The Archetypal Actions of Ritual: A Theory of Ritual Illustrated by the Jain Rite of Worship

Paperback | November 1, 1978

byCaroline Humphrey, James Laidlaw

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Religious rituals can provoke a deeply ambigious reaction in those who practise them. What happens in religious traditions when the nature of the ritual is questioned, but the practice of performing rituals is not itself abandoned? This book draws on the authors' observations of suchreactions among Jains in western India, and asks why they can tell us about ritual as a universal mode of human action.Most anthropologists have assumed that ritual is a special kind of happening, which requires a special kind of interpretation. The authors argue that 'ritual' is a quality which can in principle apply to any kind of action. The question they try to answer is: what is distinctive about actionswhich are ritualized? They reject the common view that ritual carries intrinsic meaning, and explore the apparent paradox that ritualization, which makes action in an important sense non-intentional, is itself the result of an intentional act - the adoption by the actor of what the authors call the'ritual commitment'.

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Religious rituals can provoke a deeply ambigious reaction in those who practise them. What happens in religious traditions when the nature of the ritual is questioned, but the practice of performing rituals is not itself abandoned? This book draws on the authors' observations of suchreactions among Jains in western India, and asks wh...

Caroline Humphrey is at King's College, Cambridge. James Laidlaw is at King's College, Cambridge.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:306 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.71 inPublished:November 1, 1978Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198279477

ISBN - 13:9780198279471

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`It advances a comprehensive theory of ritual and delves into thorny philosophical issues ... Humphrey and Laidlaw present a detailed ethnography of the ritual of daily worship before a temple idol (puja) by Shvetambar Jains in western India ... this is an exceptionally fine book - certainlythe most important work on ritual I have read in a decade.'History of Religions