Anthropology Theory of Idealism

Jay Rasmussen


In the middle ages people believed that sorcerers could control the sun or dragons would eat the sun.  That god was angry at them when there would be a solar eclipse.  They would shoot flaming arrows into the sun to get it to restart.  Some believed this would help. There was a book and a movie that was called a Yankee in King Arthurs court that showed when the main character was going to be burned at the stake.  At the time there was going to be an eclipse.  He used this to pretend he was a sorcerer to help him get out of his circumstances.  The person that was the sorcerer was trying to correct what was happening to the sun however the original sorcerer was not able to do anything while the pretending sorcerer was able to make the sun appear.   Today we know that the earth travels around the sun in an elliptical manner.  The solar eclipse in 1991 people shot at the sun to chase the beast away so the only casualties where the people when they shot at the sun they hit people even though it was directed at the sun.  Individuals that are educated really know what it means when we have a solar eclipse.  It just means that the moon is between us and the sun.  Not a god being angry at us.  Some people think that when people get sick that this is caused by an angry god that you did something wrong.   People today still think that this is possible that god is out to get them and angry at them.  Even though we live in this modern medically advanced age and we have all these ways to diagnose.  We still have people thinking god will strike you down.  Looking at people “behavioral acts we can contrast Harris! Behavioral emphasis with the definition by Clifford Geertz, a major opponent of and idealist approach to anthropology”.  Levi-Struass nature -culture beliefs in looking at the symbols that people look at like the totem and totemism/family.   You need to have animal representation, the people with this is you must have cooperation, safety, and marriage This is a religious belief in totem animals that the ancestor is in the totem.  This is also like Durkhiem’s he is considered a structural functionalist he wrote the article 1912 cosmological systems about that you had to have three criteria for this on is that you had to have a representation of the totem or animal and the it could be a plant, animal you also had to have a group people.    Evans Prichard  is a Bristish Structionalist he wrote a book the Neur religion in this book talked about how the Neur people look at totem’s within the totems believe in the animal spirit that the ancestors can influence the totem.

We may think that these guys are primitive for looking at totem’s but our culture has its own types of totems in sports in our own religion are keeping us together.  Our education for our people still has a far way to come to educate people on superstition versus natural phenomenon’s.


2 thoughts on “Idealism

  1. It was said, by Malinowski, that if the individual did not have magic to rely on then he wouldn’t be able to function with the massive amount of unknowns and the unexplainable aspects within their world. Thus then is it the education that makes certain people in society not believe in superstition or natural phenomenon or is it the fact that the individual cannot cope with the superstitions or natural phenomenon?

  2. The thing is, the ‘scientific’ and the ‘superstitious’ explanations can co-exist. For instance, I have lived in villages in Thailand where people get up and beat pots and pans when there’s a lunar eclipse to chase off the dragon that is eating the moon. Do they believe that there’s a dragon up there? Maybe, sorta. But mostly it’s just fun to get up and do that in the middle of the night. It’s like believing in Santa Claus. Do we, as adults, believe? No, but we purposely propagate the superstition because it’s fun and makes the season even more exciting – and because Santa Claus is symbolic of the spirit of the season. We want to believe …

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