Sociology of Religion lecture notes

Topics: Religion, Karl Marx, Sociology Pages: 3 (406 words) Published: February 6, 2014
The first systems of representations with which men have pictured to themselves the world and

themselves were of religious origin. There is no religion that is not a cosmology at the same time that

it is a speculation upon divine things. If philosophy and the sciences were born of religion, it is because

religion began by taking the place of the sciences and philosophy. Emile Durkheim

He thought that the function of religion was to make people willing to put the interests of society ahead

of their own desires. To do this, he suggested, religion worked in two modes: the positive cult and the

negative cult. The negative cult consisted of all the taboos and prohibitions of religion, like fasting and

abstaining from sex. The purpose, Durkheim believed, was to teach self-discipline. The positive cult

consisted of communal ceremonies, which were centered around the totem, and which might involve

relaxing the normal taboo on eating the totem in a communal meal, as well as dancing and other

sensory indulgences, during which people achieved a state of heightened emotion, or effervescence,

in the presence of other group members. The heightened emotion led to positive feelings toward the

social group. Emile Durkheim

Religion is the opiate of the masses. The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes

religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem

of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man

is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This

state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because

they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic

compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral

sanction, its solemn...
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