This discussion develops anthropological theory with respect to divination, clarifying the concepts of divinatory address and the unique case of interpretation. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl’s pioneering formulations are considered in the light of the well-known studies on Azande divination by E. E. Evans-Pritchard, and in the relatively recent description by Barbara Tedlock of the ‘cognitive continuum’ at work in divinatory interpretations. It is suggested that Tedlock’s description augments Lévy-Bruhl’s analysis and resolves apparent contradictions and inadequacies, rendering it appropriate to the cross-cultural study of divination.
From Primitive Mentality to haecceity: the Unique Case in astrology and divination by Geoffrey Cornelius
The question before us is the nature of divinatory intelligence,1 which is the mode of thought whereby meaningful interpretations are sustained in divination. This paper supports the view of some anthropologists that divination involves a distinctive mode of consciousness, mental pattern or cognitive faculty.
Most practices of the people we name as shamans, witch-doctors and medicine-men present our modern rational understanding with an impasse. The logic of much that is done defeats us, it is absurd and often disgusting. Treatments are offered that can have no empirical value, yet the simple primitives seem to believe in them.
My subject today is the subtle question of whether astrology is divination. I assume most of you saw Thomas Moore give the keynote address yesterday. Moore surprised many in the audience when he expressed praise for the divinatory aspect of astrology.
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