rayner's contribution to the Liberal liturgies of the United Kingdom over more than forty years. It explains his ethos as a liturgist and quotes from his writings about liturgy as well as some of his original prayers. This is a heartfelt tribute from a devoted disciple to a master liturgist.

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The Ontological Implications of Spirit Encounters

Jamie Barnes

spirit entities, Csordas explains and articulates in other terms. Such a dynamic is, of course, far from unique in anthropology. Indeed, this thorny and engaging issue of dealing with alterity stretches back to the foundations of the discipline, through

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Sartre's Spirit of Seriousness and the Bad Faith of “Must-See” Tourism

Danielle M. LaSusa

This article explores the Sartrean concept of the spirit of seriousness so as to better understand contemporary sightseeing tourism. Sartre's spirit of seriousness involves two central characteristics: the first understands values as transcendent, fixed objects, and the second—less acknowledged—understands material, physical objects as instantiating these transcendent values. I interpret the behavior of at least some contemporary tourists who travel to “mustsee” destinations as a subscription to both aspects of the spirit of seriousness and to a belief that the objects and destinations of tourist sites contain these transcendent, immutable values, such as “Art,” “Culture,” “Liberty,” etc. These “must-see” objects and destinations can thereby be understood to make “obligatory demands” of tourists, compelling them to visit. I argue that this serious mode of traveling to “must-see” sites is a form of Sartrean bad faith, as well as an evasion of the potential existential anguish that travel can evoke.

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Spirit Masters, Ritual Cairns, and the Adaptive Religious System in Tyva

Benjamin Grant Purzycki

Tyvan conceptions of spirit masters, their attributed domains of knowledge, and their places of devotion show signs of an adaptive function. Drawing from current research in the cognitive and evolutionary ecological studies of religion, I analyze interview data collected in the Tyva Republic during the summer of 2009 and construct an interpretation for why the ritual stone cairn (ovaa) tradition evolved and persists in Central Asia. As spirit masters in Tyva are acutely concerned with sustained costs and most ovaa that people pass are on territories of non-kin, I argue that because of the ecology of the region, the ovaa practice evolved to provide places to signal solidarity to others. Given the logic of spirit masters' concerns and ritual practice at cairns and the ecological context in which they operate, these components of traditional Tyvan religion are adaptive insofar as they foster cooperation and social bonds.

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The Ethics of Yoga and the Spirit of Godmen

Neoliberalism, Competition, and Capitalism in India

Joseph S. Alter

In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism , Max Weber ([1930] 1958) does not appear to be explicitly concerned with competition. His focus is on the contradiction between religious values and economic interests and how one signifies