It is not possible to define religion, to say what it "is," at the start of a presentation such as this. Definition can be attempted, if at all, only at the conclusion of the study. The "essence" of religion is not even our concern, as we make it our task to study the conditions and effects of a particular type of social action. The external courses of religious behavior are so diverse that an understanding of this behavior can only be achieved from the viewpoint of the subjective experiences, notion, and purposes of the individuals concerned--in short, from the viewpoint of the religious behavior's "meaning."
(A.1.b) This-worldly Orientation
The most elementary forms of religiously or magically motivated action are oriented to this world. "That it may go well with you . . . And that you may prolong your days upon the earth"  shows the motivation of religiously or magically commanded actions. Even human sacrifices, although uncommon among urban peoples, were performed in the Phoenician maritime cities without any other-worldly expectations whatsoever. Furthermore, religiously or magically motivated action is relatively rational action, especially in its earliest forms. It follows rules of experience, though it is not necessarily action in accordance with means-end rationality. Rubbing will elicit sparks from pieces of wood, and in like fashion the mimetic actions of a "magician" will evoke rain from the heavens. The sparks resulting from twirling the wooden sticks are as much a "magical" effect as the rain evoked by the manipulations of the rainmaker. Thus, religious or magical action or thinking must not be set apart from the range of everyday purposive action, particularly since the elementary ends of the religious and magical actions are predominantly economic.
Only we, judging from the standpoint of our modem views of nature, can distinguish objectively in such behavior those attributions of... [continues]
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