By Clinton Bennett
This article lines the expansion and improvement of 2 comparable disciplines, anthropology and the examine of religions. finding those disciplines in the highbrow weather of the nineteenth century, the research considers the contributions of students reminiscent of Jame
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Adam Kuper comments that what men like Robertson Smith and Frazer did was to 'extend back in time the Enlightenment account of intellectual progress, by which was meant the development of reason and high culture' (1994: 539). The debunking, too, as some saw it, of a transcendent God busy supervising human affairs, enabled them to posit instead an immanent God present in nature and in creation itself- a view not dissimilar to Hegel's. Often called Romanticism, this gave fresh impetus to the study of the nature, origin and development of religion in terms of immanentism, nature-worship and nature-mythology and poetry.
His contribution to nineteenth-century thought, although often overlooked, is considerable. Not surprisingly, his writing influenced Charles Robert Darwin (1809-82) as well as the American anthropologist, Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-81). Evolution, said Spencer, 'is not merely change' but 'change from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity, through continuous differentiations and integration' (Whitten and Hunter: 6). Thus, human life and human society evolves from the simple to the complex.
Something in Frazer, perhaps, of the anthropologist as author. Still of value, suggests Sharpe, are his definition of 'magic', his work on 'divine kingship' and 'his concept 38 Common Roots of the dying and rising god or goddess of vegetation' (1986: 90). However, we shall focus on his understanding of religion. Like Tylor, he set out to interrogate the vast amount of data to which he had access, mainly by using the comparative method. Much of this data was amassed as a result of a questionnaire which he sent (1887) 'to missionaries, doctors and administrators throughout the empire requesting information on the customs and beliefs of the local inhabitants' (Fraser, 1994: xlvi).
In Search of the Sacred by Clinton Bennett