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Narrative and Superstition

jhercher's picture

although I've been sick and wasn't able to go to discussion, following this comment board and talking with others in class has kept me fairly up to date.  Now that I have a class that uses it actively, it seems silly to me not have a fairly active, continuous thread going where students and the professors could voice thoughts.  It keeps people up to date on class discussion and inspires future discussion.

 

But anyways, I think this idea of "narrative" is an interesting one when you think about religion and superstition.  I think the impulse to narrate is embedded in the human psyche.  People tend to give inanimate objects human impulses in their minds.  We look for meaning in distinctly human ways, and so we find it.  Karma is a fairly common belief, some people take it very seriously some only mildly, but it's a popular belief.  This, I believe, is just a form of narrative.  People see bad things done and feel like justice should be served, and vice versa for good deeds.  Well, of course this tends to work out over a lifetime because people are both good and bad and do moral and immoral things.  But the impulse is there to give our actions meaning and a story.  It does not strike me as a coincidence that all religions that I know are accompanied by narratives that attempt to explain human actions or something we don't understand (such as Zeus being responsible for lightning to the ancient Greeks).  Or look at professional athletes, who will change clothes or anything if they feel like they aren't doing well.  In reality, it should be obvious that a tennis player's shirt is not responsible for their poor play, and putting on a new, identical one shouldn't make a difference.  But people really believe in that kind of thing.  They give human intention to inanimate objects, and develop a kind of narrative along the way. 

 

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