THE GENESIS OF THE RELIGIOUS ATTITUDE
THE religious consciousness, as has been said, is a special development of valuational attitudes. The problem now before us is that of determining how this specialization has been accomplished. It is the problem of the origin of religion, as far as psychological science is concerned.
We may start with the hypothesis that the social body has been at least an important factor in this process. There are certainly many things which will readily come to mind as favorable to such a preliminary conception. Many of our highest valuations are distinctly dependent upon a social context for even their present significance. The sentiments of love and duty, the notion of sin and of right, have no meaning except in terms of either an actual or an ideal social order. We may well inquire, then, whether these higher valuations of conduct, and even the so-called highest religious conceptions, those of God, freedom, and immortality, do not owe their existence to the influence of the social group upon the simpler values, the origin of which has been sketched in the preceding chapter.
It should be scarcely necessary to remind the reader at this point that the inquiry here proposed does not in the least impugn the significance of the religious attitude. We are merely seeking to determine the natural history of certain facts. If our highest values have developed in a social atmosphere, it means that these values are an organic part of the universe of which human society is also a constituent. If the intercourse of man with man has, under favoring
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Development of Religion:A Study in Anthropology and Social Psychology. Contributors: Irving King - Author. Publisher: Macmillan. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1910. Page number: 63.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.