This little walk and academic treatise turns on the title question. The answer may explain the past three and one-half centuries of Western history. More
The walk opens with some thoughts on how to define words in this postmodern age. These thoughts follow the structure of the category-based nested form. Normal context brings actuality out of possibility. Definition is the relational normal context. The word itself is the actuality. Meaning, presence and message makes a word possible. This framework for thinking about the word "definition" is then used to build models for understanding the meaning, presence and message underlying the word "religion". These models encompass evolutionary history, sociology and psychology. They are simple. They are surprising. How to Define the Word "Religion" also contains two interludes, applying the models in a reading of Eric Voegelin's The New Science of Politics (1952) and in a Marxist analysis of crime shows on American television (1960-2010). It also contains two appendices that will make any reader think twice about the social sciences. The implications are well worth considering. This work, along with the associated primers on the category-based nested form, makes a complete semester course for high school and college students.
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About the Series: How to Define the Word "Religion" and Related Primers
This seminar course consists in How to Define the Word “Religion” plus the first 10 primers. The category-based nested form is developed and used to explain the meaning, presence and message underlying the word “religion”. The primers frame sensible and social construction. The primers then further elaborate the model for the presence underlying the word “religion”. They end with intimations of the perspective level of the society tier.