Religious Studies 1 (RG ST 1)
Religious Studies 1 (RG ST 1)
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Edward Burnett Tylor E B Tylor o the founder of Cultural anthropology o raised a quaker but later rejected all forms of traditional Christianity o due to tuberculosis he traveled to Mexico and Central America at age 23 El not an usual experience the doctor recommended to stay in dry cool climate developed a keen interest in unfamiliar cultures published primitive cultures book in 1871 Primitive Cultures primitive cultures published in Victorian England Philosophers historians naturalists questioning traditional theological explanations Danvin recently published Origin of Species Evolution controversial but persuasive influenced Tylor o offers an evolutionary analysis of all religions including Christianity science and technology were becoming more powerful between religion and practices during that time Ethnography and Ethnology o Tylor drew on new research method o Ethnography and Ethnology the description and study of racial groups the written texts and analysis of different racial groups and Anthropology Tylor refused to appeal to the divine authority of the church or the Bible Tylor not extensively trained in languages o felt that it was better to explore the deeds habits ideas and customs of a culture Ethnology Science of Culture 0 the proper subject of study the whole networkculture of elements in civilizations o Culture understood as a whole a complex system of knowledge beliefs customs legends art moral etc o Ethnology tries to find patterns or laws that govern human culture o psychic unity within the human race I We are all equal whatever we are from I all the human race have the basic intellectual capacity o pattern of intellectual evolution improvement over time I the difference between human race is that we have different extensions of that basic capacities Psychic unity of Humans o Tylor believed people discover the same ideas and invent the same customs independen y o the similarities are not coincidental they demonstrate the uniformity of the human mind o Tylor did not see fixed differences between races Intellectual Evolution Improvement o variations in culture occur due to level of development not racial difference o Tylor traced a history of social and intellectual evolution from archaic savages to barbarians to the modern scientific era o 3 phrases in the ascent of man o animism of hunter gatherers savages Tylor compares to children o Polytheism Monotheism of agrarian societies barbarians 0 modern science technology trade industry Doctrine of Survivals c not all cultures and things in any one culture at the same rate 0 some practices from an earlier stage such as customs folklore superstitions linger on at a later stage of evolution o Human history is filled with superstitions or cultural leftovers that were appropriate to an earlier phase of evolution 0 Bless you c for Tylor all religion is a cultural leftover or survival Origins of Religions Tylor defines religion as belief in spiritual beings all religions believe in spirits who think act feel like human persons early peoples savages believe in spirits by the same reasoning used in other aspects of their lives o they observe the world and tried to explain it o main idea spirit everything in nature has spirit the notion of a human soul is expanded to include the whole natural world For savages nature is animated by spirits animism Animism Natural Religion amp Proto Science o as souls animate persons spirits must animate the world o demons and angels even supreme spirits unrelated to specific phenomena are also possible according to logic of animism religion explains the world thus animism is the first manifestation of savage philosophy for Tylor religion and animism are ultimately individual and intellectual attempts to understand the world Growth of Religious Thought o Primitive religion animism did not remain static it grows and develops evolves o initially people see spirits as small and specific o gradually these spirits grow in power to become more powerful generalized spirits tree gt forest o spirits are separable from their specific origins acquires its own identity and power o For tylor complex polytheism eg Greek religion is an advance from the earlier savage state o New phase barbaric stage o culminates in the rise of monotheism of the higher religions Decline of Animism and Rise of Science 0 religion gradually evolved from primitive belief in spirits of rocks and trees to polytheism and finally to ethics and monotheism of the higher religions o animism is based on a mistake o the world is NOT animated by invisible spirits 0 science reveals that sun and sea owe nothing only the law of causes and effects RG ST 1 Lecture 412014 Anthropology or Theology o academic study human aspects o theology generally concerned with determining the nature will or wishes of a god or goddess o referred to Christian discourses on God Anthropology study of religion o description of human behavior o a member of human science Theological study of religion o the prescriptive ought of the gods Academic study of religion o product of 19th century Europe o influenced by European expansion and colonialism o product of Europeans encountering new beliefs customs through trade exploration and conquest o Early scholars o collected and compared beliefs myths rituals from around the world o discerned resemblances to Christian beliefs and practices o nonevaluative comparative method for crosscultural study of peoples religious beliefs o searches for documentable observable similarities and differences no normative judgment Religious Studies in United States o Private Universities Chicago Harvard Penn before WI 0 late 19501960s established Department of Religious Studies Public Universities Department of Religious Studies o based on US Supreme Court s Understanding of the Constitution o no right to enforcesupportencourage a particular religion The word Religion equivalents in modern European languages based on Latin Religare or Reegere to read repetitive rituals Latin to bind something together to pay careful attention to something your ideas about something high God universe James Frazer magic and religion James George Frazer 1854 1941 o trained as a classicist at Cambridge o classicist ancient languages myths ethics history a influential thinker o brought anthropological ideas into Western intellectual iterary religious discourse deeply influenced by Tylor s primitive culture accepted Tylor s methods theory of survivals and evolutionism used ethnographic materials but didn t do much fieldwork Preferred to work in his study at home Undertaker of Religion o raised a conservative Scottish Presbyterian o rejected Christianity amp all religion o had a major impact on how he studied religion saw anthropology as a reforming science to correct errors of religion For Frazer science is a device to undo religion o he wanted to destroy religions c not a caretaker but an undertaker of religion Frazer and Tylor antireligionists The Golden Bough book o Frazer s masterpiece a comparative study of mythology and religion treated religion as a cultural phenomenon rather than from a theological perspective o including a lot of tales folks stories legends myths to explore and analyze o ancient religions were essentially fertility cults centered on the worship and sacrifice of a sacred king o king is an incarnation of dying and reviving god who married an earth goddess and died at harvest and was reborn in Spring 0 this scandalized the public because it suggested that Christianity was originally a pagan religion How did we get from there to here importance of religion o Frazer tried to understand human origins and development c Why did religion persist in the modern scientific Victorian age Last decades of 19th cent filled with technology breakthroughs cars electrictity telegraph cameras telephones etc also a time of global colonization expansion of Western power supplied raw materials for industrial economies from primitive nations modern nations move beyond primitive understanding and embrace science and technology Frazer felt that human beings are driven by the desire to control not merely understand or explain their environments Primitive people sought to control their environment by understanding the mechanisms by which nature operates not primarily interested in understanding but finding the key to the universe that would allow them to make material progress For Frazer this basic motivation is the thread that runs all the way through human evolution and posits three phases to this evolution 0 magic o religion o science Magic and Religion primitive peoples lived in fear of life s vicissitudes when ordinary means of protection failed they resorted to a special primitive technology magic magic is a mechanism for controlling events in the world rather than brute force they used amulets spells rituals For Frazer magic sympathetic magic which has two aspects 0 1 imitative magic life affects like o 2 Contagious Magic part affects part For the primitive mind if these forms of magic are deployed correctly they must by definition be effective According to Frazer people eventually conclude that the magic fails they need a more powerful technology for controlling nature realizing that nature cannot be managed by their own means people call on higher powers gods and spirits this is the genesis of religion a significant advance from magic the transition from magic to religion is an admission that the natural laws of magic are false takes a more realistic attitude toward the natural world Magic gt Religion gtScience according to Frazer finally people realize that gods do not answer prayers and sacrifices do not win divine approval at this point fall back onto themselves 0 returning to the selfreliance of magic this time they labor to produce modern technologies that can effect real changes in the world we no longer dance for rain magic or pray for rain religion we seed clouds with iodine crystal science modern people resorted to science and technology because they are reliable sources of power and productivity that was palpable in the late 19th century Vegetation Gods magic and religion converge in seasonal cults of agriculture and vegetation worship of vegetation gods is widespread in great civilizations and anywhere agriculture is practiced these agrarian cults steeped in sexual symbolism and themes of birth and death worshippers thought that by performing certain magical rites they could aid the kinggod whose principle is life in his struggle against death often this kind was murdered or sacrificed to facilitate magically his rebirth and the crop cycle examples Osiris Adonis Attis although Frazer never mentions Jesus the comparison between the irrational pagan cults and Christianity are obvious Frazer uses objective science to reveal the superstitions of Christainity this implicit argument was extremely influential on figures such as TS Eliot George Bernard Shaw and others Kings Gods they have to die and then rebirth This is a similar version of Jesus Conclusions Living when and where he did gave Frazer numerous advantages at the end of the 19th cent British amp European imperialism had opened up virtually the whole world Frazer thus had access to vast amounts of credible ethnographic data also the triumph of Danvinism automatically promoted any argument based on evolutionary premises lfthe human mind developed in a linear fashion then the progression from magic to religion to positive science seemed like a plausible description Sigmund Freud and Religion Religion as Neurosis Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in without instinctual deskes Sigmund Freud Background o a nominal Jewish family raised in Vienna Austria gifted student mastered several languages age 18 studied medicine and neurology shifted focus to general psychology applied knowledge of psychoanalysis to wide range of topics history mythology morals dreams religion etc o tried to understand inner human motivations Freud Repression 0 describes repression a process by which people force themselves to forget traumas o the repression of such experiences led to irrational behavior called neurosis eg OCD anxiety phobias depression Freud treated this condition by hypnosis or conversations called psychoanalysis psychoanalysis leads to hidden facets of patients personalities made special note of patients dreams led to book Interpretation of Dreams Book outlined Freud s theory of the unconscious religious symbols and myths modeled on dreams Freudian Theory The Unconscious o Interpretation of Dreams argues that dreams demonstrate mental activities below the surface of ordinary life o Three levels of consciousness o Conscious everyday life 0 Preconscious subconscious o Unconscious deep hidden powerful levels of mind o Dreams give us access to this unconscious level of mind Dreams and The Unconscious o the unconscious is the source of all basic physical urges food and sex 0 this combines with a vast assemblage of ideas impressions emotions desires memories o Freud recognizes that this unconscious has been explored by poets in the past he seeks to conduct a more systematic scientific analysis o basic physical urges are by definition without consciousness while memories etc either drift down to the unconscious or are forcefully repressed Repression and The Unconscious o most people have experienced some event that produced such a powerful response that it could be expressed openly it was therefore repressed ie pressed down into the unconscious repressed thoughts and emotions have not really disappeared but express themselves in irrational behavior called neurosis o such persons cannot be treated with medicine but only with psychoanalysis Dreams and The Unconscious o Dreams show that all human activity normal and abnormal is affected by the unconscious o dreams are created by powerful drives that cannot be expressed in ordinary life eg sexual encounters when the conscious mind is in control these thoughts must be repressed o in dreams they leak out offering insight into the unconscious Personality in Conflict o the unconscious links a person s physical and the mental aspects o human personalities are rooted in the physical body which is driven by primal instincts such as hunger and sex both operate on the pleasure principle ie the gratification of physical needs the instinct for pleasure is often in conflict with other factors of the outside world these factors force us