Many philosophical approaches today seek to overcome the division between mind and body. If such projects succeed, then thinking is not restricted to the disembodied mind, but is in some sense done through the body. From a post-Cartesian perspective, then, ritual activities that discipline the body are not just thoughtless motions, but crucial parts of the way people think.
Thinking Through Rituals explores religious ritual acts and their connection to meaning and truth, belief, memory, inquiry, worldview and ethics. Drawing on philosophers such as Foucault, Merleau-Ponty and Wittgenstein, and sources from cognitive science, pragmatism and feminist theory, it provides philosophical resources for understanding religious ritual practices like the Christian Eucharistic ceremony, Hatha Yoga, sacred meditation or liturgical speech.
Its essays consider a wide variety of rituals in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism - including political protest rituals and gay commitment ceremonies, traditional Vedic and Yogic rites, Christian and Buddhist meditation and the Jewish Shabbat. They challenge the traditional disjunction between thought and action, showing how philosophy can help to illuminate the relationship between doing and meaning which ritual practices imply.
Notes on contributors Acknowledgements Introduction: on the use of philosophy in the study of rituals Kevin Schilbrack 1. Ritual, body technique, and (inter)subjectivity Nick Crossley 2. Practce, belief, and feminist philosophy of religion Amy Hollywood 3. Rites of passing: Foucault, power, and same-sex commitement ceremonies Ladelle McWhorter 4. Scapegoat rituals in Wittgensteinian perspective Brian Clack 5. Ritual inquiry: the pragmatic logic of religious practice Michael L. Raposa 6. Ritual metaphysics Kevin Schilbrack 7. Philosophical naturalism and the cognitive appraoch to ritual Robert McCauley 8. Theories and facts on ritual simultaneities Frits Staal 9. Moral cultivation through ritual participation: Xunzi's philosophy of ritual T.C Kline III 10. The ritual roots of moral reason: lessons from Mimamsa Jonardon Ganeri 11. Ritual gives rise to thought: liturgical reasoning in modern Jewish philosophy Steven Kepnes 12. Ritual and Christian philosophy Charles Taliaferro 13. Religious rituals, spiritually disciplined practices, and health Peter Van Ness Index