janeiro 17, 2011


"Many anthropologists have observed that when they ask their native informants about «theological» details—their gods' whereabouts, specific history, and methods of acting in the world— their informants find the whole inquiry puzzling. Why should they be expected to know or care anything about that? Given this widely reported reaction, we should not dismiss the corrosive hypothesis that many of the truly exotic and arguably incoherent doctrines that have been unearthed by anthropologists over the years are artifacts of inquiry, not pre-existing creeds. It is possible that persistent questioning by anthropologists has composed a sort of innocently collaborative fiction, newly minted and crystallized dogmas generated when questioner and informant talk past each other until a mutually agreed-upon story results. The informants deeply believe in their gods—"Everybody knows they exist!"—but they may never before have thought about these details (maybe nobody in the culture has!), which would explain why their convictions are vague and indeterminate. Obliged to elaborate, they elaborate, taking their cues from the questions posed." Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell.

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