Fears and Symbols: An Introduction to the Study of Western by Elemer Hankiss

By Elemer Hankiss

Giving a breathtaking view of Western civilisation, this research is predicated at the relevant position that the writer believes worry and anxiousness have performed because the establishing causes of human lifestyles and social existence. Hankiss argues that existential protection has been a significant component within the iteration of civilisations, even perhaps extra vital than the mainstream theories of tradition provided through Kant, Freud and Foucault. in an effort to mitigate worry, people and groups have surrounded themselves in methods. the 1st being via condominium and town partitions, with tools and guns, legislation and associations. Secondly, with the protecting sphere of symbols: myths and religions, values and trust platforms, rules and clinical theories, ethical and useful principles of behaviour, and quite a lot of daily rituals and trivia. Hankiss will pay specific awareness to the position of symbols and symbolic platforms in modern societies.

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As maybe seen, the creativeprocessof transforming raw fear into respectful fear (of the deity and/or social authority) is already a process of generating human attitudes, human behaviors, institutions-that is, human culture. Culture, by virtue of the problem-solving ability outlined by so many anthropologists (see, for instance, Small,1905),alsoacts as an anxietyreducing system. It would be highly relevant to ask, however, what kind of problems culture is supposed to solve. Less attention hasbeenpaid tothe so-called 26 FEARS AND SYMBOLS existential problems of human life and the fact that one of the primary functions of culture has always been to offer relevant answers tothe ‘ultimate’ questions of human life: the human condition, the fragility of the human being, the absurdity of death, the meaning and meaninglessness of human life.

Becker, 1973, 17). 3 For a good introduction to the anthropological study of fear, see Scruton (1986). For a survey of the main philosophical, biological, psychological, and cultural theories of anxiety, see May(1950). 4 In hisfascinating book on the emergence of a guilt culture in Western civilization, Delumeau (1990, 1) speaks of another process of the internalization of fear. It is the emergence of “an oppressive feeling of guilt, an unprecedented movement toward introspection, and the development of a new moral conscience.

Normative. 39 Group D. Psychological. Emphasis on adjustment; on culture as a problem-solving device. Emphasison learning. Emphasison habit. ^' Group E. Structural. 41 Group F. Genetic. Emphasis on ideas. Emphasis on symbols42 Fear and anxiety as forces that might play a role in the generation of culture are practically absent from the 164 definitions cited by Kroeber and Kluckhohn. This may be due to various factors. Mainstream research in cultural anthropology as reviewed by Kroeber and Kluckhohn was mainly positivist in character: scholars were interested in facts, in the detailed description of various cultures, and devoted less attention to the genesis and function of these cultures and of culture in general.

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