ANIMISM
   a very misleading term often used to characterize African and other non-literate religious systems. The term was first introduced by Sir Edward B. TYLOR as a "minimum definition" of RELIGION. He argued that from sleep experiences, such as dreams etc., "primitive man" developed the idea of "anima" or the spiritual principle which animates material objects. Thus rivers, trees, stones, the sun, moon, and SACRED objects such as masks, were said to possess spiritual power caused by the indwelling of SPIRIT BEINGS. These ideas, Tylor argued, produced fear which led to WORSHIP and the development of religion. Today the term animism has fallen into disuse among serious scholars of religion although it is still retained by some MISSIOLOGISTS. The reason most academics have rejected this term is because it fails to recognize the highly complex NATURE of many non-literate religions which do not rely on simplistic notions of the spiritual world. The idea behind animism is in fact a racist one which assumes that non-literate peoples lack the INTELLECTUAL ability to develop complex religions and PHILOSOPHIES. It is therefore best abandoned to allow for the recognition of the complexity of religious systems. The British anthropologist E. E. EVANS-PRITCHARD did more than anyone else to dispel simplistic notions about "primitive religion" in books such as Witchcraft Oracles and Magic Among the Azande (1936) and Nuer Religion (1956).

Concise dictionary of Religion. 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Animism — (from Latin anima soul, life )[1][2] refers to the belief that non human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life principle.[3] Animism encompasses the beliefs that there is no separation between the spiritual and… …   Wikipedia

  • Animism — • The doctrine or theory of the soul Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Animism     Animism     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • animism — ANIMÍSM s.n. Formă primitivă a religiei, când oamenii credeau în spirite şi în existenţa unor duhuri ale obiectelor (plante, ape etc.); spiritualizare, personificare a forţelor şi a fenomenelor naturii. – Din fr. animisme. Trimis de ana zecheru,… …   Dicționar Român

  • Animism — has been applied to many different philosophical systems. It is used to describe Aristotle s view of the relation of soul and body held also by the stoics and scholastics. On the other hand monadology (Leibniz) has also been termed animistic. The …   Mini philosophy glossary

  • Animism — An i*mism, n. [Cf. F. animisme, fr. L. anima soul. See {Animate}.] 1. The doctrine, taught by Stahl, that the soul is the proper principle of life and development in the body. [1913 Webster] 2. The belief that inanimate objects and the phenomena… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • animism — (n.) 1866, reintroduced by English anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Taylor (1832 1917), who defined it (1871) as the theory of the universal animation of nature, from L. anima life, breath, soul. Earlier sense was of doctrine that animal life is …   Etymology dictionary

  • animism — ► NOUN ▪ the belief that plants and inanimate objects have souls. DERIVATIVES animist noun animistic adjective. ORIGIN from Latin anima life, soul …   English terms dictionary

  • animism — [an′i miz΄əm] n. [Fr animisme & Ger animismus, both < L anima, soul: see ANIMAL & ISM] 1. the doctrine that all life is produced by a spiritual force separate from matter 2. the belief that all natural phenomena have souls independent of their …   English World dictionary

  • animism — animist, adj. animistic, adj. /an euh miz euhm/, n. 1. the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls. 2. the belief that natural objects have souls that may exist apart from their material bodies. 3.… …   Universalium

  • Animism —    Arguably the proper label for the type of religion practiced among traditional indigenous people who employ shamans. Rather than being “shamanists” or adherents of “shamanism,” these people may be usefully named “animists.” While the term was… …   Historical dictionary of shamanism

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”