Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Religious Study By famous scholars

Karl Marx
According to Karl Marx, religion is like other social institutions in that it is dependent upon the material and economic realities in a given society. It has no independent history; instead it is the creature of productive forces. As Marx wrote, “The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.”
According to Marx, religion can only be understood in relation to other social systems and the economic structures of society. In fact, religion is only dependent upon economics, nothing else — so much so that the actual religious doctrines are almost irrelevant. This is a functionalist interpretation of religion: understanding religion is dependent upon what social purpose religion itself serves, not the content of its beliefs.
Marx’s opinion is that religion is an illusion that provides reasons and excuses to keep society functioning just as it is. Much as capitalism takes our productive labor and alienates us from its value, religion takes our highest ideals and aspirations and alienates us from them, projecting them onto an alien and unknowable being called a god.
Marx has three reasons for disliking religion. First, it is irrational — religion is a delusion and a worship of appearances that avoids recognizing underlying reality. Second, religion negates all that is dignified in a human being by rendering them servile and more amenable to accepting the status quo. In the preface to his doctoral dissertation, Marx adopted as his motto the words of the Greek hero Prometheus who defied the gods to bring fire to humanity: “I hate all gods,” with addition that they “do not recognize man’s self-consciousness as the highest divinity.”
Third, religion is hypocritical. Although it might profess valuable principles, it sides with the oppressors. Jesus advocated helping the poor, but the Christian church merged with the oppressive Roman state, taking part in the enslavement of people for centuries. In the Middle Ages the Catholic Church preached about heaven, but acquired as much property and power as possible.
Martin Luther preached the ability of each individual to interpret the Bible, but sided with aristocratic rulers and against peasants who fought against economic and social oppression. According to Marx, this new form of Christianity, Protestantism, was a production of new economic forces as early capitalism developed. New economic realities required a new religious superstructure by which it could be justified and defended.
Marx’s most famous statement about religion comes from a critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law:
    Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.
    The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.
This is often misunderstood, perhaps because the full passage is rarely used: the boldface in the above is my own, showing what is usually quoted. The italics are in the original. In some ways, the quote is presented dishonestly because saying “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature...” leaves out that it is also the “heart of a heartless world.” This is more a critique of society that has become heartless and is even a partial validation of religion that it tries to become its heart. In spite of his obvious dislike of and anger towards religion, Marx did not make religion the primary enemy of workers and communists. Had Marx regarded religion as a more serious enemy, he would have devoted more time to it.
Marx is saying that religion is meant to create illusory fantasies for the poor. Economic realities prevent them from finding true happiness in this life, so religion tells them this is OK because they will find true happiness in the next life. Marx is not entirely without sympathy: people are in distress and religion does provide solace, just as people who are physically injured receive relief from opiate-based drugs.
The problem is that opiates fail to fix a physical injury — you only forget your pain and suffering. This can be fine, but only if you are also trying to solve the underlying causes of the pain. Similarly, religion does not fix the underlying causes of people’s pain and suffering — instead, it helps them forget why they are suffering and causes them to look forward to an imaginary future when the pain will cease instead of working to change circumstances now. Even worse, this “drug” is being administered by the oppressors who are responsible for the pain and suffering.
As interesting and insightful as Marx’s analysis and critiques are, they are not without their problems — historical and economic. Because of these problems, it would not be appropriate to accept Marx’s ideas uncritically. Although he certain has some important things to say on the nature of religion, he can’t be accepted as the last word on the subject.
First, Marx doesn’t spend much time looking at religion in general; instead he focuses on the religion with which he is most familiar: Christianity. His comments do hold for other religions with similar doctrines of a powerful god and happy afterlife, they do not apply to radically different religions. In ancient Greece and Rome, for example, a happy afterlife was reserved for heroes while commoners could only look forward to a mere shadow of their earthly existence. Perhaps he was influenced in this matter by Hegel, who thought that Christianity was the highest form of religion and that whatever was said about that also automatically applied to “lesser” religions — but that isn’t true.
A second problem is his claim that religion is wholly determined by material and economic realities. Not only is nothing else fundamental enough to influence religion, but influence cannot run in the other direction, from religion to material and economic realities. This is not true. If Marx were right, then capitalism would appear in countries prior to Protestantism because Protestantism is the religious system created by capitalism — but we don’t find this. The Reformation comes to 16th century Germany which is still feudal in nature; real capitalism doesn’t appear until the 19th century. This caused Max Weber to theorize that religious institutions end up creating new economic realities. Even if Weber is wrong, we see that one can argue just the opposite of Marx with clear historical evidence.
A final problem is more economic than religious — but since Marx made economics the basis for all his critiques of society, any problems with his economic analysis will affect his other ideas. Marx places his emphasis on the concept of value, which can only be created by human labor, not machines. This has two flaws.
First, if Marx is correct, than a labor-intensive industry will produce more surplus value (and hence more profit) than an industry relying less upon human labor and more upon machines. But reality is just the opposite. At best, the return on investment is the same whether the work is done by people or machines. Quite often, machines allow for more profit than humans.
Second, common experience is that the value of a produced object lies not with the labor put into it but in the subjective estimation of a potential purchaser. A worker could, in theory, take a beautiful piece of raw wood and, after many hours, produce a terribly ugly sculpture. If Marx is correct that all value comes from labor, then the sculpture should have more value than the raw wood — but that is not necessarily true. Objects have only the value of whatever people are ultimately willing to pay; some might pay more for the raw wood, some might pay more for the ugly sculpture.
Marx’s labor theory of value and concept of surplus value as driving exploitation in capitalism are the fundamental underpinning upon which all of the rest of his ideas are based. Without them, his moral complaint against capitalism falters and the rest of his philosophy begins to crumble. Thus, his analysis of religion becomes difficult to defend or apply, at least in the simplistic form he describes.
Marxists have tried valiantly to refute those critiques or revise Marx’s ideas to render them immune to the problems described above, but they haven’t entirely succeeded (although they certainly disagree — otherwise they wouldn’t still be Marxists. Any Marxists reading this are welcome to come to the forum and offer their solutions).
Fortunately, we are not entirely limited to Marx’s simplistic formulations. We do not have to restrict ourselves to the idea that religion is only dependent upon economics and nothing else, such that the actual doctrines of religions are almost irrelevant. Instead, we can recognize that there are a variety of social influences upon religion, including economic and material realities of society. By the same token, religion can in turn have an influence upon society’s economic system.
Whatever one’s final conclusion about the accuracy or validity of Marx’s ideas on religion, we should recognize that he provided an invaluable service by forcing people to take a hard look at the social web in which religion always occurs. Because of his work, it has become impossible to study religion without also exploring its ties to various social and economic forces. People’s spiritual lives can no longer be assumed to be totally independent of their material lives.  