to repress our drives Freud terms the drive to continue life eros and the drive to death Aggression thanatos HIS THEORY Divisions of Personality o Conflict between one s drives and outside world at the center of the self is expressed in Freud s 3fold division of the human personality o Ego I o Superego above 0 Id t o ld the earliest and most basic unconscious rooted in raw physical drives eg to kill have sex o In human nature they are very angry and always want to get everything whatever they desire eg cookies o Superego represents a collection of influences imposed on the personality by the outside world family and society o rules coming from the outside and then internalize inside ourselves Ego must satisfy the desires of the id and deny them when they conflict with social constraints o If you want a cookie Id you should say thank you superego o try to balance between Id and Superego Oedipus Complex and Infantile Sexuality Freud asserts early childhood is influenced by sexual desires of the id 3 phases of development from birth to age 6 o Oral pleasure from breast feeding o Anal pleasure from controlling excretion o Phallic pleasure from masturbation fantasies Abnormal behavior understood as failure to move to next level or regression This view of human development connected to Freud s views on religion Religion and The Oedipus Complex Oedipus Rex is a tragedy by Sophocles in which the hero Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother Freud asserts that children at the phallic stage wish to kill displace one parent and have sex with the other threatened by his parents a boy experiences a castration complex and must submit to his father for his own survival but never gives up his desire for the mother and rivalry with the father Girls experience penis envy and wish to have sex with their mothers but later accept a feminine role and authority of the father a struggle in the child between the drive for sex and need for survival leads to morality and ritual Freud and Religion after developing theories of psychoanalysis Freud turned to the study of religion had a basic knowledge of Judaism from childhood raised in predominantly Catholic Vienna well read in a range of Western traditions mythology history art viewed himself as an staunch atheist influenced by the work of Tylor Frazer and others religious belief as erroneous Why does Religion Persist Freud asked the question If religion is obviously false why do people continue to beHeve claims to find the answer in psychoanalysis observes parallels between the activities of religios people and his neurotic patients both emphasize performing actions in a highly patterned ceremonial fashion both try to follow the rules of their rituals perfectly and feel guilt if they fail to do so religious ceremonies and neurotic rituals are also usually connected to the pression of basic instincts calls religion a universal obsessional neurosis Totem and Taboo Totem and Taboo 1913 gives a psychoanalytical interpretation of primitve peoples influenced by evolutionary thinking our physical and intellectual selves are the product of evolution thus as we find clues to adult personality in childhood we find clues to present civilization in the past this includes not only classical civilization but primitve past as well following Frazer and W Robertson Smith Freud examines the concepts of animals a totem is an animal or plant that a clan or tribe chooses to associate itself with a taboo is a person or thing that is forbidden or off limits earliest taboos were prohibitions against incest and killing or eating of the totem animal murder cannibalism except on special ceremonial occasions according to Freud there was no point in making taboos unless people actually wanted to break them Why create rules that no one really wants to keep o because people actually want to do that Freud finds the answer in the unconscious Personalities are marked by strong feelings of ambivalence ie powering opposing deskes neurotic people sometimes appear to feel grief when a loved one dies but unconsciously they wanted them to die hence what they feel is not grief but guilt Freud says tribal people exhibit the same trait primitive practices of totem and taboo demonstrate psychic Primal Hordes Freud claims primitive humans lived in primal hordes extended families of women and children dominated by one powerful male Loyalty affection security in the group but sexual frustration and envy among the young males they feared and respected the father but desired the females finally the sons murder and eat the father and take the wives killing the father brings joy but also guilt father is restored by finding a surrogate father the totem origin of the taboo Thou shall not kill the totem Horror of lncest and Totem Feast Totem 0 Future 0 remorse over killing father also leads to 2nd taboo the commandment against incest sensing that competition over females would create conflict the sons agreed thou shall not take your father s wives must marry outside the clan exogamy Foundation of morality thus based on repression and feelings of ambivalence though the totem s life was sacred on certain sacred occasions the animal was killed and consumed by all in a ritual feast freud says the sacrifice is an emotional ceremony that reenacts the murders of the father who is now a god ceremony reaffirms love and hate for the father Sacrific and Oedipus Complex totem sacrifice reenacts the original murder of the father based on the powerful conflicting emotions in the Oedipus Complex of all young males the sons kill their father out of sexual desire for their own mothers followed by a ritual of remorse and affection although the father is now a god the ritual releases the frustration and hate from the oedipal urges christian communion like the totem feast reenacts and seeks to reverse the original murder of God the communion secretly remembers oedipal hate as well as love he demonstrate the connection bet primitive religions beliefs based on the Oedipus Complex of an illusion totem and taboo looks into the past and future of an illusion 1927 looks at the present and future focuses on manifest motives rather than a past event human life evolved in a hostile environment nature constantly threatens to destroy through predators disasters disease etc Clans and families created for protection and security society only survives through subjecting our desires to rules and constraints thus we always stop at the stop sign being a good resident yet even with these sacrifices society cannot fully protect us ultimately we are all helpless in the face of death O O Illusion of a father God this is hard to accept we would prefer to feel protected as we did as children there was always a father to guard us against dangers and tell us everything would be alright o as adults we continue to crave the security of childhood but can no longer have it or can we o Freud argues religion projects onto the external would a God who is capable of protecting us comforts us in the face of death and rewards us for accepting moral restrictions o even death loses its sting our immortal souls will be released and join with God Religion as wishfulfillment o based on our wish for them to be true o beliefs and rules suitable to the childhood of the human race Emile Durkheim 1858 1917 Religion and Society Background French sociologist and founder of the influential French or Durkheim school of sociology Father was a rabbi Durkheim was to have been a rabbi himself but ended up in secular education At the Ecole Normale Superieure he concentrated on philosophy and history but also political and social issues Durkheim secured a position at Bordeaux in 1887 where he taught pedagogy and social sciences until 1902 held a professorship of education later including sociology at the Sorbonne in Paris where he remained until his death in 1917 Became a leading figure in French intellectual life and his work exercised a strong influence in official educational circles and the social sciences Durkheim was concerned with how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in the modern era when shared religious and ethnic background could no longer be assumed institutions infrastructures he wrote about the effect of laws religion education and similar forces on society he was also deeply preoccupied with the acceptance of sociology as a legitimate science sociology was the science of institutions its aim being to discover structural social facts was a major proponent of structural functionalism a foundational perspective in both sociology and anthropology sociology should study phenomena attributed to society at large rather than being limited to the specific actions of individuals Sociology as Science Social Facts Durkheim brought a sociological perspective to areas of human life previously thought to be exclusive domain of biology or psychology 0 Sociology is not an auxiliary of any other science It is itself a distinct and autonomous science To ensure that sociology is considered a legitimate science it must have an object that is distinct from other sciences social facts and its own methodology 0 There is in every society a certain group of phenomena which may be differentiated from those studied by the other natural sciences Social Facts a sociology aims to discover social facts o Durkheim explains the existence and quality of different parts of society ie social facts by reference to what function they serve a Social facts are phenomena that exist in and of themselves not bound to individuals but that have a coercive influence on them 0 Social facts are greater and more objective than the actions of individuals who compose society o When I fulfill my obligations as brother husband or citizen when I execute my contracts I perform duties which are defined externally to myself and my acts in law and in custom responsibilities existed from society o society coercive influence of social facts Social as Sacred o Tylor Frazer Freud attempt to explain religion in terms of the individual 0 from the religious experiences of the individual they explain groups of individuals 0 according to Freud to understand religious institutions eg rituals and groups we need only understand the individual human being o society is a secondary thing o even though he also follows a scientific approach Durkheim differs from this individualistic analysis a he seeks to explain religion as much as they do but in a sociological or collective way o Freudians explain religion interns of childhood experiences of individuals Durkheim argues that social location of an individual condition their individual consciousness and religious experiences o Society should be the first thing o we are born in the situations socially conscious instituted Religious Experience Effervescence o For example immersion in a religious group or rite can affect the consciousness of the believer o believers participating in the ritual experience exaltation due to being part of an excited crowd o Durheim terms this communal experience collective effervescence Collective Effervescence 0 Such group experiences help the individual find a source of energy superior to that of everyday life In this sense this powerful social force known as society can be understood as prior to individual psychology a what we experience individually is the result of our participation in groups Suicide A Case Study he finds biological and psychological explanations inadequate rather the relations between suicides and social environment is more reliable and accurate as scientific principles the causes of suicide are found in the collective conditions of being a member of a social group eg religion the location of individual sin a certain religious group caused certain psuchological factors to emerge not he other way around he does explain the sociological causes or how they themselves are caused Society Durkheim introduces a social perspective to the study of religion but he is also rightly read as reducing the sacred God to society Durkheim states society has all that is necessary to arouse the sensation of the divine in minds society gives us the sensation of perpetual dependence society has a special aptitude for setting itself up as a god or for creating gods Critics argue that such descriptions are inadequate and don t do justice to religion Durkheim responds that religious forces arise from the mere fact of coming together thinking together feeling together acting together Durkheim reduces the object of religion to society and thinks that religious experiences are misperceived experiences of social forces there is no provable experience of God but there is a shared direct experience or society and its power feels like an experience of God thus religious experience is caused by those very social forces that can be detected studied and analyzed publicly and scientifically ie social facts however such a reductive interpretation ignores ambiguities in Durkheim s though at time he appears to suggest that society has a religious or spiritual nature o maintain orders traditional values well beings values moral ideals world views on individuals and we human beings need that O at the same time Durkheim argues against the Freudian or Marxist position that religion is a mere illusion He states that religion is too established and widespread throughout humanity to be an illusion its forces really exist he assert that society is a collectivity constituted and directed by the spiritual forces of beliefs values ideals notions of sacred and profane he was a person with a serious spiritual outlook such spiritual or religious traits are necessary for the existence and maintenance of any society Durkheim spiritualist he believed that what moves the human world is our common values our socially formed consciences our basic concepts about what should be done and what we should do for him the soul is not reducible to material or psychological elements it is socially constituted but existed on its own level and needs to be grasped in terms of the laws governing it at its own level social laws do not negate biological or physical laws Durkheim s understanding of Religion he begins Elementary Forms by looking at how religion may be defined identifies the Sacredprofane dichotomy as the defining characteristic of religion religion divides the world into 2 domains of sacred and profane the two are so fundamentally opposed that they are seen as completely separate worlds In his view the sacred is not synonymous with the divine or