Monday, September 24, 2007

Pierre Bourdieu and Reflexive Sociology

wikipedia article

Pierre Bourdieu

Pierre Bourdieu (August 1, 1930January 23, 2002) was an acclaimed French sociologist whose work employed methods drawn from a wide range of disciplines: from philosophy and literary theory to sociology and anthropology. He is best known for his book Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, in which he tried to connect aesthetic judgments to positions in social space. The most notable aspect of Bourdieu's theory is the development of methodologies, combining both theory and empirical data, that attempt to dissolve some of the most troublesome antagonisms in theory and research, trying to reconcile such difficulties as how to understand the subject within objective structures (in the process, trying to reconcile structure and agency).
Bourdieu also pioneered methodological frameworks and terminologies such as cultural, social, and symbolic capital, and the concepts of habitus, field, and symbolic violence. Bourdieu's work emphasized the role of practice and embodiment in social dynamics. It builds upon the theories of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, Georges Canguilhem, Karl Marx, Gaston Bachelard, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Norbert Elias, among others. A notable influence on Bourdieu was Blaise Pascal after whom Bourdieu titled the book Pascalian Meditations.
Bourdieu was born in Denguin, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France in 1930, where his grandfather was a sharecropper and his father was a postman and later, a postmaster. He married Marie-Claire Brizard in 1962 and had three sons.
Bourdieu studied philosophy in Paris at the École Normale Supérieure. After getting his agrégation he worked as a teacher for a year. During the Algerian War of Independence in 1958-1962, and while serving in the French army, he undertook ethnographic research, laying the groundwork for his sociological reputation. From 1964 on, Bourdieu held the position of Director of Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (the future École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), in the VIe section, and from 1981, the Chair of Sociology at the Collège de France , in the VIe section (held before him by Raymond Aron, Maurice Halbwachs, and Marcel Mauss). In 1968, he took over the Centre de Sociologie Européenne, the research center that Aron had founded, which he directed until his death. In 1975, with Luc Boltanski, he launched the interdisciplinary journal "Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales", with which he sought to transform the accepted canons of sociological production while buttressing the scientific rigor of sociology. In 1993 he was honored with the "Médaille d'or du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique" (CNRS). In 1996, he received the Goffman Prize from the University of California, Berkeley and in 2002 the Huxley Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Bourdieu's work is influenced by much of traditional sociology, which he undertook to synthesize into his own theory. From Max Weber he retained the importance of domination and symbolic systems in social life, as well as the idea of social orders which would ultimately be transformed by Bourdieu into a theory of fields. From Karl Marx he took the concept of capital, generalized with respect to all forms of social activity, and not merely economics. From Emile Durkheim, finally, he inherited a certain deterministic and, through Marcel Mauss and Claude Lévi-Strauss, structuralist style that emphasized the tendency of social structures to reproduce themselves. However, Bourdieu critically diverged from these Durkheimian analyses in emphasizing the role of the social agent in enacting, through the embodiment of social structures, symbolic orders. He furthermore emphasized that the reproduction of social structures does not operate according to a functionalist logic.
One should not neglect Bourdieu's philosophical influences: Maurice Merleau-Ponty and, through him, the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl played an essential part in the formulation of Bourdieu's focus on the body, action, and practical dispositions (which found their primary manifestation in Bourdieu's theory of habitus).
Bourdieu's work is built upon the attempt to transcend a series of oppositions which characterized the social sciences (subjectivism/objectivism, micro/macro, freedom/determinism). In particular he did this through conceptual innovations. The concepts of habitus, capital or field were conceived, indeed, with the intention to abolish such oppositions.
Bourdieu routinely sought to connect his theoretical ideas with empirical research, grounded in everyday life, and his work can be seen as cultural sociology or as a theory of practice. His contributions to sociology were both empirical and theoretical. His key terms were habitus, field, and symbolic violence. He extended the idea of capital to categories such as social capital, cultural capital, and symbolic capital. For Bourdieu each individual occupies a position in a multidimensional social space; he or she is not defined by social class membership, but by the amounts of each kind of capital he or she possesses.
Bourdieu felt uncomfortable in the role of the ivory tower social scientist and intellectual. Although he had no partisan affiliation, he was known for being politically engaged and active. He supported workers against the influences of political elites and neoliberal capitalism. Because of his independence, he was even considered an enemy of the French Left; the French Socialist party used to talk disparagingly of "la gauche bourdieusienne" (Bourdieu's Left).

