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Focus Group 'Dynamics & Stability'

khk_concept_group_dynamics_en.jpg On the one hand focus group 'dynamics & stability' collected and described different types of dynamics, e. g. processes of expansion, transfer, intensification, tiering, gradation, growth, and deterioration. On the other hand the concept of 'dynamics' has been analysed with regard to its prerequisites and its heuristic potential for the study of the history of religions. In the study of religions the term 'dynamic' is often used to merely differentiate one's own approach from others that are considered as static in order to evade the notion of religious traditions as spatially and temporally immutable and clearly distinguishable entities. An in-depth academic reflection on the concept of dynamic is still missing and has therefore been endeavoured by this focus group.

Especially the interrelationship between dynamics and stability has been be discussed both, on the material level and on the scientific meta-level. It had to be determined, among other topics, which kind of conceptual stability is necessary to properly identify and describe religious traditions from a 'dynamic' perspective.

The concept of a religious attractor – as a scientific object that is both stable and dynamic has been be utilised to further the study of 'dynamics in the history of religions.' Peirce's conceptualisation of a 'dynamic object' generating an attractive and attracting chain of signs seems well suited to describe dynamics in the terms of attractors.

'Dynamics' primarily denotes relations in space and time. Phases of stabilisation and dynamisation alternate in development processes. Analytically, three basic types of dynamics can be distinguished:

  • endogenous dynamics (development, growth, decay, differentiation, etc.)
  • exogenous dynamics (demarcation, inclusion, etc.)
  • transfer dynamics, which combine endogenous and exogenous dynamics in a specific way (schema, form)

These types can be analysed with respect to push and pull factors, i. e. as phenomena of impetus and attraction. They manifest in situations of religious contact and occasion the emergence of material objects, which are under scrutiny as dynamic crystallisations or densifications. Densification means an intensification of expression, with sacralisation and self-referencing as the significant processes of this intensification.

The focus group's agenda entailed the following tasks:

  • to further develop the semiotics approach in order to describe the dynamics of religious 'condensed signs' employing the concept of a 'dynamic object,'
  • to apply Simmel's concept of 'axialrotation' to the labelling of religious dynamics,
  • to analyse horizontal dynamics in the history of religions (densification by interpretation),
  • to advance the development of a vertically dynamic stratigraphic model of religion as the interrelationship of processes of attraction and repercussion (evolutionary scheme).