supernatural not only may gods and spirits be sacred but also things like rocks trees pieces of wood in fact anything at all what makes something sacred is not that it is connected to the divine or supernatural it is the object of prohibition taboo that sets it radically apart from and superior to everything else which is thereby made profane he describes religion in terms of beliefs and rites the details of these in particular religions are ways of dealing with in thought and action with the dichotomy of sacred and profane Durkheim s Definition of Religion a religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things that is to say things set apart and forbidden beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church all those who adhere to them Origin of the Sacred having defined the key role of the sacred and the profane in religion Durkheim addresses how people come to see the world this way Dismisses theories of the origins of religions based on animism and naturism Tylor argued that religion started with people trying to make sense of their dreams and come up with animism religion involving belief in the soul spirits max Muller had suggested it started with people trying to make sense of their experience of awe in the face of the mighty forces of nature He refuses to believe people find dreams or natural phenomena extraordinary enough to create religion because of them neither man nor nature is inherently sacred the source of the sacred must be elsewhere Totemism to locate the source of the sacred Durkheim examines Australian totemism which he sees as the most basic elementary type available for study in totemism tribes are divided into clans whose solidarity derives not from kinship but from a religious relationship between its members this relationship is based on a sacred association between the clan its members and a totemic entity usually identified with a local animal or plant species Durkheim acquired his information on totemism from ethnographers and looked in turn at its beliefs and rites focusing on the Arunta a tribe of Central Australia his interpretation of the ethnographic material was his own Totemic Beliefs Durkheim s view was that totemic emblem a design representing the can s totemic entity was sacred its sacredness lay in the fact that it conferred sacredness on whatever was marked with it the totemic emblem was used to mark certain objects used in rituals stones pieces of wood etc among the Arunta these objects were known as churingas the sacredness conferred by their being marked with the sacred totemic emblem was negative and positive on one hand they had to be kept separate from the profane not touched or looked at by profane persons when not in use they were hidden on the other hand they had powers they could cure illnesses confer strength in battle assure the continuing fertility of the totemic animal or plant Totemic Beliefs not only are totemic emblems and ritual objects sacred so are the totemic entity and the human clan members where the totemic entity was an animal or a plant its sacredness was a matter of it being prohibited as ordinary food to clan members though it might be obligatory to consume it in certain rituals Durkheim points out that to regard animals as sacred in this way is not the same as to regard them as divine Clan members did not worship the totemic animal as a god but felt ties of close kinship with it The sacredness of clan members themselves was manifest most in the use of their blood in rituals to confer power Clan members blood used to paint the totemic emblem or poured over a rock representing the totemic entity or in initiation rituals Origins of Totemic Belief he argues that the animal and plant totem entities are not intrinsically impressive and not capable of generating religious feelings by themselves Consequently the religious feelings involved in totemism must have been derives from elsewhere Durkheim s theory is that totemism is not about the totemic entity represented in the totemic emblem per se it is about the clan itself as symbolized by the emblem Durkheim calls this the totemic principle pervasive impersonal force that is the center of clan ritual it is the experience of the social group alone that is capable of generating in people the kind of intense feelings that sustain religion people are susceptible to the moral authority exerted by respected individuals and social groups such authority experienced in group situations is able to take people beyond themselves to intensities of feeling and behavior they are not capable of by themselves when this happens they cannot identify the source of the stimulation they are experiencing the sacred is created from the society itself how the sacred is represented varies from religion to religion in some it is a matter of gods in totemism it is a matter of the totem but whatever the detail the sacred reality is a projection of a social reality this in totemism the sacred totemic emblem symbolizes the clan and the god the sacred reality is actually the clan itself he shows how the totemic principe gt sous gt ancestors gt gods gt God Collective Effervescence he supposes that in practice totemic religion arose out of tribal lifestyle usually individuals lived scattered across the landscape in groups too small to generate the kind of religious forces he identifies but at certain moments there were social gatherings large enough to acquire critical mass such gatherings would effervesce the experience of being with so many other people generates heightened emotions and excitement that lead to belief in the sacred such experiences functions to foster devotion to the totem ie the clan itself among its members who identify with the group totemism took shape during such gatherings Ritual behavior in Totemism Durkheim distinguishes 3 types of ritual behavior that developed in totemism negative positive and piacular negative rites concern forbidden things and positive rites concern making things happen negative behaviors taboo were primarily concerned with keeping the sacred out of contact with the profane o taboo is the thing to separate the sacred and the profane For example there were prohibitions regarding the sacred ritual objects These might be touched only by persons who had been made sacred by initiation the totemic entity if an animal or plant was regarded as in a sense kind and too sacred to be eaten even by initiates negative rites characterized by sense of renunciation o there is a level of renunciation that is associated with sacred persons Sacred Space and Sacred Time it is in this context that Durkheim introduces notions of sacred space and sacred tim e Religious and profane life cannot coexist in the same space sacredness requires that special locations be set aside for religious rituals sacredness also requires that special times be set aside for religious rituals ie positive rites thus the everyday activities of hunting fishing and making was must be suspended for the duration of the major religious ceremonies Religious Forces religious prohibitions bring up two other particularly significant considerations the first of these is the contagiousness of the sacred the idea that the sacred is passed on by physical contact it is seen in rituals of consecration when things are made sacred by being touched with other things that are already sacred he explains belief in the contagiousness of the sacred with his theory of religious forces the sacred has its power Ambiguity of the sacred Durkheim argues that there are two kinds of religious forces those working for good and those working for ill these are seen in notions of pure and impure or maybe lucky or unlucky things thought of in religion as impure are not part of the profane but part of the sacred only producing undesirable results it is a switch of sacred polarity from dangerous religious force to beneficial he associated this sort of switch of polarity with a switch in the collective emotional state of participants between dysphoria and its opposite euphoria evil forces transformed into benign forces thru piacuar rites that reaffirm the permanence and solidarity of the group Karl Marx 1818 1883 Religion as Alienation Life and Background born in Prussia because of anti Jewish laws his father a lawyer converted to Lutheranism Marx rejected all religion studied law at Bonn University where he flunked out too much drinking and dueling shifted to Berlin University where he studied the works of George Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel 17701830 c Hegel was an idealist ie one who believes in the reality of mind and ideas over matter a According to Hegel material things are always secondary to mind 0 they are an expression of the universal spirit geist o Marx agreed with some of Hege s ideas but thought that matter is primary to mind physical reality Early Life and Ideas o Marx s key philosophical stance material forces are the fundamentally real things in the world material wellbeing and conditions this is crucial to 2 other important ideas 0 Economic reality determines human behavior o human history is the story of class struggle a Unable to secure academic employment he wanted to be a professor but his views were too aggressive he becomes a journalist first in Germany then France a also wrote several essays and tracts met Friedrich Engels 18201895 in 1842 0 formed a lifelong partnership Together they write the Communist Manifesto 1848 Marx is forced to move to France Belgium and finally England because of his political activities and beliefs Marxist Thought c To understand history and humanity one must recognize what is fundamental o Humans are not motivated by grand ideas but material concerns ie the means of survival economic issues o Needs and desires can only be satisfied by developing a model of production Necessities of life must be produced by some form of labor Different people do produce different things leads to a division of labor Connections between those who divide their labor is called relations of labor Marx believes that earliest society was an original communism Conditions of Capitalism Private Property The notion of private property paved the way for classical civilization exchanges can only be made by selling the products of a person s labor as mode of production changes from huntinggathering to agriculture property owners have a major advantage they own the products and the means of production Landowners become the master the rest become dependents assistants serfs slaves class structure private property and agriculture give rise to separation of classes by wealth and power SIN unequal opportunities leads to a permanent state of social unrest Industrial Revolution urban reality to industrial reality Hegek modern capitalism introduces a new mode of production commercial manufacturing this allows capitalism to produce great wealth for the bourgeoisie workers proletariat must sell their labor to the factory owners merely to subsist Capitalism has become industrial workers must spend long hours in a factory at a machine producing objects in huge quantities This brings fabulous wealth to the owners but not the workers bring the conflict between classes to its last desperate phase violence becomes inevitable Alienation and Dialectic Marx believed the struggle between the classes would inevitably bring revolution and the end of all classes influenced by Hegel in his thinking Hegel believed the absolute spirit mind God was primary and alienated from matter For Hegel history is the unfolding of spirit in the material world which it can never perfect Spirit attempts to perfect itself by generating a new material from to correct the previous one Cultures grow and evolve by the movement of spirit through history in a process of conflict and resolution called a dialectic Thesis the trend the expression of alienationspirit gtantithesis gt synthesis Materialist Dialectic Marx rejected Hege s idealism but agreed with the concepts of alienation conflict and dialectical movement in history History is a great scene of conflict and alienation is central to it Marx s dialectic was the exact opposite of Hegel s Human beings create their own alienation by attributing to others things that belong to themselves God and the spirit receive credit for what humans accomplish government is the expression of the absolute spirit every economic order grows to a state of maximum efficiency while developing internal contradictions or weaknesses that contribute to its decay Materialist Dialectic ThesisFeudal lords antithesis serfs and peasants Synthesis city life Alienation of Workers the economic fact of labor is important to everyone who lives labor should be creative varied satisfying but it is not Due to the idea of private property it has become something apart alien to ourselves The moment one thinks of the product of one s labor as alien from oneself one is alienated from one s product and alienated from oneself there is nothing meaningfully human to show for one s work One is thus alienated from others as well everything is reduced to commodities this is the true misery of the human condition Capitalism and Surplus Value Capitalism and property ownership are about profit not exchange of value Profit comes from under valuing the labor needed to produce a thing workers and their families must work a full day at a factory but can barely support themselves why Marx says the workers are creating enormous surplus value for the capitalist factory owner Surplus value is what is left over after the workers minimum wages capitalists harvest the surplus value created by their workers by keeping labor costs as low as possible Thus the capitalist lives in luxury while workers producers of the value languish in pove y Quotes from Marx his concern for workers Within the capitalist system all means for the development of production transform themselves into means of domination over and exploitation of the producers they mutilate the laborer into a fragment of a man degrade him to the level of an appendage of a machine destroy every remnant of charm in his work and turn it into hated toil they estrange from him the intellectual potentialities of the labor process they distort the conditions under which he works subject during the labor process to a despotism the more hateful for its meanness they transform his lifetime into working time and drag his wife and child beneath the wheels of the Juggernaut of capital Base and Superstructure Marx did not consider religion is primary or significant too abstract