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Regit
04-22-2006, 01:00 AM
I've just finished reading "The Elementary Forms of Religious Life" by Emile Durkheim. He tries to understand religion by observing the practices and behaviour of ancient societies, and here focuses on the Australian Aborigines. He conludes that, as a theory of primitive religion, totemism prevails over naturism and animism. Meaning that religion is shaped by social structure and experience, not by interaction of men with nature or of the individual with himself. Thus, all modern religions must also be constructed by social reality and can be studied and analysed through the careful study of history. From this he goes on to conclude that all knowledge is socially constructed. (This kind of steps on the toes of the doctrine of Nationalism, which is among Durkheim's main criticisms I think. But he makes it clear that he's talking strickly about religion and not nations)

My question is: Is religion socially constructed? Please give me your opinions. Thank you.

I apologise if my question offends anyone. I think if we view something scientifically, that we will have a better chance of learning about ourselves. Though this is, by no mean, a claim that it is always right to do so.

Nightshade
04-22-2006, 03:25 AM
Interesting...humm this is really just so I dont forget to reply...maybe I need to read that book?

:D

Schokokeks
04-22-2006, 05:45 AM
I think society and hallmarks of a society definetely have a great share when it comes to the concept of religion.
Leaving aside natural religion (that I know very little about) and concentrating on modern views, Marx' critique of religion comes to my mind, maintaining that religion is a sort of narcotic to people - on the one hand indicating the poor (social) conditions that they live in requiring some consolation by a supernatural belief, and on the other hand providing some alleviation of their misery by trusting one's fate to the hands of an almighty Godfather. Thus, Marx' position seems to second that
all modern religions must also be constructed by social reality and can be studied and analysed through the careful study of history. Lenin even ventured to take one step further, holding that religion is opium for the people, implying that any sort of government might use it for manipulative purposes.
I find that the interelation of society and religion can also be illustrated very clearly when looking at the structure of the Roman Catholic Church, for example, still not allowing woman to hold any kind of ecclesiastic office as it was long custom with regard to any official position in society.

Regit
04-22-2006, 10:25 AM
I think that the three theories of primitive religion (naturism, animism, and totemism) focus on the spirit and the formation of the spirit. It is also based on this formation that Durkheim rejects the other two and accepts totemism. I'll try to give a small summary (it's not the best read I've ever had, Nightshade :) ):

Naturism is the belief in the spirit of nature. Man tried to “designate the different forces of nature only by those manifestations that most resembled human actions." (this is a quote from the book). So nature has characters and souls. And since man was also in awe of nature, nature's soul becomes a spirit to be worshiped. The classic example of naturism is that of the ancient Greeks. Zeus: Lightening, Apolo: the sun, etc. Durkheim rejects this because simply and frankly, he argues, that this belief was a mistake: Nature does not have a soul and does not resemble human.

Animism is the belief that every man sees another form of himself (Duality of Man, Durkheim calls it) which he, over repeated experiences, calls his soul. When he sleeps, sometimes his soul escapes him. This theory explains the creation of the spirit by death. Death turns the man's soul into a spirit that is worshiped. Durkheim rejects this because, just as Naturism is lacking in the human elements, animism is in the natural. Thus, religion cannot be based on such vague images and concept. Furthermore, Death does not seem enough to be the difference between "the sacred and the profane".

Totemism: The worship of a totem, chosen to represent the people, the name, and the god of a primitive clan (very similar to Nationalism). It explain that, thus, the religion of each clan is built upon the social behaviours and practices and bears the characteristics of each clan. Durkheim argues that society is the only thing that resembles both the human and the natural, the internal and the external elements of human life. It's not based on mistaken believes.

Thank you for mentioning Marxism, and Lenin's idea of religion; I must look more into that.

During the course of reading, I really got into Durkheim's argument and thinking (to try and understand it more than anything). So I don't know if my opinion right now would be my real opinion. But my initial reaction is that I agree with Durkheim. As you said, social reality must have a lot to do with any human system. Though, how much sociology does the study of religions tolerate, when does it simply stop addressing religion? Is religion just another human construction or need we also consider the supernatural elements?

I think it's quite an intersting topic, looking forward to hear more opinions. Thank you.

Xamonas Chegwe
04-22-2006, 10:34 AM
Regit,

Don't you mean Naturalism? Naturism is like Nudism - something a little different to what you're describing! :nod:

Regit
04-22-2006, 10:37 AM
No, I was also very confused when I looked it up (and also had a good laugh with my reading partner :lol: ). But it's definitely naturism. :) As a philosophical doctrine, it means something completely different (as most words do when philosophers start using them)

Stanislaw
04-22-2006, 02:58 PM
I find that the interelation of society and religion can also be illustrated very clearly when looking at the structure of the Roman Catholic Church, for example, still not allowing woman to hold any kind of ecclesiastic office as it was long custom with regard to any official position in society.

Women can become nuns.

Now to the question:

here is an interesting thing, now one can assume that religion is divinely inspired and therefore does not feel the effects of mans meddling, or is infact an evolutionary type response to discovery and such in the world. This is a difficult question to answer. I think that perhaps true, and pureform religion has merit, and is infact unchanged, and therefore was always there, however, the interference of man, and mans mingling with religion has caused a sort of evolution, or more acuratly a warping or a change in what is considered religion.

Regit
04-22-2006, 04:03 PM
This is a difficult question to answer. I think that perhaps true, and pureform religion has merit, and is infact unchanged, and therefore was always there, however, the interference of man, and mans mingling with religion has caused a sort of evolution, or more acuratly a warping or a change in what is considered religion.

