Primitive religion

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Reviews the book, Primitive Religion by Robert H. Lowie (see record 1924-10399-000). As a descriptive monograph of the varying types of religion in widely separated primitive societies, Dr. Lowie's book is a very real contribution to knowledge. As a critical exposition of the relationship of religion to history and psychology it is even more: it is one of those rare bits of work done by a specialist correlating his own field and those of others in such a way as to throw much needed light on a phenomenon common to them all. The conclusion of the book in which Dr. Lowie records his own definition of religion—as the “response of amazement and awe to the Extraordinary”—will naturally create the most discussion. The reviewer, a sociologist by trade, is inclined to accept for his own guidance, a definition of religion once given by Dr. Giddings as “That which makes life worth while.” The study of the manifestations of religion among primitive groups, however, abundantly shows that it is the variety and vigor of the response to the Extraordinary among the groups studied which makes life worth while to the members thereof. It is to be hoped that other psychologists, historians and anthropologists will follow the lead of Dr. Lowie and give us authoritative studies of religious phenomena in their own special fields. It is also to be hoped that they will be equally successful in studying each group “with the maximum possible of sympathetic insight”. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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