For him all history is the story of class struggle based on hard economic realities other aspects of social life such as morality law arts literature and religion arise from this The former the economic facts he terms the base the latter cultural institutions etc he terms the superstructure These cultural institutions arise from and are shaped by the economic base Institutions like family government law arts philosophy education are structures whose role is to contain or provide controlled release of tensions of the class conflict Marx says government and law exists only to represent the wishes of the ruling class Though the state uses force to control the lower classes other forces in the cultural superstructure use persuasion to achieve the same end In each age theologians philosophers and moralists have helped control the poor just by preaching to them telling them what is right and wrong this is ideology The virtues they promote depend on the society they live in in the Middle ages when farming was the main means of production and all lands were owned by the Church or feudal lords virtues of devotion loyalty obedience were stressed In the Industrial Age when capitalist owners need workers with few social ties and no claim to special status the virtues thoughts are individuals Pyramid of Capitalist System the highest class the money Marx and Religion A Brief Study Marx materialist and religion Basics o Like other social institutions Religion is dependent on material and economic realities o It has no independent divine supernatural history it is a creature of productive forces The religious world is but a reflex of the real world Das Kapital Religion can only be understood in relation to other social system and economic structures of society a In fact religion is dependent on economics nothing else Thus actual religious doctrines are almost irrelevant This is a functionalist interpretation of religion understanding religion to be dependent on what social purpose it serves not its beliefs in relation to the economic structures Product and Sef Alienation c To Marx the concept of alienation is central to all religions a Product alienation has 4 aspects 0 Workers are alienated from the object they produce because it is owned and disposed of by another the capitalist 0 workers lack of control over the process of production no say over the conditions in which they work 0 workers are alienated from each other due to antagonism that arise from class structures 0 workers are alienated from their species nature ie our human ability to shape the world Work bears no relationship to our personal inclinations or our collective interests o Self alienation is to be separated from one s own essence or nature Commodity Fetishism a Human become objects for themselves are alienated from themselves o They fetishistically invest objects in the world with what are essentially human powers and characteristics o they treat themselves and others as a means to their own ends Principle of social organization in capitalism is private ownership of property of objects a Thus objects including humans are fully fetishized o Commodity fetishism is the socio economic reification of a commodity into a fetish an object with intrinsic value and an independent economic reality Money Fetishism o Alienated in this way humans experience products as commodities 0 they attach a fetishistic magic to these commodities as if they magically appeared apart from the relations of production 0 value that resides primarily in labor is projected onto inanimate objects which hides their true origin a Marx refers to money as the universal pimp mediating between human beings and their desires 0 exchange values and circulation of commodities requires a commodity to represent all other commodities money a money is the incarnation of all human labor the ultimate commodity Marx on Money o Money is the universal self constituted value of all things Hence it has robbed the whole world the human world as well as nature of its proper value Money is the alienated essence of man s labor and life and this alien essence dominates him as he worships it Alienation and Religion o Humans workers alienated from themselves exploited and de humanized in work fetishize products over concern for others o The opium of religion is used to soothe their very real pain to make their disorientation more bearable o Marx thinks of religion in two distinct ways o religion as illusory protest giving false hope and distracting from economic exploitation 0 religion as ideology distorting and masking the socio economic realities of the world Objectification and Religion o The primary illusion Marx attacks is the belief that religion or God had its source outside of man and history a Marx states Man makes religion religion does not make man After creating religion which is an objectification of their own essence They the creators bow down before their creations o For Marx religion is an ideology part of the cultural superstructure that includes government law education entertainment etc religion is a false consciousness describing a false reality Marx s Famous Statement religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and a protest against real suffering Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature the heart of the heartless world just as it is the soul of soulless conditions It is the opium of the people The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness The demands to give up the illusion about the condition is the demand t give up a condition that needs illusions Opium of the People This passage is often misunderstood since it omits heart of a heartless world it is more a critique of society and even a partial validation of religion Marx dislikes religion but does not make it the primary focus of his work To Marx religion s purpose is to create illusory fantasies for the poor Economic realities prevent them from finding happiness in this life Religion tells them they will find happiness in the next life Marx has sympathy people are in distress religion relief like opium Opium pain relief addiction Opium War British wanted to manipulate the Chinese political soc economics strategy feels good Be Meek and Patient in this World opium does not cure illness religion doesn t fix the causes of people s pain it helps them forget why they are suffering causes them to look to an imaginary future where pain will cease instead of working ot change their conditions even worse it is the oppressors who are adminstering this drug religion is a expression of unhappiness and a symptom of oppressive economic realities Marx hopes that humans will create a society in which these economic conditions will be eliminated and the need for the drug of religion will disappear it is a problem when the doctor aka the rich gives out the drug and receives benefits from making you worker feel good William James Religious Experience and The More William James 18421910 Considered father of American psychology and philosophy went to Harvard medical school but never practiced medicine became professor of physiology then psychology and philosophy born into wealthy unconventional family in NYC in and out of depression throughout life religious seeker established himself as leading thinker in emerging field of psychology Reductionism Freud neurosis Durkheim society Marx opiate like Otto James is not a reductionist There is an aspect of religion which cannot be reduced to anything else religious experience 1902 publishes the Varieties of Religious Experience 0 The problem I have set myself is a hard one first to defend experience against philosophy as being the real backbone of the world s religious life I mean prayer guidance and all that sort of thing immediately and privately felt letterto a friend 1900 Expenence The fact of being consciously the subject of a state or condition or of being consciously affected by an event experiences as opposed to beliefs or behaviors experience the most fundamental aspect of religion James Definition of Religion FEELING the feelings acts and experiences of individual men in their solitude so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine Divine James interprets the term divine very broadly as denoting any object that is godLIKE whether it be a concrete deity or not o Divine a primal reality which the individual feels impelled to respond to solemnly and gravely and neither by a curse nor a jest Two Types of religion origin a firsthand an individual s direct experience of the divine o secondhand doctrines rituals institutions based upon first hand religious expenences DYNAMlC DRAMATIC EXPERIENCES Ezekiel s Vision Buddha s Enlightenment Pau s Conversion sudden enlightenment experience blinded converted to Christianity Muhammad s Night Journey James is only interested in firsthand religious experiences all religious based on founder s firsthand religious experience o every person s religious beliefs and practices are based first and foremost on their own direct experience of the divine Feeling first then they believe The unreasoned and immediate assurance is the deep thing in us the reasoned argument is but a surface exhibition Instinct leads intelligence does but follow Mystical experiences components a ineffable indescribable words and concepts cannot describeconceptualize o noetic intuitive nonrational new knowledge a transient a passive Mystical Experience a mysticism is an encounter with the Absolute that results in a sense of identity with it o Mystics describe achieving unity with God or the Absolute and a loss of individual identity o This union is often described in terms of love or even sexual intercourse o Example Theresa of Avila Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu play act Ontological Union o Two beings one mortal one Divine symbolically merging in this fashion is distinct from ontological union o Ontological Union is the notion that two beings are in fact one being in essence o Sexual union suggests distinct beings in an intense passionate relationship a Ontological Union suggests a unitary being Example Atman Brahman Two types of religion temperament o healthyminded see the world as basically good ignore evil once born positive thinking o sick soul see the world as evil humans sinful but God can redeem it and us need for conversion God s comfort twice born Conversion twice born c the process gradual or sudden by which a self hitherto divided and consciously wrong inferior and unhappy becomes unified and consciously right superior and happy in consequence of its firmer hold upon religious realities o divided self unified by experience of wider self the more The More a Far Side o God shaped blank Overbeliefs Domain of theology o Hither side o subliminalwider self domain of psychology Something More o Central function of religion is healing the self by connecting to higher powers o Religion has 2 parts uneasiness and its solution o Person becomes conscious of higher part of herself which is equivalent to something more of the same quality a this more operate both inside and outside the selfmind Rudolt Otto Idea and Experience of the Holy Overview Scientic study of religion attempted to trace to historical origins the search for origins is related to the search for the essence of religion scholars tried to discover the root of religious experience Defining religion can be problematic most scholars agree that religion is o a system of actions and beliefs directed toward what is perceived to be sacred or of ultimate value or power This includes spiritual beings cosmic laws places persons ideals etc set apart as sacred Concept of Sacred Power Gerardus van der Leeuw 1890 1950 identifies sacred power as the root of religion for him the object of religion is a highly impressive other in primal societies almost any natural object can hold sacred power eg Fetishes totems amulets icons being blessed Sacred Power fetishes totems etc as well as persons places etc can be vehicles of sacred power they are regarded as special set apart and endowed with unique power they are objects of awe fear taboo the distinction between this power and what is powerless is sacred vs profane Ambivalence of Sacred Power sacred power evokes a mixed response the impulse in the face of mystery and power is avoidance the sacred can be magnetic as well modern societies have tamed sacred power to be benign and benevolent in traditional societies the sacred represents the poles of purity and danger Ark of the Covenant Story of Uzzah Rudolf Otto German libera theologian and scholar of comparative religion wrote 2 dissertations 1 on Martin Luther 1 on immanuel Kant traveled widely in Asia studied Sanskrit translated parts of Bhagavad Gita Interested in Indian Religions The Holy Rudolf Otto emphasizes the idea of the Holy Religion is nonrational and ineffable human experience Otto uses the term numinous to describe religious phenomena Not reducible to any more primary experience exists as an impressive wholly other The Numinous Otto argues that the non rational must be valued in the study of religion Thus he introduces his idea of the numinous The numinous is the holy eg God devoid of moral and rational aspects it is the inexpressible core of religion numinous experience cannot be described in terms of other experiences Creature Feeling Those who experience the numinous have a sense of dependence on something greater than and external to themselves Otto calls this creature feeling the experience of numinous leads to a sense of personal worthlessness Expericen of the Numinous the numinous is the deepest and most fundamental element in all strong and sincerely felt religious action it is found in solemn rites and atmosphere of religious monuments temples churches it may be peaceful and come sweeping like a gentle tide pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans Otto describes this experience with the latin phrase Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans a tremendous and fascinating mystery o Tremendum Awfulness profound unease overpowering inspiring humility and energy immense vigor o Mysterium refers to the fact that the numinous is wholly other something truly amazing completely outside our normal experience a Fascinans The numinous cause the person to be completely enraptured or intoxicated saiah s vision of God Krishna s universal form Sacred and Prodane o For Otto the religious person operates on two levels o the profane or everyday level o occasional moments or longer periods of accession to a