Religion in the Struggle for Power: A Study in the Sociology of Religion

Religion in the Struggle for Power: A Study in the Sociology of Religion

Religion in the Struggle for Power: A Study in the Sociology of Religion

Religion in the Struggle for Power: A Study in the Sociology of Religion

Excerpt

Social science is having a difficult time steering the narrow course between the Scylla of uncontrolled theorizing and the Charybdis of raw empiricism. It had no sooner discovered the dangers of the former than it turned sharply toward the equally dangerous rocks of the latter. The significance of Kant's remark, "Percept without concept is blind, concept without percept is empty," is too often missed. Some sociologists have recognized its importance, but have fallen into still another error: in their attempts to avoid methodological subjectivism--the reliance on experience that is available only to the individual--they have disclaimed the validity of subjective data, which is an entirely different matter. They have thus ruled out of the court of science some of the most crucial aspects of human behavior. In this study we shall try to avoid those errors. We shall not refrain from theorizing--far from that, there is a definite attempt here to develop a conceptual scheme that will contribute to the interpretation of our data--but we seek to keep our theory flexible and thoroughly in touch with all available facts. Science is a stairstep process: The researcher stands upon facts, but he must have an hypothesis to lift him to the next level of observation; at the new level "facts" which were not visible before come to light, and they should enable one to formulate a more precise hypothesis, which again will enable one to collect more relevant data. Only if the scientific problem is very small will one or two steps suffice. The problems of the sociology of religion are far from small . . .

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