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Literature & Language
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The Interpretation of Cultures (Essay Sample)

Instructions:
First, read the pages from The Interpretation of Cultures that are indicated in the syllabus. Next, choose either “Religion as a Cultural System”, “Ethos, World View, and the Analysis of Sacred Symbols”, or “Deep Play: Notes on a Balinese Cockfight”. Then restate the essay you have chosen in your own words. When you can\\\'t find words of your own that will capture his meaning, add a footnote in which you explicate the passage. You will probably find the OED and Roget's Thesaurus helpful at times. Some of you may find it useful to think of this paper as an exercise in translation. The point of the assignment is for you to arrive at a perceptive, compact, and lucid understanding of his thoughts. I will grade your paper on the perceptiveness and thoughtfulness of your reading and the clarity and beauty of your writing. the Book is "The Interpretation of Cultures" by Clifford Geertz ISBN: 9780465097197 source..
Content:
The workings of religion as a cultural system and working a way towards analysis and reinvention
The fourth chapter in Clifford Geertz book, "Religion as a Cultural System," is an attempt to elaborate the idea and formulation of religion using an anthropological perspective.
As the chapter begins by taking a short retrospect on the work that anthropological studies have done towards religion since the end of the Second World War, I have inferred that I could only see very little nice remarks about the endeavors in shedding light on religion using anthropological frameworks. This initial part designates that since the Second World War, anthropological work has seemed to mince in its efforts to advance the theoretical ground by which they discuss the broad idea of religion. I can totally agree with the claims that these efforts have been stucked on the ideas forwarded in the past and there seems to be no tangible expression of a desire to push these further and test them in order to develop them in line with the present context. Second, and tangential to the first one, is that efforts to expound on religion using an anthropological framework has severely lagged when it comes to the tapping of emerging thinkers that might be proven useful in exhausting the topic. These efforts have been limited not just to the thinkers they invoke and adapt but also on the breadth and scope of its vision when it seeks to write about religion. The failure to take into account other disciplines like law, literature and philosophy which one must consider if he wishes to come up with a more refined and more detailed elaboration has taken its toll in the potential of widening the area of observation of anthropology regarding religious studies. These shortcomings have more or less resulted to an approach to religion that is very limited; one that seems to be preferring the safety of staticity and not aiming for the spirit of contradiction and conflict where theoretical and professional growth can spring. I sensed that with this approach, given the fact that the same scholars shall be engaged in the work and there is no openness to the developments in other academic fields, the anthropological elucidation of religion was undeniably on an unpromising start.
In an effort address these somewhat dejecting conclusions, I observed that the chapter just noted about the efforts of anthropological studies in elaborating on religion. What it emphasizes is to look at the "cultural dimension of religious analysis (89)." But as if wary of the emergence of possible clamors for clarifications with regards to the term "culture," the chapter was expedite in casting aside the blur and define where he is coming from when he uses the term. The word "culture" was being used in this manner: "transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about ...
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