higher sacred level o This higher level may be attained through personal piety eg prayer and meditation or participation in religious visits Religious Progress 0 Otto explains how the sense of awe in the experience of the numinous is also found in primitive forms of religious experience a He suggests various stages of religious progress o worship of daemons benevolent supernatural beings between humans and gods o worship of gods impure worship of God Pure worship of God The Profane Redux he returns briefly to the profane o experience of the numinous leads to sense of personal worthlessness creature feeling and the worthlessness of the ordinary world this is the feeling of absolute profaneness Thus the experience of the Holy entails the experience of the profane Awefullness of God a he points out that the rise of Protestant rationalism did not eliminate nonrational numinous o there is the continuing presence of a dread inspiring vengeful and wrathful God o in the Old Testament God from an early Yahweh with the Daemonic dread to Elohim in whom the Rational aspect outweighs the numinous o even in the new Testament the numinous aspect has not been lost Human predisposition for Religious experience o humans have always had the predisposition for religious experience c this predisposition is a notjust for some individual but the whole of humanity o earliest expressions of human religious pre are really pre religion o these include magic worship of death ideas of spirits myths Beginnings of religion a religion proper begins when numinous experiences are no longer projected on nature but accounted for in terms of gods o progress is a gradual refinement of people s understanding of the Holy For otto the process of refinement culminates in Christianity is the end product of religious development c Christianity stands out in complete superiority over all sister religions Max Weber Life and Background born to upper middle class family in Berlin Father was a successful lawyer and politician a worldly and rationalist man his mother was a devout liberal lutheran tension between his parents led to inner emotional turmoil for Weber Max had a close emotional bond with his mother but was deeply influenced by his father39s worldliness and success religious conflict between his parents caused Weber to have mixed feelings about religion that manifest in his scholarship though a nonbeliever he engaged in active intellectual and theological reflection on the subject Despite following his father s secular path Weber inquired into religion and morals Though deeply nationalistic Weber was repelled by the plan to fuse the Prussian state with religion on the other hand like his father he rejected some religious social movements as too soft and unrealistic the bitter relations between his parents upset Weber his father s highhanded dismissal of his mother s religious beliefs and activities wounded Weber in university he was both a model student and an active partier Weber Religion Explains Things Weber tries to turn the tables on the reductionists by showing how religion can be a cause acting on the world no other social theorists tried to challenge Marx for example in his reduction of religion to economics Weber claims that religion is not merely the effect of some other social economic or psychological factor rather religion can be used to explain things and acts as a kind of cause of other things Weber argues that religious forces play a part in forming our specifically modern culture Human life is an arena in which causes are part of the reality of things even religious causes Religion is a robust reality that acts as both cause and effect Religious Causes such religious causes are typically immaterial however since they relate to peoples beliefs and values Weber was most interested in the kinds of causes in human affairs that were ideal types such as values ideas beliefs For example there is likely a causal connection between a person s conception of the afterlife and their activities in this life here the religious conception shapes human activities to some extent Weber himself said ideas become effective forces in history Later he uses this principle to explain the chain of religious causation that ultimately lead to the development of modern capitalism Critics assume Weber s idealist thinking as a crude causality between pushes and pulls ideas exerting influence of human actions Weber s idealism attempts to understand the ways beliefs values etc make certain actions egitimate justified sanctioned such beliefs give people excuses or permission for doing what they do and defending it to others Weber believes that a person committed to the world would appeal to certain values to give their actions legitimacy activity in the world is legitimate for instance because God ordered it Religion supplies the most powerful legitimation divine duty Explanation to use religion to explain the rise of social institutions such as capitalism we must use interpretive methods to understand what the items in the chain of causation mean to the actors or believers this requires empathy for human subjects to understand how religious people see things Ideal types once understanding what things mean to actors and believers in social contexts on e should follow scientific practice necessary to construct a proper vocabulary of key terms for Weber such terms arequot ideal typesquot an ideal type is formed from characteristics and elements of a given phenomenon but does not correspond to all of the characteristics of any one particular case does not refer to perfect things or moral ideals but stresses certain elements common to most cases of the given phenomenon the word quotidealquot refers to the world of ideas not to perfection these quotideal typesquot are ideaconstructions Understanding verstehen besides explaining and classifying ideal type phenomena we must understand the role of religious emotions feelings and experiences play in causing an ideal type such as capitalism weber places importance on the psychological power of religious feelings esp in the personal sense of a quotcalling quotor vocation religious feelings emotions or experience play an important role in causing changes normally attributed to religion o unlike Durkheim et al he is not interested in the origins of religion but in grasping the place of religious experience in human affairs NOT interested in the religious origin but concerns the religious influence How the West Got Rich o Weber39s work centers on a series of questions quotproblems of religionquot o Weber wondered how religion was a quotCausequot for secular institutions specifically what place it had in the rise of modern capitalism unlike others Weber was not interested in finding the quotfirstquot or quotuniversalquot religion not interested in quotevolutionaryquot approaches to the study of religion how did the modern economy grow due to religion quothow did the West get richquot what made small countries like Belgium and the Netherlands so economically successful and large countries like China India not Values and The quotSpiritquot of Capitalism o people have radically different styles of life expressing different values o Weber expressed these different value orientations by pairing opposed values such as hedonismasceticism some people perhaps most value pleasure Weber calls them quothedonistsquot others such as monks penitents or religious ascetics value restraint or limiting pleasure Weber calls them quotAsceticsquot Weber also opposed the values of quotwordiness to other wordinessquot worldliness is behavior directed at this world other worldliness is behavior focused on a world beyond this one Worldly vs other worldly asceticism o Weber demonstrates that it is possible for there to be both worldly and other worldly hedonists and ascetics o in Christian terms Catholic monasticism represented a classic quototherwordyquot ascetic ideal type a retreat from the flesh and focus on a spiritual world beyond this one o Weber argues the ideal type of quotworldly asceticism quot is typical of the protestant values that give rise to capitalism o worldly asceticism focuses on goals of this world but inspired and guided by an ethic of selfdenial restraint and discipline For Weber the ideal type of capitalism is not merely the desire to be rich he looks at both subjective and objective factors outer techniques and inner attitudes Puritan Capitalism Religion and The Rise of Capitalism Weber claims there is a connection between religion capitalism and modern European civilization Weber points out that generally Protestants are more likely to be successful businessmen than Catholics he argues this is not because Protestants are more materialistic than Catholics In fact the most successful Protestant businessmen are often deeply religious Perhaps it is something about their Protestant religiously that causes their success In order to explore this idea he studies 2 most prominent Protestant theologians Martin Luther and John Calvin Martin Luther 14831546 the daily work of ordinary people in Catholic culture of medieval Europe received no special recognition People worked only for necessities Religious work of monks priests nuns was more important Monks etc are called to their work by God and will be rewarded in heaven Luther rejects that some believers are more religious than others everyone is equal before God Luther expanded the exclusive idea of a vocation to include everyone and their work Even the humblest tasks are assigned by God not only prayer etc John Calvin 15091564 While valuable Luther s idea of secular calling only hints at the link between capitalism and Protestantism Why did Protestants adopt a lifestyle of discipline thrift and self denial And why were they so successful John Calvin was a brilliant theologian who emphasized the doctrine of predestination God alone determines the fate of each human soul the elect are destined for heaven the reprobate for hell this doctrine created anxiety in Calvin s followers who were uncertain about their destiny after death stripped of medieval beliefs Protestants had no means of comfort Protestant Ethic Later Calvinist preachers tried to reassure their congregations advised them to live in the world frugally and soberly as faith requires lfthey lived like this they would prosper prosperity in simplicity could be taken as a sign of election Weber says this advice was very important to the economic future of Europe it caused a major change in attitudes about worldly effort and wealth acquisition In Catholicism prior to the Reformation pursuit of riches was viewed as avarice one of the deadly sins among followers of Calvin the pursuit of wealth gets new status what was a vice became a virtue human feelings experiences or emotions or ideas influence their behavior the way they act Time is money Sin is Sloth Aphorisms praising thrift and selfdiscipline found in early modern Protestant groups Sermons emphasize virtues of hard work investment restraint and evils of selfindulgence These homespun phrases reflect the spirit of capitalism with a moralisitic tone Weber called this new ethic innerworldly asceticism self denial within society This new selfmastery is just as ascetic and intense as the vows of medieval monks but occurs in the everyday world not outside it Spirit of Capitalism For Weber this new ethic of innerwordy asceticism is the spirit that drives modern capitalism Capitalism here doesn t mean any effort to gain wealth for selfindulgence A Protestant capitalist has no interest in luxuries and earns money to save it not spend it Success in making profit is a sign of divine election Saving money wealth leads to more wealth We must exhort all Christians to gain all they can and to save all they can that is in effect to grow rich John Wesley 17031791 founder of Methodist denomination Thus modern capitalism is a distinct phenomenon that arose in western Europe for historical reasons specific to Protestant faith and values However this spirit of capitalism religion is not the only cause Weber lists other ideatypes such as bookkeeping social structures labor etc that were also important influences these are patterns of rationalization despite its complex causation for Weber it is clear that capitalism could not have appeared without the Protestant ethic Disenchantment of the World Christianity and Protestant Ethic connected with rationalization and disenchantment Christian monotheism eliminates the gods of polytheism later Calvin and Luther removed Medieval Catholic supernatural elements from new Protestantism Magical beliefs and customs such as priestly absolution transsubstantiation etc thought to be satanic superstition o Thus Protestants left wo traditional mechanisms to soothe the soul or channel divine love Disenchantment 0 scientific and technological knowledge leads to what Weber calls inteectuaization 0 religion theology metaphysics pushed to the realm of the superstitious mystical or irrational o rationalization based in part on Puritan ethic and the acts it inspires based on disenchanted monotheism that reduces humans to mere tools of God s providence Rationalization o Calculable disciplined control over nature and humans is an unintended consequence of Puritan ethic of rigorous selfdiscipline 0 scientific and technical rationalization improved human mastery over nature and institutionalized discipline via bureaucratic administration legal formalism and industrial capitalism 0 on the other hand humans are reduced to a cog in the machine or trapped in an iron cage of rationalization Reenchantment via Disenchantment o Rationalization and disenchantment ushered in monotheism but ultimately undermine even monotheism and its unifying worldview o in the absence of such a unifying worldview there is a fragmentation into separate incommensurate value spheres o Weber identifies value spheres as domains of action oriented to specific values art politics religion erotic love wealth science each of which serves a god in its own right Polytheism of Values o Weber s theory of rationalization thus leads to 2 strikingly different consequences o Iron cage of bureaucratic petrification o Hellenistic pluralism of warring deities o Modern world has come to be monotheistic and polytheistic all at once o Thus the competing vaue spheres of money sex power knowledge health are nothing more or less than the disenchanted ancient polytheistic who are to be worshipped anew Mircea Eliade 1907 1986 Reality of the Sacred Background born in Bucharest Romania in 