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Arts and Humanities
Understanding World Religions Cp. 2
Biographical data on scholars of religion.
Terms in this set (17)
Understanding World Religions - Academic Bias
These flash cards are based on Chapter 2 of Irving Hexham's book "Understanding World Religions" (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2011)
What is the first step in academic work?
Recognizing bias. Many people think that recognizing academic bias is a new discovery. In fact, a good discussion of this issue is found in Herbert Spencer's classic work The Study of Sociology (1873) which is available online from the book section of:
Who was Herbert Spencer?
Herbert (1820-1903) was and English positivist philosopher, sociologist, and liberal who was the dominant intellectual figure in the latter half of the nineteenth century. He applied Darwin's theories to society and developed a philosophy of progress. His main works are: First Principles (1862)
Principles of Sociology (1876-1896, 3 Vols.)
The Study of Sociology (1873)
Name a way bias appears in Religious Studies?
In Religious Studies bias can be seen in the almost complete neglect of African religions and religious traditions.
How do Religious Studies textbooks usually portray Africans and African religions?
Unfavorably. For example while the diversity of Indian religions is praised African religious diversity is seen as somehow inferior.
Have Africans always been seen in this way?
No. Before the Enlightenment Africans were seen in a favorable light as traditional European paintings and sculpture shows. For example Africans are often depicted as kings in nativity scenes and there are a number of African knights buried in European cathedrals.
When did European views of Africans change?
With the Enlightenment during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
How did Voltaire see Africans?
Voltaire set the tone for other Enlightenment writers by describing Africans as a different species of men.
Who was Voltaire?
François Marie-Arouet, known as Voltaire, (1694-1778) was a French writer with a malicious wit who became the key figure in the French Enlightenment. His books are filled with hatred for Orthodox Christianity and a deep pessimism created by the evil he observed in human affairs. He accepted the teleological argument for belief in God and strongly supported Deism.
What did Jean-Jacques Rousseau say?
Rousseau saw Africans as animal like savages.
Who was Jean-Jacques Rousseau?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was a radical French philosopher who advocated Deism and a Socialist vision of society. His most influential works were:
The Social Contract 1762)
What about David Hume?
He said that Africans were "naturally inferior."
Who was David Hume?
David Hume (1711-1776) was a skeptical Scottish skeptical philosopher, historian, and essayist, whose radical empiricism has had a profound influence on modern thought. His main works, for the study of religions, are:
A Treaties on Human Nature (1739).
Dialogues on Natural Religion (1779)
The Natural History of Religion (1757
Was Immanuel Kant any different?
Yes. He was more cautious nevertheless he discouraged racial mixing in his essay On the Different Races of Mankind.
Did Europeans see all other people the same way?
Nor. They had great respect for the Chinese and for Indian. Only Africans were denigrated.
How did scholars see African religions?
Most completely ignored them or devoted a couple of pages to them.
Why are religious texts important in this issue?
When Max Müller developed comparative religion he encouraged the translation of religious texts from Asian countries. These highlighted Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic traditions and became the basis for future research and the teaching of what became Religious Studies. No similar collection of African texts were made nor were books about African religions produced.
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