Theory of Religion

The attempt to explain or account for religion and its role in society as well as in individual experience; systematic social scientific theories begin primarily in the nineteenth and early twentieth century with such writers as Marx, Weber, Durkheim and his school, Freud, Troeltsch, James, and others. Although more recent work builds on these earlier efforts to comprehend religion's role in history and human experience, contemporary thinkers also have constructed special theories analyzing a variety of phenomena. In doing so, they often have uncoupled the empirical and theoretical study of religion's many facets from the grand historical narratives, philosophical assumptions, and theological concerns of the earlier pioneers.
One persistent strand of theorizing has emphasized the general idea that religion is largely ideological or compensatory in character. This orientation tends also toward the reduction of religion to nonreligious social or psychological forces. Marx's emphasis on the social-class origins of religion (religion as the "opium of the masses") expresses this view, as does Nietzsche's psychological diagnosis of resentment as a source of early Christianity. Freud's view of religion as infantile wish projection or a rationalization of conduct rooted in more primary processes such as aggression, ambivalence, and guilt has much the same quality. The Stark-Bainbridge theory of religion as a system of compensators represents a recent, more empirically oriented extension of this general theoretical style.
These explanations can be distinguished from ones that focus on the functions of religion without committing themselves to religion's ontological "reality." Durkheim's idea that religious beliefs and practices concerning the sacred sustain social integration and form the matrix for our central categories of thinking, as well as Malinowski's emphasis on the defensive functions of religion against the threat posed to society and the individual by death, fall into this category.
Although these two styles of theorizing have much in common, they have distinctive emphases. Durkheim's additional claim to have discovered the origin of religion in the experience of society itself moves him closer to the aforementioned type of perspective. Swanson's more recent analysis of the social roots of transcendent and immanent religious experience has a similar thrust. However, Durkheim's emphasis on religious rituals and collective effervescence has provided a basis for diverse theoretical approaches, not only (for example) Bellah's integrative concept of "civil religion" but also his emphasis on "symbolic realism" and the role of collective religious processes in transfiguring social reality.
Max Weber's theory of religion largely departs from the above standpoints in its emphasis on the autonomous role of religious ideas. His work faces in two different directions: (1) the development of a systematic sociology of religion and (2) the study of the relationships between the world religions and the emergence of modernity. Both efforts are carried through in similar comparative, historical scope and depth. They are not unrelated, but the latter project takes precedence over the attempt to provide a truly general theory of religion (in contrast, for example, to Joachim Wach's systematic Sociology of Religion , University of Chicago Press 1947). Weber's systematic sociology develops the central concepts and typologies that have sustained much sociology of religion since his time: charisma, the roles of prophets and priests, asceticism and mysticism, church versus sect types, the interrelationships among religious ethics and worldly activities in the spheres of economics, politics, the family and sexuality, the sciences and arts, and so forth. Many of these analyses are carried over in his comparative study of religions and civilizations, especially in his examination of the economic ethics of the world's religions and his attempt to account for the role played by religion in the rise of capitalism and modernity. Studies in theory and history by Troeltsch on church, sect, and mysticism in European Christianity, and by Niebuhr on the denomination in America, develop ideas closely related to Weber's work.
Weber separates the question of religion's truth claims from his scientific analysis and avoids the reductionistic implications of Marxian, Freudian, and even Durkheimian theories. For instance, his key concept of charisma locates legitimation of the religious leader's extraordinary gifts in a complex relationship among leader, followers, and cultural context but remains silent on the ultimate validity of these gifts. Weber's version of the sociologist's calling was combined with a high regard for genuine religious commitment. This uneasy resolution of the problem paved the way for current "methodological agnosticism" in the study of religion.
The problem of "religious experience" suggests another form of theorizing about religion. William James's focus on the individual, rather than on the institutional element of religion, and his analysis of mystical experience is a landmark for this approach. Rudolf Otto's discussion of the numinous experience, the mysterium tremendum , helped lay the foundation for a phenomenology of religion. Comparative-historical studies from this general standpoint have been developed by van der Leeuw and Eliade. Such approaches are decidedly antireductionistic, are favorably disposed toward religion, and generally avoid any attempt at "explanations" of religion, even functional ones. Rather, the focus is on a study of the varied manifestations of religion's most universal characteristics in the hope of thereby identifying its essence. Berger's theory of meaning systems, plausibility structures, and legitimations represents one of the most fully developed efforts to combine the phenomenology of religious experience and meaning with sociological concepts.
The sociology of religion today is marked by a wide range of theories. They include analyses of phenomena such as conversion (Lofland), commitment (Kanter), privatization (Luckmann), globalization of religion (Robertson), civil religion (Bellah), millenarianism (Worsley, Burridge), and religion and modernization (Wuthnow), to mention only a few. Some extend the classical theorists' insights to current social changes, while others probe in greater detail specific theoretical problems less thoroughly examined by earlier writers.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Branches of A nthropology