1907 Scholarly otherworldly disposition Studied Renaissance Mystics in Romania and Italy later discovered Hindu thought Hinduism s emphasis on spiritual union with the Supreme Soul left a lasting impression Studied with Indian scholar Surendranath Gupta in 1928 Studied mysticism and yoga with a guru in an ashram affiliated with the Iron Cross a Romanian society sympathetic to Nazism wrote his dissertation on Yoga went to France to teach studied with Swiss psychologist Carl Jung Eliade s two axioms strongly rejects reductionism argues that religion must always be understood on its own terms the irreducible element in religion that makes it unique is the sacred for Eliade religion is always a cause not an effect suggests a twofold methodology focusing on o history since students of religion must necessarily study the past o phenomenology a comparative study of religious phenomena Eliade thinks broad patterns in religion can be removed from their original context for comparison Eliade s intellectual program Eliade lays out his scholarly agenda over several books rather than in one main work His concept of religion is presented in The Sacred and the Profane His understanding of symbolism and myth is presented in Patterns of Comparative Religion His explanation of time and history is explained in The Myth of the Eternal Return Concept of Religion Sacred and Profane historians must step out of modern world to study archaic man Homo like Durkheim Otto et al Eliade emphasizes that such people live in a bifurcated world of sacred and profane the profane is the mundane ordinary aspects of everyday life the sacred Sacred is just the opposite it is supernatural and extraordinary the profane is random and chaotic the sacred is orderly and perfect Eliade develops Otto s idea of the holy For archaic people the sacred is power and ultimately reality or being Religious Regardless of tradition the role of religion is to bring humans into contact with the sacred the sense of the sacred is universal in all human beings at all times all humans are homines religiosi Even in secular societies this sense manifests through dreams and imagination For archaic people the sacred is everywhere it is crucial to their everyday lives sacred myths are not mere stories they are sacred archetypes that provide models for all sorts of ordinary activities Hierophany the appearance of the Absolute is called hierophany from the Greek words meaning to reveal the Holy The Sacred discloses itself to humans in various ways In mythic hierophanies the sacred appears in the form of ideal models the actions and commandments of gods heroes etc by manifesting as ideal models the sacred gives the world value direction and purpose hierophanies serve as foundational events for individual religions examples include Moses Muhammad Buddha etc Hierophany and Cosmos Archaic people follow the patterns set by the gods Villages temples and homes for instance must be built where a hierophany has occurred this is because that site received a blessing and is a center around which a world can be built in this way the encounter with the sacred founds the world or cosmos ordered place this insures that the village etc will not be relegated to the chaos of the profane but follow the blueprint of the gods sacred order real profane chaos illusion Axis Mundi and Imago Mundi in many cultures this center is marked with a mountain tree or vertical pole called axis mundi connects heaven earth amp undenivorld ie the sacred to the profane examples found in Buddhism Vedic Hinduism Mesoamerican religions etc This is the center for all the directions and spatial arrangement of the cosmos temples houses etc built on this same plan as a mirror image of the cosmos called Imago mundi Cosmogonic Myth and Ritual Archaic peoples place emphasis on cosmogonic myths ie creation myths whenever something new is begun there must be a reenactment of the origional myth in ritual thus sacred order is recreated in the profane chaotic realm according to Eliade archaic people don t wish merely to imitate the sacred realm they wish to be in it they feel profoundly separated alienated from the sacred which Eliade calls nostalgia for Paradise they can return by ritually reenacting foundational myths Archaic Religion Symbol and Myth sacred cannot be described in ordinary profane language can only be expressed in symbolic language poetry metaphor etc certain symbols resemble aspects of the sacred give a clue to the supernatural myths are sequences or systems of symbols in narrative form anything we encounter in ordinary life can become a religious symbol when the profane object is touched by the sacred hierophany it is transformed the transformed object participates in both profane and sacred realities Religious Myths and Symbols the natural and supernatural can coexist in a symbol because it is nonrational symbols and myth appeal to imagination and thrive on contradiction they affect the emotions will and subconscious of human beings like in dreams and fantasies religious experience encompasses paradox and contradiction religious imagination sees ordinary things as more than themselves Shinto Kami Sky Gods in archaic preliterate societies belief in a creator god who lives in the sky is almost universal the god is almost always male and conceived of as fertilizing the earth with his lifegiving rain in polytheistic religions skygods are associated with sovereignty sky conveys a sense of transcendence sometimes the sky gods the original creators are perceived as remote from human concerns the sky gods who are also storm gods are seen as being intimately involved in human affairs Son Gods son gods such as osiris and Dionysus also appeared in the age of agriculture their role was to suffer and die and then be reborn like plants although they were usually vegetal gods they developed human characteristics they demonstrate the continuity between human and cosmic cycles the reflect the cycles of nature as well as they the struggle of human life they reflect the drama of life and death and the hope for rebirth or redemption Overview We do not have direct access to the Absolute and cannot adequately express or describe experiences of it we are compelled to use human languages images gestures ie symbolic means to communicate such experiences Symbolic Communication 0 every living creature feels and responds to stimulus via gestures and sounds a primal form of such a response might be a simple utterance the cry or groan of a suffering animal is a sign of some motivated feeling these are signs of something not necessarily a sign to or for something humans are capable of abstracting from the immediate situation they form judgments concepts generalizing imagining fantasizing signs and symbols both convey meaning they point beyond themselves Signs and Symbols 0 the terms sign and symbol are often used interchangeably but must be distinguished o signs indicate the existence of a thing event or condition o symbols do not point to anything in our actual surroundings they are used to talk about things Religious Symbols many symbols are not necessarily intended to give us new information rather the symbol functions as a reminder of some information we already know a flag for example may remind us of all we already know in religious rituals for example bells incense chanting etc remind us of meanings and values that we already know religious expression is primarily symbolic because it points to a transcendent reality thus religious language is the language of metaphor poetry and myth Religious languages o First Order religious language is richly poetic in character o Second Order religious language seeks greater coherence by translating myth and symbol into concepts and doctrines o religious symbols brings together symballein images from ordinary experience iwht the Absolute Mster SymbolsRoot Metaphors 0 Certain religious symbols known as master symbols or root metaphors bring together in the sense of creating and maintaining communities o The Christian crucifix and the Reclining Buddha for example bring together rich complexes of spiritual meaning for their respective communities Religious Symbol System o religious symbolic systems can thus illuminate the deep sentiments and values of a community master symbols and root metaphors show that religions constitute an entire form of life this form of life is understood through penetrating these root metaphors Metaphor o a metaphor all flesh is grass war is hell God is love creates new meaning and insight by holding two things together metaphors create an isis not tension that avoids slipping into literalism yet the metaphor is not just a useful fiction it reveals a genuine truth Parable o Parable is an extended metaphor drawn from nature or common life that shocks its audience by its strangeness parables leave the mind in doubt about the meaning to incite it into active thought the impact of parable lies in its simplicity and authenticity StoriesNarrative o Parables are effective because they are stories they mirror the narrative quality of human experience human experience their lives in terms of past present future memory of the past and anticipation of the future unite our experience into a cohereny sequence of before and after ie a story Religious Myth o in modern usage the world myth has come to mean that which is untrue myth has long been associated with stories of the exploits of Greeks and Roman gods in Classical Rome and Greece these stories were criticized as tall tales scholars now reject the view that myths reflect prescientific error rather myth is seen as a multileveled form of symbolic communication myth can serve as a community s charter for its entire lifeworld it can explain or legitimize natural order or the community s institutions myth provides models by which we can envision an entire world myth shapes our sense of who we are myth also disclose and sanction models of behavior and moral norms myths portray how chaos impinges on our lives and what must be done to be saved from it myth is pervasive as a cultural form even today the works of Dante Shakespeare Milton Goethe and MEvie all demonstrate this for example John Steinbeck Albert Camus and William Golding all used themes from Genesis Definition of Myth o here is a serviceable definition of myth o Myth can be defined as a complex of stories some no doubt fact and some fiction which for various reasons human beings regard as demonstrations of the inner meaning of the universe EE EvansPritchard Background Edward Evan EvansPritchard prominent 20th cent anthropologist known as an antitheorist of religion very critical of earlier theorists of religion such as Tylor Frazer Freud Durkheim Marx Otoo etc excellent reputation as a field anthropologist lived many years with Zande and Nuer tribes in southern Sudan Africa learned their languages well attempted to understand their religion on its own terms tried to describe these religions from the inside Life amp Career son of a clergyman converted to Catholicism as an adult studied history at Oxford and Anthropology at London School of Economics determined to do fieldwork rather than simply study reports and myths deeply influenced by prominent anthropologists Seligman and Malinowski lived and worked for 2 years among Azande in Sudan wrote Witchcraft Oracles and Magic among the Azande in 1937 lived and studied among Nuer for 6 years wrote a 3part study of Nuer including a volume on their religion 1956 wrote Theories of Primitive Religion in 1965 Older Anthropology early Victorian anthropologists like Tylor and Frazer tried to form scientific theories based on comparing and classifying facts evoutionist inteectuaist individualist in their assumptions EvansPritchard provisionally accepts the scientific emphasis rejects evolutionism and individualism argued that theorizing about original humans was purely speculative however humans do attempt to understand the world in intellectual terms French Sociologists agreed with sociologists Durkheim etc who argued religion must be understood in terms of society an individual s framework for life languages customs beliefs is fixed by society Luclen LevyBruhi argued that primitive thought is not more immature than ours it is based on a different social system LevyBruhi described primitive thought as preogica does not follow our conception of logic and sequence early peoples are not childish or subhuman they are equally but differently mature and intelligent beings EvansPritchard takes this as his point of departure Empirical Anthropology Functionalism Anthropologist AR RadcliffeBrown borrows the functional theory of society from French sociology Primitive religion must be explained in relation to primitive class structure economics etc It is inappropriate to remove customs or beliefs from different cultures and compare them to form theory of primitive reigion Evans Pritchard agreed with these ideas EP feels anthropologists can t stay in the library anymore must get into the field Witchcraft Oracles Magic EP tries to understand how people deal with misforutne in each culture Classic study was Witchcraft among Azande Among Azande witchcraft is considered a major danger they believe witchcraft can be inherited or that a person can be a witch without knowing it causing harm unintentionally because of this danger effective means of diagnosing witchcraft are vital one method is through a poison oracle Azande use oracles to judge evidence in a legal court Anthropologists argue about similarities and differences between Traditional thought and science EP Magic is belief that certain aspects of life can be controlled by mystical or supernatural forces EP feels it is unacceptable simply to call primitive people irrational childish on the whole such people are intelligent and sophistocated if the logic of witchcraft and oracles were e for the Azande magic witchcraft exist side by side with science they don t conflict Magic provides a coherent explanation for misfortune and witchcraft etc serves other social purposes such as reducing violence Witchcraft provides a moral philosophy and embraces a value system that regulates human conduct the Azande cannot reason against or outside their beliefs since they have no other idiom in which to express their thoughts EP argues that this is like our own system in which certain beliefs are fundamental and beyond dispute Once values attitudes of the system are accepted others follow from them Witchcraft witchcraft beliefs enable people to feel that their misfortunes are