Edition: 3rd 2014
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Why do human beings believe in divine beings? Why do some seek eternal life, while others seek escape from recurring lives? Why do the beliefs and behaviors we typically call "religious" so deeply affect the human personality and so subtley weave their way through human society? These broad,basic questions have engaged the most original and important thinkers of the modern era - among them James Frazer, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Max Weber. Nine Theories of Religion, third edition, considers nine of the most important religious theories that have been put forward since the scientific approach to religion first caught the imagination of nineteenth century scholars. In each case, the theory is presented by discussing the background ofits major spokesman, discussing key ideas as they are presented in text, noticing its distinctive features in comparison with other theories, and recording the main objections raised by its critics.The book begins with Edward Burnett Tylor and James Frazer - two Victorian pioneers in anthropology and the comparative study of religion. It then considers the great "reductionist" approaches of Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Marx, all of whom have exercised wide influence up to thepresent day. The discussion goes on to examine the leading challenges to reductionism as articulated by sociologist Max Weber, American philosopher and psychologist William James, and Romanian-American comparativist Mircea Eliade. Finally, it explores the newer methods and ideas arising from theAfrican field studies of ethnographer E. E. Evans-Pritchard and the interpretive anthropology of Clifford Geertz. Each chapter offers biographical background, theoretical exposition, conceptual analysis, and critical assessment. This common format allows for close comparison and careful evaluationthroughout. Nine Theories of Religion is ideal for use as a supplementary text in introduction to religion courses and as the central text in theory of religion, approaches to the study of religion, and sociology of religion and any courses on the explanation and interpretation of religion. The bookcan be used as a stand-alone text or with Pals' companion reader, Introducing Religion.Accessible, systematic, and succinct, Nine Theories of Religion by Daniel Pals is the number one book on the major theories of religion.