Does this suggest that if man never existed, there would still be religions? It's an interesting thought. In this case, though, there must be only one single form of true religion originally. The complexity of human society would make this pure form of religion develop in so many directions and become unpure. So in fact the study of sociology would be for the purpose of understanding the development of religion in order to undo the interferences we made to it? I think you raise a good point.

However, what we call religion is based on the practices of worshiping a spirit. What would be the spirit of this single true religion? And if it can exist without man, who would worship it? I think that religion itself is a human conception, and must have been created by human...society.

Stanislaw
04-22-2006, 05:51 PM
However, what we call religion is based on the practices of worshiping a spirit. What would be the spirit of this single true religion? And if it can exist without man, who would worship it? I think that religion itself is a human conception, and must have been created by human...society.

Well the idea of religion, or more acuratly the term indicates a means of believeing in a supernatural force. I think a true religion can be disserned, or perhaps can be apporached if all of the religions in our world are analyzed, I think it is quite possible to have an ideal true religion without humans, but our understanding, or rather attempt at understanding it has corrupted it...just as one cannot fathom the dao.

I think religion is perhaps more than our simple two dimensional definition of it, it is more of an ideal undescribable, acuratly atleast.

jackyyyy
04-22-2006, 08:30 PM
I wondered the question: If time is a perception created by humans (most seem to agree this (in another thread (not so far away))), then is religion a perception, or not?

Regit
04-22-2006, 09:11 PM
Hi Jackyyyy, nice to meet you.

What do you mean exactly by "perception"? Do you mean that it is a concept relative to each individual? This is very reasonable and I support this view. But this does not necessarily contradict the theory of a Supernatural religion (I understand you never actually suggested that it might). Even if it is closely relating to and is unique to each individual, it must still have an origin: from nature, from within the individual himself, from his society, or, as Stanislaw suggests, from the Supernatural. Durkheim has very convincingly dispelled the first two. What he cannot disprove, however, is that religion might really be an eternal value that is beyond the conprehension of science. - Though this might mean that it would be futile trying to study it, since we can never understand it without corrupting it further, thus, go even further from understanding it by doing so. 'Tis a real dilemma. :)


The term indicates a means of believeing in a supernatural force. I think a true religion can be disserned, or perhaps can be approached if all of the religions in our world are analyzed, I think it is quite possible to have an ideal true religion without humans, but our understanding, or rather attempt at understanding it has corrupted it.

As I just said above, I don't think that if, in fact, religion was true and pure and beyond human then analysis of all religions in the world can bring us any closer to it, or any form of scientific research for that matter. I think this is because even if the original religion is divine, the social factor that exists in the human "idea" of religion is too great. Thus the study of all religions will only benefit the understanding of ourselves. And thus, whilst trying to achieve this task, we assume that it is a human concept that can be studied. As for the Supernatural, we must rely on faith and not studies.

PS. Jackyyyy, I'm not sure that I agree that time is a perception (since I used to be an obssessed physics student :) ) Maybe I'll join that "time" thread and be an outlaw :D.

alter-native
04-23-2006, 01:31 AM
Hi just came across an article from a news paper,



"There's The Rub : Great religions

First posted 10:55pm (Mla time) Aug 18, 2004
By Conrado de Quiros
Inquirer News Service



Editor's Note: Published on page A10 of the August 19, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

I'VE followed with much interest the debate between feminists and representatives of the Church, notably Bishop Oscar Cruz, following the Vatican's letter, written mainly by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, castigating feminists for their views. I found last Sunday's Talk of the Town riveting in that respect, though I felt a little frustrated from the brevity of the articles. I guess the subject is far too complex to be exhausted by, or merely done justice with, a few remarks.

I'll add my two cents' worth to the talk of the town. I take off from a passage in Amaryllis Torres' article ("The Church reinforces women's subordination"), which is a quote from a statement by a group of Asian religious women that met in Manila in 1985: "As Church people, we have come to realize that the highly patriarchal churches have definitely contributed to the subjugation of women. We unearthed theological premises, traditions and beliefs that have prevented us from becoming fully human and have blurred
the image of God that we are."
....
You wonder where Ratzinger spent most of his life. Never has "in the convent" seemed more apt.

jackyyyy
04-23-2006, 08:21 AM
Hi Jackyyyy, nice to meet you.

What do you mean exactly by "perception"? Do you mean that it is a concept relative to each individual? This is very reasonable and I support this view. But this does not necessarily contradict the theory of a Supernatural religion (I understand you never actually suggested that it might). Even if it is closely relating to and is unique to each individual, it must still have an origin: from nature, from within the individual himself, from his society, or, as Stanislaw suggests, from the Supernatural. Durkheim has very convincingly dispelled the first two. What he cannot disprove, however, is that religion might really be an eternal value that is beyond the conprehension of science. - Though this might mean that it would be futile trying to study it, since we can never understand it without corrupting it further, thus, go even further from understanding it by doing so. 'Tis a real dilemma. :)Good to meet you too. I was not sure I wanted to get into this type of debate for lots of reasons, but the proximity of this and the time debate struck me.

I was toying between the words, 'perception', 'conception', and then 'inception', to see the relationship between them. I mean't above, and simply, can it be established that religion is a perception or conception of human origin, the same as time. Personally, I think its established, but I posed it as a question rather than a statement, to be on the safe side. 'human perception/conception', is on an individual basis. All humans perceive and conceive differently. And, kind of like a language debate we had on this forum recently, I find myself repeating; like minded humans can think roughly the same way, form their own collective, then brand it through education and other means.

