Interpreting Symbols

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Cultural and social symbols are certainly ever-present across the sphere of human civilization, offering deep meaning to those who look to such for direction or expression. The scope of this paper is to consider the idea of symbols in the context of two statements regarding their impact and, in finding a different perspective from each author, opine as to the compatibility and variance between the two views.


.." (Geertz YEAR: 89). This perspective sees symbols as more reflective than directional and, though it might not deny some motivational aspects of cultural symbology, focuses on them as a repository for communication of heritage.
First, I will discuss the fact that in one way, certainly, these views are at variance in terms of direction; one sees causative influence and the other derivative. Secondly, I will focus on the fact that these ideas are not necessarily as opposing as one might initially expect; there is a certain compatibility and agreement in terms of symbolic influence, regardless of its direction. Finally, to illustrate these points of both disparity and agreement, I will use the iconic symbols of Greek Orthodoxy to demonstrate the relationship.
The greatest variance between the two perspectives is the relative direction of symbolic influence. For Turner, symbols motivate people to action. For Geertz, they reflect and communicate culture. In the first instance, the direction of symbolic influence is outward; the person looks to the symbol and sees something they should do. ...
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