Kneeling and the Expression of Moral Emotions in Religious Ritual

Authors

KUNDTOVÁ KLOCOVÁ Eva

Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Description Some cultures consider kneeling posture the most salient bodily expression connected to religious ritual practice. Closed, collapsed and lowered postures such as kneeling are generally perceived as either expressing submission and obedience or shame and atonement. Therefore, depending on the associated affective state (submission or shame), these postures might either emphasize power asymmetry (between the superhuman agents and human participants), or signal conformity with moral norms. Differences and changes in the use and understanding of kneeling posture in religious rituals can provide valuable information on the evolution of ritual practice and beliefs. The emphasis on moral expression would suggest the presence of morality as a key component in given religious traditions. I use data collected from the Human Relations Area Files databases (HRAF) and the coded variables from Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS), looking for possible predictors of specific interpretations of the kneeling posture. With the use of the free-list technique, I also compare two distinct cultural models and understanding of the kneeling posture. The two studied cultures are Czech and Mauritian (Hindu), providing a significant contrast of religious traditions: the inhabitants of historically Christian, now highly atheistic Czech Republic compared with Hindus living in considerable ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
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