The other question of a supernatural (above nature) is, I think, an entirely different question. I can easily rationalize a supernatural, that beget the natural (it had to come from somewhere, even its all atom based, and even if it was nothing). I have been toying with an AI project for some years, where I have found it is vital to gauge reception, perception (which may become conception) against reality (and whose reality).

I also wonder if, the 'supernatural' is beyond our comprehension today, but may not be in the future. 'Fire' came from nature, until caveman could light his own. But, because caveman also came from nature, its still from nature.

Chinaski
04-23-2006, 11:02 AM
I'm relaxing and it's Sunday, so I ain't getting in to this, but I really enjoyed 'The Elementary...' and I once wrote an essay on just that question. I was also reading the Gonzo philosopher Robert Anton Wilson at the time , and all his (or rather Tim Leary's) stuff on reality tunnels seemed to fit. I probably chucked in a bit of assorted Post-Modernist stuff and came up with a right corking read - and got a monster grade for it! Ah, those were the days!

I would send you a copy - but not got any of my old work on PC and would the scanner is knacked!

If you got any more specific points, I'd love to chat/comment?

Regit
04-23-2006, 11:51 AM
Hi just came across an article from a news paper

Hi alter-native, thank you very much for the article.

This certainly presents another angle of approaching this subject. The author seems a little uncertain to make any solid conclusions to contribute (understandably, since he doesn't know that he's in this discussion). Though I think I would be right to assume that, in the context of this discussion, he suggests that Religions, including great religions, are created by men (as opposed to women). For why would women create something that would make them inferior to men?

I assume that his argument is reasonable, because I don't want to be caught up in a discussion about feminism and stray off topic. The question I pose to him is, then: why is this characteristic (that of the inferiority of women) consistent in all great religions?

It must be because this characteristic is also dominantly present in all of the societies in which these religions were created. In other words, in all of these societies, women had inferior roles. Thus, 'tis the structure of these societies that has shaped their religions. And thus Durkheim's theory remains in tact. Though this does not mean that this is what Durkheim suggests. Because if indeed these religions were all created mainly by men, then they would only represent the thinking and reason of men, not a whole society. And therefore it would be void to draw conclusions from the studies of these religions as to the formation of all knowledge. This is exactly why Durkheim sets out to study the most primitive form of religion he could find, and not the "great religions".

Again, this is under the assumption that the author is right. I know many willing female members of many faiths who would oppose this feminist view of religion. I think that this article uses religions to put across the feminist view rather than the other way around (which is fine for its purpose), since the arguments or, perhaps more accurately, examples about religions were quite one-sided. As the author himself states about another article: "the subject is far too complex to be exhausted by, or merely done justice with, a few remarks," so I do about his. However, I think that this article suggests a valid point about religions that is worthy of discussion.

Thanks again alter-native.

jackyyyy
04-23-2006, 11:55 AM
Chinaski, I didn't want to get into it any day of the week, but here we are. I have not read "The Elementary..", but I agree with Regit's post #1, that religion is socially constructed. I will add that other forces can come into play, social is not alone. A single individual claiming something does not stand a chance. However, and how many times have we seen this in history, a social 'leader' can influence his circle. I believe the same is true of language, culture and education, not to mention physical attributes that accrue. My next question, because I might worry if I made it a point, is: with the social convergence of the 21st Century, is it possible that one religion will dominate one day, leaving waste all others? Bear in mind, rise and fall of many religions over the last gerzillion years. And, if one religion were to succeed all others, which would it be. I am going to hide now... :banana:

Regit
04-23-2006, 12:36 PM
I'm relaxing and it's Sunday, so I ain't getting in to this, but I really enjoyed 'The Elementary...' and I once wrote an essay on just that question.
If you got any more specific points, I'd love to chat/comment?

Hope you're enjoying the weekend Chinaski,

You read this book in University? Perhaps you have a more accurate view of it than I do, because I only read it out of interest (and struggled a little to be honest). It would be great to hear more discussions from you...though definitely not today :)

There was another point Durkheim made, which I think is a major point, and I think might help support a point I made in my previous post: "And therefore it would be void to draw conclusions from the studies of these religions as to the formation of all knowledge."

He explains how he chooses a primitive religion to study, in other words what, to him, qualifies as a primitive religion. The most primordial religious systems, according to Durkheim, are ones found in the earliest and simplest of societies, and can be described without borrowing concepts from earlier religions. Because, as alter-native's article rightly suggests, the social bias is too great in the creation of modern religions. So there are two main qualities required in a primitive religion: 1. Formed in a simple society (hence with less bias?), and 2. Formed without borrowing ideas of earlier religions. (From this qualification, he develops a threefold test to test whether a theory of primitive religion is correct. I can try to summarise it later).


I mean't above, and simply, can it be established that religion is a perception or conception of human origin, the same as time.


