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The Spiritual QuestTranscendence  in Myth, Religion, and Science$
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Robert Torrance

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780520081321

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520081321.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

The Questing Animal

The Questing Animal

(p.50) Chapter Four The Questing Animal
The Spiritual Quest

Robert M. Torrance

University of California Press

This chapter's analysis of language brings back consideration of society as the matrix both of communal experience in religion and of the individual quest that can never leave this primal model and source far behind. Ferdinand de Saussure's conception of langue as a superpersonal, passively registered “collective inertia” immune to individual variation closely accords with Émile Durkheim's exaltation of society as a transcendent entity to which its submissive constituents pay homage. No elementary religious form could work more pervasively toward the summum bonum of maintaining social stasis than the supremely autonomous language system postulated by Saussure, as absolute in its dictates as any divinity. This dialectic of fixity and movement, structure and process, characterizes not only life in general, but its extensions in human consciousness, language, and society.

Keywords:   language, society, religion, Ferdinand de Saussure, conception, langue, Émile Durkheim, fixity, movement

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