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The Making of Religion   By: (1844-1912)

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THE MAKING OF RELIGION

BY ANDREW LANG

M.A., LL.D. ST ANDREWS

HONORARY FELLOW OF MERTON COLLEGE OXFORD SOMETIME GIFFORD LECTURER IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS

SECOND EDITION 1900

TO THE PRINCIPAL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ST. ANDREWS

DEAR PRINCIPAL DONALDSON,

I hope you will permit me to lay at the feet of the University of St. Andrews, in acknowledgment of her life long kindnesses to her old pupil, these chapters on the early History of Religion. They may be taken as representing the Gifford Lectures delivered by me, though in fact they contain very little that was spoken from Lord Gifford's chair. I wish they were more worthy of an Alma Mater which fostered in the past the leaders of forlorn hopes that were destined to triumph; and the friends of lost causes who fought bravely against Fate Patrick Hamilton, Cargill, and Argyll, Beaton and Montrose, and Dundee.

Believe me

Very sincerely yours,

ANDREW LANG .

PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION

By the nature of things this book falls under two divisions. The first eight chapters criticise the current anthropological theory of the origins of the belief in spirits. Chapters ix. xvii., again, criticise the current anthropological theory as to how, the notion of spirit once attained, man arrived at the idea of a Supreme Being. These two branches of the topic are treated in most modern works concerned with the Origins of Religion, such as Mr. Tyler's "Primitive Culture," Mr. Herbert Spencer's "Principles of Sociology," Mr. Jevons's "Introduction to the History of Religion," the late Mr. Grant Allen's "Evolution of the Idea of God," and many others. Yet I have been censured for combining, in this work, the two branches of my subject; and the second part has been regarded as but faintly connected with the first.

The reason for this criticism seems to be, that while one small set of students is interested in, and familiar with the themes examined in the first part (namely the psychological characteristics of certain mental states from which, in part, the doctrine of spirits is said to have arisen), that set of students neither knows nor cares anything about the matter handled in the second part. This group of students is busied with "Psychical Research," and the obscure human faculties implied in alleged cases of hallucination, telepathy, "double personality," human automatism, clairvoyance, and so on. Meanwhile anthropological readers are equally indifferent as to that branch of psychology which examines the conditions of hysteria, hypnotic trance, "double personality," and the like. Anthropologists have not hitherto applied to the savage mental conditions, out of which, in part, the doctrine of "spirits" arose, the recent researches of French, German, and English psychologists of the new school. As to whether these researches into abnormal psychological conditions do, or do not, indicate the existence of a transcendental region of human faculty, anthropologists appear to be unconcerned. The only English exception known to me is Mr. Tylor, and his great work, "Primitive Culture," was written thirty years ago, before the modern psychological studies of Professor William James, Dr. Romaine Newbold, M. Richet, Dr. Janet, Professor Sidgwick, Mr. Myers, Mr. Gurney, Dr. Parish, and many others had commenced.

Anthropologists have gone on discussing the trances, and visions, and so called "demoniacal possession" of savages, as if no new researches into similar facts in the psychology of civilised mankind existed; or, if they existed, threw any glimmer of light on the abnormal psychology of savages. I have, on the other hand, thought it desirable to sketch out a study of savage psychology in the light of recent psychological research. Thanks to this daring novelty, the book has been virtually taken as two books; anthropologists have criticised the second part, and one or two Psychical Researchers have criticised the first part; each school leaving one part severely alone... Continue reading book >>




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