Yes: Time, religion, and, in fact, all knowledge are socially constructed. This is what Durkhiem ended up concluding after his studies of the Aborigines (I think this becomes a major sociological claim, heavily criticised, but also heavily relied on). Though I hesitate to conclude myself that this is the same as perception...meaning that I wouldn't :D. I think knowledge is much wider than perception, and perhaps perception helps forming knowledge. But to me society embodies much more than the collective perceptions of individuals. Hope this makes sense; I can try to develop this point further.

jackyyyy
04-23-2006, 01:16 PM
I think knowledge is much wider than perception, and perhaps perception helps forming knowledge. But to me society embodies much more than the collective perceptions of individuals. Hope this makes sense; I can try to develop this point further.Yes, it makes sense, and if I may, established knowledge from concept, may then evolve to law (scientific or legally accepted fact) in that society. Another thing crossed my mind, and relevant to religious texts, is 'burden of proof'. For perception to evolve to knowledge requires proof, reasonable proof or concensus of proof (a vote). Therefore, does knowledge (fact based) discount religion where no reasonable fact exists? I am toying with this because legal systems also differ between societies. With what basis is fact based, and if enough people see a law as unreasonable, then will it be discounted, and the contrary is also true - a religous fact will be accounted. I don't know if I worded that well, but I think the gist is in there.

I wanted to add about 'time'. Time is also a measurement based on natural phenomena, which I think distinguishes it from religion. This is a whole new ball game.

Stanislaw
04-24-2006, 02:41 PM
As I just said above, I don't think that if, in fact, religion was true and pure and beyond human then analysis of all religions in the world can bring us any closer to it, or any form of scientific research for that matter. I think this is because even if the original religion is divine, the social factor that exists in the human "idea" of religion is too great. Thus the study of all religions will only benefit the understanding of ourselves. And thus, whilst trying to achieve this task, we assume that it is a human concept that can be studied. As for the Supernatural, we must rely on faith and not studies.

Exactly, we can attempt to understand it, but it is infact something undescribal acuratly by humans. :)

Regit
04-24-2006, 03:51 PM
Exactly, we can attempt to understand it, but it is infact something undescribal acurately by humans. :)

:nod: I'm with you here Stanislaw.

Geoffrey
04-25-2006, 12:40 PM
In my sociology course just today the subject of focus was religion. My professor introduced me to a very interesting book concerning the subject: 'The Protestant Ethics & The Spirit of Capitalism' by Max Weber. This book contains the 'vabarian thesis' the essentially states that depending on whatever religion may be practiced in a society will determine that societies economy.
Basically, Religion ---> Economic System.

This belief is contrary to ideas set forth by people such as Karl Marx, who believed the effect to be just the opposite (Economic System ---> Religion)

But how Weber proves his point I believe is very interesting. There are basically two generations, one which lays the basis for socialism, communism, extc, while the other lays the basis for capitalism.

The first generation refers to views an ideals present in Christianity prior to the Protestant reformation, when Christianity contained great influence from Hinduism. Some other these characteristics included moderation in food, money, sex, the belief in "just-profit," the condemning of loaning money with interest, the belief that work is simply a necessary evil, salvation through prayer and physical sacrifice, and the condemnation of usury.

Post reformation, and the 95 thesis, the ideals and tendencies within Christianity shifted. A belief in what is known as "a calling" which is god presenting a person with what there profession needed to be, and to excel than at one's profession is to show one's love for god, Calvinism - which essentially argues that ones economic status be the pre-determining factor of admittance to either heaven or hell (Thus if one could accumulate great fortune than they would be believed to be bound for heaven) and also finding salvation through work and producing good products. And so we can see this all amounting into a mind set that would endorse the idea of capitalism.

I think that this is a very neat approach to the subject and seems both provable and valid in my opinion. Has anyone else read 'The Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism' if so what were your opinions on Weber's vabarian thesis?

Regit
04-25-2006, 11:28 PM
Hi Goeffrey,

I have not read the whole book, but I went through it briefly whilst doing research for an essay a few years ago. I can still remember the main points (with the help of your post :) )

I think that you have summed up Weber's main claim well (the second one). But I find his approach to this claim though very attractive and well-argued, also lacking in terms of the extent to which it has disproved other theories (evidence).

I think Weber focused more on explaining how the Protestant ethics lead accidentally to the creation of capitalism. After Reformation (95thesis) the people who followed Martin Luther's beliefs can no longer rely on the eternal protection of the Roman Catholic Church. Because for them the Catholic church and its hierachy no longer had the power to give salvation, they had to seek salvation from another source. And Weber argues that this source turned out to be having a worldly economic position. And to obtain this position requires a spirit (or ethic) that is very different from the passive post-Reformation thinking; this ethic is also that of Capitalism. Though the key of Weber's argument was that Capitalism was only an indeliberate social effect of Protestantism. The spirit was not meant to be one of seeking economic power but was created by the yearning to seek salvation from God through obtaining economic power. Am I right? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Weber's sociology, I think, relies heavily on the basis of Durkheim's studies: that there is a deep connection between religion and social reality. Thus, I think they face the same criticisms. Around Weber's time, there was also another theory that was popular: Nationalism. Anthony D. Smith and Ernest Gellner were the main scholars behind this. I have read their works, but I have not found any papers directly comparing the this with Weber's (I actually have not looked, but I'm sure that they exist), but through studying both theories I find many clashes. The main reason was that both theories have very different explanations for the origin of what they both call the ethic. And I must say I was more convinced by Nationalism (It would be great if perhaps we can have a discussion about this difference).

Did you enjoy the book? I remember being very frustrated trying to understand it, since I always left things late and was always against dangerously near deadlines :D

Geoffrey
04-27-2006, 12:00 PM
I found the book to be informative, but not greatly enjoyable to read - the writting style I thought was a bit stale.

Would you be so kind as to expand upon your idea of Nationalsim? What contradictions it finds with Weber's view on this subject? I've never read any works written on the subject, but would love an opposing point of view.