Cultural Anthropology:

The study of cultural context in Anthropological study created the extra form cultural anthropology.
Cultural Anthropology's near problem on youth engages both very old anthropological theme, such as politics, religion, and spending, as well as present-day concerns together with medium, popular culture, and movement. The cultural anthropology also cover the area mainly on culture. With taking sides and economic unrest washing from first to last North Africa and the Middle East, youth are to be found, both figuratively and literally, at the forefront of these debates and protests. It is based on the study of culture.This moment burden renewed consideration and conceptualization of youth.
Biological anthropology:
Biological anthropology is a magnificently narrow field. It studies human in the same way that zoologists lessons their question species— from a outlook that include all aspect of the species’ biology and that emphasize the interrelationships along with those aspects. In addition to about the straight topics of the individual fossil record and human natural variation, bioanthropology includes primatology, modern technology in molecular genetics, human demography, disease and medical issues, development of the entity, life history, and such applications as forensic anthropology. Bioanthropology also appreciates that our cultural actions is an integral part of our behavior as a species.
No wonder, then, that I (and others I have spoken to) have had difficulty in covering the entire field in a one-semester course. We have ended up leaving out important aspects (or paying them little more than lip service), or we have sacrificed the sense of bioanthropology as an integrated whole for a rushed and encyclopedic inventory of all the field’s current topics.

Archaeological Anthropology:

The study of archaeology not only helps us understand diversity in the world around us, it helps us to understand how people relate to the material world. Students who focus on archaeology as part of their major or minor learn to become better critical thinkers and enhance their analytic and writing skills. Archaeology is the study of people in the past, and the present, using material remains – the things humans “leave behind” as evidence. Much like detectives or crime scene investigators, archaeologists assemble tiny clues to build interpretive arguments. As scientists we must always cope with ambiguity and missing pieces, but ultimately we try to tell a story of how the human past connects to the present, which helps us to understand who we are today. Archaeologists are also anthropologists, and therefore focus on social and cultural questions. We try to understand how people came to have different belief systems, technologies, forms of government, and ideas about themselves. 
Linguistic anthropology:

`Linguistic anthropology' is an interdisciplinary ®eld dedicated to the study of language as a cultural resource and speaking as a cultural practice. It assumes that the human language faculty is a cognitive and a

social achievement that provides the intellectual tools for thinking and acting in the world. Its study must be

done by detailed documentation of what speakers say as they engage in daily social activities. This documentation relies on participant observation and other methods, including audiovisual recording, annotated transcription, and interviews with participants.

As an interdisciplinary ®eld, linguistic anthropology has often drawn from and participated in the development

of other theoretical paradigms. Some of its own history is re¯ected in the oscillation often found

among a number of terms that are not always synonyms: linguistic anthropology, anthropological

linguistics, ethnolinguistics, and sociolinguistics. Its main areas of interest have changed over the years,

from an almost exclusive interest in the documentation of the grammars of aboriginal languages to the

analysis of the uses of talk in everyday interaction and throughout the life span (Duranti 1997, Foley 1997).

This article provides a brief historical account of linguistic anthropology, and highlights important past
and present issues, theories, and methods

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Introductory Anthropology

the study of human being with a context of past, present,future, biologically, culturally and a being of society avobe all holisticallt study of human being is called anthropology.