Edited By Kinga Rudnicka-Szozda and Aleksander Szwedek
A cognitive investigation of the category of sin
Abstract This paper attempts to investigate the complexity of the notion of SIN from a cognitive linguistic point of view with a focus on category construction. First, based on the examination of selected biblical verses, I make the claim that the Bible views SIN as a prototype-based category drawing on the abstract centralized knowledge of original sin, but specific exemplars of the category are also needed to complete the model. Next, I look into religious texts establishing the official position of the Roman Catholic and the Protestant (Calvinist) Church about SIN. It transpires from their comparison that the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church define SIN with the help of classical categorization while for the Calvinists, SIN is a prototype-based category, - original sin being the central member of the category, but there is no membership gradience. Finally, the paper includes the results of an informal survey aiming to find out what SIN means to a group of Hungarian believers and non-believers today. Based on the responses, it can be claimed that in current Hungarian society, the folk notion of SIN is a graded category with prototype effects and fuzzy boundaries with a significant degree of between-subject variance.