Introducing Religion Readings from the Classic Theorists

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Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2008-10-23
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
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Summary

What is religion? How is it to be explained? Why do human beings believe in divinities? Why do the beliefs and behaviors we typically describe as religious so deeply affect the human personality and so subtly weave their way through human society?Introducing Religion: Readings from the Classic Theorists presents eleven key texts from influential theorists who played a pivotal role in the modern enterprise of explaining the phenomenon of religion. These writings seek to account for the origin, function, and enduring human appeal of religionby drawing on methods of scientific scholarship unconstrained by theological creeds or confessional commitments.Introducing Religion opens with selections from the works of Edward Burnett Tylor and James Frazer--Victorian pioneers in anthropology and the comparative study of religion. It then offers entry into the provocative analyses of Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Marx, whose aggressivereductionist approaches framed the explanatory debate for much of the century to follow. Responses to reductionist theories--and new directions in explanation--claim a place in selections from the works of philosopher-psychologist William James, theologian Rudolf Otto, sociologist Max Weber, andcomparativist Mircea Eliade. The volume ends with discussions drawn from the celebrated field studies of British anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard and the interpretive anthropology of American theorist Clifford Geertz, whose fieldwork took him to both Asia and the Middle East. Brief careerportraits of the theorists at the outset of each chapter give context to the readings, and a general introduction features guiding questions designed to help students assess and compare the different theories.Offering an illuminating overview of this controversial and engaging subject, Introducing Religion: Readings from the Classic Theorists is ideal for introductory courses in religion as well as courses in method and theory of religion, world religions, and sociology, psychology, or anthropology ofreligion.

Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction1. E. B. Tylor: Animism and the Origin of Religion2. James Frazer: Magic and the Rise of Religion3. Sigmund Freud: Religion as Neurosis4. Emile Durkheim: The Social as Sacred5. Karl Marx: Religion as Agent of Economic Oppression6. William James: The Testimony of Religious Experience7. Rudolf Otto: Religion and the Sense of the "Numinous"8. Max Weber: Religion and Culture Interwoven9. Mircea Eliade: Religion as Response to the Sacred10. E. E. Evans-Pritchard: Primitive Religion and Modern Theories11. Clifford Geertz: Religion as World-view and Ethic

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