Project Summary

At least three human institutions are both universal and systematic: language, kinship, and the mythico-ritual complex. Each of them has played a crucial role in the development of structuralism, and seems like a plausible target for a mathematical theory (though the sort of mathematics that one should use is not obvious).

Linguistics has obviously succeeded in becoming a formal science, but its modern shape owes much to the Sanskrit grammar of Pāṇini. A very similar and closely related Sanskrit corpus, Mīmāṃsā, exists for ritual. It is tempting to consider that a formalism could be derived for ritual, both in its Indian context and beyond. Rituals are, after all, deeply formal.

I have recently joined this project led by Naphtali Meshel, expert on Biblical sacrifice, and Anand Mishra who proposed a new take on Pāṇini's Ashtadhyayi.


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