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Dr. Fairen - Religious Studies Theories and Methods 6

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Religious Studies
Glen Fairen

RELIGIOUS STUDIES 200 E.B. TYLOR & JAMES FRAZER Background to their thinking. They were utterly a product of their own cultural and historical situation. VICTORIAN BRITAIN writing during a period when the idea of religion had lost a lot of its weight. Up until that point, Christianity was usually seen as the only kind of religion and the pinnicle of human achievement. - by this time people were seriously questioning this notion, questioning Christianity's centrality and importance. why? new discoveries which contradicted the age and cosmology of the world proffered by the church. the standard mode of thinking about the world was starting to end this, especially geologists and biologists. the world was substantially older and more complicated, and the bible couldn't account for everything. DARWIN he comes along with evolution this bomb that went off effected notions of everything, not just biology or geology, but this explication model was transferred into so many different realms of knowledge. it was not just phys. evolution, it was cultural evolution. it is not just bodies and plants, but how cultures change in an evolutionary way, superceding the cultures it surpasses. IMPERIALISM britain was really heating up, the whole world had been colonized, and now the race for africa was on, finishing this whole project of world colonization. so they were encountering non-european folks. more important, they were encountering non-european culture and religion. the similarities in their religions were surprisingly resonant with christianity and threatened christianity's claim to being a unique artifact of God there were debates like are these other people actually humans? do they have souls? do they have intellects? they started to see religion as an intellectual project. ANTHROPOLOGY they began to come to terms with these similarities through the new department arising in universities: anthropology. at first it was interested in finding origins of humanity. the evidence they paid attention to are the three p's: petrified artifacts, primates, and primitives. they were enamoured with the notion of evolution. They were not looking at these three p's for their own value, but rather to find out what "we" (europeans) were before we were what we are now. what was our hidden history? this was them assuming that they were the height of evolution and all things less "civilized" were modes that europeans grew out of and surpassed. this paradigm of course is marked by numerous discontinuities, colonialism, and racism. Sir E.B. (Edward Burnett) Tylor 1832 - 1917 • his famous book is Primitive Culture (1871) • magic a logical but flawed way of thinking about the world. he did not treat it as silly or ridiculous, but as logical and justifiable. He admitted the contiguity between many of the notions. Magic relies on associations that are indicative of ALL human thought. It is just that the premise is flawed. People are mistaking contingent associations with causal ones. If birds singing when the sun comes up are thought to be making the sun come up. Coincidences are merely interpreted as successful magic. Failure is thought to be a mistake on the part of the participant and not as proof that the causal relation is nonexistent. *the distinction between religion and magic seems to be arbitrary and made by people for political reasons. • Mistakes contingent assoc
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