Escaping the frozen lake: individual and social idealism manifest as forms of religion and religiosity
Stanford, Frank S.
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The role, basis for, and function of idealism in religion and religiosity are examined as both an individual and social phenomenon. Religion is divided into two manifestations of idealism that are described as conventional religion and unconventional religion. William James' frozen lake, used as a metaphor for religious personality types, is expanded to include a range of fear and depression based emotional forces that prompt various forms of idealism. Karl Marx's concept of utopia, Max Weber's protestant ethic, Emile Durkheim's anomie and totemic worship and Georg Simmel's social forms are described and compared as idealist manifestations. Robert Bellah's American civil religion is extrapolated to an institutional form of civil religion in Texas A&M University's Corps of Cadets as an organization utilizing totemic and philosophical ideals, collective representations, collective effervescence, civil ceremonies and intolerance as elements of the social solidarity. A personal, qualitative account of the indoctrination into this unconventionally religious organization, including quotations from members, is compared to the paradigms of religion as theorized by Bellah and Durkheim in order to display the use of idealism in the institutional setting. Theoretical perspectives of consumerism as described by George Ritzer and Campbell, as well as Thorstein Veblen's account of devotion are shown to have idealistic representations on both an individual and social level. This dissertation takes the reader from a concept of a non-supernatural existence to the use of idealism in various forms in order to assuage the awareness of painful aspects of reality. A method for a positive, naturalistic approach to the frozen lake is offered.