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Academic disciplines each analyzed religion differently, as did the religions themselves. Psychologists: James, Freud, Jung. Philosophers: Hume, Kant, Fries, Otto. Economists Marx, Weber. Western Classical Traditions: Middle Eastern: Semitic, Persian, European: Greek, Roman.
James, Freud, Jung
Philosophers: Hume, Kant, Fries, Otto
Frazier, Tylor , Levi-Strauss, Geertz
Comte, Durkheim, Berger, Stark
Indian, Chinese, Japanese
Women’s studies: Tavris & Gross, Saiving
1. The human confrontation with the frightening power of nature, which creates the need to seek a means of control.
2. The tendency to anthropomorphize, which leads people to address natural powers as if they were human.
1. People in primitive cultures have dreams of recently deceased individuals and assume that the figure seen in the dream is the person.
2. Since they also dream of living people, they reify this dream-image into a spirit detachable from the living person.
3. Since these spirits are detachable, then theoretically spirits may exist that do not inhabit physical bodies at any time. Hence, they can be divinities or other spirits.
Animism also stands at the root of all mythology. Primitive people develop stories that help to explain why they behave in certain ways. For Tylor, myths are explanatory, not literary.
(Easter bunnies, Christmas trees).
2. Survivals could not be valorized in their own right because they no longer made sense. For Tylor, the word was equivalent to “superstition.”
3. Tylor concluded that all of religion, as a belief in spiritual beings, was a survival that had no real place or function in the modern world but instead held on simply from custom and habit.
Tylor assumed primitive and modern man are basically the same, but culture and understanding are progressing. He called it “cultural evolution”
Tylor posited the idea that religion was a stage in the progress or evolution in human understanding.
1. The Theological Phase
2. Metaphysical or Abstract Phase
(philosophical/abstract concepts replaces religion)
3. The Positivistic (Scientific) Phase:
discovering the practical science of the social replacing misguided abstarct thoughts
Positivism was a rejection of metaphysics.
Several subsequent thinkers read and admired Comte’s analyses of history and religion: Freud, Marx, and especially Émile Durkheim.