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Oxford University Press

Ritual and Its Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity

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Title: Ritual and Its Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity
Author: Seligman, Adam B
ISBN: 9780195336016
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Published: 2008
Binding: Quality
Language: English
Publisher Description:
This pioneering, interdisciplinary work shows how rituals allow us to live in a perennially imperfect world. Drawing on a variety of cultural settings, the authors utilize psychoanalytic and anthropological perspectives to describe how ritual--like play--creates as if worlds, rooted in the
imaginative capacity of the human mind to create a subjunctive universe. The ability to cross between imagined worlds is central to the human capacity for empathy. Ritual, they claim, defines the boundaries of these imagined worlds, including those of empathy and other realms of human creativity,
such as music, architecture and literature.

The authors juxtapose this ritual orientation to a sincere search for unity and wholeness. The sincere world sees fragmentation and incoherence as signs of inauthenticity that must be overcome. Our modern world has accepted the sincere viewpoint at the expense of ritual, dismissing ritual as
mere convention. In response, the authors show how the conventions of ritual allow us to live together in a broken world. Ritual is work, endless work. But it is among the most important things that we humans do.