“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
Napoleon Bonaparte (French Dictator)
Teacher: Claus Staal Lessons: 4 /week
It has often rightfully been claimed that religion has been the strongest social, political and cultural movement of all times. Today, religion remains as strong as ever. In order to understand the fabric that our societies are made of, the mythologies we shroud them in, the identities it creates, it is paramount that we also understand the role of religion.
When the German professor Friedrich Max Müller in 1870 proclaimed that he wanted to pursue knowledge concerning religions by means of “scientific methods”, it caused a furious debate. It was outrageous to even imply that religions could be understood “scientifically”. That outrage persists to this day. Yet, that is exactly what this class aims at. To understand what religion does, by looking at theories of religion and religious practice, both anthropologically, sociologically, psychologically and philosophically.
During the course you will get introductions to the religious theories of James G. Frazer (religion as animism), Sigmund Freud (religion and personality), Émile Durkheim (society as sacred), Rene Girard (a fundamental anthropology of religion) and Georges Bataille (a surreal philosophy of religion).
We are NOT going to discuss different religions in depth, but instead look at what religion does – to you, to the other and to society.
Different theories will be presented in lectures and will form the basis of discussions in the class.