The religious experience is an extraordinarily powerful force that can define and shape the communities it creates. Over the course of 24 lectures, Professor Jones takes a vibrant first look at the discipline known as religious studies and shows how other fields - sociology, psychology, anthropology, and phenomenology - have tried to explain the complex relationship between individuals, cultures, and faith.
This relationship is as old as the first human quest for answers to fundamental questions of life, death, and what may lie beyond. Here you'll trace the idea of studying religion itself, drawing not only on the challenging and provocative collection of theories from the many disciplines that have influenced the development of religious studies, but also on revealing anecdotes and illuminating case studies that make this course a surprising delight.
You'll explore the way functional anthropologists such as Malinowski and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown helped pull their discipline out of the drawing room and into the field to study a given culture. You'll also study Immanuel Kant's phenomenology, his theory that we can never make actual contact with the external world but can know it only from the internal images our minds construct from the raw data pulled in by our senses.
By examining belief and what it means - for believers and nonbelievers alike - you'll come away with a solid grasp of the major thinkers and ideas that have contributed to this fascinating field of study, including their strengths and weaknesses, as well as insights into many aspects of religious life, belief, and practices - insights that may well have applications in your own life, whether or not you adhere to a religious faith.
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