Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Festinger's theory of "cognitive dissonance":
Two case studies from Sociology of Religion
denounce it as inadequate /

Η θεωρία του Φέστινγκερ περί "γνωστικής ασυμφωνίας":
Δύο μελέτες περίπτωσης της Κοινωνιολογίας της Θρησκείας
την καταδεικνύουν ανεπαρκή


COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

«The subject of prophetic failure is critical to an understanding of the development of any messianic faith. With this in mind, it is worth drawing on the theory of cognitive dissonance. In ‘‘When Prophecy Fails’’ (1956), Leon Festinger [and others] presented the salient features of this theory: The individual attempts to maintain his faith. If a person believes in something fervently; if he is committed to this faith and it has led him to take irreversible steps; then when confronted with irrefutable evidence that his faith is mistaken, the believer will only strengthen further his faith, making a renewed effort to convince and convert others to adopt his own worldview. Therefore, According to the theory, crisis of faith that results from prophetic failure may paradoxically lead to the strengthening of religious faith rather than to its dilution. While in logical terms the failure of the prophecy might be expected to weaken its justification, a diametrically opposite phenomenon sometimes develops, characterized by a strengthening of faith and religious practice in an attempt to set the messianic process back on course.

The difference between expectations and experience generates cognitive tension. According to Festinger, the dissonance creates discomfort, thus producing pressure to reduce it. To this end, individuals must either change their beliefs, opinions, or behavior; secure new information that mitigates the dissonance; or forget or belittle the importance of the information that embodies an internal contradiction. In order to succeed in this, the believers must receive support from either their psychological or their social environment. Without such support, the chances are that the effort to moderate the dissonance will prove unsuccessful. Thus prophetic failure increases the believers’ devotion and their proselytizing efforts. In some cases it is easier to cope with dissonance than to admit that a belief has failed. Accordingly, believers will not abandon their faith, but at the same time they cannot deny that it has failed to materialize. The believer must thus secure new information that corroborates their faith. This information lies in the determination that if more people can be convinced that their beliefs are correct, then clearly these beliefs indeed are correct.»
(Motti Inbari, «When Prophecy Fails? The Theology of the Oslo Process—Rabbinical Responses to a Crisis of Faith», pp. 306, 307.)


* George Chryssides,
«How Prophecy Succeeds: The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Prophetic Expectations»
Πώς Πετυχαίνει η Προφητεία: Μάρτυρες του Ιεχωβά και Προφητικές Προσδοκίες»],
International Journal for the Study of New Religions 1.1 (2010): 27–48, Equinox Publishing,
ISSN 2041-9511 (print), ISSN 2041-952X (online),
doi:10.1558/ijsnr.v1i1.27.

Abstract
Leon Festinger’s notion of prophecy as prediction that is liable to failure has been widely accepted in religious studies. The author argues that this understanding of prophecy is not shared by biblical scholars or by the Watch Tower Society. This article explores in detail the various calculations that the Society has used in devising its views on the last days, and how these have changed over time. Four periods of development are identified: (1) the era of founder-leader Charles Taze Russell; (2) the early Rutherford period; (3) a changed chronological system in 1935; and (4) the Society’s present-day understanding. Discussion is given to the key dates of 1914, 1918, 1925 and 1975, and to the Society’s changed understanding of the ‘generation that would not pass’ until the fulfilment of prophecy. It is argued that, although there have been failures in prophetic speculation, the changing views and dates of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are more largely attributable to changed understandings of biblical chronology than to failed predictions. For the Jehovah’s Witnesses prophecy serves more as a way of discerning a divine plan in human history than a means to predicting the future.
Σύνοψη
Η αντίληψη του Leon Festinger περί προφητείας ως πρόρρησης που υπόκειται σε αποτυχία έχει γίνει ευρέως αποδεκτή στις θρησκευτικές μελέτες. Ο συγγραφέας υποστηρίζει ότι αυτή την κατανόηση της έννοιας της προφητείας δεν την συμμερίζονται Βιβλικοί λόγιοι ή η Εταιρία Σκοπιά. Αυτό το άρθρο διερευνά λεπτομερώς τους διάφορους υπολογισμούς που έχει χρησιμοποιήσει η Εταιρία για να διαμορφώσει τις θέσεις της περί των τελευταίων ημερών και τον τρόπο με τον οποίο έχουν αλλάξει στο πέρασμα του χρόνου. Τέσσερις περίοδοι ανάπτυξης προσδιορίζονται: (1) η εποχή του ιδρυτή-ηγέτη Καρόλου Τέηζ Ρώσσελ· (2) η πρώιμη περίοδος του Ρόδερφορντ· (3) ένα τροποποιημένο χρονολογικό σύστημα το 1935· και (4) η σημερινή κατανόηση της Εταιρίας. Εξετάζονται οι καίριες χρονολογίες 1914, 1918, 1925 και 1975 και η τροποποιημένη κατανόηση της Εταιρίας για τη "γενιά που δεν θα παρέλθει" μέχρι να εκπληρωθεί η προφητεία. Υποστηρίζεται ότι, μολονότι υπήρξαν αποτυχίες στις προφητικές εικασίες, οι τροποποιημένες απόψεις και χρονολογίες των Μαρτύρων του Ιεχωβά αποδίδονται σε τροποποιημένες κατανοήσεις της Βιβλικής χρονολόγησης μάλλον παρά σε αποτυχημένες προρρήσεις. Για τους Μάρτυρες του Ιεχωβά η προφητεία λειτουργεί περισσότερο ως μέσο για την διάκριση του θεϊκού σχεδίου στην ανθρώπινη ιστορία μάλλον παρά ως μέσο για να γίνει πρόρρηση του μέλλοντος.


Also/Επίσης:
* «Jehovah’s Witnesses Changing Chronology»
Η Αλλαγή Χρονολογιών των Μαρτύρων του Ιεχωβά»],
 "They keep changing the dates". A paper presented at the CESNUR 2010 conference in Italy.   Tuesday, September 21, 2010 by George D. Chryssides.
[English/Αγγλικά, HTML]




* Motti Inbari,
«When Prophecy Fails? The Theology of the Oslo Process—Rabbinical Responses to a Crisis of Faith»
Πότε Αποτυγχάνει μια Προφητεία; Η Θεολογία των Εργασιών του Όσλο—Ραβινικές Αποκρίσεις στην Κρίση Πίστης»],
Modern Judaism (2009) 29(3): 303-325, Oxford University Press,
ISSN 0276-1114 (print), ISSN 1086-3273 (online),
doi: 10.1093/mj/kjp014.

Abstract
Secular Israeli reality presents a challenge for the religious structure
of religious Zionism, which has been obliged to re-examine its basic assumptions concerning the purpose of the State of Israel. Cognitive dissonance is a central component in understanding their attitude toward the state, and one that has far-reaching ramifications. A mystical response to stubborn reality will strengthen messianic expectations, while a realistic response will tend to retreat from these expectations.The article sought to expose additional features of the ways in which religious thought has coped with the secular world, examining the role of messianism as an activist phenomenon that continues to this day.



Σημείωση: Η αγγλική φράση "cognitive dissonance"
τείνει να παγιωθεί στα Ελληνικά ως "γνωστική ασυμφωνία
".
Ελπίζοντας να μην ξεπεραστούν τα όρια της λεξιπλασίας,
θα πρότεινα την απόδοση της φράσης ως "νοητική διαπάλη",
ή ακριβέστερα
"νοητική ενδοδιαπάλη",
(ίσως και
"νοητική διάσταση/αντινομία";).

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