Theories of Primitive Religion by Edward E. Evans-Pritchard

By Edward E. Evans-Pritchard

The Sir D. Owen Evans Lectures brought on the college collage of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1962.

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Also, the case is very different from j that of the Australian aboriginals, where clansmen come together periodically to perform their totemic ceremonies. , only disperse from necessity. Mauss, like Durkheim, held that a law can be formulated on one well-controlled experiment, but such a formulation is not a law but an hypothesis; and it happens that I have myselfstudied a people, the Nuer, among whom the period of greater concentration is not that in which ceremonies are held, for reasons which are chiefly a matter of convenience.

Durkheim writes: , , ' .... "We EaveseentIiailrcollective life awakens religious thought on reaching a certain degree of illtm:rity, it is because it brings about a state of effery~scence which changes the conditions of psychic acnvHy:'-Vii:ar energies are over-excited, passions more active, sensations stronger; there are even some which are produced only at this moment. A man do~s no.! rmsthe envirOnment which surrounds him. In oroertoaccount for the very particular impressions 'which he receives, he attributes to the things with which he is in most direct contact properties which they have not, exceptional powers and virtues which the objects of every-day experience do not possess.

0 one s ora. hQ. '1 Durkheim's Hebraic background, it seems to me, comes out strongly, though not inappropriately, in this definition; but however that may be, on his criteria totemism can be regarded as a religion: it is hedged rounCf! by t~;ancrit is a grQW? mjiiifistation. W ~en -1:s-rhe'o15Jecp revered in this totemic religion? ~ It is not slmptyaprodUc1: of delirious imagination; it has an objective basis. It is a cult of something which reilly do;s eXist, tlioughnot the thing the worshippers suppose.

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