Regit
04-29-2006, 01:27 PM
I was very sure of the connection in my mind. But now that I have to write something down; it is hard to try and articulate on it without going back and reading everything again and, hopefully, finding some quotes. Right now, I'll make a brief attempt at it, I hope it's ok.

From the top of my head, Nationalism is the idea that the nation is the most basic and fundamental element of social reality. The nation is the only legitimate form of collective existence. In this sense alone, it contradicts with the idea of a religious collective.

There are two main schools of thought concerning Nationalism; the first believes that the nation is primordial, and the second believes that it is constructed, or manufactured (there are actually many theories in both schools). The primordialists believe that the nation, or the feeling of belonging to a nation is within human nature; that it is as natural and primordial as our five senses and our thoughts. They use as evidence the long-existing nations and how all nations are really part of older nations. The other school believes that the nation, though is the only legitimate entity, can be constructed and destroyed. They use, as evidence, the many examples of nations that have completely vanished and the nations that have only just appeared.

The primordial view is an ancient view and, understandably, had very little support. It is the different explanations with which the constructivists (not sure if this is the right word) explain the formation of nations that I think contradicts with the sociology of religions. Mmm, let me think... Yes. A popular theory, first mentioned by Anthony D. Smith, was that nations are built with "bureaucratic incorporation." Meaning that a nation survives and expands by adopting the different cultural and social strata of other smaller nations, and over time incorporate those nations within itself. The nation was built on three key social elements: Symbol, Communication, and Myths. (You can already see how the Symbol conflicts with Totemism) These three elements are used by the elite (or more dominant) strata of society to cast fear and control over weaker and less knowledgeable strata. Thus using myth, symbols and practices that religious thoerists use to explain the formation of religion to explain merely the tools of forming nations. The three elements are only among many other theories; but you can see where they are all going. They explain religions somewhat as only tools to incorporate strata of society and to expand nations, and society goes much deeper beyond religous beliefs; whereas Durkheim or Weber use religions to explain the basics and fundamental constructions of society. I hope this makes sense.

If you need to find further evidence, I can recommend "National Identity" by Anthony D. Smith and "Theories of Nationalism" by Umut Ozkirimli. They are actually quite easy to read, and the second book give a very precise explanations of all of the theories concerning nationalism that are worth mentioning, sort of like a cheat sheet :)

Union Jack
04-29-2006, 02:31 PM
Im not sure if you can place the origin of religions completely in social behaviours or trends. As with most things, religions have many sources and factors which have played into their developement.
I briefly stated an idea in another thread, and I'll extrapolate further on it here.

I said that religons give man (humanity) an ideal to aspire to, I believe that all relgions do this, correct me if I am wrong.

As such, without religion, man would attempt to create his own ideal, or a personal ideal. Which in turn would become (in a sense) this man's "religion." What I am aurguing is that without the homogenization of established religions, perhaps every person would encounter a different "truth" or "ideal" and aspire to live their lives in pursuit of that concept. As each person would create their own concept, I would name this theory, the Theory of Infinite Religion.

I am not aurguing that religions somehow constrict man or control his concept of the ideal However, without the pre-established religions already in existance, man would be forced to search within himself and form his own value system and ethics.

History and society definitely play a large role in this process, it is only through society that a religion gains wide enough accpetance, and begins to be considered a norm. But in theory, anybody could produce their own ideal and values, and in a sense, start their own religion.

Regit
04-29-2006, 10:34 PM
You are a thinker Union Jack, and I admire that. And I don't want to criticise your attitude towards the science of sociology for it is a good one; though I feel obliged to tell you that your thinking and reasoning lack the logic that this philosophy requires.

In order to establish a theory, you must have arguments and evidence to support those arguments. Then you must have a very specific claim, with reasoning as to how your arguments have led to this claim. You must also attempt to disprove contradicting theories. But most importantly, if you want to establish a scholarly theory, you must comprehend the scope of the science, at least in the subject that you are investigating.

In your theory I did not see a specific claim. Your conclusions seem like the bodies of a half-complete arguments, without any study or supporting evidence. It would be too early to state that you have come up with a new theory of sociology. If you read the opening posts in this thread, you might come to see that your argument does not contradict with Durkheim's theory or other past theories at all. In fact, the idea as to how religion was established in the very beginning in each individual's mind is an idea already exhausted by scholars. Those "established religions" that you speak of, they must come from somewhere; they were not always "established" since the dawn of time; where? I believe Durkheim gave a great answer to this, some of whose arguments are actually similar to yours. If you are interested, I'd recommend reading this book.

If you remain that yours really is a theory, then you will be asked many questions; none of whose answers I think can be drawn from the body of your theory. You stated that: "every person would encounter a different "truth" or "ideal" and aspire to live their lives in pursuit of that concept." How or why do man encounter different "truths"? Where are the examples? And what exactly is that "truth" or "ideal"? Where are the examples? Why do man need to aspire to live their lives in the pursuit of that concept? etc

Though may I say that the boldness of your claim impresses me.

Union Jack
04-30-2006, 05:46 AM
You are right, perhaps I was too hasty to use to the term theory. I have to run to work right now, but when I return, I'll try to answer your other questions.
Cheers for the feedback.

Union Jack
04-30-2006, 12:34 PM
How or why do man encounter different "truths"?

