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The spiritual quest [electronic resource] : transcendence in myth, religion, and science /
Robert M. Torrance.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1994.
description
xvii, 367 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520081323 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1994.
isbn
0520081323 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8070624
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 295-339) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Robert Torrance posits a dynamic questing impulse as intrinsic to both human nature and the wild process of nature. Torrance sets out an impressive array of examples as to what 'spiritual quest' has meant in human experience, highlighting cases from societies that are not dominated by organized religious ideologies. The background of ethnographic cases serves to underpin the challenging assertion that we must forever base our seeking on a wholehearted engagement with uncertainty and impermanence. The spiritual quest is creative, and always made new in light of Torrance's book--a marvelous view."--Gary Snyder, author ofTurtle Island "This is a magnificent effort to approach the question of our most expansive psychic activity, the quest for transcending our limited universe. This is a brilliant work, which opens the gates to much new research."--Ake Hultkrantz, author ofShamanic Healing and Ritual Drama "This is an important book for the history of religions, for it redeems the universalist hypothesis from the caves of the Jungians (supplying a critical corrective to Joseph Campbell and, more significantly, to Mircea Eliade), nimbly sidesteps the vortex of the structuralists, and beats back the dragons of deconstruction. His sophisticated use of contemporary philosophy, literary theory, and the anthropology of shamanic cultures makes this Platonic approach to the narrative of human experience, this old faith in human universals, newly compelling."--Wendy Doniger, author ofWomen, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts
Flap Copy
"Robert Torrance posits a dynamic questing impulse as intrinsic to both human nature and the wild process of nature. Torrance sets out an impressive array of examples as to what 'spiritual quest' has meant in human experience, highlighting cases from societies that are not dominated by organized religious ideologies. The background of ethnographic cases serves to underpin the challenging assertion that we must forever base our seeking on a wholehearted engagement with uncertainty and impermanence. The spiritual quest is creative, and always made new in light of Torrance's book--a marvelous view."--Gary Snyder, author of Turtle Island "This is a magnificent effort to approach the question of our most expansive psychic activity, the quest for transcending our limited universe. This is a brilliant work, which opens the gates to much new research."--Ake Hultkrantz, author of Shamanic Healing and Ritual Drama "This is an important book for the history of religions, for it redeems the universalist hypothesis from the caves of the Jungians (supplying a critical corrective to Joseph Campbell and, more significantly, to Mircea Eliade), nimbly sidesteps the vortex of the structuralists, and beats back the dragons of deconstruction. His sophisticated use of contemporary philosophy, literary theory, and the anthropology of shamanic cultures makes this Platonic approach to the narrative of human experience, this old faith in human universals, newly compelling."--Wendy Doniger, author of Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1994-06-01:
Torrance (comparative literature, Univ. of California, Davis) argues that the spiritual quest is innate, grounded in biological, linguistic, and psychological processes. Ritual, myth, and spirit possession are all manifestations of this quest. After careful discussion of what it means to be human, Torrance focuses on forms of shamanic quest in Australia, Eurasia, and Native American cultures. He finds that religious practices have a ``dialectic [that] presupposes disruption of a prior equilibrium'' and are shaped by time. Recommended for large public, as well as seminary and academic, libraries. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1994-11:
This brilliantly written (and perfectly edited), important work by Robert Torrance (U. of California, Davis) displays a dazzling array of knowledge from contemporary philosophy, literary theory, and anthropology to myth, religion, and science. Torrance rescues the major humanistic endeavor, the dynamic spiritual quest, from the "closed" system of modern structuralists, poststructuralists, deconstructionists, positivists, and determinists of all stripes, and from the seemingly-closed traditional, tribal societies where ritualists seek the return to a static past. Illustrating that the quest to transcend is grounded in human nature and expresses itself everywhere, Torrance explores first the preconditions of the quest, then considers collective rituals that, while affirming society's stability, also allow for individual transformation and the incorporation of the "unknowable beyond" into human experience. He then moves to the individual quest of the shaman, from Australia to northern Eurasia, and finally discusses the dialogue of ritualism and shamanism in Native America, emphasizing the dynamic, active shaman freely creating the future. Extraordinarily thorough bibliography. Excellent index. For upper-division humanities students and general readers. N. B. Palmer; Western Maryland College
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, March 1994
Library Journal, June 1994
Choice, November 1994
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
Robert Torrance's wide-ranging, innovative study argues that the spiritual quest is rooted in our biological, psychological, linguistic, and social nature. The quest is not, as most have believed, a rare mystical experience, but a frequent expression of our most basic human impulses. Shaman and scientist, medium and poet, prophet and philosopher, all venture forth in quest of visionary truths to transform and renew the world. Yet Torrance is not trying to reduce the quest to an "archetype" or "monomyth." Instead, he presents the full diversity of the quest in the myths and religious practices of tribal peoples throughout the world, from Oceania to India, Africa, Siberia, and especially the Americas. In theorizing about the quest, Torrance draws on thinkers as diverse as Bergson and Piaget, van Gennep and Turner, Pierce and Popper, Freud, Darwin, and Chomsky. This is a book that will expand our knowledge--and awareness--of a fundamental human activity in all its fascinating complexity.
Table of Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
Animal Quaerens: The Quest as a Dimension of Human Experiencep. 1
Religion and the Spiritual Quest: From Closure to Opennessp. 3
Biological and Psychological Foundations of the Questp. 18
Linguistic Foundations of the Questp. 32
The Questing Animalp. 50
The Spiritual Quest in Ritual and Mythp. 59
Ritual as Affirmation and Transformationp. 61
Myth and the Journey beyond the Selfp. 82
Mobility and Its Limits in Communal Ritual and Mythp. 94
Spirit Possession as a Form of the Spiritual Questp. 101
The Varieties of Spirit Possessionp. 103
Possession and Transformationp. 117
Forms of the Shamanic Questp. 133
Shamanism, Possession, and Ecstasy: Australia and the Tropicsp. 135
Shamanic Heartland: Central and Northern Eurasiap. 149
Forms of the Quest in Native Americap. 169
The Arctic and Western North Americap. 171
Mesoamerica and South Americap. 196
Eastern North America and the Great Plainsp. 228
The Theory of the Quest: Some Closing Considerationsp. 259
A Ternary Processp. 261
The Reality of Transcendencep. 278
Bibliographyp. 295
Indexp. 341
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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