Book: Eight Theories Of Religion by Daniel PalsThis is a very valuable textbook for students of religious studies or theology, but also for scholars who are in need of a first introduction to the study of religion.
Why do human beings believe in divinities? Why do some seek eternal life, while others seek escape from recurring lives? Why do the beliefs and behaviors we typically call "religious" so deeply affect the human personality and so subtly weave their way through human society? Revised and updated in this second edition, Eight Theories of Religion considers how these fundamental questions have engaged the most important thinkers of the modern era. Accessible, systematic, and succinct, the text examines the classic interpretations of religion advanced by theorists who have left a major imprint on the intellectual culture of the twentieth century. The second edition features a new chapter on Max Weber, a revised introduction, and a revised, expanded conclusion that traces the paths of further inquiry and interpretation traveled by theorists in the most recent decades.
Eight Theories of Religion, Second Edition, begins with Edward Burnett Tylor and James Frazer--two Victorian pioneers in anthropology and the comparative study of religion. It then considers the great "reductionist" approaches of Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Marx, all of whom have exercised wide influence up to the present day. The discussion goes on to examine the leading challenges to reductionism as articulated by sociologist Max Weber (new to this edition) and Romanian-American comparativist Mircea Eliade. Finally, it explores the newer methods and ideas arising from the African field studies of ethnographer E. E. Evans-Pritchard and the interpretive anthropology of Clifford Geertz. Each chapter offers biographical background, theoretical exposition, conceptual analysis, and critical assessment. This common format allows for close comparison and careful evaluation throughout. Ideal for use as a supplementary text in introductory religion courses or as the central text in sociology of religion and courses centered on the explanation and interpretation of religion, Eight Theories of Religion, Second Edition, offers an illuminating treatment of this controversial and fascinating subject.
Daniel Pals uses his creativeness to cover the major philosophers and scientists in a particular order to demonstrate intellectual evolution (intelligence evolves as time passes and we learn from previous ages) and he also brings out how the fact the philisophers (as most humans) try to "prove" THEIR experiences in life as they perceive it. The perception complicates their objectiveness. For instance, Freud was an atheist so Freud was out to prove there is no God. Freud did not want to reveal "truth" but only what HE thought was truth. Whether it is truth or not, was irrelevant to him and many others. Each philosopher builds on the previous with a critical critique of each by Pal and the others. I thought this was a great book and easy to read (unlike other philosophy books which are extremely difficult)
The book shows relatively well the madness and basically evil ideas that is represented by Marx, Freud and to some degree Durkheim. "Strangely", these very people are of the same racial background, and all their ideas have had major negative effects for gentile culture, see a connection anyone? It is a very peculiar and suspicious side to Pals that whenever a theorist is doing something good he's a Jew, but when his ideas are bad for European cohesion, he's "a German" or a "Frenchman". This way, suddenly Freud, Boas and various others in the books are suddenly just your average Fritz German doing objective research with no political consequences. A volume that should be read along with this book is Kevin Macdonald's book "The Culture of Critique", available here on Amazon.
The two scientists that are most filled with genius in this book seems to me to be Mircea Eliade and Max Weber, the first one interestingly enough being friends with two major European freedom fighters; Corneliu Codreanu and Julius Evola. Eliade was actually a member of Codreanu's organization back in his native Rumania, something that should give you a good hint of his honourable soul.
To summarize; a sturdy hardcover book that gives you a highly valuable introduction to the field and that should be of interest to anyone remotely interested in politics, philosophy or religion.
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