Every individual would encounter their own "truth" or ideal due to their upbringing, or character developement, or a variety of other causes, some due to enviornment, but they can also originate within. The point I am making is that, clearly there are differing views of the ideal, since there are many religions each expressing differing views of it, though many may be similar. So, without a pre-established thought (religion) to associate with, man would create their own truth, out of their own value system. Whatever they considered admirable, they would aspire to be. Simply put, if there were no religions in the world, a person would have to choose their own way to live, and their own ethics to live it by. Thus the possibilities of this "ideal" are endless.

Where are the examples?

Examples an be seen in any religion or philisophical thought. Every religion defines the "right" way in which a person should live. Not only Christianity but all faiths do this, from Confucianism ( debatable religion) to Taosim, to Sihkism, to Hinduism, all faiths preach a way of life which will lead to one becoming a "better" human being. As well as relgion, there are individual philosophies. Individuals establish these phillosophies based upon their own values and obervations of life, example, existentialists merit action and self definition. Nietszche meritted overcoming mankind, and modern religion, and rejecting the "weak" morals of Christianity. These are only a couple of examples, but every phillosophy, or idea put forth by a philosopher is an example of how many people define the "correct" way to live.

And what exactly is that "truth" or "ideal"?

THE truth or THE ideal would differ for each person, and indeed, differs between most religions (though some only slightly.) Christianity presents the ideal of Jesus Christ, he is the ideal example of how to live your life. Buddhists follow Buddha, Confucists, Kung Fu Tzu, again, only a few examples, but they display how the "ideal" way to live ones life differs (due to culture, enviornment, and individual choice.) It just so happens that those concepts of the ideal orginated from a single person, Jesus, Buddha, Kung Fu Tzu, all preached their value system, and over time attracted many to their teachings. When I say ideal, I mean the pinnacle example to attempt to achieve in one's way of life. And truth can differ for many, some may believe that the ultimate truth is God, others, Brahma/ Om, and still others may believe that the ultimate truth can be found in chocolate pudding ( a little ridiculous, but an accurate example, I have a friend who swears on her Grandmother's grave that she learned everything she needs to know about life through chocolate pudding, and claims it is divine...yes she is a little overweight.)

Where are the examples?

I believe I listed some above, each religion observes a different ultimate truth which governs all things. God, Om, the Tao ect.. On the other hand, asides from religion that is, some people really love Batman, and want to live their lives trying to be Batman.

Why do man need to aspire to live their lives in the pursuit of that concept?

Men certainly don't HAVE to spend their lives in pursuit of anything more than their next meal. But most humans attempt to find a "meaning" in life. Some discover it through various faiths, some through a personal phillosophy. Most people need a reason for being, and, as I aurgue, without a pre-established one, everyone would look within to their own values, and self define this life goal.

This "theory" that I aurgue is certainly nothing new, in fact it already exists in our world. The very fact that there is not only one religion or One proposed way to live, but many, infinite. Every person lives their life "as best they can" by following an example, or by creating their own example or guide to live by. This phenomena of "infinite religon" already exists, it is simple free-will, however, what I aurgue is that without established religons, their would be many more individual concepts of life and reality than previously. Without a religon or faith to follow, man would be forced (by his drive to define a meaning for his existance) to create his own system of values, ethics, and live his own life "as best he could." Religions, I believe, are widely accepted views on life, it does not mean that they have any more validity than someone who worships deserts, they are merely alernate interpretations of the ultimate and how to achieve it. Religons themselves were started with an individual, or small group who formulated a set of values and put them together to create an "ideal" then perscribed ways to live in which to meet this ideal.

I actually found a great quote on another topic which supports my position.



As for myself, I was born a Christian, but as I already stated I am not a believer. I suppose you could call me a Darwinist of course... Not exactly a religion, but then again, I suppose we all believe in some old thing?

/Claes

Questions and comments are much appreciated.

Bandini
04-30-2006, 12:56 PM
the 'vabarian thesis'

That'll be Weber's 'Weberian Thesis'! (The 'w' is pronounced 'V' as he was German) I read it some years ago. I like his theories on Rationalisation. George Ritzer's work is a good 'update' on Weberian thinking - The MacDonaldization of Society is a must read.

Regit
04-30-2006, 02:35 PM
I hope you understood that my questions were not inviting answers. Though I can see the directions of your arguments. The reason why I understand you is that I have luckily learnt some of the theories that contain similar arguments. My opinion is that your theory, though shows good intuition, also shows a serious lack of research.


But most importantly, if you want to establish a scholarly theory, you must comprehend the scope of the science, at least in the subject that you are investigating.
Forgive me for stressing this point once again; but in your answers you still have not convinced me that you have any depth of understanding for this subject. It is a subject with a great amount of theories already behind it, and most of the things you said were just incomplete and awkwardly illustrated versions of different theories that already exist. I would suggest starting with a great deal of reading, if you want to have a serious understanding of religions and their formations.

Regit
04-30-2006, 02:38 PM
That'll be Weber's 'Weberian Thesis'! (The 'w' is pronounced 'V' as he was German) I read it some years ago. I like his theories on Rationalisation. George Ritzer's work is a good 'update' on Weberian thinking - The MacDonaldization of Society is a must read.

Bandini, are you by any chance Chinaski?
Still waiting to hear your view on Durkheim btw ;)

Union Jack
04-30-2006, 02:46 PM
I am not attempting to put forth a "new theory to revolutionize how we see religion" I am merely stating what I believe religion to be, and that is a mass acceptance of an individual or group belief.
Clearly my aurgument is incomplete, I am not writing a thesis here, only trying to state my position succinctly.
Again, I reiterate, I misspoke when I said theory, I am not trying to present my aurgument in the form of a scholarly theory or phillosophy, only trying to get my view across

I have studied the religons of the world, and have an adequate to advanced understanding of their basic concepts, origins and beliefs. I do feel it is necessary to read subjective works on the subject of religon, because then you are preseneted with another person's views on the subject. However, for individual progress, it is essential to formulate your own thoughts towards the matter.

