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Devotional means of ethical self-transformation I 
Timo Kaartinen (University of Helsinki)
Dorothea Schulz (University of Münster)
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Mathematics & Physics Teaching Centre (MAPTC), 0G/005
Wednesday 27 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

The topic of this panel is ethical and religious learning. Reflecting on Charles Taylor's notion of the buffered self, we explore how people learn to manage the buffer between the mind and the world in pursuing self-transformation.

Long Abstract:

Charles Taylor has described modernity as an ethic of freedom and order that seeks to buffer the self from the contingency of the external world. To be a buffered subject is to have closed the porous boundary between one's inner and outer experience. Managing this buffer, learning to maintain it through self-discipline and to break through it in acts of devotion, is a recurring topic in contemporary discourses of religious conversion and piety.

A question raised in recent anthropology of Islam and Christianity is how religious practitioners learn to make the buffer porous and engage with spiritual agents, allowing external forces to enter and transform their self-experience. For some people, devotional acts like prayer or Quranic recitation represent a vehicle for learning to commune with God. Whether or not such inner experience is shared with others, consistent ethical life requires one to reconcile it with the ethical coordinates, boundaries, and responsibilities mandated by the social world.

To explore such issues, this panel invites papers that focus on the practices and ideologies of religious and ethical self-transformation. Our aim is to go beyond a view in which contemporary religiosity is merely a private affair of self-transformation and discipline, and to affirm it as a way of addressing the desires and displacements of the contemporary world. While the panel draws from recent discussions in the anthropology of Islam and Christianity, it is open to papers about the management of the self/world buffer in other social formations as well.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -