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Beyond Belief

Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditionalist World

Robert N. Bellah

Publication Year: 1991

Beyond Belief collects fifteen celebrated, broadly ranging essays in which Robert Bellah interprets the interplay of religion and society in concrete contexts from Japan to the Middle East to the United States. First published in 1970, Beyond Belief is a classic in the field of sociology of religion.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Religion is still something of a stepchild in the American university. In some major universities there is no department devoted to this aspect of human experience. In others the department is only uncertainly institutionalized and deals with but a fraction of man's religiousness. ...

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pp. xi-xxii

David Riesman has reversed Gilbert Murray's phrase to speak of "the nerve of failure" so perhaps one can transpose another phrase common today and speak of "the faith of loss." "The nerve of failure" and "the faith of loss" point to a situation in which the idols are broken and the gods are dead, ...

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Part One: Theoretical Foundations

The two chapters in Part I constitute between them a preliminary reconnaissance of what I believe are the major theoretical and empirical problems in the study of religion. Many of the highly condensed statements in these chapters are developed at greater length in Parts II and III. ...

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1. The Sociology of Religion

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pp. 3-19

Sociologists have undertaken three main types of religious study. They have studied religion as a central theoretical problem in the understanding of social action. They have studied the relation between religion and other areas of social life, such as economics, politics, and social class. ...

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2. Religious Evolution

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pp. 20-50

Though one can name precursors as far back as Herodotus, the systematically scientific study of religion begins only in the second half of the nineteenth century. According to Chantepie de la Saussaye, the two preconditions for this emergence were that by the time of Hegel religion had become the object of comprehensive philosophical speculation ...

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Part Two: Religion in the Modernization Process

The chapters in Part II are concerned with the role of religion in the great transition from traditional peasant society to modern industrial society. It therefore expands on the treatment of early modern religion, the fourth stage of religious evolution as outlined in Part I. ...

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3. Reflections on the Protestant Ethic Analogy in Asia

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pp. 53-63

The work of Max Weber, especially the so-called "Protestant Ethic hypothesis," continues to exercise an impressive influence on current research in the social sciences, as a glance at recent journals and monographs will quickly show.1 The great bulk of this research is concerned with refining the Weberian thesis about the differential effects ...

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4. Meaning and Modernization

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pp. 64-75

Modernization, whatever else it involves, is always a moral and a religious problem. If it has sometimes been hailed as an exhilarating challenge to create new values and meanings, it has also often been feared as a threat to an existing pattern of values and meanings. ...

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5. Father and Son in Christianity and Confucianism

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pp. 76-99

Aristotle, in the first book of the Politics, briefly discusses the relation between the family and religious symbolism. He says that the earliest form of social organization is the family, that the earliest form of political organization is simply an extension of the family in which the patriarch of an extended family is king, ...

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6. The Religious Situation in the Far East

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pp. 100-113

It is extremely presumptuous to try to discuss so complex a subject as the religious situation in East Asia in so short a time. All I can do is raise some general considerations and give a few examples. I will try to give some idea of the order of complexity of the problems, but I cannot hope to give any solutions. ...

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7. Values and Social Change in Modern Japan

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pp. 114-145

It is possible to differentiate between a cultural system and a social system. This is often done unconsciously, but it can be done from a more careful, analytic point of view as well. By a cultural system I mean that collection of symbol systems that includes such areas as science, art, literature, ethics, philosophy, and so on, ...

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8. Islamic Tradition and the Problems of Modernization

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pp. 146-167

Religion is a way of making sense of the world, but ours is a world it is increasingly difficult to make sense of. Joseph Conrad describes the modern age as one "in which we are camped like bewildered travellers in a garish, unrestful hotel." But the great religious systems were not designed to deliver us from this particular hotel. ...

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9. Civil Religion in America

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pp. 168-190

While some have argued that Christianity is the national faith, and others that church and synagogue celebrate only the generalized religion of "the American Way of Life," few have realized that there actually exists alongside of and rather dearly differentiated from the churches an elaborate and well-institutionalized civil religion in America. ...

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Part Three: Religion in Modern Society

The articles in Part III deal with "Modern Religion," the fifth stage of religious evolution put forth in Part I. The major social problems of this stage are no longer those of the takeoff from an agricultural society into an industrial one but the many new. problems that arise once that departure has occurred. ...

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10. Review of Bishop Robinson's Honest to God

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pp. 193-195

As a social scientist, I find the real significance of Honest to God in the fact that it is a direct attack on classical theism not from some liberal fringe point of view but from the core of the Christian tradition itself. Bishop Robinson is in the most involved sense a churchman. I think we must accept his remark on page 27: ...

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11. Transcendence in Contemporary Piety

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pp. 196-208

In traditional theology transcendence is an attribute of God that indicates that he is outside and independent of the world. A number of metaphysical arguments have been developed over the centuries to prove this point. Both biblical and Quranic religions have also asserted the existence of God outside the world on the basis of revelation. ...

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12. The Dynamics of Worship

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pp. 209-215

Blake's words do not really deny the contrast between sacred and profane. For the sacred is not simply a property of external objects any more than it is purely a subjective feeling. It is a quality of experience, of relation between subject and object. The apprehension that everything that lives is holy does not arise from sense perception; ...

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13. Religion and Belief

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pp. 216-229

"Unbeleif," like "theology," is a product of the Greek mind, one might almost say of the mind of Plato. It is in Book X of the Laws that Plato argues for necessary theological beliefs: the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the moral government of the world. ...

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14. Review of Norman O. Brown's Love's Body

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pp. 230-236

Love's Body is an unsettling book. When it first came out I glanced through it, read a paragraph here and there, and put it away, disturbed. It was two years later, in the spring of 1968, that I read it on the plane corning home from the East Coast. It made me dizzy, intoxicated; it made me change. ...

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15. Between Religion and Social Science

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pp. 237-259

In this essay, let me talk about the religious implications of social science, a phrase that contains a certain amount of deliberate ambiguity. It suggests that social science not only has implications for religion, but that it has religious implications or aspects within itself. ...

Appendix: The Systematic Study of Religion

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pp. 260-288

Bibliography of Robert N. Bellah

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pp. 289-300


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pp. 301-306

E-ISBN-13: 9780520911123
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520073944

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 1991