By Stephen Sharot
After introducing the book's significant topics, the amount introduces and builds upon an research of Weber's version of non secular motion, drawing on Durkheim, Marxist students, and the paintings of latest sociologists and anthropolgists. the subsequent chapters each one specialise in significant spiritual cultures, together with Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Judaism, and the religions of China and Japan. This formidable venture is the 1st to supply a comparability of the preferred, or people, kinds of faith round the world.
Sharot's available introductions to every of the area religions, synthesizing an unlimited literature on well known faith from sociology, anthropology, and historians of faith, make the undertaking excellent for direction use. His comparative procedure and unique analyses will end up profitable even for specialists on all of the global religions.
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Extra info for A Comparative Sociology of World Religions: Virtuosi, Priests, and Popular Religion
Thus, in neither religion nor magic was the relationship between means and goals understood as a mechanical one of cause and effect. 31 The relationship of the instrumental and symbolic components in magic has been taken up by the anthropologist Stanley Tambiah, who begins with a critique of Malinowski’s argument that the Trobriand islanders performed more magic in deep-sea fishing than in lagoon fishing to assuage their anxiety over the danger and unpredictability of the open sea. Tambiah notes that Malinowski omitted to point out that deep-sea fishing differed from lagoon fishing in that it produced the shark, which was of high ritual value among the Trobriand islanders, and he adds that Malinowski’s theory could not explain why “magical” rites were performed around certain vegetables and fruits and not others.
Campbell argues that most contemporary sociologists have attended little to how meanings inform the actions of individuals and have focused instead on how individuals perceive the actions of others as meaningful. The dominant paradigm has become that of communicative action or symbolic, expressive action designed to convey meanings from one individual to another, and this has meant that the fundamental instrumental nature of most actions has been ignored. 9 The instrumental component of action is emphasized in this work, and communicative acts are incorporated into the framework insofar as they serve as means to an end that goes further than the intent of communication or the conveyance of information to another.
The rites of passage move individuals through a life cycle of institutionalized positions and thereby confirm the various positions occupied by actors. Initiation involves ascetic practices, and with respect to asceticism as a general phenomenon, Durkheim mentions that one conscious aim is to attain religious prestige. When Durkheim writes that by ascetic practices and suffering the self is transformed into an instrument of deliverance, he appears to be indicating a goal of transcendence. Durkheim’s argument, however, is that the hidden message of the privations and sufferings of asceticism is that society is possible only at a price; actors are required to do violence to their individual inclinations in order for society to exist.