Some examples of his empirical results include:
showing that despite the apparent freedom of choice in the arts, people's artistic preferences (e.g. classical music, rock, traditional music) strongly correlate with their social position
showing that subtleties of language such as accent, grammar, spelling and style — all part of cultural capital — are a major factor in social mobility (e.g. getting a higher paid, higher status job).
Pierre Bourdieu's work emphasized how social classes, especially the ruling and intellectual classes, preserve their social privileges across generations despite the myth that contemporary postindustrial society boasts equality of opportunity and high social mobility, achieved through education.
Bourdieu was an extraordinarily prolific author, producing hundreds of articles and three dozen books, nearly all of which are now available in English. His style is dense in English translation, but he was considered an elegant and incisive writer in French-speaking Europe.
Bourdieu's theory of power and practice
At the center of Bourdieu's sociological work is a logic of practice that emphasizes the importance of the body and practices within the social world. Against the intellectualist tradition, Bourdieu stressed that mechanisms of social domination and reproduction were primarily focused on bodily know-how and competent practices in the social world. Bourdieu fiercely opposed Rational Action Theory (Rational Choice Theory) as grounded in a misunderstanding of how social agents operate. Social agents do not, according to Bourdieu, continuously calculate according to explicit rational and economic criteria. Rather, social agents operate according to an implicit practical logic--a practical sense--and bodily dispositions. Social agents act according to their "feel for the game" (the "feel" being, roughly, habitus, and the "game" being the field).
Bourdieu's sociological work was dominated by an analysis of the mechanisms of reproduction of social hierarchies. In opposition to Marxist analyses, Bourdieu criticized the primacy given to the economic factors, and stressed that the capacity of social actors to actively impose and engage their cultural productions and symbolic systems plays an essential role in the reproduction of social structures of domination. What Bourdieu called symbolic violence (the capacity to ensure that the arbitrariness of the social order is ignored—-or misrecognized as natural—-and thus to ensure the legitimacy of social structures) plays an essential part in his sociological analysis.
For Bourdieu, the modern social world is divided into what he calls fields. For him, the differentiation of social activities led to the constitution of various, relativley autonomous, social spaces in which competition centers around particular species of capital. These fields are treated on a hierarchical basis and the dynamics of fields arises out of the struggle of social actors trying to occupy the dominant positions within the field. While Bourdieu shares prime elements of conflict theory with the Marxists, he diverges from Marxist analyses in thinking that social struggles are not reduced to the fundamentally economic conflicts between social classes. The conflicts which take place in each social field are largely specific to those fields and are not reducible to each other.
Pierre Bourdieu developed a theory of the action, around the concept of habitus, which exerted a considerable influence in the social sciences. This theory seeks to show that social agents develop strategies which are adapted to the needs of the social worlds that they inhabit. These strategies are unconscious and instead act on the level of a bodily logic.
Bourdieu shared Weber's view, contrary to traditional Marxism, that society cannot be analyzed simply in terms of economic classes and ideologies. Much of his work concerns the independent role of educational and cultural factors. Instead of analyzing societies in terms of classes, Bourdieu uses the concept of field: a social arena in which people maneuver and struggle in pursuit of desirable resources.
A field is a system of social positions (e.g. a profession such as law) structured internally in terms of power relationships (e.g. the power differential between judges and lawyers). More specifically, a field is a social arena of struggle over the appropriation of certain species of capital--capital being whatever is taken as significant for social agents (the most obvious example is monetary capital). Fields are organized both vertically and horizontally. This means that fields are not strictly analogous to classes, and are often autonomous, independent spaces of social play. The field of power is peculiar in that it exists 'horizontally' through all of the fields and the struggles within it control the 'exchange rate' of the forms of cultural, symbolic, or physical capital between the fields themselves. A field is constituted by the relational differences in position of social agents, and the boundaries of a field are demarcated by where its effects end. Different fields can be either autonomous or interrelated (e.g. consider the separation of power between judiciary and legislature) and more complex societies are "more differentiated" societies that have more fields.
Fields are constructed according to underlying nomos, fundamental principles of "vision and division" (the division between mind and body for example, or male and female), or organizing "laws" of experience that govern practices and experiences within a field. The nomos underlying one field is often irreducible to those underlying another, as in the noted disparity between the nomos of the aesthetic field that values cultural capital and in some sense discourages economic capital, and that of the economic field which values economic capital. Agents subscribe to a particular field not by way of explicit contract, but by their practical acknowledgement of the stakes, implicit in their very "playing of the game". The acknowledgement of the stakes of the field and the acquiring of interests and investments prescribed by the field is termed illusio.
Bourdieu re-elaborated the concept of habitus from Marcel Mauss--although it is also present in the works of Aristotle, Norbert Elias, Max Weber, and Edmund Husserl--and used it, in a more or less systematic way, in an attempt to resolve a prominent antinomy of the human sciences: objectivism and subjectivism. Habitus can be defined as a system of dispositions (lasting, acquired schemes of perception, thought and action). The individual agent develops these dispositions in response to the objective conditions they encounter. In this way Bourdieu theorizes the inculcation of objective social structures into the subjective, mental experience of agents. For the objective social field places requirements on its participants for membership, so to speak, within the field. Having thereby absorbed objective social structure into a personal set of cognitive and somatic dispositions, and the subjective structures of action of the agent then being commensurate with the objective structures and extant exigencies of the social field, a doxic relationship emerges.
Doxa are the fundamental, deep-founded, unthought beliefs, taken as self-evident universals, that inform an agent's actions and thoughts within a particular field. Doxa tends to favor the particular social arrangement of the field, thus privileging the dominant and taking their position of dominance as self-evident and universally favorable. Therefore, the categories of understanding and perception that constitute a habitus, being congruous with the objective organization of the field, tend to reproduce the very structures of the field. Bourdieu thus sees habitus as the key to social reproduction because it is central to generating and regulating the practices that make up social life.
Reconciling the Objective (Field) and the Subjective (Habitus)
As mentioned above, Bourdieu utilized the methodological and theoretical concepts of habitus and field in order to make an epistemological break with the prominent objective-subjective antinomy of the social sciences. He wanted to effectively unite social phenomenology and structuralism. Habitus and field are proposed to do so for they can only exist in relation to each other. While a field is constituted by the various social agents participating in it (and thus their habitus), a habitus, in effect, represents the transposition of objective structures of the field into the subjective structures of action and thought of the agent.
The relationship between habitus and field is a two-way relationship. The field exists only insofar as social agents possess the dispositions and set of perceptual schemata that are necessary to constitute that field and imbue it with meaning. On the other hand, by participating in the field agents incorporate into their habitus the proper know-how that will allow them to constitute the field. Habitus enacts the structures of the field, and the field mediates between habitus and practice.
Therefore, Bourdieu attempts to use the concepts of habitus and field to tear down the division between the subjective and the objective. (Whether or not he successfuly does so is debatable.) Bourdieu asserts that any research must be composed of two "minutes." The first an objective stage of research--where one looks at the relations of the social space and the structures of the field. The second stage must be a subjective analysis of social agents' dispositions to act and their categories of perception and understanding that result from their inhabiting the field. Proper research, he says, cannot do without these two together.
Symbolic capital and symbolic violence
Bourdieu sees symbolic capital (e.g. prestige, honour, the right to be listened to) as a crucial source of power. Symbolic capital is any species of capital that is perceived through socially inculcated classificatory schemes. When a holder of symbolic capital uses the power this confers against an agent who holds less, and seeks thereby to alter their actions, they exercise symbolic violence. We might see this when a daughter brings home a boyfriend considered unsuitable by her parents. She is met with disapproving looks and gestures, symbols which serve to convey the message that she will not be permitted to continue this relationship, but which never make this coercive fact explicit. People come to experience symbolic power and systems of meaning (culture) as legitimate. Hence the daughter will often feel a duty to obey her parents' unspoken demand, regardless of her suitor's actual merits. She has been made to misunderstand or misrecognize his nature. Moreover, by perceiving her parents' symbolic violence as legitimate, she is complicit in her own subordination - her sense of duty has coerced her more effectively than explicit reprimands could have done.
Symbolic violence is fundamentally the imposition of categories of thought and perception upon dominated social agents who then take the social order to be just. It is the incorporation of unthought structures that tend to perpetuate the structures of action of the dominant. The dominated then take their position to be "right." Symbolic violence is in some senses much more powerful than physical violence in that it is embedded in the very modes of action and structures of cognition of individuals, and imposes the vision of the legitimacy of the social order.
In his theoretical writings, Bourdieu employs some terminology of economics to analyze the processes of social and cultural reproduction, of how the various forms of capital tend to transfer from one generation to the next. For Bourdieu, education represents the key example of this process. Educational success, according to Bourdieu, entails a whole range of cultural behaviour, extending to ostensibly non-academic features like gait or accent. Privileged children have learned this behaviour, as have their teachers. Children of unprivileged backgrounds have not. The children of privilege therefore fit the pattern of their teachers' expectations with apparent 'ease'; they are 'docile'. The unprivileged are found to be 'difficult', to present 'challenges'. Yet both behave as their upbringing dictates. Bourdieu regards this 'ease', or 'natural' ability--distinction--as in fact the product of a great social labour, largely on the part of the parents. It equips their children with the dispositions of manner as well as thought which ensure they are able to succeed within the educational system and can then reproduce their parents' class position in the wider social system.
Cultural capital (e.g. competencies, skills, qualifications) can also be a source of misrecognition and symbolic violence. Therefore working class children can come to see the educational success of their middle-class peers as always legitimate, seeing what is often class-based inequality as instead the result of hard work or even 'natural' ability. A key part of this process is the transformation of people's symbolic or economic inheritance (e.g. accent or property) into cultural capital (e.g. university qualifications)- a process which the logic of the cultural fields impedes but cannot prevent.
Bourdieu insists on the importance of a reflexive sociology in which sociologists must at all times conduct their research with conscious attention to the effects of their own position, their own set of internalized structures, and how these are likely to distort or prejudice their objectivity. The sociologist, according to Bourdieu, must engage in a "sociology of sociology" so as not to unwittingly attribute the object of observation the characteristics of the subject. One must be cognizant of their own social positions within a field and recognize the conditions that both structure and make possible discourses, theories, and observations. A sociologist, therefore, must be aware of his or her own stakes and interests in the academic or sociological field and render explicit the conditions and structures of understanding that are implicitly imbued in his or her practices within those fields. Bourdieu's conception of reflexivity, however, is not singular or narcissistic, but must involve the contribution of the entire sociological field. Sociological reflexivity is a collective endeavor, spanning the entire field and its participants, aimed at exposing the socially conditioned unthought structures that underlay the formulation of theories and perceptions of the social world.
Bourdieu's sociology in general can be characterized as an investigation of the pre-reflexive conditions that generate certain beliefs and practices that are generated in capitalist systems.
Science and objectivity
Bourdieu contended there is transcendental objectivity, only there were certain historical conditions necessary for its emergence. Bourdieu's ideal scientific field is one that persistently designates upon its participants an interest or investment in objectivity. Transcendental objectivity, he argued, requires certain historical and social conditions for its production. The scientific field is precisely that field in which objectivity may be acquired. The structure of the scientific field is such that it becomes increasingly autonomous and its "entrance fee" becomes increasingly strict. Further, the scientific field entails rigorous intersubjective scrutinizing of theory and data. This makes it difficult for those within the field to bring in, for example, political influence. Therefore, the structure of the scientific field imposes upon its participants a habitus that has tacit interest or investment in objectivity.
Bourdieu takes language to be not merely a method of communication, but also a mechanism of power. The language one uses is designated by one's relational position in a field or social space. Different uses of language tend to reiterate the respective positions of each participant. Linguistic interactions, thus, are manifestations, or instantiations, of the participants' respective positions in social space and categories of understanding, and thus tend to reproduce the objective structures of the social field. This determines who has a right to be listened to, to interrupt, to ask questions, and to lecture, and the degrees thereof.
In its obituary, The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom said Bourdieu "was, for many, the leading intellectual of present-day France... a thinker in the same rank as Foucault, Barthes and Lacan". His works have been translated into two dozen languages and have had an impact on the whole gamut of disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities. Several works of his are considered classics, not only in sociology, but also in anthropology, education, and cultural studies. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste was named as one of the 20th century's ten most important works of sociology by the International Sociological Association. His book Outline of a Theory of Practice is among the most cited in the world. The Rules of Art has impacted sociology, history, literature and aesthetics.
In France, Bourdieu was not seen as an ivory tower academic or cloistered don, but as a passionate activist for those he believed subordinated by society. Again, from The Guardian: "[In 2003] a documentary film about Pierre Bourdieu — Sociology is a Combat Sport — became an unexpected hit in Paris. Its very title stressed how much of a politically engaged intellectual Bourdieu was, taking on the mantle of Emile Zola and Jean-Paul Sartre in French public life, and slugging it out with politicians because he thought that was what people like him should do."
For Bourdieu, sociology was a combatant effort at exposing the unthought structures that underly the somatic and cognitive practices of social agents. He saw sociology as a means of combating symbolic violence and exposing those unseen areas where one could be free.
Bourdieu's work has continued to be influential, and sociologists such as Loïc Wacquant have persisted to apply his theoretical and methodological principles to subjects such as boxing, employing what Bourdieu termed participant objectivization, or what Wacquant calls carnal sociology.
Selected works:
Les héritiers: les étudiants et la culture (1964), engl. The Inheritors: French Students and Their Relations to Culture, University of Chicago Press 1979
Algeria 1960: The Disenchantment of the World: The Sense of Honour: The Kabyle House of the World Reversed: Essays, Cambridge Univ Press 1979
Esquisse d'une théorie de la pratique, précédé de trois études d'ethnologie kabyle (1972), engl. Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge University Press 1977
La distinction (1979), engl. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Harvard University Press 1987
Homo Academicus, (French Edition) Les Éditions de Minuit, Paris, 1984. (English Edition) Polity (publisher) 1990
Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (Theory, Culture and Society Series), Sage, 1990, with Jean-Claude Passeron (in French: La Reproduction. Éléments pour une théorie du système d'enseignement, Minuit, 1970)
with Luc Boltanski e P. Maldidier, La défense du corps, in Social Science Information, vol. 10, n° 4, pp.45-86, 1971
with Luc Boltanski, Le titre et le poste : rapports entre système de production et système de reproduction, in Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, vol. 1, n° 2, pp. 95 – 107, 1975.
with Luc Boltanski, Le fétichisme de la langue, in Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, vol. 1, n° 4, pp. 2– 32, 1975.
with Luc Boltanski, La production de l'idéologie dominante, in Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, vol. 2, n° 2-3, 1976, pp. 4-73.
Choses dites, 1987 - In Other Words: Essays toward a Reflective Sociology, Stanford, 1990
The Political Ontology of Martin Heidegger, Polity (Publisher) 1991
The Love of Art: European Art Museums and Their Public, Stanford University Press 1991
Language & Symbolic Power, Harvard University Press 1991, paperback edition, Polity (publisher) 1992
An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology (with Loic Wacquant), University of Chicago Press and Polity (publisher) 1992
with Hans Haacke, Free Exchange, Stanford University Press 1995
(with Luc Boltanski and Robert Castel), Photography: A Middle-Brow Art, Stanford University Press 1996
Les régles de l'art, 1992 - Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field, Stanford University Press 1996
(with Monique De Saint Martin, Jean-Claude Passeron),Academic Discourse: Linguistic Misunderstanding and Professorial Power, Polity (publisher) 1996
Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action, Stanford University Press 1998
"La domination masculine" (1998), engl. Male Domination, Polity (publisher) 2001
State nobility. Elite Schools in the Field of Power, Polity (publisher) 1998
Weight of the World. Social Suffering in Contemporary Society, Polity (publisher) 1999
On Television, New Press 1999
Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyranny of the Market, New Press 1999
Pascalian Meditations, Polity (publisher) 2000
"Contre-Feux" (1998), engl. Counterfire: Against the Tyranny of the Market, Verso Books 2003
"Science de la science et réflexivité" (2002), engl Science of Science and Reflexivity, Polity (publisher) 2004
Interventions politiques (1960-2000). Textes & contextes d’un mode d’intervention politique spécifique, 2002
The Social Structures of the Economy, Polity (publisher) 2005
Calhoun, C. et al. (1992) "Pierre Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives." University of Chicago Press.
Lane, J.F. (2000) Pierre Bourdieu. A Critical Introduction. Pluto Press.
Wacquant, L. (2005) Pierre Bourdieu and Democratic Politics. Polity Press.
Fowler, Bridget, Pierre Bourdieu and Cultural Theory: Critical Investigations (London, California and New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1997).
Jean-Philippe Cazier [edit.],Abécédaire de Pierre Bourdieu, Sils Maria Press, 2007.

