Lecture notes february 9

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18 Feb 2011
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Soc250 Feb 9/11
Notes on the social genesis of hell and heaven
The Appeals of Heaven Pie in the Sky, when you die?
Feuerbach: Heaven is the key to the deepest mysteries of religion
As an ideological stabilization mechanism? All is made right in the afterlife, thus tolerating
what is wrong in this life?
Cf. Marxist critiques: promise of heaven in the sky sanctions hell (exploitation,
oppression) on the earth
To offer consolation for suffering, with the promise of amends pr justice in the life to come
Afterlife beliefs are regulative for worldly existence: endure poverty, oppression, injustice,
inequality, presecution, ascetic renunciation.
Earth is a different place, when I lies between a heaven and a hell
Is heaven a place? Or a state of mind or heart?
Chinese proverb: Heaven and hell within the heart
Jesus:the kingdom of god is within you
Major differences between popular views -> theological or philosophical
Axial Age (c. 800 BCE 200 BCE) Karl Jaspers concept (Achsenzeit) for the evolutionary
period in religious-cultural history in the civilization seed beds of the Orient and Occident
a millennium of creative thought during which the spiritual foundations of humanity were
laid simultaneously and independently And these are the foundation upon which we
continue to live (The Origin and Goal of History).
Greek Philosophy-Plato, Aristotle
Zoroastrianism and cosmic dualism
Jewish Monotheism the prophets
Hinduism the Upon ishads
Buddhism and Jainism
Daoism and Confucianism
[all these breakthroughs were concerned with human meaning, purpose, destiny]
Some of these developed as Religions of Salvation holding out the possibility of liberation
from suffering to their followers:
(1) Mystical (re)union with the divine or transcendent
(2)Attainment of nirvana or moksha [or higher rebirths with the transmigration of
souls]
(3)Heaven or paradise [temporary or eternal, following some Day or Moment of
Judgement]
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Document Summary

Notes on the social genesis of hell and heaven. Feuerbach: heaven is the key to the deepest mysteries of religion . Marxist critiques: promise of heaven in the sky sanctions hell (exploitation, oppression) on the earth . To offer consolation for suffering, with the promise of amends pr justice in the life to come. Afterlife beliefs are regulative for worldly existence: endure poverty, oppression, injustice, inequality, presecution, ascetic renunciation . Earth is a different place, when i lies between a heaven and a hell . Chinese proverb: heaven and hell within the heart . Major differences between popular views -> theological or philosophical. [all these breakthroughs were concerned with human meaning, purpose, destiny] Salvific beliefs introduce tensions with the world , as the world-to-come or the transcendence of this world (as illusionary) gains privacy. The traditional polytheisms were basically world-accommodating, or affirming, and the blessings or progeny, wealth, health, victory and conquest, pleasures, etc.

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