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Six Social Theorists on Religious Though

  • The Open Center


This paper discusses social theories with religious motifs from Eastern and Western religions. Six sections are included; one for each theorist. Connecting themes are identified regarding the evolution of religious thought as a social phenomenon. Discussed are Emile Durkheim, William James, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jean Baudrillard, and Toni Morrison. · Durkheim describes religious ideals as foundations of social systems. Society finds stability by sharing commonly accepted moral beliefs. · James posits the existence of two selves: internal and external. The internal/spiritual self is a spark of divine power, whereas, the external/social self has a relationship with a Godhead. · Gandhi focuses on developing the inner self and the practice of ahimsa (non-violence). · King believes the inner self corresponds with a metaphorical interpretation of The New Testament. · Baudrillard criticizes the American public’s need for Disneyland-like imagery. He contends that commercialism in the 1960’s created an American appetite for simulations. · Morrison explains the benefit of living in the “now moment.” It is preferable to create an earthly paradise rather than waiting for one. These theorists contributed to the influence of religious thought on social issues.
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