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Rules Without Meaning

Ritual, Mantras and the Human Sciences


Frits Staal

Rules Without Meaning is an original study of ritual and mantras which shows that rites lead a life of their own, unaffected by religion or society. In its analysis of Vedic ritual, it uses methods inspired by logic, linguistics, anthropology and Asian studies. New insights are offered into various topics including music, bird song and the origin of language. The discussion culminates in a proposal for a new human science that challenges the current dogma of «the two cultures» of sciences and humanities.
Contents: A study of ritual, mantras and the human sciences which applies syntactic methods to phenomena still widely regarded as impervious to rational analysis.