article in kirjasto

Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002)

French sociologist, anthropologist, philosopher, and champion of the anti-globalisation movement, whose work spanned a broad range of subjects from ethnography to art, literature, education, language, cultural tastes, and television. Bourdieu's most famous book is Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (1984). It was named one of the 20th century's 10 most important works of sociology by the International Sociological Association.
"Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier. Social subjects, classified by their classifications, distinguish themselves by the distinctions they make, between the beautiful and the ugly, the distinguished and the vulgar, in which their position in the objective classifications is expressed or betrayed." (from Distinction)
Pierre Bourdieu was born in the village of Denguin, in the Pyrénees' district of southwestern France. His father was the village postmaster. At school Bourdieu was a bright student but also gained fame as a star rugby player. He moved to Paris, where he studied at the École normale superiéure - his classmate was the philosopher Jacques Derrida. Bourdieu became interested in Merleau-Ponty, Husserl - Heidegger's Being and Time he had read earlier - and also in the writings of the young Marx for academic reasons. His thesis from 1953 was a translation and commentary of the Animadversiones of Leibniz. After attaining agrégé in philosophy, Bourdieu worked as a teacher for a year and was then drafted into the army. He served for two years in Algeria, where French troops tried to crush the Algerian rebels. In 1959-60 he lectured at the University of Algiers, and studied traditional farming and ethnic Berber culture. "I thought of myself as a philosopher and it took me a very long time to admit to myself that I had become an ethnologist," Bourdieu once said. In 1960 he returned to France as a self-taughtd anthropologist.
Bourdieu married in 1962 Marie-Claire Brisard. He studied anthropology and sociology, and taught at the University of Paris (1960-62) and at the University of Lille (1962-64). In 1964 he joined the faculty of the École pratique des Hautes Etudes. In 1968 he became director of the Centre de Sociologie Européenne, where with a group of colleagues he embarked on pioneering extensive collective research on problems concerned with the maintenance of a system of power by means of the transmission of a dominant culture. One of the central themes in his works was that culture and education are central in the affirmation of differences between social classes and in the reproduction of those differences. In La Reproduction (1970) Bourdieu argued, that the French educational system reproduces the cultural division of society. He also implied a correspondence between "symbolic violence" of pedagogic actions and the state's monopoly of the legitimate use of physical violence.
In 1975 Bourdieu launched the journal Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales, devoted to deconsecrating the mechanism by which cultural production helps sustain the dominant structure of society. In 1981 he was appointed to the prestigious chair of sociology at the Collège de France. By the late 1980s Bourdieu had become one of the French social scientists most frequently cited in the United States. For his students he became a guru, Bour-dieu (god), or a terrible example of terrorism in the disguise of sociology. In the mid-1990s Bourdieu participated in a number of activities outside academic circles. He supported striking rail workers, spoke for the homeless, was a guest at television programs, and in 1996 he founded the publishing company Liber/Raisons d'agir. In 1998 he published in the newspaper Le Monde an article, in which he compared the "strong discourse" of neoliberalism with the position of the psychiatric discourse in an asylum. Bourdieu's last publications dealt with such topics as masculine domination, neoliberal newspeak, Edouard Manet's art, and Beethoven. Bourdieu died of cancer in Paris at the Saint-Antoine hospital on January 24, 2002.
"Of all the oppositions that artificially divide social science, the most fundamental, and the most ruinous, is the one that is set up between subjectivism and objectivism." (from The Logic of Practice, 1980)
Key terms in Bourdieu's sociological thought are social field, capital, and habitus. Habitus is adopted through upbringing and education. The concept means on the individual level "a system of acquired dispositions functioning on the practical level as categories of perception and assessment... as well as being the organizing principles of action." Bourdieu argues that the struggle for social distinction is a fundamental dimension of all social life. Thorstein Veblen's (1857-1929) thoughts about conspicuous consumption come near Bourdieu's view, but Bourdieu has corrected that: "la distinction" has another meaning. It refers to social space and is bound up with the system of dispositions (habitus). Social space has a very concrete meaning when Bourdieu presents graphically the space of social positions and the space of lifestyles. His diagram in Distinction shows that spatial distances are equivalent to social distances. "The very title Distinction serves as a reminder that what is commonly called distinction, that is, a certain quality of bearing and manners, most often considered innate (one speaks of distinction naturelle, "natural refinement"), is nothing other than difference, a gap, a distinctive feature, in short, a relational property existing only in and through its relation with other properties." (from Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action, 1994)
All human actions take place within social fields, which are arenas for the struggle of the resources. Individuals, institutions, and other agents try to distinguish themselves from others, and acquire capital which is useful or valuable on the arena. In modern societies, there are two distinct systems of social hierarchization. The first is economic, in which position and power are determined by money and property, the capital one commands. The second system is cultural or symbolic. In this one's status is determined by how much cultural or "symbolic capital" one possesses. Culture is also a source of domination, in which intellectuals are in the key role as specialists of cultural production and creators of symbolic power. In Distinction, based on empirical material gathered in the 1960s, Bourdieu argued that taste, an acquired "cultural competence," is used to legitimise social differences. The habitus of the dominant class can be discerned in the notion that 'taste' is a gift from nature. Taste functions to make social "distinctions".
Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field (1992) examined the work of Flaubert, and how it was shaped by the different currents, movements, schools and authors of the time. It can also be read as a collective biography, a Bildungsroman, presentation of a method, and an examination of Bourdieu's own philosophy. On Television (1996), based on two lectures, was a surprise best seller in France. Bourdieu considered television a serious danger for all the various areas of cultural production. Television is degrading journalism because it must attempt to be inoffensive. "Above all, time limits make it highly unlikely that anything can be said. I am undoubtedly expected to say that this television censorship - of guests but also of the true journalists who are its agents - is political. It is true that political intervenes, and that there is political control... It is also true that at a time such as today, when great numbers of people are looking for work and there is so little job security in television and radio, there is a greater tendency toward political conformity. Consciously or unconsciously, people censor themselves - they don't need to be called into line."

For further reading: Bourdieu: A Critical Reader, ed. by Richard Shusterman (1999); Pierre Bourdieu; Language, culture and education - theory into practice, eds. Michael Grenfell, and Michael Kelly (1999); Le savant et la politique. Essai sur le terrorisme sociologique de Pierre Bourdieu by Jeannine Verdès-Leroux (1998); Pierre Bourdieu and Cultural Theory by Bridget Fowler (1997); Pierre Bourdieu: A Bibliography by Joan Nordquist (1997); Culture and Power by David Swartz (1997); Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives, ed. by Craig Calhoun, Edward LiPuma, and Moishe Postone (1993); Cultural Capital by John Guillory (1993); Pierre Bourdieu by Richard Jenkins (1992); An Introduction to the Work of Pierre Bourdieu, ed. by Richard Harker, Chellen Mahar, and Chris Wilkes (1990) - For further information: - Pierre Bourdieu link page - Bourdieu and the Sociology of Aesthetics by Jonathan Loesberg - The essence of neoliberalism by Pierre Bourdieu - Documentary film: La sociologie est un sport de combat, dir. by Pierre Charles, 146 mininutes (2001)
Selected works:
Leibnitii animadversiones in partem generalem principiorum Cartesianorum, 1953
Sociologie de l'Algérie, 1958 (rev. ed. 1961) - The Algerians
Travail et travailleurs en Algérie, 1963 (with Alain Darbel, Jean-Paul Rivet, Claude Seibel)
Le déracinement. La crise de l'agriculture traditionelle en Algérie, 1964 (with Abdelmalek Sayad)
Les hérities, 1964 (with Jean-Claude Passeron) - The Inheritors
Un art moyen. Essais sur les usages sociaux de la photographie, 1965 (with others) - Photography. A Middle-Brow Art
La reproduction. Elèments pour une théorie du système d'enseignement, 1970 - Reproduction in Education, Society, and Culture (with Jean-Claude Passeron)
Esquisse d'une théorie de la pratique, précéde de trois études d'ethnologie kabyle, 1972 - Outline of a Theory of Practice
La distinction. Critique sociale du jugement, , 1979 - Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste
Le sens pratique, 1980 - The Logic of Practice
Questions de sociologie, 1980 - Sociology in Question - Sosiologian kysymyksiä
Ce que parler veut dire. L'économie des échanges linguistiques, 1982 - Language and Symbolic Power
Homo academicus, 1984 - Homo Academicus
La Sociologie de Bourdieu. Textes choisis et commentés, 1986 (ed. by Alain Accardo und Philippe Corcuff)
Choses dites, 1987 - In Other Words: Essays toward a Reflective Sociology
L'ontologie politique de Martin Heidegger, 1988 - The Political Ontology of Martin Heidegger
La Noblesse d'état. Grandes écoles et esprit de corps, 1989 - The State Nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power
Les régles de l'art, 1992 - The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field
The Field of Cultural Production, 1993 (ed. by Randall Johnson)
Libre-Échange, 1994 - Free Exchange (with Hans Haacke) - Ajatusten vapaa-kauppa
1992 - An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology (with Loic Wacquant)
Raisons pratiques. Sur la théorie de l'action, 1994 - Practical Reason
Sur la télévision; suivi de l'emprise du journalisme, 1996 - On Television - Televisiosta
Méditations pascaliennes. Éléments pur une philosophie négative, 1997 - Pascalian Meditations.
Contre-feux. Propos pour servir à la résistance contre l'invasion néo-libérale, 1998 - Acts of Resistance: Against the New Myths of Our Time - Vastatulet
La domination masculine, 1998 - Masculine domination
Les structures sociales de l'économie, 2000
Propos sur le champ politique, 2000
Contre-Feux 2. Pour un mouvement social européen, 2001
Science de la science et réflexivité: Cours du Collège de France, 2000-2001, 2001
Langage et pouvoir symbolique, 2001
Interventions politiques (1960-2000). Textes & contextes d’un mode d’intervention politique spécifique, 2002
Science de la science et reflexivité, 2002

