Ontological excess and metonymy in early-modern descriptions of Brazil: an amodern para-scientific approach to nature

This essay relies on and furthers a hypothesis advanced in previous research: that the well-known eccentricities to be found in the early-modern <em>corpus </em>of the Portuguese colonizers of Brazil—its references to entities like monsters and demons, its bizarre descriptions, and odd c...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Marburg Journal of Religion (Band 22)
Main Author: Zir, Alessandro
Format: Journal Articles
Language:English
Published: Philipps-Universität Marburg 2020
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Summary:This essay relies on and furthers a hypothesis advanced in previous research: that the well-known eccentricities to be found in the early-modern <em>corpus </em>of the Portuguese colonizers of Brazil—its references to entities like monsters and demons, its bizarre descriptions, and odd classification systems—can be explained in view of a certain style of thinking, addressing a specific ontological concern. Ontology emerges here as a structural differentiating factor between radically distinct kinds of approach to reality, and the notions of excess and metonymy help us to characterize the specificity of a cognitive enterprise which, in its several manifestations, is literary-religious rather than scientific-empirical. Our perspective tends to challenge communicative models trying to address the difference between religious and scientific discourses merely on the level of the content and truth-values of their belief systems. Moreover it covers significantly visual culture, which helps us to present Brazilian colonial literature on a broad canvas. This paper is one of a collection that originated in the IAHR Special Conference “Religions, Science and Technology in Cultural Contexts:&nbsp; Dynamics of Change”, held at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology on March 1–2, 2012. For an overall introduction see the article by Ulrika Mårtensson, also published here.
DOI:https://doi.org/10.17192/mjr.2020.22.8297