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Michael Puett

Michael Puett | Harvard University

Michael Puett | Harvard University

Rethinking Worldviews and Religions: Comparative Reflections from China

Harvard University

One significant strain of nineteenth and twentieth century cultural theory has been based upon the claimed impact of worldviews in defining the nature and development of civilizations. This paper will argue that theories that arose in China concerning belief and practice may provide more compelling ways of thinking about culture – ways that may open some interesting possibilities for our cultural theories. I will try to demonstrate that a different understanding of religion may inspire different approaches for our larger comparative projects.

Michael Puett is Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History at the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. He earned his Ph.D. at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His interests are focused on the inter-relations between anthropology, history, religion, and philosophy. He is the author of The Ambivalence of Creation: Debates Concerning Innovation and Artifice in Early China and To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China (2001) as well as the co-author, with Adam Seligman, Robert Weller, and Bennett Simon, of Ritual and its Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity (2008).