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mircea Eliade's Hermeneutics

article from kirjasto

Mircea Eliade (1907-1986)
Romanian-born historian of religion, fiction writer, and one of the pre-eminent interpreters of world religion in this century. Eliade was an intensely prolific author of fiction and non-fiction alike, publishing over 1,300 pieces over 60 years. He earned international fame with LE MYTHE DE L'ÉTERNAL RETOUR (1949, The Myth of the Eternal Return), an interpretation of religious symbols and imagery. Eliade was much interested in the world of the unconscious. The central theme in his novels was erotic love.
"In archaic and traditional societies, the surrounding world is conceived as a microcosms. At the limits of this closed world begins the domain of the unknown, of the formless. On this side there is ordered - because of inhabited and organized - space; on the other, outside this familiar space, there is the unknown and dangerous region of the demons, the ghosts, and the dead and foreigners - in a world, chaos or death or night. This image of an inhabited microcosm, surrounded by desert regions as a chaos or a kingdom of the dead, has survived even in highly evolved civilizations such as those of China, Mesopotamia and Egypt." (from Images and Symbols, 1952)
Mircea Eliade was born in Bucharest, Romania, as the son of Georghe (Ieremia) Eliade, an army officer. He had changed, according to Eliade, his name from Ieremia to Eliade due to his admiration for the writer Eliade-Radulescu. The family moved from Bucharest to Rimnicu-Sarat and later to Cernavoda. "In my memory," Eliade wrote in his autobiography, "that time spent there between the Danube and the brick-colored calcinated hills, where wild roses and tiny flowers with pale dry petals grew, is always lighted with sunshine." At school he was interested in biology and chemistry, and he had his own small laboratory. He read much, and increased this time reading books by sleeping only five-six hours. While collecting material in Italy for his study on Renaissance philosophers, he read Surendranath Dasgupta's work A History of Indian Philosophy, which impressed him deeply. After graduating in philosophy at Bucharest in 1928, he studied in India under Dasgupta at the University of Calcutta. Eliade was a talented student, but his relationship with Dasgupta became strained when he fell in love with Dasgupta's daughter Maitreya. During this period he wrote the erotic novel ISABEL SI APELE DIAVOLULUI (1930).
His experiences in the Himalayas, at Swami Shivananda's ashram, where he went to meditate, Eliade depicted in the novel MAITREYI (1933), which became a success. Eliade considered his tantric experiments in the Himalayas with the South African Jenny a proof that he had not understood India. "My vocation was culture, not sainthood." After military service Eliade took his doctorate in 1933 - his thesis dealt with the history of yogic techniques. In the same year Eliade was appointed associate professor in the faculty of letters at Bucharest University. In 1934 he married Nina Mares; she died of cancer in 1944. After publishing DOMNISOARA CHRISTINA (1936) Eliade was accused of pornography and dismissed from his office for a short time. The protagonist in the novel, based on Rumanian folk stories, was a strigoi, a ghost or vampire. The story dealt with the meaning of erotic life and death in human life.
In the 1930s and 1940s Eliade published several works of fiction. The unifying element of Eliade's early fiction is a strong, autobiographical bent. Isabel si apele diavolui was a thinly disguised story of a love affair between a European man and an Indian girl. In INTOARCEREA DIN RAI (1934) and HULIGANII (1935) the author went beyond his personal self, and depicted the 20th-century reincarnations of the older 'nihilists'. The 'hooligan' in the title referred to a person, who is guided by his inner visions and youthful energy, and who doesn't approve of the rules or beliefs of the outside world. LUMINA CE SE STINGE (1934) was an experimental novel using a Joycean stream-of-consciousness technique. Eliade's growing interest in the supernatural was seen in Domnisoara Christina, SARPELE (1937) and SECRETUL DOCTORULUI HONIGBERGER (1940, Two Tales of the Occult), which included the tales 'Nopti la Serampore' and 'Secretul doctorului Honigberger'. The title of the book referred to Dr. J.M. Honigberger, writer of the book Thirty-five Years in the East (1952).
In 1938 Nae Ionescu, professor at the faculty of philosophy, was arrested and Eliade was dismissed as his assistent. Ionescu was accused of being member of the Iron Guard, an extreme-right-wing Romanian organization, anti-Semitic, with Nazi sympathies. Soon also Eliade was arrested and he spent a short time in a concentration camp. From 1940 Eliade worked as a Romanian cultural attaché in London and in Lisbon (1941-44). After WW II he did not return to his home country, but held posts at various European universities. He lectured at the Sorbonne and taught for a while at the École des Hautes Ètudes and elsewhere. His friends during this period included Eugène Ionesco, Georges Dumèzil, and Georges Bataille. In 1950 he married Christinel Cotrescu. The Forbidden Forest, which Eliade considered his major novel, appeared in 1954.
Eliade started to write The Myth of the Eternal Return in 1945, in the aftermath of World War II, when Europe was in ruins, and Communism was conquering Eastern European countries. The essay dealt with mankind's experience of history and time, especially the conceptions of being and reality. According to Eliade, in modern times people have lost their contact with natural cycles, known in traditional societies. Eliade saw that for human beings their inner, unhistorical world, and its meanings, were crucial. Behind historical processes are archaic symbols. Belief in a linear progress of history is typical for the Christian world view, which counters the tyranny of history with the idea of God, but in the archaic world of archetypes and repetition the tyranny of history is accepted. Stoics created from the concept of the eternal cycle a theory which embraced the whole universe. Eliade contrasts the Western linear view of time with the Eastern cyclical world view. In the 19th century Nietzsche's criticism of Christian dogmas brought back the idea of the eternal cycle to Western discussion. These ideas were further developed by Oswald Spengler in his study The Decline of the West (1918-1922).
Eliade's major theoretical and scholarly works in the 1940s and 1950s include TRAITE D'HISTOIRE DES RELIGIONS (1949, Patterns of Comparative Religion), Le mythe de l'éternel retrour, and MYTHES, RÉVES ET MYSTÈRES (1957, Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries ). HISTOIRE DES CROYANCES ET DES IDÉES RELIGIEUSES (3 vols. 1976-1983, A History of Religious Ideas) has been called the synthesis of Eliade's work as a scholar. "The breadth and depth of Eliade's learning," wrote Roger Corless, "which astonished all who met him, his reverence toward the tradition he studied, and his intense, infectious enthusiasm, were an assurance that, if anyone could find what was religious about religion(s), he could. I believe the record shows that he could not. As a result, we now know a great deal more about religion(s) and we can ask totally new questions about it/them." ('Building on Eliade's Magnificent Failure, in Changing Religious Worlds: The Meaning and End of Mircea Eliade, ed. by Bryan S. Rennie, 2000).
In 1956 Eliade joined the faculty of the University of Chicago. Eliade remained in the United States until his death on April 23, 1986. Five years later the Divinity School of the University of Chicago became, dramatically, the scene of Ioan Culianu's death. Culianu - the professor of the history of religion, Eliade's professional heir - was killed in the restroom. He suspected that - allegedly - Eliade had been associated with the Iron Guard. After Eliade's death he started to develop his own theory of history. (see Eros, Magic, and the Murder of Professor Culianu by Ted Anton, 1997)
A central theme in Eliade's works was that the archaic religions made sacred the world in a fashion no longer available. Through the understanding of the relationship between the sacred and the profane it is possible to begin to understand the world of the past. Eliade's creative hermeneutics has received considerable criticism, and it has been said that his "main position is shrouded in ambiguities". Claude-Henri Rocquet has suggested the reader of Eliade is involved in "a hermeneutics without end, since even as we read Eliade, we are interpreting him, just as he is interpreting some Iranian symbol".
Eliade was a Christian and Jungian - he met Carl Jung for the first time in 1950, and two years later he interviewed Jung at the Eranos Conference. "The modern world is desacralized," Jung said in the interview, "that is why it is in a crisis. Modern man must rediscover a deeper source of his own spiritual life." Also Eliade's works, such as Myths, Dreams and Mysteries, and ASPECTS DU MYTHE (1963, Myth and Reality), stressed the relevance of ancient religions for contemporary man. However, Jung insisted that the images of archaic man are much closer to the European and American psyche than Eliade admitted. Eliade later stopped using the term "archetype", which is familiar from Jung's works, in order to avoid Jungian and other misinterpretations.
In LE SACRÉ ET LE PROFANE (1959, The Sacred and the Profane) Eliade argued that "the manifestation of the sacred ontologically founds the world." The traditional man, 'homo religiosus', had a strong will to live within the sacred.or near the sacred objects. A sacred place possesses an unique existential value for religious man, but for nonreligious man, space is neutral. Although modern man seems to experience the world completely as profane, ancient myths, taboos, and rituals still nourish life in the West, but in a corrupted form.
According to Eliade, shamanism is "one of the archaic techniques of ecstasy - at once mysticism, magic, and 'religion' in the broadest sense of the term". He wanted to restrict the term 'shaman' to those who went into trances and who would address the tribe through a spirit or would visit the spirit world and return. James Frazer described bluntly the evidence of superhuman powers in The Golden Bough (1890) as spurious, but Eliade himself was convinced that shamanism had a paranormal component. In Shamanism (1968) he argued that epics of ancient poets and certain kinds of fairy tales derive from ecstatic journeys and mystical flights. Throughout his life Eliade believed that there are things in life that cannot be explained.
In his novels Eliade used the conventional repertory of fantasy: vampires, serpents, ghosts, time warp, searches for immortality. Most of Eliade's postwar fiction dealt with the hidden world behind everyday reality. Among his masterpieces is FORÊT INTERDITE (1955, The Forbidden Forest), which appeared in English in 1978. PE STRADA MANTULEASA (1968, The Old Man and the Bureaucrats) is an allusive and symbolic novella in which a schoolteacher detained for questioning by Communist authorities beguiles his captors with stories, as the enslaved Sheherazade in The Arabian Nights.
For further reading: Mircea Eliade and the Dialectic of the Sacred by T.J.J. Altizer (1963); Myths & Symbols, ed. by J.K. Kitagawa and C. Long (1969); The Role of Myth in Religion: a Study of Mircea Eliade's Phenomenology of Religion by G.R. Slater (1973); Mircea Eliade and the Dialectic of the Sacred by Thomas J. Altizer (1975); Structure and Creativity in Religion by D. Allen (1977); L'herméneutique de Mircea Eliade by A. Marino (1981); Imagination and Meaning, ed. by N. Girardot and M.L. Ricketts (1982); Mircea Eliade: The Romanian Roots, 1907-1945 by Mac Linscott Ricketts (1988); Waiting for the Dawn, ed. by David Carrasco and Jane Marie Law (1991); Reading and Responding to Mircea Eliade's History of Religious Ideas by John R. Mason (1993); Mircea Eliade's Vision for a New Humanism by David Cave, John David Cave (1995); Reconstructing Eliade by Bryan S. Rennie (1996); Myth and Religion in Mircea Eliade by Douglas Allen (1998); The Politics of Myth by Robert S. Ellwood (1999); Changing Religious Worlds: The Meaning and End of Mircea Eliade, ed. by Bryan S. Rennie (2000)