I am a phillosopher, not a scientist. I deal with postulations and thoughts, not hard evidence. I can see it will be difficult for us to reach a consensus, for you seem to deal more with facts and data ( your profile says you are studying economy) , and I, abstracts. Though I do want you to know I respect your position, and knowledge of the topic.

Bandini
04-30-2006, 03:52 PM
Bandini, are you by any chance Chinaski?
Still waiting to hear your view on Durkheim btw ;)

Rumbled! yes I did 'come clean' - you must have missed the post! I came back to the site after a break and decided on a new name/avatar - but I liked me old ones better.

Don't know if I'll be posting re: Durkheim - I tend to be a bit of a fluttery, shallow boy on these sites. I say me tuppence and move on! That said, if I see a new post that gets me going on something, I'll be in.

Regit
05-08-2006, 12:45 PM
Rumbled! yes I did 'come clean' - you must have missed the post! I came back to the site after a break and decided on a new name/avatar - but I liked me old ones better.

Don't know if I'll be posting re: Durkheim - I tend to be a bit of a fluttery, shallow boy on these sites. I say me tuppence and move on! That said, if I see a new post that gets me going on something, I'll be in.
Understood - no problem, no problem :) - Don't hesitate, though, to start a discussion on a book that you are reading if you want to. I'll be in for sure.
Summer is coming, I might take a loooong break myself, and come back as a different person. I'm sure many here wouldn't mind that :lol: Good luck with the studying though.

Bandini
05-08-2006, 01:57 PM
Cheers Reg - I'm so busy at the moment that not really reading for pleasure. Look forward to chatting in future.

Loqurent
05-09-2006, 02:16 PM
Durkheim was a clever git. His idea is very intelligent, but it is far from right.
Let me pose this as a problem to his analysis; some religions exist in a society where they aren't welcome at all, apart from the people of that religion obviously. One might argue that the religion is a seperate society itself, but that seems to create further questions, such as 'Can we belong to several societies, especially if the ideas of one (i.e. the religion) conflict with the greater society (the city or town or whatever it may be)? The only way out is to enter into the state of infinte regress, it might seem, but then we realise we have not existed forever, and so infinite regress is in fact an impossibility also.
Durkheim was absolutely not right. Siciology of Religion is slightly hypocritical, because the object of sociology is mere study, but Durkheim in his sociology of religion asserts that religion is an invention for security (I'm sorry, thats Freud- what I meant was that Durkheim asserts that religion is an invention of egotism).

Loqurent
05-09-2006, 02:18 PM
I am a phillosopher, not a scientist. I deal with postulations and thoughts, not hard evidence.

Surely if you deal with postulations you then deal with philosophy?
-OOPS! I thought you said you WEREN'T a philosopher, I'm sorry.

Regit
05-09-2006, 05:48 PM
Thank you. What a pleasant surprise. I thought this thread was dead, when I still have so much to talk about.


Let me pose this as a problem to his analysis; some religions exist in a society where they aren't welcome at all, apart from the people of that religion obviously. You must remember that Durkheim was investigating primitive religions; not all religions. He was very aware of the difficulty in analysing religion as it is today. But, as all current religions can be derived from concepts belonging to the primitive religions on which he was focusing (the famous three-fold test), he draws conclusions about them from the result of his study. The problem that you posed is merely caused by the development of pure religion (by pure I mean primitive) along with that of the society to which it belongs. Its form changes, as does it name; but it is only a new form of what was originally created, and a reflection of society. If anything, your question only support Durkheim's view I believe.


One might argue that the religion is a seperate society itself, but that seems to create further questions, such as 'Can we belong to several societies, especially if the ideas of one (i.e. the religion) conflict with the greater society (the city or town or whatever it may be)? The only way out is to enter into the state of infinte regress, it might seem, but then we realise we have not existed forever, and so infinite regress is in fact an impossibility also.No, Durkheim does not argue that religion can be a separate society. And I would not employ this argument to defend his theory either. Religion, as everything else, is the result of and, thus, heavily influenced by social reality, whatever that may be. He made himself very clear on this point. I think you have misunderstood Durkheim's theory. He derived knowledge from the study of sociology, using as the main proof the formation of religions. You can see that I use the phrase 'social reality' a lot instead of just 'society'. You are thinking of societies as collectives of people with common characteristics; sociology of religion talks about society as the reality of the interaction between human generally. It may be something today and a completely different thing tomorrow.


Durkheim was absolutely not right. Sociology of Religion is slightly hypocritical, because the object of sociology is mere study, but Durkheim in his sociology of religion asserts that religion is ...an invention of egotism.Where did he make this assertion? It is not superiority or the desire for it that forms knowledge; it is social reality that does. Actually "sociology of religion" is the name I gave to this thread; the book containing this theory is a study of the formation of primitive religions. The followed claims and reasonings are all heavily based on this study.
That said, I don't quite know what you mean by "religion is an invention of egotism." Could you please expand on this idea?

