Durkheim and Marxs Accounts of Religion

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:Religion

Document 1

According to Durkheim, religion is the most fundamental social institution, and that nearly all other social institutions originate from it. He saw religion as a more fundamental element of social life and part of the human condition. Durkheim attributes the origin and existence of religion to collective effervescence, which refers to the moments in societal life when individuals come together to perform a religious ritual. During such moments, societal members come together, communicate in the same thought, and participate in the same action, and this serves as a unifying factor. For this reason, Durkheim also saw religion as one of the primary agencies of solidarity and morality in society. Durkheim offers an opposing stance as he argues that man needs other members of the society to achieve his consciousness.

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Even though they have different views on religion, they have some concurring opinions on the same concept. They both agree that religion is socially derived. It is a projection of man’s hope and desires. Based on this, Durkheim sees a collective moral unity, and mutual conscience and Marx considers internalization of domination. Question 2: Tylor and Frazer’s Views on Religion Tylor and Frazer’s account of religion differs from the Enlightenment’s naturalistic attitude towards religion. Tylor argues that at the basis all religions lies animalism. He defines animalism as a belief in the spirit of the dead. According to Tylor, religion is a belief in spiritual beings and that this belief originated due to man’s attempts to explain natural phenomenon such as life and death as well as life after death.

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He argued that primitive individuals used personal dreams in which spirits seemed to appear as an indication that human mind could exist independently as a body part. According to these two scholars, modern humans still practice magic and pseudo-science to explain modern the universe; however, religion itself has become outdated means of describing the surrounding world. Tylor and Frazer disregarded religion as a means of explaining reality, but only a false science of pre-logical mind to understand the forces of nature. Tylor’s specific way of understanding religion was that animism is the right foundation of all faiths. He argued that religion was a useful tool to primitive societies in explaining particular occurrences. Frazer followed Tylor’s understanding of religion, but he distinguished between magic and its relation to religion.

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Question 3: Anatomy of the Sacred: Chapter 8 The different views of ultimate reality include polytheism, pantheism, dualism, monism, and monotheism. These views differ based on various forms of beliefs. Polytheism refers to belief systems which involve recognition and worship of several gods. It is a belief that multiple deities exist that rules the world as spate and individuals entities. Polytheism characterizes Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism among others. Its believers are convinced that the world is balanced between dual polar forces that are not hostile to each other. Dualism contradicts polytheism which perceives sacred power to exist in many different forms, as it conceptualizes holy power as two diverse forces that are either in conflict with each other or working together to bring balance to the universe.

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