SOC250Y1 Lecture Notes - Recapitulation Theory, Homo Sapiens, James George Frazer

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Published on 6 Nov 2012
School
UTSG
Department
Sociology
Course
SOC250Y1
Professor
SOC 250 Lecture 4
Religion as Alienation
o Empowering the divine entails the diminution of Man
In seeking supernatural deliverance humanity avoids full responsibility for its own affairs
Injustices, oppressions, cruelties, etc.
Vesting our hopes in imaginary beings of our own projection
Human beings shirk responsibility for rectifying the ills of the world
o By promising man eternal life, it deprived him of temporal life, by teaching him to trust in God‟s
help it took away his trust in his own powers; by giving him faith in a better life in heaven, it
destroyed his faith in a better life on earth and his striving to attain such a life
o Feuerbach calls for a new faith in HUMANISM
Religion and irreligion would both disappear with the self-creation of a new humanity
Karl Marx
o On Religion
Mark takes Feuerbach as a point of departure
Religion as projective ALIENATION Feuerbach succeeds in identifying the
psychological basis and earthly origins of faith
But Feuerbach errs in seeing religion as “the imaginary realisation of the human essence”
This is too abstract
o Marx: “the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single
individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of social relations”
What are the social-historical conditions that prompt human beings to externalize their
own powers and values and attributes them to hypothetical, imaginary beings (deities)?
Marx will focus on SOCIAL ALIENATION
Feuerbach attends to EXISTENTIAL alienation
o He believes that dispelling myths, illusions, is prior to revolutionary action
Feuerbach sees religions superstition/phantasy as the cause of this-worldly misery etc.
Marx argues that religion is a result or a by-product of worldly oppression,
despair, etc.
Enlightenment criticisms of religion as organized “superstition” to be supplanted by
Reason, Science
For Marx this critique is too one-sided, too idealist
“Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and also the protest
against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of heartless
world, just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions”
Religion is thus a spiritual quest for human dignity religion is a product of social
alienation-humanity living in exploitation, oppression, conflict
o Societies divided into rulers and ruled, privileged and disprivileged
classes, owners and producers
o But ultimately, religion remains a narcotic, a sedative
Producing illusory rather than real happiness
“It is the opium of people”
“The transcending of religion as the illusory happiness of people is the demand for their
real happiness. The demand to give up the illusions of their condition is a demand to give
up a condition that requires illusion. The criticism of religion is therefore the germ of the
criticism of the valley of tears whose halo is religion…The criticism of religion
disillusions man o that man can think, act, and fashion his own reality as a disillusioned
man come to his sense; so that he may revolve around himself as his real sun. Religion is
only the illusory sun which revolves around man as long as he does nto revolve around
himself
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Document Summary

Religion as alienation: empowering the divine entails the diminution of man. In seeking supernatural deliverance humanity avoids full responsibility for its own affairs. Vesting our hopes in imaginary beings of our own projection. Religion and irreligion would both disappear with the self-creation of a new humanity. Mark takes feuerbach as a point of departure. Religion as projective alienation feuerbach succeeds in identifying the psychological basis and earthly origins of faith. But feuerbach errs in seeing religion as the imaginary realisation of the human essence . This is too abstract: marx: the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of social relations . Feuerbach attends to existential alienation: he believes that dispelling myths, illusions, is prior to revolutionary action. Feuerbach sees religions superstition/phantasy as the cause of this-worldly misery etc. Marx argues that religion is a result or a by-product of worldly oppression, despair, etc.

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