Imaginative Universe

February 7, 2009 - anthropology / ethnography / semiotics

In “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture,” Geertz argues that it is not “ignorance as to how cognition works” that prevents understanding of another culture but rather “lack of familiarity with the imaginative universe within which their acts are signs.”

Practicing the comprehension of alternative imaginative universes is, therefore, the ultimate preparation for cultural anthropology. Enter speculative fiction, mythology, fantasy and role play.

It’s worth noting something about Geertz’s idea of religion:

“A system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.”

(Kunin, Seth D. “Religion; the modern theories” University of Edinburgh 2003)