One man's dreams, another man's cosmology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Summary: In this article, I examine a series of conversations that I had with a South Indian Ayurvedic practitioner (vaidya) about a dream I had while in the field. The dream provided him an opportunity to engage me as cultural broker and creatively reconstruct his own cosmology. The article at once details the reasoning, diagnosis, explanation, and treatment of traditional Ayurvedic practitioners at large, and one vaidya's idiosyncratic project that has legitimacy within the larger discursive field provided by the register of Ayurveda. Further, the article also provides an example of how ongoing conversations with an anthropologist shape the knowledge produced by informants in context. In this article, I make use of a Boasian model of the elite informant as a creator of ethnographic texts that are inventive and idiosyncratic in the cultural milieu. These texts constitute a form of intellectual creativity (lila) that leads the vaidya to feel renewed in his commitment to his cosmology. As Durkheim pointed out long ago, ecstatic emotions are what generate a conviction of the presence of the transcendent. Durkheim focused on collective rituals. In this article, I provide a case in which such emotions are generated by the thrill of insight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalAnthropology and Humanism
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Fingerprint

conversation
emotion
creativity
religious behavior
legitimacy
elite
commitment
Emile Durkheim
Emotion
Informants
Cosmology
Milieu
Discursive
Anthropologists
Summary
Conviction
Legitimacy
Franz Boas
Creator
Transcendent

Keywords

  • And creativity
  • Ayurveda
  • Cosmology
  • Culture
  • Reflexivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory

Cite this

One man's dreams, another man's cosmology. / Nichter, Mark.

In: Anthropology and Humanism, Vol. 38, No. 1, 06.2013, p. 1-18.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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