A Pedagogy in the Passions: Fasting, Metaphor, and the Effects of Embodiment on Discursive Consciousness and Abstract Knowledge Acquisition

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 22 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Daniel WINCHESTER, Purdue University, USA
Sociologists of culture and cognition have demonstrated the centrality of embodiment to processes of enculturation, knowledge acquisition, and identity formation across a number of cases. Despite the notable advances made by these scholars, the tendency to equate embodied knowledge solely with “practical consciousness” or “habitus” has overlooked the profound ways that bodily experience also shapes social actors’ discursive consciousness and their acquisition of more explicit and conceptually abstract modes of knowing. Drawing from an ethnographic study of fasting among contemporary converts to Eastern Orthodox Christianity in the United States, this article demonstrates how non-discursive experiences related to food, hunger, and appetite served as embodied metaphors for comprehending and identifying with more abstract religious concepts regarding the soul, sin, and the acquisition of religious virtue. Based on these findings, I argue for the broader significance of embodied metaphor theory for sociological studies of enculturation, cultural cognition, and identity formation more broadly.