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Ritual and Its ConsequencesAn Essay on the Limits of Sincerity$
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Adam B. Seligman, Robert P. Weller, Michael Puett, and Bennett Simon

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336009

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336009.001.0001

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 Ambiguity, Ambivalence, and Boundaries

 Ambiguity, Ambivalence, and Boundaries

(p.43) 2 Ambiguity, Ambivalence, and Boundaries
Ritual and Its Consequences

Adam B. Seligman (Contributor Webpage)

Robert P. Weller (Contributor Webpage)

Michael J. Puett (Contributor Webpage)

Bennett Simon (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns to the capacities of the human mind that allow for the construction of the “as if” world of ritual, and begins to explore the ways such worlds allow us to deal with ambiguities and ambivalences. The material in this chapter, unlike most work on ritual, links individual psychology to ritual's broader social work. It looks at the development of “as if” worlds and ritual-like behaviors in children, from things like repeated bedtime rituals to the capacity for invention and deceit. Another stream of the analysis examines more unusual and exotic behaviors like fetishism or extreme examples of lying. These two lines of discussion converge around the ways they allow us to deal with ambiguity, with examples taken from Greek tragedy and from the social role of deception and craftiness in certain social contexts.

Keywords:   individual psychology, ritual, fetishism, bedtime rituals, Greek tragedy, lying

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