Edward Tylor's Thesis For The Philosophy Of Animism

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For centuries, people across the globe have practiced various forms of religion, and for just as long, philosophers have tried to sort these different practices into one cohesive and all encompassing definition of religion. From Edward Tylor’s basis in animism to Sigmund Freud and Emile Durkheim simplifying religion to totemism to Clifford Geertz believing the primary function of religion to be a cultural system, each proposed definition of religion is unique as religious traditions themselves. Yet, even with so many definitions, we still lack one that covers everything religion can entail. In the early 1870s, Edward Tylor proposed the idea that all religions boil down to “belief in spiritual beings” (Tylor 1873: 4), and that there is a “ghost-soul” in every living being. These are distinct “lives” and “phantoms,” both of which are separable from, and may exist outside of, the body. A life is what differs between a living body and a dead one. After death, this soul departs into an afterlife of sorts. The phantom is similar to a ghost, and appears as a fleeting being following the death of the body. His definition reflects animism, which is commonly thought of as the first type of religion and Tylor claims is the basis for the philosophy of religion. In animism, ghost soul spirits are not limited to humans, but also can extend to any natural thing including animals, trees, and even non living objects, such as stars. However, I fundamentally disagree with Tylor due to

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