Rethinking Pluralism: Ritual, Experience, and Ambiguity

Paperback | July 24, 2012

byAdam B. Seligman, Robert P. Weller

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How can we order the world while accepting its enduring ambiguities? Rethinking Pluralism suggests a new approach to the problem of ambiguity and social order, which goes beyond the default modern position of 'notation' (resort to rules and categories to disambiguate). The book argues thatalternative, more particularistic modes of dealing with ambiguity through ritual and shared experience better attune to contemporary problems of living with difference. It retrieves key aspects of earlier discussions of ambiguity evident in rabbinic commentaries, Chinese texts, and Greekphilosophical and dramatic works, and applies those texts to modern problems. The book is a work of recuperation that challenges contemporary constructions of tradition and modernity. In this, it draws on the tradition of pragmatism in American philosophy, especially John Dewey's injunctions to heed the particular, the contingent and experienced as opposed to the abstract,general and disembodied. Only in this way can new forms of empathy emerge congruent with the deeply plural nature of our present experience. While we cannot avoid the ambiguities inherent to the categories through which we construct our world, the book urges us to reconceptualize the ways in whichwe think about boundaries - not just the solid line of notation, but also the permeable membrane of ritualization and the fractal complexity of shared experience.

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How can we order the world while accepting its enduring ambiguities? Rethinking Pluralism suggests a new approach to the problem of ambiguity and social order, which goes beyond the default modern position of 'notation' (resort to rules and categories to disambiguate). The book argues thatalternative, more particularistic modes of deal...

Adam B. Seligman is Professor of Religion at Boston University. Robert P. Weller is Professor of Anthropology at Boston University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:July 24, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199915288

ISBN - 13:9780199915286

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsIntroduction1. The Importance of Being AmbiguousInterlude: Ambiguity, Order and the Deity2. Notation and its LimitsInterlude: The Israelite Red Heifer and the Edge of Power in China3. Ritual and the Rhythms of AmbiguityInterlude: Crossing the Boundaries of Empathy4. Shared ExperienceInterlude: Experience and MultiplicityConclusionReferences Cited