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Module 1 - Approaches to studying evil.docx

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Religious Studies
RS 121
Jamie Read

Module 1: Approaches to studying Evil What is unique about the modern world? - Modern societies seen as human made (e.g. social contract) - If we made society, we can change it - Society is understood as a project - The myth of progress - All modern societies are revolutionary societies Modernity: The Revolutionary Society - Robert Nisbet, “The Two Revolutions,” in The Sociological Tradition:  Industrial Revolution  Q-Democratic Revolution - Restructuring of the entire society according to an abstract plan (ideology) - Every element of human life is changed: o Political organization o Economic life o Social relations o Psychology - Our own society is a revolutionary society - Constantly replacing older forms with new ones - Constantly engineering and fashioning a new social order - E.g. capitalism is constantly replacing older forms with new ones, old social relations old ways of doing things are replaced with new ones – capitalist societies constantly engineering and fashion a new social order Globalization of the Free Market “Capitalism, then, is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary… The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes for the new consumers, goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization hat capitalist enterprise creates” - Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, socialism, and democracy Ideology and New Forms of Evil - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn concludes that Shakespeare’s villains only killed dozens because they had no modernist ideology. He writes, - Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions (Gulag 1, 174) - The Soviet GULag system claimed 15-30 million lives - Total deaths under the Soviet system are estimated to be between 30 to 63 million - These included deaths of political prisoners, military personnel, apparatchiks, academics, Old Bolsheviks, party members “The European short century” from 1914 to 1989, using Eric Hobsbawm’s apt characterization, was indeed one of the most violent, bloody and genocidal centuries in the history of humanity But none of the century’s horrible massacres can be said to have been caused by religious fanaticism and intolerance:… - Jose Casanova, “The problem of religion and the anxieties of European secular democracy” Casanova on “Europe’s short century” … ne
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