not due to their own ignorance incompetence or bad luck but are due to people who can be identified and thenin uenced since the accused witch is someone who is perceived to exhibit antisocial behavior the witchcraft beliefs function to uphold the moral standards of Zande society EvansPritchard argues that LEvyBruh s argument that indigenous people exhibit a prelogica mentality was mistaken EvansPritchard also argues that Zande thought integrated mystical and natural conceptions of causation Nuer Religion EP s Nuer Religion is the last of a trilogy on the Nuer people of southern Sudan he presents Nuer religious thought and ritual as a theological system comparable to literate cultures he studies the mystic participation of humans with the natural and supernatural worlds this is considered in relation to Nuer concepts of God spirits the soul and ghosts symbols sin and sacrifice EP emphasizes the importance of translation of words and phrases but especially cultural experience God amp Spirits o Nuer religion centers on the concept of Spirit ie God kwoth and spirits kuth o God is the Spirit in the sky creator of all present in all things sustains the world o God controls everything misfortunes must be accepted 0 smaller misfortunes are seen as being the fault of the individual must be made right with God Besides God there are lesser spirits of the above who live in the air and can possess people as illness or as a prophet Spirits of the below connected with the earth totem spirits animals plants Religion and Social Order The hierarchy of these various spirits reflects the Nuer social structure Gods of sky earth totems fetishes etc correspond to specific clans or classes the lower the spirits or gods the more ritual activity associated with them Interaction with the high God kwoth nhial characterized by personal moral relations rather than ritual observance Although divine hierarchy is mirrored in the social hierarchy to some extent EP warns against reducing it to mere society Symbolism EP carefully analyzes Nuer language and symbolism particularly statements of identity eg metaphor LevyBruhi claims that seemingly contradictory statements such as I am a red parakeet are preogical and primitive Thru linguistic analysis he shows that such language is sophisticated poetic and not contradictory Not necessary to claim that the Nuer have primitive or prelogical mentalities EP argues earlier thinkers were inadequately informed about the people they studied Such people were capable of sophisticated symbolic language and thought Ghosts and The Soul Nuer believe 3 parts to human being 1 the flesh 2 the life breath 3 the soul intellect Body goes back to the earth life goes back to God soul lingers and disappears in Nuer religion only humans have souls this contradicts Tyor s animistic theory For Nuer souls and spirits are 2 different and opposed things Soul is part of humans and spirit always comes from outside one is not derived from the other as Tylor claims EP argues that although Tyor s theory seems reasonable in theory practical field experience is more reliable Theories of Primitive religion he expanded the ideas and criticism from Nuer Religion in his last major book Theories of Primitive Religion most theories of primitive religion were formed by people who had never seen one most assume that primitive religion is irrational nonscientific childish inferior early theories were either psychological or sociological their conclusions are pure speculation built from scraps of evidence from all over the world at least LevyBruhi sees that cultures must be understood from the inside Despite difficulties he still wishes to explain religion Theoretical Directions he discourages quest for origins of religion which cannot be found in any event better to attempt to explain observale facts in relation to other facts as part of a system of ideas and practice religious facts should be studied in terms of the culture and society in which they are found he argues for a relational study of particular religions and eventually crosscultural comparison of religions finally he suggests that researchers with some religious background may be better suited to comparative study than nonbelievers Clifford Geertz 1926 2006 Religion as a Cultural System Study of Religion in the university religion is an academic subject like psychology we do not try to understand the nature of God or the meaning of the universe religious studies classes may help you formulate your own ideas of religious truth but that is not the aim we seek to understand human beings through the study the religious dimension of human life how do we know what the Religious dimension is or what the word religious even means religion is not an object thing we must define it Religious experience some scholars define religion in terms of a particular experience religious expenence they use words like Sacred holy ultimate absolute to describe this expenence for most of these scholars religion need not refer to any supernatural being or higher power they say anything can be experienced as sacred ultimate etc any experience having this quality counts as religious Some may be convinced that it is an experience of God others may have such an experience looking at the Grand Canyon making love or just seeing a rock scholars don t agree exactly on the features that make an experience holy or sacred but this group of scholars generally agrees that religion refers to an extraordinary expenence for such scholars it is the individual s inner experience not the source of the experience that defines what is religion or religious Social Dimension of Religion other scholars take a different approach to religion focus on societies groups of people rather than individual experience they see an individual s experience as part of the individual s larger group family tribe nation etc o for these scholars religion is primarily the framework a group uses to understand its world amp guide its life this framework shapes every moment of the group s experience it is not extraordinary it does not transcend everyday life it is the foundation of everyday life c this approach used by social scientists such as Clifford Geertz Life and Background born in 1926 in San Francisco served in the Navy during WWII BA in Philosophy from Antioch College PhD in Social Anthropology from Harvard proponent of the value of fieldwork fieldwork in Java Bali and Morroco developed symbolic or interpretive anthropology that emphasized thick descnp on o taught at Berkeley University of Chicago Cambridge and finally Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton where Einstein taught a one of the most influential theorists of religion Thick Description o Geertz says anthropology should explain cultures through thick description 0 thick description specifies many details conceptual structures and meanings o Thin description a factual account without any context or interpretation is inadequate and misleading o For Geertz culture is context Geertz and Religion o he gives a definition of religion that many have borrowed adapted and employed in studying religion his definition is a starting place for understanding religion in a social scientific way 0 it suggests that individuals and groups may have religion even if no one believes in a god or afterlife 0 according to Geertz every group has a religion because it has some framework shared by all its members c this overall framework is to make sense out of life and guide behavior Definition of Religion o religion is 1 a system of symbols which acts to 2 establish powerful pervasive and long lasting moods and motivations in men by 3 formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and 4 clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that 5 the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic System of Symbols symbols can be pictures objects actions events relationships or anything that conveys meaning a BMV a recycling symbol or an American Flag all can be symbols these symbols all have meanings they convey some message about the nature of our world they teach us to understand our world in a particular way they shape our expenence they communicate something about our worldview a picture of how things are in the world these symbols also give messages about how to respond to our experiences they tell us how we ought to live communicate values ideals way of life Religious Symbols however such symbols are not religious symbols religious symbols persuade us that there is a direct connection between our worldview how the world is and our ethos how we should live religious symbols tell us that we ought to live in a certain way because the world is a certain way they also tell us that the world is well suited to the way we live worldview and ethos seem to fit together perfectly in religious symbols each reinforces the other peter Berger calls the combination of worldview and ethos nomos ie socially constructed ordering of experience Moods and Motivations Moods are the way we respond to and feel about the world motives are the things we aspire to amp values we hold these 2 make up our way of life or ethos because reality is constructed in a certain way we should feel a certain way and try to fulfill certain values religious symbols attempt to express that relationship religious symbols also express that since reality is constructed in a particular way those particular feelings are especially rewarding and those values can be fulfilled for example a Christian cross can communicate many messages it says smth basic about the way the world works crucifixion is required for resurrection there can be no new birth without a prior death things don t get better before they get worse this worldview implies particular values and ways of living for many Christians the cross symbolizes the idea of a sef denying life leading to ultimate happiness model for this is precisely because of the way the world works model of thus the cross evokes powerful religious moods and motives Concepts of General order of existence religious symbols try to persuade us that the way we live fits with nature of reality they try to assure us that both reality and our lives make sense that there is meaninful order rather than chaos in our lives usually we take this for granted sometimes however when crises arise the world doesn t make sense we must endure unwanted and undeserved suffering religious symbols may not eliminate the pain but they may make the pain endurable because they explain it the suffering is not the ultimate meaning of reality symbol reminds of larger reality in which suffering has meaning Aura of Factuality in order to endure crisis and suffering one must first embrace the symbol one must believe that the symbol does reflect and describe the overarching nature of reality one must believe that the lifestyle implied or required by the symbol is the only right way to live every society develops rituals to reinforce such belief ritual is a way of acting out a symbol that reflects the ultimate nature of the cosmos and way of life and how they fit together experienced as a group the world as lived and the world as imagined turn out to be the same world Uniquely Realistic function of ritual is to send one back to everyday life convinced that one s worldview and way of life are indeed good true fulfilling symbols and rituals work together to reinforce a sense of order which is the way society teaches to live and experience life thus religion undergrids and shapes ordinary everyday experience there is no contradiction between relgiious belief and common sense rather religious symbols and rituals are the foundation to what we call common sense Geertz s view of ritual there are many ways to interpret Christian baptism it is considered a spiritual washing ritual indicates before becoming Christian people are somehow dirty ie sinful the ritual makes claim about the world model of and human life model for only a special religious experience grace can wash away the sin Baptism expresses to Christians the way the world is dirty sinful and how it ought to be clean pure thus baptism tells Christians both how the world is and how to live their lives Secular Symbols what about secular symboscan they be considered Religious in comtemporary US do they reflect or communicate a sense of a larger more permanent reality that goes beyond the mundane here and now do they express a larger order than can give meaning to our lives in times of crisis orsu enng what do they tell us about our concepts of order our world values way of life do they tell us there is a proper fit between our worldview and way of life ethos what is our prevailing worldview and ethos do we have ways of ritually acting them out do we have just one worldview and ethos Background Geertz quotWanderedquot into the study of anthropology from the Humanities literature and phHosophy humanities background influenced his concern with faith belief sancity mystery world ivew sorcery propitation adoration of trees ctf Frazer sees himself as somehow continuing the analysis and description of myth magic ritual from earlier anthropologist such as Tylor Frazer etc eventually focused on theoretical empiral philosophical sectarian and especially practical issues in religion Anthropology of religion after wwll prior to WWII anthropology of religion focused on tribal and archaic beliefs and ceremonies Australia Africa ancient semites native american etc the assumption was that these provided the rudiments or elements of the socalled quothigh religionsquot after WWII anthropology of religion shifted what it was looking at and what it was looking for began to study contemporary quothigh religionsquot directly to place them in social historical and cultural context comparatve folkorists eg Frazer in search of origins and parallels became comparative ethnographers in search of meanin g how and how much does religion matter what is its appeal force why does it persist what are its imagery discipline fervor theatrics obsessiveness storytelling all about Anthropology of Religion quotParadigm Shiftquot this shift accompanied by a shift in anthropological attention from deserts and jungles to quotnewquot nations quotdevelopingquot countries such as India Egypt Brazil Indonesia anthropologists no longer catalogued and analyzed a single culture39s myths spirits rituals but massive historical complex economies and societies with multicultural populations languages texts institutions officials anthropologists trained in minutie of fieldwork