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Negative EcstasiesGeorges Bataille and the Study of Religion$
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Jeremy Biles and Kent Brintnall

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823265190

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823265190.001.0001

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Bataille’s Contestation of Interpretative Anthropology and of the Sociology of Religion

Bataille’s Contestation of Interpretative Anthropology and of the Sociology of Religion

Chapter:
(p.138) Bataille’s Contestation of Interpretative Anthropology and of the Sociology of Religion
Source:
Negative Ecstasies
Author(s):

Alphonso Lingis

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823265190.003.0010

Georges Bataille takes sacrifice to be the most universal and fundamental religious act. He also finds the compulsion to sacrifice oneself in the writings of the mystics. Interpretative anthropology takes myths and theologies to evoke a cosmic order where explanations for events lie and where physical pain, personal loss, and worldly defeat are explainable. The sacred realm is taken to found the moral order and explains the corrupt nature of humans. But Bataille finds that the sacred experience affirms the unknowable. Anxiety—the sense of inner disintegration and shattering, nothing supporting one, nothing to hold on to—is intrinsic to ecstasy. Sociology took religion to function to integrate society, but Bataille separates the realm of work and reason and the society that organizes it from the outer zone that marks the limit of the realm of work and reason.

Keywords:   Sacrifice, Mysticism, the unknowable, anxiety, ecstasy, prohibitions, transgression

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