Yoga as Philosophy and Religion: Volume 101 (Trubners Oriental Series)

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A pronounced religiosity may also display high statistical correlations with fertility rates Frejka and Westoff ; Weeden, Cohen and Kenrick ; Zhang ; Blume But this connection is only then part of religious evolution if the social form of the family, of parenthood and offspring, is attributed a specific religious sense—be it related to humans or with regard to gods and goddesses regarding Christian religion, cf.

Yoga Powers (Brill's Indological Library)

The same applies for determined correlations between religion and subjective well-being Witter et al. This may all be of use for the environment of religion. The religious coping of undetermined contingency may include family, well-being, health, group solidarity, cooperation, as well as other elements, by means of analogies and providing these topics with specific religious meaning. Only if this happens, can factors such as those mentioned belong to religious evolution. From there, religion can serve as a component of socio-cultural evolutionary performances for other societal subsystems and social forms as well as psychic systems in the form of offering sense and realize the societal function of coping with undetermined contingency, in difference to determined contingency that other societal subsystems deal with e.

The distinction between unspecific and system-specific environment correlates with the distinction between system-environment-relations and system-system-relations. It is only an empty correlate of self-reference. If we are dealing with system-system relations, however, indicatable entities do occur in the environment. In this case, too, the system cannot cross its boundaries operationally if it did it would have to operate in the environment , but it can observe, that is to say indicate what specific states of affairs in the environment other systems are specifically relevant for it. In the relationship between system and environment, the system operates universalistically, in the form of a crosssection of the world.


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The transition between the unspecific and the system-specific environment of religion is mediated via other systems. For each system, as mentioned, a specific environment exists. This distinction, in principle, belongs to the unspecific environment of religion, but may also become relevant for religion, if relations between religion and economy are taken into consideration. In this case, economic processes get into the system-specific environment of religion and can be encoded system-specifically, for instance, by observing usury as sinful and therefore prohibiting interest, 18 or conversely, viewing profit as a sign of divine election Weber [] The output released into the environment by the religious system may be ignored, rejected, or accepted as an offer of sense by other societal subsystems and psychic systems through transferring the noise into respective system-specific information.

The religious system, however, has no direct influence on either its specific or, above all, its unspecific environment. The specific environment of the religious system is relevant to the study of religion, if the religious system refers to it, namely only then, if the religious system operates other-referentially with regard to other societal subsystems for example, as political religion and psychic systems such as person-related religion with self-disciplining impacts or in the form of subjectification.

Religion, as a societal subsystem, has three system references: The relation of the religious system to the comprehensive societal system function , the relation to other societal subsystems performance; German: Leistung , and the relation to itself reflection Luhmann , esp. There is no hierarchy of any of the three system references over the others. In a functionally differentiated society, every societal subsystem—including religion—has to consider all of them synchronically.

Otherwise, it would collapse. The acceptance or rejection of performance and function belong to the specific environment of the religious system. They are other-referentially observed by religion and may be taken into reflective consideration. From those three system levels, the three references, according to Niklas Luhmann, are the self-reference, the other-reference, and the system reference. But how can the differentiation of religion be understood? This question can be approached from an evolutionary theory perspective, which is the topic of the following chapter.

While systems theory—as was shown in the previous chapter—may clarify some conditions of the theory of evolution, evolutionary theory is able to describe how systems evolve from their environment and integrate parts of their environment. In principle, it needs to be emphasized that evolution is, strictly speaking, not a process. The evolution of religion can be described as a process, however, only with hindsight, in the sense that later conditions are prerequisites for earlier ones in scientific reconstruction—in contrast to pure chronology, but according to a retrospective genealogy.

This applies for attempts to determine developments via natural laws, as well as for phase models and new dialectic developmental theories. The theory of evolution, too, is occasionally understood as a process theory—but in a misleading way.

The Many Lives of a Buddhist Text

Second, the differentiation of the three mechanisms itself is the result of evolution. As for the space-time continuum, both the expansion of structural complexity and the structural changes must be taken into consideration. The theory of religious evolution is neither a simple copy of nor a successor to the theory of socio-cultural evolution, because variation, selection and re stabilization retention of religion always proceed within the evolving and self-reproducing religious system. Nor is socio-cultural evolution identical to biological evolution Winter ; Campbell ; Lumsden and Wilson ; Richerson and Boyd , — The different kinds of evolution are related to each other in a metaphorical way Maasen, Mendelsohn and Weingart The possibility to apply elements of biological theory of evolution to the theory of societal evolution is based on a isomorphism between organic evolution and socio-cultural co-evolution, and equally, religious evolution is isomorphic towards socio-cultural evolution.

To adequately transfer elements of the general theory of evolution to the evolutionary theory of religion, the differentiation between the evolutionary dimensions of the physical, organic, mental, and social as well as within the social the societal internal differentiation—amongst others differentiating religion—must be taken into consideration.