now confronted entire civilizations needed revised theories on how to study inadequate terms like quotpluralismquot quotsyncretismquot quotcommunismquot used to describe the tumbling intricacy and intensity of things Geertz s Fieldwork Java o This tendency was clear in Java site of Geertz s first important fieldwork o traditions included Hinduism buddism 9th cent islam 14th Christianity 18th and indigenous popular religion of witchcraft and spiritism 0 these traditions were recognizable in themselves but complicated by interplay between local and world religions as well as social political economic factors post colonialism the Cold War etc o similar situations in India Nigeria Sri Lanka Central America Iraq SerboCroatia Philippines etc c this modern intricacy and complexity demanded a new methodology Theoretical Questions 0 the tacit question behind anthropological research into religion was always how do archaic cults and customs resemble our own notions of the divine holy numinous supernatural transcendent o in other words what is religion what is included in that rubric what are tis characteristics what is faith belief worship o how are we to name and classify cultural forms from other societies that are both similar and strangle and different from our own the definition problem what do we talka bout when we talk about religion Geertz says what we mostly talk about is meaning Definition of Religion 0 both the ordinary familiar commonsense categories such as belief practices attitudes imaginings and those we see as distant and unlike our own seem to do with purpose significance and meaning o one advantage of this aprroach is that one can use speculative tools of conceptions theories perspectives modes of discourse to sort our and connect the disparate factors of complex religious phenomena 0 Geetz wants to put anthropology into conversation with linguistics literary criticism psychology sociology and especially philosophy o wants to avoid defintiions that isloate universal of religion it ontologica transhistorica essence Cultural Systems meaning systems o Geertz emphasizes three aspects of religious symbolic systems to focus and order a comparative understanding of religion 1 Autonomy of meaning thesis meaning is not a subjective private matter it is public and social 2 Meaning is manifested and communicated through substantial symbolic devices like rites of passage passion plays equations etc which are its vehicles 3 religion and worship come into play as a response to the existential problem of meaning when our normal interpretations fail in the face of human finitude and unbearable or unjustificed suffering or evil DEfinition of religion o religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful pervasive and longlasting moods and motivation Geertz s religion stresses the way an individual or group s most comprehensive sense of order worIdview model of and the tone and temper of their lived lives ethos Model for reinforce and complete each other inrelgiious practice ritual ethics myth every pieties etc religion tunes human actions to an envisaged cosmic order and projects images of cosmic order onto the human plane of experience after presenting his theoretical approach Geertz returned to the field to study Islam in Morocoo Islam Observed JAva and Morocco Geertz wanted to compare how a great worId religion Islam worked in differernt ways in different settings how do comprehensive ideas of order some derived from Islamic texts some derived from local practices produce distinctive ways of being in the world however the close ties between large views and local circumstances were weakening due to the forces of modernity globalization etc connection between everyday life and deep collective notions of significance and purpose were becoming more elusive tenuous and uncertain leading to identity panic more in need of explicit conscious organzied support in the form of reformist or scripturalist movements religious political parties etc Secularization thesis in 2nd half of the 20th cent the study of religion in social sciences was largely a version of the secularization thesis that the rationalization of modern life is pushing religion out of public life into private personal realm spirits and gods still influenced marginalized and lower classes but they would never be the social political economic forces they had been Geertz disagreed The rise of Hindu nationalism engaged Buffhism Charismatic Christianity Islamic Fundamentalism etc is proof that active expansive assertive religion bent on dominion is growing not shrinking Modern Trends in the modern globalized world Geertz sees the major religions becoming disentanged from the people pacesa nd societies from whcih they were originally formed the emergence of a new either inherited or selfascribed religious persuasion as a negotiable mobile and fungible instrument of public identity a portable persona Migration and Global Dispersion the present movement is larger and more various more a general dispersion than a series of directed flows it is a migration of everyday believers of this variety or that this intensity or that across the globe 0 this scattering of individuals and familes born into locally rooted culturally particularized setting alters the climate of public belief and spiritual selfconsciousness both for those who move for those into whose midst they move and for those who are left behind o the religious history of more and more people and the selves they have inherited are out of context religious and religious mindedness 0 being a muslim abroad outside ones home society is a different matter than being one at home 0 living among non believers induces a certain amount of conscious reflection more or less anxious on what being a believer means on how properly to be one in a setting not historically prearranged to facilitate it 0 there can be a number of outcomes an ecumenical watering down of belief to render it less offensive to a religiously pluaralized or secularized setting a dividing of the self and the sef s life into vaguely communicationg inward and outward halves aturn toward a much more assertive and selfconscious belief in response to the perceived faithlessness of the new setting Study of Religion Overview the academic nontheological study of religion increased dramatically after the end of WWII in Europe North America and Asia this increase Iossely connected with rebuilding Europe and Japan break up pf European colonies rise of the Cold War quotGodless Communismquot etc other factors include population growth increased access to higher education travel and technology leading to greater crosscultural exposure in the US Supreme Court decision Abington vSchempp initiated the academic study of religion in State schools and universities UCSB Vietnam war increased interest in Asian religions Theoretical Beginnings Earliest theoretical study of religion performed by European scholars Later Study also developed in North America particularly at U of Chicago with Eliade J Kitagawa Charles Long Eiade s influence throughout the discipline from 1960s1990s based on his grand theory of all religion Although Eliade referred to his method as History of Religions hs approach was a continuation of Phenomenology of Religion Other influential scholars include Ninian Smart Methodological Agnosticism and Wilfred Cantwell Smith World Theology Similar developments in Asia India Africa etc Anthropological Turn Although Eliade Smart et al were influential in their time no major development of their thought Instead there has been major criticism especially of Eliade coming primarily from anthropologists Eliade claimed to study archaic peoples anthropologists have actually done fieldwork that refutes or undermines his conclusions Also anthropology has become the source for several new theories and methods in the study of reliigon important figures over the last 50 years include Claude Levi Strauss Clifford Geertz Victor Turner and Mary Douglas LeviStrauss Structuralism Levi Strauss applied structural linguistics to anthropology he suggests that the structure of human thought processes is the same in all culutres these mental processes exist in the form of binary oppositions male female nature culture raw cooked etc one may discover underlying thought processes by examining such things as kinship myth and languages a hidden reality exists beneath all cultural expressions aim is to understand the underlying meaning involved in human thought as expressed in cultural acts Victor Turner Liminality Turner developed the concept of the Liminal inbetween in his analysis of rites of passage in rites of passage the initiate is neither child or adult is betwixt and between also used the idea in his studies of ritual in general and in pilgrimage related to concept of communitas a minimally structured liminal period for a society rather than an individual turner s research provided scholars with language to describe changes that occur in individuals and societies Mary Douglas Purity and Danger Douglas was influenced by Structuralism argued that dirt and pollution were not the result of natural experiences rather they reflect the inability to fit certain items into established categories dirt is essentially disorder there is no such thing as actual dirt it exists in the eye of the beholder Dirt offends order to try and clean it represents an attempt to organize the enviornment and restore order JZ Smith Imaging religion smith argues there is no such thing as religion rather there is culture a few aspects of culture have been arbitrarily singled out and labeled Religion religion is solely the creation of the schoar s study it is created for the schoar s analytic purposes by his or her imaginative acts of comparison and generalization Smith feels religion should not be reduced to its Essence but treated in poythetic terms loose bundles of features Postmodernism Smith s work intersects with history of religions anthropology and forms of critique known as postmodernism the modes of critique include postcolonial poststructural and feminist orientations a number of French thinkers from the 1960s and 70s were influential in their development Michael Foucault and Jacques Derrida probably the most influential and controversial Jacques Derrida Deconstruction derrida developed strategy of deconstruction a critique of the Western philosophical tradition seeks to expose and subvert various binary oppositions that undergird our dominant ways of thinking presenceabsence speechwriting etc concerned with textual interpretation to find hidden alternative meanings in the text main target of deconstruction is metaphysics of presence metaphysics creates dualistic oppositions and installs a hierarchy that privileges one term of each dichotomy derria and deconstruction39s impact has been felt more in theology than religious studies calls totalizing discourses such as God into question recent attempts to reconcile these 2 Michel Foucault Knowledge and Power many postmodern thinkers concentrate on language for them language creates the world cannot escape it foucault developed a critical mode oriented toward social historical and ethical reflection he examines the way knowledge and power are mutually implicated powerful institutions and people create knowledge that perpetuates their pwoer powerknowledge controls discourse by defining and controlling the marginal Foucault exaimnes hospitals the military prisons and schools madness and sexuality parallel ideas were feminism and postcolonialism PostColonialism derrida and Foucault thought within the scope of European intellectual and political history Scholars such as Gayatri Spivak directed this way of thinking in a postcolonial direction examines the marginalization of women and people of color Edward Said s Orientalism extends Foucaut s project beyond Europe Examines how Orientaism as an academic and political discourse imagines and defines the Middle East for ideological purposes such were not accurate representations but a creation of an other in relation to a European self Feminism many women who had excluded from higher education began to examine how academic discourse including religious discourse centered on men such mancentered discourse appears as an instrument of control it is fairly obvious that religion has served to subordinate and control women for example the hiring practices of the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Synagogues Theologians such as Mary Daly Beyond God the Father questioned the androcentrism in Western religions New Fields of Study Theology and phenomenology have largely been displaced by critical methodologies academic study of religion has become more attuned to the production of knowledge and power these movements have opened up new fields and methods in the past study of religion was heavily focused on texts but contemporary scholars are likely to focus on other data field studies communication media comic books ritual practice etc also there is a deemphasis on the authoritative interpretations of religions which represent plays for power and domination Science Returns social scientists and psychologists have studied religions closely over the years the attitude within the field has been that study of religion should attempt to understand other people s meanings not provide reductive causal explanations in the 1990s scientific currents began to grow in the study of religions such as Economics of religion another influential trend is the use of cognitive science to interpret religious phenomena some study the physiology of mystical experiences or temporary lobe epilepsy and religious experience at the moment there are 2 camps in religious studies cultural studies and scientific studies Final reflections many tensions exist in today s field of religious studies cultural studies v natural sciences theology v religious studies East v West rich v poor in all areas of inquiry the question of a schoar s personal religious commitment continues to reappear scholars with religious commitments are able to receive money and support for scholarship from religiously affiliated foundations thus influencing the resulting and field as a whole with the shift between elite to mass universities comes a shift away from education rooted in the humanities to advanced technical training rooted in the sciences students are looking for skills to enhance job prospects position of study of humanities and religion is precarious
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