Immanence vs Transcendence

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  • Topic: Sociology, Panentheism, Monism
  • Pages : 5 (1677 words )
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  • Published : November 13, 2007
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As the structures of social theories continue to grow and other theories develop, one key underlying theme has aided in the creation of these theories. This theme is the opposing conflicts of transcendent and immanent thought.

The key issue of this essay is to give a clear and evaluated understanding of what both transcendent and immanent thoughts are, their differences and their main elements. This is to be done through reference to the three readings from the Socy 340 and its lecturer notes.

Transcendent and Immanent thought has guided many famous sociologists like Marx, Durkheim, Weber and Mead in the quest to understanding the social world we live in, investigate it, and represent it through research and theories. Transcendence, belief that ‘God' or other divine forces control our world, and Immanence, belief in looking within; both have been represented by certain sections and people of our society. From transcendent thinker like religious groups and people who believe in ‘fate' and ‘Reason' to immanent thinkers like Atheists and even Charles Darwin best known for his discovery of ‘Natural Selection', these two opposing yet equal thoughts have been present in social order and the social world.

When referring to transcendence within sociology, the first thought that comes to mind is God. Why god, because that is where the main element of transcendence is derived from. The idea that there is a higher and greater force outside of our own creation is the governing factor in transcendent thought.

When a transcendent thinker looks at the social world, they attempt to see patterns and links which are believed to be the guide to making the world and its social aspects all inter-related and therefore explainable. The explanation is often determined as God. God, in transcendent thinking, created the world, its social aspects and is the cause of all elements of being. Patterns and links are not seen as chance, but by conditioning from a divine spirit, whose power is greater than that of any in this life.

Within transcendence, features of its existence including solidarism and essence appear. These two elements combine to form key areas of investigation into transcendent thought. Solidarism, as described by Anderson's Social Philosophy, "purposes an ideal above the facts and dictating their arrangements ‘for the best'". This guides solidarism towards transcendence by making the ideal a higher divine force and the dictation become the power it has to control the thoughts of its believers. This solidarism example is seen a monistic, as it believes in one divine rule, in comparison to the pluralistic view which guides interrelated groups, not one God.

Essence is the other major part of transcendent thought and a key element of understanding it. Essence is the innate, essential, unchanging form that all species of plants and animals are said to have. This idea of essence is guided by the idea that God gave everything an essence, and a key example is the story of Noah's Ark. In Noah's Ark we are told that Noah needs to collect to of each species of animal to keep the original set of creations made by God. This idea portrays that there are a fixed number of species in the world. It points to a force that created all life exactly as it is now. This also means that social interactions, ways of life, even learning all had to pre-exist when life first started. Humans are believed to have a special essence, one which separates them from all of the species of plant and animal life.

"Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let then have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds in the air and over the cattle and over the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth".

This quote from the genesis section of the bible, presumes that humans are greater than anything else on earth, by God giving them authority over there dominion. Though God...
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