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Caged in on the OutsideMoral Subjectivity, Selfhood, and Islam in Minangkabau, Indonesia$
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Gregory M. Simon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838300

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838300.001.0001

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Living with the Devil

Living with the Devil

Pure Selves and a Corrupting World

(p.86) 4 Living with the Devil
Caged in on the Outside

Gregory M. Simon

University of Hawai'i Press

Discourses in West Sumatra concerning the capacities of human selves include Islamic notions of the physical and metaphysical dimensions of existence and the tension between learned reason (akal) and innate appetites (nafsu). They also include conceptions of moral feelings (raso), such as the emotions of compassion (ibo) and shame (malu), and of a core self (ati ketek). These core selves are understood to remain pure even as people’s engagements with the world—and thus with the influence of the Devil, Iblis—lead to immoral behavior. It is possible for both Minangkabau people and ethnographers alike to excise coherent moral arguments and precise topographies of selves from these discourses by limiting themselves to particular threads within them. Looked at more broadly, these discourses involve tensions and contradictions, and reflect not the cultural fixing of the self's boundaries or its nature, but rather the failure of culture to ever do so.

Keywords:   self, Islam, emotion, compassion, shame, morality, immorality, Minangkabau, Devil, Iblis

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