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Agenda Recap A Brief Overview of the History of the Anthropology of Religion 19 th Century setting Tylor and Animism RR Marett and Animatism George Frazer and Magic. Anthropological Perspectives on Religion. Holistically Objectively Relativistically Comparatively
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1) The study origin
2) The study of function
3) The study of meaning
"Much light will be shed on the origin of man and his history. p. 459"
There is in England at this moment an intellectual interest in religion, a craving for real theological knowledge, such as seldom has been known before...the more educated part of the religious world are becoming less and less satisfied with old opinions' (Tylor 1868).
“ancient savage “philosophers” - impressed by two groups of biological problems:
a spirit or soul, derived from the experience of human souls or spirits in `dreams and waking hallucinations' is thought to `animate' lifeless objects such as sticks or stones, trees, mountains, rivers, etc.
“belief in spiritual beings” = animism
continuance doctrine of life after death replaced by the retribution doctrine
The idea of “primitive monotheism”
This member of the Iban tribe of Malaysia believes that the skull held here possesses mana.
THE GOLDEN BOUGH: A STUDY IN COMPARATIVE RELIGIONtraced the evolution of human behavior, ancient and primitive myth, magic, religion, ritual, and taboo. The study appeared first in two volumes in 1890 and finally in 12 volumes in 1911-15. It was named after the golden bough in the sacred grove at Nemi, near Rome.
Contagious Magic,proceeds upon the notion that things which have once been conjoined must remain ever afterwards, even when quite dissevered from each other, in such a sympathetic relation that whatever is done to the one must similarly affect the other. Thus the logical basis of Contagious Magic,…is a mistaken association of ideas; its physical basis, if we may speak of such a thing, … is assumed to unite distant objects and to convey impressions from one to the other. The most familiar example of Contagious Magic is the magical sympathy which is supposed to exist between a man and any severed portion of his person, as his hair or nails; so that whoever gets possession of human hair or nails may work his will, at any distance, upon the person from whom they were cut. This superstition is world-wide;
"If religion has given birth to all that is essential in society, it is because the idea of society is the soul of religion."(Durkheim 1912: Elementary Forms of the Religious Life)
A religion.Constitutes the union of beliefs and rites
Problem: this definition includes a body of facts ordinarily distinguished from religion -- i.e., magic
" 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."
Clanspeople of the crow believe they are descended form the Dreamtime's crow spirit who became a man.
In the pre-Buddhist religion such as animism, tree worship was widespread among indigenous races of Myanmar. Tree god was revered as benefactor friend. Other natural phenomena such as mountain, lake, river, rain etc were also respected and paid homage not only because of their utility for human beings, but also because of their sacredness as they were believed to be the abodes of benevolent spirits.