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Believing Selves: Negotiating Social and Psychological Experiences of Belief

Steven Carlisle and Gregory M. Simon
Ethos
Vol. 40, No. 3, The Dynamics of Belief and Experience: Cultural and Psychological Responses across Religious Traditions (September 2012), pp. 221-236
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23254137
Page Count: 16
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Believing Selves: Negotiating Social and Psychological Experiences of Belief
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Abstract

The authors in this issue provide ethnographic explorations of believing and beliefs—that is, subjective commitments to truths as being true—situated within a range of religious traditions and social contexts. Anthropology has struggled with belief—its meanings, its uses, and even its validity outside of the Christian contexts from which it entered the field. This discomfort grows in large part from the fact that belief can refer both to internal psychological phenomena and to social claims to truth. Ultimately, this uncertainty is not a problem of terminology; rather, it reflects fundamental problems in the anthropology of subjectivity and selfhood. The authors in this issue make headway in theorizing the connections between individual subjectivities and social contexts by investigating the kinds of believing selves that subjects fashion as they work through the problems of belief, meeting the challenges of linking themselves to particular truths.

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