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Freidel, David, Schele, Linda, Parker, Joy. Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman’s Path
1995, William Morrow
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Added by: M. Jimena Clavel Vázquez and Andrés Hernández Villarreal
Publisher’s Note:

The ancient Maya, through their shamans, kings, warriors, and scribes, created a legacy of power and enduring beauty. The landmark publication of A Forest of Kings presented the first accessible, dramatic history of this great civilization, written by experts in the translation of glyphs. Now, in Maya Cosmos, Freidel, Schele, and Parker examine Maya mythology and religion, unraveling the question of how these extraordinary people, five million strong, have managed to preserve their most sacred beliefs into modern times. In Maya Cosmos, the authors draw upon translations of sacred texts and histories spanning thousands of years to tell us a story of the Maya, not in our words but in theirs.

Comment: The book contextualises the Mayan Popol Vuh. Chapter 2 contextualizes the creation of human beings in the wider context of the Quiché creation myth. Chapter 4 introduces the Mayan notions of k’ul (ch’ul), essence or vital force, used to denote a sacred aspect of human that is not identical with their bodies but is inserted into them; chanul (also kanul) which is a supernatural guardian that accompanies a person and shares with them their vital force; and the ‘white flower’ and the idea that the soul is created and abandons the body in the moment of death.

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Gillespie, Susan D. The Extended Person in Maya Ontology
2021, Estudios Latinoamericanos, 41: 105 – 127
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Added by: M. Jimena Clavel Vázquez and Andrés Hernández Villarreal
Abstract:

For the Maya reality is a unified whole within which every entity shares in the same fundamental animating principle. This is a relational ontology whereby no phenomenon is self-contained but emerges from relations with others, including humans and non-humans, in various fi elds of action. Th is ontology correlates with a more encompassing “process metaphysic” in which reality is in constant flux, continually “becoming.” The process metaphysic envisioned by philosopher Alfred North Whitehead provides a technical language for analyzing the composition and extension of Maya persons, using the model of personhood developed by anthropologist Marcel Mauss. In life individual Maya persons assembled divergent components endowed by their maternal and paternal ancestors, which were subsequently disassembled upon their deaths. They also assembled non-corporeal components–souls and names–that linked them to existences beyond the physical boundaries and timelines of their bodies. Aspects of personhood were also shared by objects worn or manipulated by humans. Persons were thus extended in space and in time, outliving individual human beings. Maya belief and practice reveals the fundamental process known as k’ex, “replacement” or “substitution,” accounts for much of the flux and duration of the universe as a Maya-specific mode of “becoming.”

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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López-Austin, Alfredo. The Human Body in the Mexica Worldview
2017, In The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs, Deborah L. Nichols and Enrique Rodríguez-Alegría (eds.). Oxford University Press
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Added by: M. Jimena Clavel Vázquez and Andrés Hernández Villarreal
Abstract:

For the ancient Mexicas, the composition of the human body was similar to that of the cosmos, with both being composed of dense and light substances. The light substance of the human body was divine in nature and formed the different souls of each human being. Some souls were indispensable for human existence while others were unnecessary and often harmful. The dense part of the human body functioned through its union with the souls. Like the different souls, the dense parts of the human body also had specific functions dedicated to different activities. For example, human thought derived primarily from the heart. Souls could be damaged, which could cause them to malfunction and lead to illness and possibly death in the human being. As the souls were divine, each was a conscious being with its own personality; thus there could be disagreements between them. Disharmony could also lead to illness.

Comment: Because of the difficulty of López-Austin’s text, it is proposed to focus only on some sections. Specifically, from chapter 5 focus on the section that introduces the location of animistic states and processes, the section on the linguistic group yol, yollo, the linguistic group tonal, the linguistic group cua, and the linguistic group ihío. Finally, read the section on the animistic centers. Individual members of the reading group can also choose to focus each on one of the animistic entity presented in chapter 6. For illustration of the concepts discussed, consider also reading Bernardino de Sahagún's Florentine Codex.

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Olko, Justyna, Madajczak, Julia. An Animating Principle in Confrontation with Christianity? De(re)constructing the Nahua ‘Soul’
2019, Ancient Mesoamerica, 30: 75-88
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Added by: M. Jimena Clavel Vázquez and Andrés Hernández Villarreal
Abstract:

-Yolia is one of the principal indigenous terms present in Christian Nahua terminology in the first decades of European contact. It is employed for “soul” or “spirit” and often forms a doublet with ánima in Nahuatl texts of an ecclesiastical, devotional, or secular nature. the term -Yolia/teyolia has also lived a rich and fascinating life in scholarly literature. Its etymology (“the means for one’s living”) is strikingly similar to that of the Spanish word “ánima”, or “soul.” Taking into account the possibility that attestations of the seemingly pre-Hispanic -Yolia can be identified in some of the written sources, we have reviewed historical, linguistic, and anthropological evidence concerning this term in order to revisit the Nahua concept of the “soul.” we also scrutinize the very origin of -Yolia in academic discourse. this analysis, based on broader historical and linguistic evidence referring to both pre-Conquest beliefs and Christianization in sixteenth-century central Mexico, is the point of departure for proposing and substantiating an alternative hypothesis about the origin of -yolia. Our precise focus has been to trace and pinpoint a pervasive Christian influence, manifest both in indigenous Colonial texts and conceptual frameworks of modern scholars interpreting them. we conclude that -Yolia is a neologism created in the early Colonial period.

Comment: Offers a critical discussion of López Austin’s 'The Human Body in the Mexica Worldview'. They propose to consider tonalli as the animistic entity that was most likely to be present in pre-Hispanic thought.

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Stump, Eleonore. The Problem of Evil
1985, Faith and Philosophy 2(4): 392-423.
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Added by: Jamie Collin
Abstract: This paper considers briefly the approach to the problem of evil by Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and John Hick and argues that none of these approaches is entirely satisfactory. The paper then develops a different strategy for dealing with the problem of evil by expounding and taking seriously three Christian claims relevant to the problem: Adam fell; natural evil entered the world as a result of Adam's fall; and after death human beings go either to heaven or hell. Properly interpreted, these claims form the basis for a consistent and coherent Christian solution to the problem of evil.

Comment: A clear introduction to an important approach to the problem of evil. Good primary or secondary reading for undergraduate or postgraduate courses on philosophy of religion.

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