Selected works:
The Comparative History of Yoga Techniques, 1933 (doctoral thesis)
INDIA, 1934
YOGA: ESSAI SUIR LES ORIGINES DE LA MYSTIQUE INDIENNE, 1936 - Yoga: Essay on the Origins of Indian Mysticism
SECRETUL DOCTORULUI HONIGBERGER, 1940 - Two Tales of the Occult / Two Strange Tales
LE MYTHE DE L'ÉTERNEL RETOUR, 1949 - The Myth of the Eternal Return - Ikuisen paluun myytti
TRAITÈ D'HISTOIRE DES RELIGIONS, 1949 - Patterns in Comparative Religion
LE CHAMANISME ET LES TECHNOQUES ARCHAÏQUES DE L'EXTASE, 1951 - Shamanism: Archaic Technoque of Ecstacy
IMAGES ET SYMBOLES, 1952 - Images and Symbols
LE YOGA: IMMORTALITÈ ET LIBERTÈ, 1952 - Yoga, Immortality and Freedom
LA FORÊT INTERDITE, 1954 - The Forbidden Forest
FORGERONS ET ALCHIMISTES, 1956 - The Forge and the Crucible
NUVELE, 1963
MYTHES, RÉVES ET MYSTÈRES, 1957 - Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries
LE SACRÉ ET LE PROFANE, 1959 - The Sacred and the Profane (trans. by Willard Trask) - Pyhä ja profaani (suom. Teuvo Laitila)
NAISSANCES MYSTIQUES, 1959 - Birth and Rebirth
PATANJALI ET LA YOGA, 1962 - Patanjali and Yoga
NUVELE, 1963
ASPECTS DU MYTHE, 1963 - Myth and Reality
From Primitives to Zen, 1967
Shamanism, 1968
PE STRADA MANTULEASA, 1968 - La vieil homme et l'officier (1977) - The Old Man and the Bureaucrats
Fantastic Tales, 1969
The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion, 1969
DE ZALMOXIS À GENGIS-KHAN, 1970 - Zalmosis: The Vanishing God
Australian Religions, 1973
FRAGMENTS D'UN JOURNAL, 1973 - No Souvenirs
Occultism, Witchcraft and Cultural Fashions, 1976
ed.: HISTOIRE DES CROYANCES ET DES IDÉES RELIGIEUSES, 1976 (vol. 1) - A History of Religious Ideas, vol. 1
ed.: HISTOIRE DES CROYANCES ET DES IDÉES RELIGIEUSES, 1978 (vol. 2) - A History of Religious Ideas, vol. 2
MÉMOIRES (1907-1937), 1980 - Autobiography: Vol. I
Ordeal by Layrinth, 1982
ed.: HISTOIRE DES CROYANCES ET DES IDÉES RELIGIEUSES, 1983 (vol. 3) - A History of Religious Ideas, vol. 3
Two Strange Tales, 1986
The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 1, 1986
PELERINA, 1988 - Youth without Youth and Other Novellas
Autobiography: 1937-1960, 1988
Journal III: 1970-1978, 1989
Autobiography: 1907-1937, 1990 (paperback)
Journal I: 1945-1955, 1990
Journal IV: 1979-1985, 1990
The Eliade Guiden to World Religions, 1991
Mystic Stories, 1992
Encyclopedia of Religion, Vols. 1 & 2 bound in 1 book, Vol 1, 1993
Bengal Nights, 1994
The Harpercollins Concise Guide to World Religions, 2000 (with Ioan P. Culianu, Hillary S. Wiesner)


article from Geocities

Mircea Eliade's Methods in the Study of History of Religions

by Octavian Sarbatoare (BA USyd)

The Romanian-born author and scholar of religious studies Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) is credited with a substantial contribution to the advancement of the study of history of religions. As Eric J. Sharpe puts it, Eliade 'ranges far and wide over the world of religion.'1 It is our attempt in this paper, to analyse Eliade's methods in the study of history of religions by looking into the relevant textual material found in Eliade's works as well as uncovering some of their critique.
Although there are numerous contributions written about Eliade's hermeneutics, we intend to add more data to the subject by pointing out to other ideas, which suggest an influence upon Eliade's hermeneutics, particularly in relation to his Romanian spiritual roots we share in common. We briefly argue that Eliade's hermeneutics has been decisively influenced by the spiritual milieux of his native Romania, and that his history of religions evolved as scholarly construct of the empirical experience of the sacred he encountered first in his country of birth. Worth mentioning is that Eliade's major works were initially written in Romanian language, that was for him a way of being connected to his origins, a theme prevalent in his hermeneutics (vid. inf.). For the start in our paper, we attempt to analyse Eliade's methods in the study of history of religions by engaging with his major ideas, followed by the exposition of some Romanian influences, then the critique of Eliade's legacy (further down the track in our work).
By comparative methods Eliade attempts to separate elemental and timeless patterns of religious life, in order to arrive at what is constant and beyond the transitory aspects of time. For Eliade, religion is basically the experience of the sacred related to the ideas of "being", "meaning" and "truth" (French: d'être, de signification et de vérité; Romanian: a fi, semnificaţie/ înţeles şi realitate/ adevăr).2 Part of our argument is developed based on these three lines. According to Eliade, the importance of the sacred experience is paramount. The sacred as 'a universal dimension'3 plays a significant role in the history of humanity because 'the beginnings of culture are rooted in religious experiences and beliefs'.4 One idea in Eliade's view of meaning of religion is in relation to "being" (d'être), as notion of existence and key ontological element of his hermeneutics.
The basic archetypes are, according to Eliade, the meaning and value of existence for traditional humanity. Indicative of archetypes and repetition in the history of religions is Eliade's work Le mythe de l'éternal retour: Archétypes et répétition5 in which the idea of patterns of religious experience is prevalent. For Eliade, the evidence for the 'morphology of the sacred' is provided by archaic cultures. For the archaic man, reality is a function of imitating a celestial archetype (archétype céleste).6 Reality is accessed by participation into the 'symbolism of the Centre' (symbolisme du Centre7), in which constructions like temples become real for being assimilated into the 'Centre of the World' (Centre du Monde).8 The profane transmutes into sacred by imitating the ab origine actions of gods, heroes or ancestors.9 As Eliade puts it, 'the sacred always manifests itself as a reality of a wholly different order from "natural" realities.'10 In Eliade's view, the basic 'definition of the sacred is that it is the opposite of the profane,'11 its act of manifestation being designated by the term hierophany.12 Such hierophanies play a crucial role in the history of religions. Eliade writes that:

the history of religions – from the most primitive to the most highly developed – is constituted by a great number of hierophanies, by manifestations of sacred realities. From the most elementary hierophany – e.g., manifestation of the sacred in some ordinary object, a stone or a tree – to the supreme hierophany (which, for a Christian, is the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ) there is no solution of continuity. In each case we are confronted by the same mysterious act – the manifestation of something of a wholly different order, a reality that does not belong to our world, in objects that are an integral part of our natural "profane" world. 13

