Modernity and the Death of God
The following are class notes taken during Professor Purvi Parikh’s Modernity and the Death of God.
16 08 30
Religion is acknowledgement of a guiding entity separate from that of the individual, be it a collective soul, nature, God, gods, goddesses, idols, or doctrines.
Hi! I enjoyed learning about Religions of India last year with you and decided to declare a Religion Studies minor, which is why I am taking this class. I am a Media & Communications major and hope to incorporate this knowledge into my future work as a journalist and documentarian. — Tom Littrell
16 09 01
Assumptions of modernity:
- The West is modern. (Modernization theory of 1950s)
- Modernity requires the loss of traditional features.
Modernity has a long history of being defined in different ways:
- The rise of capitalism.
- Political transition to nation-states.
- Secularism—government as separate from religion.
16 09 06
- Imperialism refers to expanding into other territories by using their resources.
- Colonialism refers to domination of another territory by the west. Often paired with Christianization.
- is an analytical tool invented by scholars.
- is not a native category—not found in Sanskrit, for example.
- can be categorized: Abrahamic, idolatric, dualistic…
- has shifted from ritual-based (orthopraxy) to belief-based (orthodoxy) and [religious studies has shifted] from god-based (theological) to based on behavior in relation to gods (anthropological).
Approaches to religion:
16 09 08
Conceptual, normative, and explanatory issues complicate religion.
- Common ground—based on beliefs.
- Independent ethic—based on reason.
Seek the overlapping consensus.
16 09 13
Secularism does not ensure tolerance.
16 09 15
Secularization and religious revival.
- Structural differentiation
- Privatization of religion
- Decline of religion
Rise of new religious movements in the 1980s.
De-privatization of religion.
Public role of religion in modernity:
- Start new debates.
- Take public stands.
- Critique modern values.
- Don’t impose norms or agendas.
- Mobilize on the basis of issues.
- Outcome dense matter. (?)
16 09 22
Talal Asad asserts that religion is constantly changing and is an important part of public debate, contrary to popular secular belief.
16 09 27
16 09 29
Sabr (صَبْرٌ): Endurance, perseverance, persistence.
Agency, freedom, resistance to subordination.
16 10 04
Perspectives on agency:
- Conventional: Capacity to act from one’s will in the absence of authority.
- Saba Mahmood: Capacity for action enabled by subordination.
16 10 06
- Peace of Westphalia (1948)—The result of warring among Christians brought state sovereignty and religious freedom.
- Ottoman Empire (1299-1922)—The decline of the Ottomans led to English state recognition through secular statehood.
- Treaty of Versailles (1919)—Developed nation-states and the notion of the minority.
16 10 13
Lived religion, religious vs secular, public vs private, dogma, pluralism, mainstream vs personal, thought vs action, orthodoxy vs orthopraxy, first amendment, high vs low iconography, credibility, authority.
16 10 18
Religious freedom is impossible because it would require a universal definition of religion.
16 11 03
- French Laïcité (1905)
- The state vs the Roman Catholic Church
- Liberty made impossible through oppression (?)
16 11 08
- Wendy Brown—Tolerance is not freedom
- Depoliticization, personal ethic vs political discourse, post-9/11
- Substituting emotional vocabulary for political problems (?)