The article aims to explore the possibility of coexistence of two sets of beliefs - Christian beliefs and folk beliefs - on the individual level. Folk beliefs often contradict Christian doctrine. They are nevertheless spread in rural Slovak population, which is mainly Christian. The aim of the article is to answer two mutually related questions concerning this problem: What are the attitudes of Christian believers to supernatural concepts which do not belong to Christian doctrine? To what degree are believers conscious of inconsistency of folk beliefs and Christian doctrine? The authoress examines folk stories, containing supernatural non-Christian concepts, and expressing attitudes of informants. Since topics of these tales are extremely diverse and concern different situations, she concentrates on the specific problem -the interpretation of misfortune. Since the paper focuses on mental attitudes of persons towards certain cultural representations, she has chosen theoretical background of cognitive anthropology, dealing with relations between human mind and culture. The theories of anthropologists Dan Sperber and Pascal Boyer, which are particularly useful for tackling problems concerning supernatural concepts, are applied to Slovak supernatural folk tales. The authoress tries to show that acceptance of the supernatural concept depends on reliability of the source of information. Mental attitudes towards the supernatural concept may be of various kinds, and can not be characterized as a simple acceptation or declination. The person who has two sets of logically contradictory supernatural beliefs does not necessarily confront them. Such confrontation takes place in specific cases. According to the her, in most cases declination of folk supernatural concept is not caused by contradiction between the concept and official doctrine: it is the result of contradiction between the concept and set of intuitive beliefs. The spontaneous confrontation of folk beliefs and Christian ideas takes places if a person has specialized cognitive mechanisms for dealing with supernatural concepts. It means that the person uses them frequently: for instance, the person is interested in religious questions and reads about them for a long time. The article represents the application of theories of cognitive anthropology to folkloristic material. Such inter-disciplinary approach can contribute to the identification of processes of oral tradition and can help to clarify some problems concerning distribution of non-official religious concepts.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.