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REL 100-920 Module 3 Notes (Week 3)

by: Emily Ellis

REL 100-920 Module 3 Notes (Week 3) REL 100

Marketplace > University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa > REL 100 > REL 100 920 Module 3 Notes Week 3
Emily Ellis

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About this Document

These notes cover chapter 3 in our text and briefly go over our powerpoint slides as well as the readings.
Intro To Religious Studies
Mary Rebecca Read-Wahidi
Class Notes
Essentialism, essentialists, Animism, Essence, Holy, Goodness
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Emily Ellis on Thursday September 8, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to REL 100 at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa taught by Mary Rebecca Read-Wahidi in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views.


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Date Created: 09/08/16
Thursday, September 8, 2016 REL 100-920 (Module 3 Notes) “The Essentials of Religion” Essentialism- the approach that assumes an enduring identity, core, substance, or essence that lurks deep within objects, making them what we ay they are Edward Burnett Tylor • 19th century anthropologist • wrote “Primitive Culture” which was published in 1871 • he said that an immature definition of religion limits it to a private, intellectual activity, aka, religion = believing in this or that without emphasis on behavioral or social factors • religion is private Emile Durkheim • influential sociologist • wrote “Elementary Forms of Religious Life” • said religion is a collective things where a unified group called a Church agree upon practices that are relative to sacred things - set apart and forbidden - to show that the idea of religion is inseparable from the Church • religion is public • Where did Tylor’s idea stem from? • a philosophically idealist era in European history when one’s membership in certain groups was thought to be dependent on whether one BELIEVED IN something rather than membership resulting from collective behaviors • Today, however, we have the riff in the spiritual vs. religious definition • People will say “I do not participate in unthinking rituals and pointless institution …. I am on a personal quest” 1 Thursday, September 8, 2016 Keys to Tylor’s Essentialism • outward characteristics of religion = secondary, external aspects (historical accidents) …instead of trying to identify the deeper motive that underlies them, like a belief in spiritual beings identifies the one essential feature or substance without which something would not • be what it is… Tylor’s attempt to account for what he saw as universal belief in spiritual beings • uses inductive reasoning method to compare a number of empirical examples, looking for underlying similarities Key Essentialists Rudolf Otto (1869-1937) • German Protestant theologian • “the idea of the holy” (1917) • religions identify by feeling of awe and fascination in the presence of mysterious tremendum (compelling, yet reeling mystery of it all) Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) • German theologian • essence of REL was the “feeling of absolute dependence” Gerardus van der Leeuw (1890-1950) • Dutch phenomenologist • essence of REL is “power” Paul Tillich (1886-1965) • early 20th century theologian • essence of REL as “an ultimate concern” 2 Thursday, September 8, 2016 William James (1842-1910) • late 19th century psychologist of REL • essence of REL is experience to “religious geniuses” that, once expressed, taught, reproduced, and institutionalized, it was prone to deteriorate Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) • historian of religions • essence of REL as the experience of the sacred (which he defined as those that are not profane) • Essentialists name something as REL, if and only if, it possesses a certain quality or trait Remembering Mary Douglas- dialogue trying to define the essence of “eusebia” is set within a context full of conflicts over rank and power Defining by example: Are definitions and examples the same? • Greek Euthyphro answers “what is piety?” with “doing what I am doing now” (prosecuting criminals) aka not very pious Socrates looks for the ESSENCE of piety • **Questions to ponder from Socrates** Is something pious because the gods love it, or do they love it because it is pious? SO… Is religion a function of human behavior, needs, and interests, or does it have an essence? 3 Thursday, September 8, 2016 Phenomenology- the investigation of that which is observable - limits itself to describing rather than explaining experience • the study of that which appears or presents itself Criticisms of Phenomenology • not objective enough • too objective too abstract or ahistorical • J.Z. Smith: Essence • a term usually taken to mean what a thing “is” intrinsically • what attributes or characteristics must be found in a particular thing if it is to belong to a certain kind • is distinguished from accidental attributes Animism- an obsolete term employed to describe belief systems of traditional peoples that appear to hold that phenomena have spirits or souls • coined by Tylor in 1871 & should be used with caution The Holy- generally meaning completely good absolute moral attribute denoting the consummation of moral goodness • there’s a little “extra” in the meaning of “holy” - above and beyond the meaning of goodness 4


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