C.P. TIELE'S IMPACT ON
HANS G. KIPPENBERG
Max- Weber-Kolleg. Erfurt
The subject of this conference, Modern Society and the Science of Religion, is challenging. It draws our attention to an issue which is still largely composed of pressing questions rather than refined answers. Was it by pure chance that an increased academic concern for religious history coincided with a wave of modernisation? In the second half of the nineteenth century France, Germany, England, the Netherlands and other European countries experienced profound changes in their social worlds. The typical trends analysed by social historians are roughly the same everywhere: the political order had lost its close links with the aristocracies; the upcoming class of citizens demanded a national democratic legislation; the spread of capitalistic economies undermined existing social hierarchies; and people left their traditional world in order to move to the cities where factories were in need of labourers. Already in the eighteenth century enlightened thinkers had weakened the plausibility of moral norms and inherited knowledge. In addition, a tendency towards secularisation restricted the impact of ecclesiastical institutions on education. The convergence of these various processes affected the ways in which people conducted their lives. People were more or less forced to accommodate to the new conditions. The everyday comings and goings of people gradually ceased to be determined by traditions. Private decisions and contractual agreements replaced inherited models. A new world arose, which broke away from the past. Individualism fitted in with the need of the moment.
As Peter Berger points out, ambivalent feelings accompanied these