The social possesses an emergent eigenstate compared to mental processes Lohse —as it is the case with consciousness 20 compared to other mutually coordinated neurophysiological processes as its environmental correlate 21 , and between organic compared to physical processes Kauffman , X. A theory of religious evolution, which is held in the perspective of a sociologically focused study of religion, must take its starting point with societal evolution.

In this perspective, religion differentiates itself from society and becomes a societal subsystem, without turning into anything other than a socio-cultural issue. From there, religion receives an outstanding societal significance. Among other societal subsystems, religion differentiates itself from societal processes. This differentiation is only possible based on the general theory of evolution, which is structured, among others, through the following distinctions:. Only if these distinctions—among others—are taken into account within the theory of religious evolution, it can be understood why and how religion refers to them in its own semantics for instance, as dualism, holism, attempt to overcome those distinctions, etc.

Social differentiation establishes via topic-based, situational , and institutional differentiation as well as—regarding societal structure—via segmental, stratificational and, eventually, functional differentiation. For these kinds of differentiation, too, it is true that, from a historical point of view, they are not to be understood as an altering sequence, but rather as layers overlapping each other 24 , and that, from an epistemic perspective, the respective previous ways of differentiation through the succeeding arrive at reinforced reflection. Taking the autopoiesis of societal evolution into consideration, i.

Human needs and social functions are instead relevant for the connectivity of new developments and thus for problems of evolutionary stabilization. The same applies to religious evolution. In the perspective of functional differentiation, religion has indeed a societal function, but this does not apply to the same extent for its genesis and not at all for its evolving self-description.

Indian Philosophy | Filosofía hindú | Vedanta

Furthermore, it seems reasonable for religion, under the conditions of attribution towards persons as correlates of functional differentiation, to react to mental needs other-referentially. The theory of religious evolution draws on the three evolutionary mechanisms of variation, selection, and re stabilization. However, in difference to the biological usage of the theory of evolution, its application in the study of religion refers variation to religious operations i. Operations, structures, and systems cannot, of course, occur independently from each other therefore the theory of evolution is necessarily circular.

But evolution proceeds based on the differentiation of the three mechanisms. Operations are always a matter of communication; they are events that have no duration. This is usually as already at the early stage of societal evolution ascribed to the situation and remains without consequences. In the case that variations indicate structural patterns, which diverge from the usual, the question of positive or negative selection will be raised. Topics can then be framed by religious meaning or fall out of that framework, if other interpretations are communicated successfully. Religion co-evolves with societal evolution, which in turn is a co-evolution to psychic, organic, and physical evolution.

Religion is not—however: metaphysically, ontologically, or epistemically— a priori given, as religion unfolds from societal evolution. Yet it is a socio-cultural reality sui generis , i. In such circumstances, religious communication would not have been distinguishable; it would moreover have been impossible to signify it as religious.

This difference-theoretical approach is an argument, first, against the assumption of a pan-sacrality, according to which all societal development had its beginning in religion; for instance—though already requiring an advanced society—in the shape of theocracy and temple economy.

The take-off of religion consists of identifying topics in its specific environment and transforming them into specific religious information. Figure 1 , p. Topics are fluid, frequently change and therefore are difficult to control, as elementary face-to-face interactions and social gatherings still demonstrate today. Religion, therefore, exposes itself to strong environmental influences by topic-based differentiation. The reason for other-referential orientation is that religion at the early evolutionary stage still cannot systematically differentiate—from a system-theoretical perspective—between self-reference and other-reference as well as—from an evolutionary perspective—between variation and selection.

The evolving religious system, therefore, uses environmental conditions for building up structures, which it could not perform from within itself. The environmental conditions religion is exposed to consist of societal processes, of mental perceptions, and—mediated by them—of physical as well as organic processes. Hence, for a long period of religious evolution a mode of evidence exists, which coordinates communicative processes with mental and—mediated by them—organic as well as physical processes, without systematically differentiating between self-reference and other-reference as well as between variation and selection.

Other-referential orientation of religion towards the perception of psychic systems enhances the chance of supernatural semioticized powers to emerge and to become imaginable—particularly anthropomorphized Guthrie [] and embodied in material objects that have an agency of their own; for instance, as special powers, objects, ancestors, spirits as well as goddesses and gods.

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To interact with sacred powers, they are averted by embodying and sensualizing them in the shape of specific images, objects, and behavior. This applies to the early stage of religious evolution and equally so for the kind of modern-era religion that is strongly oriented towards other-reference with regard to mental, organic, and material processes and states Houtman and Meyer ; Pintchman and Dempsey Because of the topic-based differentiation oriented alongside other-reference, the evolving religious system must discipline itself and restrict the abundance in variation, which evolves through considering unbridled mental imagination in religious communication.

This happens via the re-entry of distinctions such as those mentioned within themselves on the side of immanence in this world, in the familiar, in the embodiment, etc.