Ontological excess and metonymy in early-modern descriptions of Brazil: an amodern para-scientific approach to nature
Keywords:Brazil, Portuguese colonization, ontolgy, para-scientific, analogy, figurative language, words and things
This essay relies on and furthers a hypothesis advanced in previous research: that the well-known eccentricities to be found in the early-modern corpus 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: 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.
How to Cite
LicenseOverall copyright is assigned to Marburg Journal of Religion. Authors retain copyright for individual contributions and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
An author may give permission for an article published here to be published elsewhere, provided that the source is indicated in the form "First published in Marburg Journal of Religion, Volume 00 (year), Number 00".