GRE Reading Comprehension

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Source: 1999

Although Victor Turner's writings have proved fruitful for fields beyond anthropology, his definition of ritual is overly restrictive. Ritual, he says, is "pre- list scribed formal behavior for occasions not given over to technological routine, having reference to beliefs in mystical beings or powers," " Technological routine" refers to the means by which a social group provides for its material needs. Turner's differentiating ritual from technology helps us recognize that festivals and celebrations may have little purpose other than play, but it obscures the practical aims, such as making crops grow or healing patients, of other rituals. Further, Turner's definition implies a necessary relationship between ritual and mystical beliefs. However, not all rituals are religious; some religions have no reference to mystical beings; and individuals may be required only to participate in, not necessarily believe in, a ritual. Turner's assumption that ritual behavior follows belief thus limits the usefulness of his definition in studying ritual across cultures.

Question List: 1 2 3 4

According to the passage, which of the following does Turner exclude from his conception of ritual?

  • A Behavior based on beliefs
  • B Behavior based on formal rules
  • C Celebrations whose purpose is play
  • D Routines directed toward practical ends
  • E Festivals honoring supernatural beings

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