Loqurent
05-10-2006, 04:20 PM
Like you say, his investigations on totemism provoke his study of other religions, because you must remember how he then goes on to talk about the step-up to monotheistic religions. However, it seems you found a different point of contention in my hypothetical example than the one I intended. I shall try again. Durkheim's theories (forgive me if I am wrong) base religion as a, for lack of a better word, subconscious motive for praise of the society in which it exists (hence I said it was invention of egotism). For example; he states that the primal tribe who worship the totem of the bear claim to be bear-like, and they without realizing worship themselves, the real 'bears'.
However, my point was that many religions in certain societies do not agree with the society. An example I might use with experience is the existence of Catholicism in England. Obviously when I use such a large faith and fairly large country, the arguement will be quite genralized, but the main point is that the 'dogmatic' views of the church are not popular among the greater majority of the British, and it does not at all reflect their society.
I would not employ the arguement either, which is why I pointed out its fallacy, but I was presenting the small difficulty in my own arguement, but as I said, the issue of infinte regress is useless here. I was, I suppose, debating my theory with myself out loud, if you like.

Regit
05-13-2006, 08:49 AM
You must remember how he then goes on to talk about the step-up to monotheistic religions. And how is that? Could you expand?


However, it seems you found a different point of contention in my hypothetical example than the one I intended. I shall try again. Durkheim's theories (forgive me if I am wrong) base religion as a, for lack of a better word, subconscious motive for praise of the society in which it exists (hence I said it was invention of egotism). For example; he states that the primal tribe who worship the totem of the bear claim to be bear-like, and they without realizing worship themselves, the real 'bears'. No, that's not it. I won't claim to have a better understanding of the book than you; but from my reading the point that you made is very unfamiliar. When you say that worship was a praise of society, you neglect the unique characteristic of totemism. First of all, egotism requires more than subconscious motives, hence it is incorrect terminology to analyse totemism with. Second of all, Durkheim did not invent totemism; it is an existing theory of primitive religion that he decided to adobt and investigate. Furthermore, even if this point that you address is true, then it would not differ between totemism, naturism, and animism - thus, it contributes little to the discourse of Durkheim's reasoning.


However, my point was that many religions in certain societies do not agree with the society. An example I might use with experience is the existence of Catholicism in England. Obviously when I use such a large faith and fairly large country, the argument will be quite genralized, but the main point is that the 'dogmatic' views of the church are not popular among the greater majority of the British, and it does not at all reflect their society.Once again, this does not contradict Durkheim's theory in any way, even if it is true. You are addressing a point that is, forgive me, irrelevant here, at least while we are discussing the ultimate claim that is Durkheim's sociology of religion. Durkheim derives that all knowledge is created by social reality. Many knowledge contradict; this does not put in question their sources (Notice that "knowledge" here is different from Plato's "knowledge"). The society of England also includes people who like ice cream and people who do not; neither belief reflects the majority of its society; but why they like or do not like ice cream are still beliefs created by their social realities. You still mistake society with social reality. There are also muslims and jews in England!


I would not employ the argument either, which is why I pointed out its fallacy, but I was presenting the small difficulty in my own argument, but as I said, the issue of infinte regress is useless here. I was, I suppose, debating my theory with myself out loud, if you like.I see. The real difficulty in your argument, I think, is that it is inconsistent with what you think you are contradicting. Instead, you are arguing a completely different point. Infinite regress is absurd in Durkheim's view if you consider that religion is a created concept; simply because human existence does not go back in time infinitely, nor does our beliefs go back in origin.

Loqurent
05-17-2006, 11:17 AM
"The real difficulty in your argument, I think, is that it is inconsistent with what you think you are contradicting..."
And the problem with your argument is that you are being patronizing, and it seems failing to recognize what Durkheim is actually talking about half the time. What I have written IS part of what he argues, if in a basic form. And stop writing frickin' essays in reply, its hurting my eyes.

Regit
05-18-2006, 09:00 AM
So you have a problem with criticism and long writings. I'd advice you to stay away from philosophy altogether then. I was not being patronising, only being critical, maybe fiercely critical, since your knowledge of the subject is so obviously limited. And I know exactly what I am talking about; I find it hard to believe that someone could have read the work carefully and still ask the question that you asked. If you would like to contest this remark, let us talk about this work in detail. But I am afraid that may involve long "essays". Would that be ok? I will start with a few questions; what is Durkheim's final claim? What was this claim derived from and how? Including reference to the pages would be nice.

Oh, and I'm sorry I hurt your eyes. I hope this one isn't too long for them. Was it the length that hurt more or was it the criticism, or did both hurt equally? If it's only the length then this one won't hurt too bad, but if it's not, this must hurt bad. Hey, I can show you "patronising" and then you can decide for yourself whether I was patronising or not.

Logos
05-18-2006, 09:13 AM
Please try to stick to the topic and not turn this into a discussion of others' posting habits à la ad hominem (http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacies.htm#Ad%20Hominem)

Regit
05-18-2006, 09:28 AM
Logos,

Whom are you accusing of ad hominem? If you think that I am guilty, I'd like to plead my case please. I think that the ability to read and consider other's points carefully (unfortunately leading to "frickin' essays") without hurting one's eyes is important in a discussion of philosophical literature, and thus, relevant. And when I talked about 'limited knowledge', I did not draw my conclusion from posting habits, but from the content of the posts presented. And as to how I did draw that conclusion, I think I made it clear in the previous "essay" and with relevant reasoning.

Logos
05-18-2006, 09:43 AM
Well I'm sure you understand the term :) I am not going to get into a discussion of it here, but suffice to say there is more than one poster I am addressing.