Thus, according to Eliade, there are two modes of being in the world: the sacred and the profane (German: das Heilige und das Profane French: le sacré et le profane).14 While the profane is just the negation of the sacred, it is the sacred in its qualitative aspects that are regarded to be of paramount importance. First, according to Eliade, a sacred space (l'espace sacré) has to be defined in relation to the making the world sacred. The sacred space is part of 'the only real'15 that can bring 'revelation of the absolute reality.'16 Then, there is the sacred time (le temps sacré) that is reversible for being 'a primordial mythical time made present.'17 The nature plays a key role because 'sacrality is revealed through the very structure of the world'18 (French: la sacralité se révèle à travers les structures même du Monde19). Finally, the aim of the religious experience is to live a sanctified life (vie sanctifiée) 'on a twofold plane; it takes its course as human existence and, at the same time, shares in a transhuman life, that of the cosmos or the gods.'20 Thus, living the experience of the sacred goes beyond the ordinary perception of life. The entire planet Earth is regarded as terra genetrix, the divine anthropocosmic being, who is the creator and nurturer of great proportions.21 But, whoever is engaged in the religious quest, and wants to go beyond the ordinary perception of life, has to learn the means by which the sacred manifests. Thus, we have the second aspect of religion, which according to Eliade is linked to the idea of "meaning".
In order to construct the sense of the "meaning" (signification) as relevant to the religious experience, Eliade starts from the time of Palaeolithic hunters after the Ice Age, about 8000 BCE, that was a time, he believes, when a religious symbolism emerged as a consequence of a radical change of the climate and landscape.22 According to Eliade, that was the time when archaic religious ideas developed in relation to the mythology of origins like 'origin of the world, of game, of man, of death23 – that is typical of hunting civilisations.'24 With the transition from hunting and gathering type of civilisation to the one based on cultivation of cereals (thus the practice of agriculture, and domestication of animals),25 Eliade continues, the religious symbolism26 became enriched by new magico-religious meanings; the alimentary theologies as new religious myths generated new kinds of behaviour.
For instance, Eliade assumes that the pre-Neolithic people believed that 'edible tubers and fruits (coconut, banana, etc.) were born from an immolated divinity.'27 Expounding further, Eliade describes 'that all responsible activities (puberty ceremonies, animal or human sacrifices, cannibalism, funeral ceremonies, etc.) properly speaking constitute a recalling, a "remembrance," of the primordial murder.'28 'This primordial murder radically changed the human condition, for it introduced sexuality and death29 and first established the religious and social institutions that are still in force.'30 A significant feature of the religious life became 'the mystical solidarity between man and vegetation,'31 but 'religious creativity was stimulated, not by the empirical phenomenon of agriculture, but by the mystery of birth, death, and rebirth identified in the rhythm of vegetation.32 Thus:

The agrarian cultures develop what might be called a cosmic religion, since religious activity is concentrated around the central mystery: the periodical renewal of the world. Like human existence, the cosmic rhythms are expressed in terms drawn from vegetable life. The mystery of cosmic sacrality is symbolised in the World Tree. The universe is conceived as an organism that must be renewed periodically – in other words, each year'.33

Furthermore, Eliade asserts that the human can access the "absolute reality" thus:

"Absolute reality," rejuvenation, immortality are accessible to certain privileged persons through the power residing in a certain fruit or in a spring near a tree. The Cosmic Tree is held to be at the centre of the world, and it unites the three cosmic regions, for it sends roots down into the underworld, and its top touches the sky.34

Full of hermeneutical ideas of the sacred is Eliade's work Patterns in Comparative Religions, perhaps the most complete scholarly construct concerning the structure and morphology of the sacred in Eliade's view.
Here we have the significant ideas of the emergence of the sacred as experience within human communities, and the gradual conscious progression from the profane to the sacred. The hierophanies of multiple aspects emerged in so-called "primitive" religion35 in which the sky and sky gods play an important role for the sacred religious experience. Eliade writes about the sky symbolism thus:

The sacred as manifested by the sky lives on in men's religious experience, after the actual sky god has faded into the background, in the symbolism of "height", "ascension", "centre", and so on.36

Furthermore, Eliade asserts, the mountains as the nearest thing to the sky are endowed with holiness, sharing in the spatial symbolism of transcendence as places of the dwelling of the gods.37 There are, according to Eliade, hierophanies of the Sun in which a "solarisation" of Supreme Beings occurred.38 There is a mystique of the Moon in a symbolism related to waters, vegetation, fertility, and initiation as cosmo-biology and mystical physiology.39 The water symbolism is related to the links between the earth, woman and fertility.40 The vegetation plays a central role for the rites and symbols of regeneration,41 which is regarded as sacred time and part of an eternal renewal. Eliade writes that:

what we may call the "history" of primitive societies consists solely of the mythical events, which took place in illo tempore and have been unceasingly repeated from that day to this.42

In such terms, Eliade takes up the issue of phenomenological structure and historical contingency and poses a solution. Thus, in his hostility to history Eliade asserts that the truly "historic" events are those that present importance as having mythico-historic precedent, for the various symbolic forms related to the sacred are not products of historical circumstances, although they might influence them, but major factors in religious life.43 As Eliade argues, the renewal of the world by repetition of the cosmogony is part of the structure of the myths (la structure des myths). The rites of renewal (rites de renouvellement) aim at a renaissance mystique of the world.44 Such rites, Eliade argues, are to be found among the Australians and a number of North American tribes.45 In Eliade's view, the religious symbolism as a vast hermeneutical theme, he supports by examples, particularly by looking for meanings of various customs of people of today who still belong culturally to archaic cultures. Thus Eliade relies decisively on valorisation of the archaic.
One example is the symbolic meaning of burials among the Kogi Indians, a tribe of natives in Colombia. Eliade writes that:

the Kogi identify the world – womb of the Universal Mother – with each village, each cult house, each habitation, and each grave. When the shaman lifts the corpse nine times, he indicated the return of the body to the foetal state by going through the nine months of gestation in reverse order. And since the grave is assimilated to the world, the funerary offerings acquire a cosmic meaning.46

As a conclusion to the link of religion to the interpretation of "meaning" it can be said that by understanding the symbol a religious person can attain to the highest spirituality, thus living the universal. The sacred as "meaning" (signification) is thus paramount for the understanding of the "truth" as experience of the sacred.
Thus, we have the third aspect of religion according to Eliade as being linked to the idea of "truth" (vérité) in which the homo religiosus has to rest upon. Among all symbols and mysteries the homo religiosus has to find their meaning because 'becoming aware of his own mode of being and assuming his presence in the world together constitute a "religious" experience.'47 The homo religiosus, as model of the human motivated by an irreducible religious intentionality, has to rest upon the idea of the existence of a final truth. Eliade writes:

The homo religiosus represents the "total man"; hence, the science of religions must become a total discipline in the sense that it must use, integrate, and articulate the results obtained by the various methods of approaching a religious phenomenon.48

By practices and behaviour, the religious man attempts to remain as long as possible in a sacred universe thus having a different experience of life 'in comparison with the experience of the man without religious feelings, of the man who lives, or wishes to live, in a desacralized world.'49 For the religious man, in his mode of living the experience of the sacred, consecrates own life to 'the sacrality with which man's vital functions (food, sex, work and so on) can be charged.'50 For example, once being a participant to a festival as sacred time event, the religious man:

experiences intervals of time that are "sacred," that have no part in the temporal duration that precedes and follows them, that have a wholly different structure and origin, for they are of a primordial time, sanctified by the gods and capable of being made present by the festival.'51

Thus for the homo religiosus the liturgical time has a transhuman quality.52 The nature entirely 'is always fraught with a religious value.'53 for structures of the sacrality of nature represent cosmic hierophanies.54 But, there is more to the existential situation of the homo religiosus, as Eliade writes:

All his behaviour, his understanding of the world, the values he accords to life and to his own existence, arise and become articulated in a "system" on the basis of this belief that his house or his village is situated near the axis mundi.'55

Eliade asserts, in the case of such beliefs, that 'demystification does not serve hermeneutics,'56 as he calls for 'a creative hermeneutics in the perspective of the history of religions.'57 For in the last instance, Eliade's journey into the history of religions is about self-discovery and self-understanding, according to Taylor.58
Olson sees Eliade's creative hermeneutics as an anthropological view upon the history of religions that leads to a change in human beings, and a source for new cultural values.59 It appears to be a farsighted concept, for it has a vision for humanity, although so far there are no signs of happening. For Eliade, the modern societies, the virtual destruction of the sense of the sacred, the attenuation of rituals and the relegation of myth to the subconscious amounts to a new Fall,60 a vision looking almost prophetic that has generated scholarly debates (vid. inf.). As Eliade puts it, this phenomenon of a desacralized world is quite new, for 'the completely profane world, the wholly desacralized cosmos, is a recent discovery in the history of the human spirit.'61 By changes in 'spiritual attitudes and behaviour modern man has desacralized his world and assumed a profane existence.'62 As Eliade writes,:

it is enough to observe that desacralization pervades the entire experience of the nonreligious man of modern societies and that, in consequence, he finds it increasingly difficult to rediscover the existential dimensions of religious man in the archaic societies.63

