What is it about?
We combine Hofstadter’s description of mutual interior access between persons with theories of interiority presented in ethnographic contexts and in anthropological literature on Suﬁ rituals. The intersection of these theories with Hofstadter’s concepts is applied to three Suﬁ rituals: an annual village festival presided over by a Maulana (descendant of the Prophet); the devotional dhikr circles that meet weekly at the mosque; and a major Suﬁ festival held in a remote, mountainous area of Sri Lanka where living Suﬁ virtuosi come as well as thousands of pilgrims. Each ritual is posited to represent increasingly substantial degrees of interior alignment between participants. By intentionally expanding their senses of self through engagement in ritual practice and appreciation of religious dogma, participants approximate an overlapping of their separate interiorities.
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Why is it important?
The article contributes to discussions of theory of mind by using ethnographic case studies to explain different levels of accessing the mind of others. depending on the type of relationship. Its link to religion, particularly Sufism provides an avenue for applying this theoretical perspective to religious practices in general. It also contributes ethnographically to our understanding of Sufi rituals and mysticism. The article is the only article, tour knowledge that uses Douglas Hofstadter's idea regarding stages of accessing the interiority of others.
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This page is a summary of: Accessing the interiority of others: Sufism in Sri Lanka, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, June 2019, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.13080.
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