Lições sobre os Estudos de Religião
Studying religion has long been dominated by focussing on texts, doctrines and beliefs. However, to get a full picture of the power of religious "ways of worldmaking" (N. Goodman) it is important to understand that, to a large extent, this power builds on aesthetic forms - images and imagination, artefacts and architecture and body practices that design experiences of other-than-everyday realities. In the study of culture, several approaches have responded to this insight: visual, spatial and material culture, media studies, the anthropology of the senses and cognitive psychology as well.
In close relationship with these developments, during the 1990s an Aesthetics of Religion emerged as a distinct approach that examines religion from the angle of sensory perception, and the question of how humans make sense of their world through their senses. Referring to the Greek notion of aisthesis rather than the 18th century tradition of a philosophy of art and beauty, an Aesthetics of Religion, firstly, studies how the senses are cultivated, restricted and governed within religious traditions, and how religions - just as a "total work of art" (Gesamtkunstwerk) - form communities and selves by engaging sight, sound, smell, and taste as much as emotions and the moving and sensing body. Secondly, an Aesthetics of Religion examines how religious ways of cultivating the body and the senses are interlinked with the "perceptual orders" of the larger societies they are embedded in. Using examples from diverse traditions and eras, it will be explored how studying religion as an embodied practice can help to shed light on underexposed phenomena; to renew comparative methods; and to grasp the difficult relationship between the aesthetic and the political in a religious and secular world.
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