What is Daniel Pals's analysis and critique of Clifford Geertz in his book, Eight Theories of Religion?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Clifford Geertz is an American anthropologist, who was an early proponent of symbolic anthropology, which holds that symbols imbue meaning. In brief, according to Geertz, culture gives rise to religion, which he defines as a system of symbols which themselves establish motivations in humans.

Ethnographer and professor of Religious Studies...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Clifford Geertz is an American anthropologist, who was an early proponent of symbolic anthropology, which holds that symbols imbue meaning. In brief, according to Geertz, culture gives rise to religion, which he defines as a system of symbols which themselves establish motivations in humans.

Ethnographer and professor of Religious Studies Daniel Pals interprets Clifford Geertz in his book Eight Theories of Religion (published in 2006). He critiques Geertz and other sociologists (such as James Frazer and Max Weber, the latter of whom influenced Geertz himself). Geertz’ approach to culture and religion focuses on current societies at the expense of historical ones. He also doesn't address whether symbols change in the course of history. Additionally, Geertz (according to Pals) assumes that humans are motivated by symbols at the expense of other potential motivating factors in their lives. Finally, Pals is critical of Geertz' rather one-dimensional appraisal of cultures (without, that is, allowing for different of motivations variety within cultures).

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team