RELIGIOUS STUDIES 200
E.B. TYLOR & JAMES FRAZER
Background to their thinking. They were utterly a product of their own cultural and
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
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
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.
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
the evidence they paid attention to are the three p's: petrified artifacts, primates,
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
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