But, 'the nostalgia for a lost mystical solidarity with nature still haunts Western man'.64 Eliade regards life as mythological in structure, thus his new humanism is spiritual in nature. As David Cave, one of the defenders of Eliade, puts it, Eliade's new humanism has 'a spiritual, humanistic orientation toward totality capable of modifying the quality of human existence itself,'65 for his transhistorical humanism aims at 'escaping profane time, the time of decay and of dualism, and of entering into sacred time.'66 Furthermore Cave argues, 'for Eliade, the principal way in which the profane time acquires meaning as sacred time is when it repeats a cosmogony.'67 that is the reliving of a primordial creative moment. We now attempt to unveil some ideas in relation to Eliade's Romanian spiritual roots, i.e. the Romanian folklore and popular culture, which are regarded as sources of inspiration for his scholarly construct of the history of religions.
A comparative study on Zalmoxis, an ancient god prevalent in the areas of historical Dacia (about the present day Romania), is subject to Eliade's work Zalmoxis the Vanishing God: Comparative Studies in the Religions and Folklore of Dacia and Eastern Europe.68 Mac Linscott Ricketts, one of the scholars of history of religions who has learned Romanian language and travelled to Romania in order to create a biography of Mircea Eliade, makes a good assessment of Eliade's influence from symbols found in Romanian folklore. The legend of Meşterul Manole (Master Manole) is relevant as an archaic myth of creation through sacrifice.69 The ritualistic use of certain healing plants like mandrake (Romanian: mandragora) for example, is indicative of the power of the gods manifested as essence of a plant. The cult of the mandragora is described as prevalent in Romania70 as part of the practices of so-called Romanian "Shamanism".71 Thus, such concrete elements provided the row material for the construct of a theory on the history of religions in which symbolism appears to play a key role. The formative years of Eliade as the future scholar in the study of history of religions were marked by Romanian folklore inspiration. For the construct of his hermeneutics Eliade used the examples of certain remnant practices of archaic societies still found in Romania today, in a 'very old rural civilization, with its roots in the Neolithic but enriched by later cultural influences.'72 Thus Eliade's cultural roots in native Romania proved to be primary material which inspired him to create a composite scholarly interpretation of the experience of the sacred in relation to the understanding of the religious phenomena. Although Eliade admits that the Indian spirituality helped him 'to understand the structures of Romanian culture,'73 it did not add anything substantial to the basic ideas about the history of religions Eliade formed already while being in Romania. Eliade writes:

The common elements of Indian, Balkan, and Mediterranean folk culture proved to me that it is here that organic universalism exists, that it is the result of a common history (the history of peasant cultures) and not an abstract construct.74

Thus, the major point Eliade wants to make in relation to an organic universalism is that 'the Romanian folk creations were articulated in a much broader perspective'75 pertaining to universalism as vision for history of religions. Basically, Eliade's famous theme of the 'mythe de l'éternal retour' (Romanian: mitul eternei întoarceri) applies not only to the ideas of human societies re-enacting the sacred in one form or another, but also at personal level for an individual. This is precisely what Eliade wants to communicate: societies and individuals again and again re-enact a theme born or acquired at the time and place of their origin.76 For 'la nostalgie des origines' (Romanian: nostalgia originilor) is seen by Eliade as one of the universals for both communities and individuals.
Although Eliade's scholarly construct of hermeneutics was influenced by other authors of similar approaches (particularly the phenomenological) to the study of history of religions, his personal experience of the sacred acquired from his native spiritual roots, from what he calls Romanian folk spirituality (Romanian: spiritualitatea populară românească), played a major role. Eliade asserts for example that his 'efforts to understand the structures of archaic and Oriental thought contributed more genuinely to the decipherment of the values of Romanian folk spirituality' than other sociological interpretations.77 Other authors who studied the Romanian folklore and popular culture show indeed elements that are recognised in Eliade's hermeneutics. There is for instance in Ana Cartianu's Romanian Folk Tales work, there is a tale called "Youth Everlasting and Life without End" (Romanian: Tinereţe fără bătrâneţe şi viaţă fără de moarte).78 Here the hero of Romanian folk tales known as Făt-Frumos, who had a miraculous birth by the use of special herbs by his mother, is endowed with magical powers. Făt-Frumos starts a journey in search for a place where there is everlasting youth, thus immortality, a kind of Shambhala (the mythical kingdom of happiness and immortality), which he discovers eventually. In the Tinereţe fără bătrâneţe şi viaţă fără de moarte tale we identify the use of magical herbs and the quest for immortality, as ideas that Eliade integrated into his hermeneutics (vid. sup.). Another example we find relevant to our inquiry is in the scholarly research done by Gail Kligman in Romania, and made available to the public in her book The Wedding of the Dead: Ritual, Poetics, and Popular Culture in Transylvania. Kligman discovered in Romania the strange idea of the wedding of the dead (Romanian: Nunta mortului) in which the funerals of an unmarried young person are mixed with marriage ceremonies. The deceased bride or groom, who are dressed in wedding attire,79 are married to a divine being as ideal marriage.80 The divine is symbolically represented by a virgin bride for a dead young man, or by a crown for a deceased girl.81 As Kligman writes, the symbolic marriage ceremony, 'the death-wedding becomes a cosmic marriage.'82 Such elements were later integrated by Eliade in his notion of hierogamy, the sacred marriage, which is basically a form of heaven-earth interaction and union. As Eliade asserts, the findings from the study of comparative folklore and ethnology in Romania were of historico-religious values and much relevant to his hermeneutics.83 We give one more example from the Romanian folk tradition we find relevant for the peasant culture, in which we have personal experience.
There is for instance a folk custom known as paparuda (Pl. paparudele) that hardly could be translated as word, but described as practice only. It is a ritualistic dance performed by one or more virgin girls during a time of drought. Many people assembly at such a ceremony in which chanting is performed to propitiate the coming of rain to save the crop that is in danger of being destroyed. During the chanting, the virgin girl (Romanian: fata virgină) is thoroughly washed with buckets of water as ritualistic mode of sacrifice to the Divine. In other words by the connection between a virgin girl and water, those performing paparuda custom are offering the purity that comes with the involvement of a virgin girl in exchange for water as rain they are asking the Divine to send. This is a relevant example of a surviving archaic custom denoting the practice of the sacred in the Romanian culture that we find to be in tune with Eliade's hermeneutics of the history of religions. On the other hand, Eliade's hermeneutics of history of religions has generated both founded and unfounded criticism.
As far as the modern interpretations of myth are concerned, Eliade places himself within the group of scholars from Max Müller to Claude Lévi-Strauss who advanced the history on the subject.84 Like the case of any other scholar in the study of religion, Eliade's ideas on the history of religions have been criticised from various view angles. Cunningham gives credit of inspiration to Carl Jung (1875-1961) and Rudolf Otto (1869-1937) for Eliade's hermeneutics85 although not taking into account Eliade's spiritual roots and background (vid. sup.). But Eliade did not intend to construct an entirely new vision on the history of religions, but to build upon other similar ideas, thus enlarging the picture. Eliade admits that 'Otto's analyses have not lost their value,'86 but he (Eliade) adopts a different perspective,87 when he writes:

We propose to present the phenomenon of the sacred in all its complexity, and not only in so far as it is irrational. What will concern us is not the relation between the rational and the nonrational elements of religion but the sacred in its entirety.88

Carl Jung appears to be of inspiration to Eliade. In relation to Eliade's views to express human realities and spiritual values in a cultural language and his originality of ideas, Eric J. Sharpe writes:

Perhaps it would not be too far-fetched to suggest that Jung gave Eliade at least part of the grammar of that language; the comparative study of religion provides the vocabulary; the syntax, however, is Eliade's own.89

On the other hand, Eliade's understanding of hermeneutics has 'been criticised for its antihistorical bias and eclectic use of data drawn from the religions of non-literate peoples,'90 but the evidence of Eliade's hermeneutical enquiry is that it leads from the data of history to the search for their trans-historical meaning and value.91 The trans-cultural validity of hermeneutics of history of religions is part of an ongoing debate.92 Later criticism, after Eliade's death, became more virulent, and connected to the alleged involvement of Eliade into anti-Semitism and the nationalistic movements in Romania before the Second World War, although 'no genuinely damning evidence has been forthcoming.'93 In a rush to denigrate Eliadean legacy, the recent most relevant case of unfounded criticism of Eliade is that of McCutcheon's. As we shall see, McCutcheon's virulent criticism for rejecting Eliade's hermeneutics is mistaken.
In his Chap. 9 "Methods, theories, and the terror of history: Closing the Eliadean era with dignity", McCutcheon considers the "Eliade affair" 'similar to other cases of notable European intellectuals of the inter-war generation whose youthful, political past emerged long after they had established themselves as influential figures in their respective scholarly fields.'94 Furthermore, McCutcheon associates Eliade with the literary critic Paul de Man and the philosopher Martin Heidegger, two scholars suspected of anti-Semitic remarks and association with Nazism.95 Basing himself on the criticism of Eliade by Adriana Berger,96 whose allegations against Eliade were never proven, McCutcheon's assertion of Eliade being a card-carrying Romanian fascist is also unfounded.97 But, McCutcheon's attempt to assess Eliade's scholarly contribution is also a failure. It is utterly nonsense to describe 'Eliade's life and works as political,'98 and his scholarship having a 'politics embedded within it.'99 Labelling Eliade's terminology of his hermeneutics as 'troublesome categories and abstractions,'100 McCutcheon criticises other relevant scholars of religious studies who found meaning in Eliade's works. In McCutcheon views, Cave's sympathetic exegesis of Eliade is 'routine talk',101 Rennie is an apologist of Eliade's concoction of subjectivity,102 while Olson' ideas for defending Eliade pertain to obscurantism.103 At the end of his chapter, McCutcheon calls to 'close the Eliadean era in the study of religion'104 for radical change and reshaping in order to:

make room for a newly invigorated field of study, then it means that we must retool the field from top to bottom – from our curricula, to our public presence, the structures of our scholarly meetings, and our research agendas and publications.105

