Problem. Religious ritual, one of the most pervasive and central features of religion, has yet to be systematically and extensively treated in contemporary Anglo-American philosophical literature. Social scientists have proposed theories of ritual but, it is argued, no social scientific theory can in principle ever show that it is more justified than a philosophico-theological (henceforth, just philosophical) theory. Moreover, a philosophical theory answers certain legitimate questions about ritual which a social scientific theory cannot answer. Thus, no theory of religious ritual is wholly adequate unless it includes a philosophical explanatory framework. But no such theory which satisfies the analytic philosopher's requirements of rigor, clarity, comprehensiveness and systematization has yet appeared.
Procedures. A number of legitimate questions about ritual are posed, some of which only a philosophical theory could answer. Central amongst these is: "What purely religious ends are there in performing a ritual?" It is argued that a theory which grows out of an answer to this question could be adequate as a philosophical theory. Analysis of the "purely religious end" requirement shows that the ends proposed by such a theory for performing ritual must be unique to the religious life-plan, indispensable to achieving the highest ends of the religious life-plan, and provide as comprehensive an account of a purely religious end for as many religious life-plans as possible.
Next, the phenomenon of metaphor is analyzed. Contemporary theories of metaphor are criticized, and a new psycho-functional theory is proposed, according to which what account for an expression's being metaphorical are not certain semantic features of the expression, but its function, what the expression does in its context. The key idea, much elaborated upon and refined in the body of the work, is that an expression functions metaphorically if the reader's experience of the subject of the metaphor, e.g., Tim, in "Tim is a fox", interacts with his experience of a fox such that the reader experiences both Tim and the fox as sharing certain properties, and this causes his experience of Tim to be systematically restructured in a specifiable way. A consequence of this theory is that metaphors, even if they are communicative, need not be strictly linguistic phenomena, so long as they have the key properties outlined above: interaction and experiential restructuring. Moreover, even if an event is not communicative, it is still metaphor-like if it shares these properties.
Results and Conclusion. The theoretical framework for a philosophical theory of ritual now exists: If rituals are communicative, they are a species of non-linguistic metaphors; if they do not involve communication, they are a species of metaphor-like events. The experience of the ritual performance interacts with the ritualists experience of (for example) God, which causes his experience of God to be restructured. The end in performing ritual of positively restructuring one's experience of God satisfies the adequacy conditions of the philosophical theory: it is indispensable to achieving the highest ends of the religious life-plan, unique to the religious life-plan, and applicable to many such life-plans. The basic theory is tested by detailed application to he shofar ritual, and a number of versions of the theory are considered.
Finally, rituals are classified according to the theory both horizontally and vertically. They are classified horizontally, according to whether the subject of the ritual is theistic, humanistic or historical. They are classified vertically, as being Full, Redeemable, Empty or Irredeemable, according to the degree to which the ritual in practice restructures the religiously relevant experience of its performers and observers.
Citation: MARVIN ZEV SOKOL, "RITUAL AS METAPHOR: A PHILOSOPHICAL STUDY" (January 1, 1980). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI8018613. http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8018613
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