But, McCutcheon rhetoric does not give any suggestion of how all the above ideas are to be implemented. For, the discovery of history of religions is a work, which is incrementally built upon by various scholars in a greater and more encompassing vision. There are no such things as retooling 'the field from top to bottom' (vid. sup.) in the study of the history of religions. As Eliade created a hermeneutics by taking into account his predecessors in the field (like van der Leeuw, Otto, Jung, Wach, and so on), so also we expect another scholar to create an even larger scholarship view. Thus, McCutcheon's call for 'redescribing how we define, classify, compose, and explain behaviours and institutions in the public university,'106 is simply lacking insight into how things work in social sciences. From the history of religious ideas we know that ideas and concepts are simply reshaped, thus nothing is made new from 'top to bottom' (vid sup.) as McCutcheon suggests in relation to closing the Eliadean era. On the other hand, McCutcheon fails to make an objective scholarly critique of Eliade, for no solid scholarship is built upon allegations and defamatory positions of others (see Adriana Berger). Then, McCutcheon's style of describing Eliade's case makes no sense by considering such comparison as to substitute "the historical Eliade" for "the historical Jesus"107 in an attempt to discredit Eliade in the social formation of history of religions. The entire debate upon Eliade as scholar has indeed generated a crisis in the study of religions.
As Rennie remarks all scholars of religion have a stake in the Eliade affair especially in relation to resolving the identity crisis in the study of religion.108 Worthy to mention is the fact that three of Eliade's main critics lack consensus why Eliade's scholarship has been successful. Ivan Strenski for example, believes that the catastrophic political upheavals in Europe have a dramatic impact on Eliade's theory of religion, thus in less catastrophic times like today a theorist like Eliade would not be successful.109 Russell T. McCutcheon attributes Eliade's success to a new kind of religious studies at U.S. collages, the 'teaching about religions in classes with believers from various religious traditions.'110 We should remind here that Eliade was already successful before coming to the United States by publishing relevant works in the field of religions and other literature in Romanian and French while teaching at the University of Bucharest and at the Sorbonne in Paris. The other critic of Eliade, Steven M. Wasserstrom, in his work Religion after Religion: Gershom Scholem, Mircea Eliade and Henry Corbin at Erasmos, explains why Eliade and the others, who are mentioned in his work title, had a tremendous impact beyond their academic reputation: it is because 'the three scholars expected a knowledge from religious history that humankind in the modern age urgently needed.'111 According to Wasserstrom, Eliade's sacred/ profane contradiction 'has to do with living in a world torn by rival claims of truth.'112 The above three critiques add nothing new, for Eliade's success like that of his predecessors in the field, is simply attributed to a social need at a certain historical period. It is natural that the Eliadean era in the study of religions be closed eventually, but this call is still premature, for no such era is closed without opening another era. Regrettably some scholars listen to such calls as McCutcheon's, who simply lacks vision calling for demolition without real plans, means and workers to build a better construction.
In our view Eliade's phenomenological approach still holds as one 'd'examples illustres de la tendance à fournir des interprétations uniformisantes, applicables et appliquées à des manifestations religieuses de type et de significations fortement hétérogènes.'113 The community of scholars, although stunned by the allegations against Eliade that came after his death, should consider the rehabilitation of Eliade's reputation and acknowledge the value of his scholarly contributions to the advancement of studies in religions.114 Those callings for nullifying the Eliadean legacy are simply non-realistic. It is hardly unlikely that will ever happen. For Eliade is already part of the history of religions and one of those responsible for its social formation in the fifties and sixties decades of the twentieth century. On the other hand, other critiques like that of Seth D. Kunin is genuine and constructive, thus giving a more realistic view upon Eliade's phenomenology of religion.
Kunin argues that Eliade's focus 'on the structures of religion rather that specific elements, is much narrower than that of many other phenomenologists.'115 Eliade's work is essentially ahistorical, 'although he pays lip service to the historical context of the herophanies that he analyses, his primary focus is on the universal qualities of these structures.'116 But, in spite of this ahistorical emphasis in much of his work 'the hierophanies suggest an underlying historical or evolutionary schema.'117 Eliade's essentialist definition of religion 'underlies his rejection of the use of other methodologies in relation to religion.'118 In relation to eating and sexuality, as acts of expressing the ultimate reality for the "primitive people", Kunin identifies Jung's views as inspiration for Eliade believing that 'individuals in primal religions experience the world in a very different way to modern people,'119 when through the enactment of various rites, 'including eating and sex, "primitive" people put themselves out of time and connect to eternity,'120 as 'ritual repetition is a feature of most of Eliade's analyses.'121 In a feminist critique of Eliade's phenomenology of religion, Rosalind Shaw finds Eliade's views partial in spite of its claim of universality, suggesting that the object of empathy was still specifically male.122 In Show's terms, Eliade's views 'reflect the androcentric orientation of power and are essentially views from an entrenched power position'.123 These are some of the critiques of Eliade's hermeneutics of history of religions. As Eliade's scholarly construct is just one view upon the history or religions, particularly one of phenomenological orientation, we are waiting to see the emergence of other views even more encompassing, and from various other angles like the sociological, psychological, feminist, anthropological or functionalist, taken either standalone or as syntheses.
In our view Eliade lost ground in religion academia not only because of false allegations in relation to his past, but also because the trend of desacralization of the world still continues in now the post-modernist era, and academia is no exception to it. The conflict Eliade had with modernity is valid for post-modernity as well, for the post-modern man like the modern man finds increasingly difficult to relate to the sacred experience. Lets also make clear that our defence of Eliade's ideas is not because we came from the same cultural climate thus being of similar vein, but because we find value in Eliade's concept of living the sacred experience. The contribution by Romanians to the defence of Eliade is minimal; those relevant scholars who find value in Eliade's hermeneutics are all westerners (vid. sup. Cave, Rennie, Olson). Thus expounding on various critiques of Eliade's phenomenology of religion, we are now ready to draw a final conclusion.
Basically, Eliade constructs the experience of the sacred in connection to the ideas of "being", "meaning" and "truth" (French: d'être, de signification et de vérité; Romanian: a fi, semnificaţie/ înţeles şi realitate/ adevăr). In establishing his theory upon the history of religions, Mircea Eliade drew inspiration from archaic cultures, which he believes provide the proof of living the sacred life experience in its natural forms. The constant and profound reference to the archetypes is the backbone idea of Eliade's methods in the study of history of religions. The homo religiosus aspiration for the sacred experience allowed him to immerse into the sacred by learning to decipher the meaning of hierophanies relevant to a mythico-historic precedent. As the sacred unfolds, the homo religiosus participates into the experience of the truth that was once at the origin of those hierophanies. Thus, the homo religious has a continuous 'nostalgie des origines' as part of the sacred experience.
Our selection of Eliade's contextual references aimed to construct a broad view of his methods in the study of a history of religions. We provided some significant elements of Eliade's hermeneutics from his major works. Eliade's construct is a vision upon the sacred experience of humanity that in his views was prevalent in archaic communities and is still reflected in those contemporary surviving archaic cultures. Eliade sees the experience of the sacred to be the "real" history of humanity, for in his views it is only the living of the sacred that is real history. We also uncovered some ideas in relation to Eliade's spiritual milieux, the Romanian folk spirituality (Romanian: spiritualitatea populară românească) in his native Romania, which as a popular culture inspired Eliade's hermeneutics in relation to the development of his study of history of religions. It is our hope this paper to be useful as succinct reference to Eliade's phenomenological ideas in the study of history of religions and its critique.
On the other hand, Eliade's phenomenology of religion is far sighted; it has a vision for the future of humanity. It aims at finding a place for the human within the larger context of the celestial realm to which the archaic homo religiosus aspired. Most important, Eliade's vision aims at understanding the connectivity between the earthly and celestial realms. In his view, the disappearance of the earth-sky sacred link raises the question of survival of humanity. Eliade's vision of a new Fall, as result of a desacralized world, appears almost prophetic.
Critique to discredit Eliade has been written especially after his death in 1986. We have shown that some critiques are unfounded allegations, but others are genuine and constructive. It is perhaps the time for scholars in studies in religions to recover from the impact of those false claims of anti-Semitic and fascist past of Eliade, and acknowledge his contribution to the social formation of the modern discipline of history of religions and a particular scholarship in the history of religions.


1 Eric J. Sharpe, Comparative Religion: A History (London: Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd., 1975), p. 214.
2 Mircea Eliade, La nostalgie des origines: Méthodologie et histoire des religions (Éditions Gallimard, 1971), p. 7.
3 Mircea Eliade, The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969b), p. 9.
4 Ibid.
5 Mircea Eliade, Le mythe de l'éternal retour: Archétypes et répétition (Éditions Gallimard, 1969a).
6 Ibid., p. 16.
7 See Mircea Eliade, Images et symboles: Essais sur le symbolisme magico-religieux (Éditions Gallimard, 1952), Chap. 1, pp. 33-72 for symbolisme du Centre ideas in relation to psychology and history of religion (psychologie et histoire des religions), archetypes (archétypes), image of the world (l'image du monde), symbolism of ascension (symbolisme de l'ascension), and construction of a Centre (construction d'un Centre).
8 Mircea Eliade, (1969a), op. cit., p. 16. For more on symbolisme architectonique see Eliade's work in the French edition Briser le toit de la maison: la créativité et ses symboles (Éditions Gallimard, 1986).
9 Eliade, (1969a), op. cit., p. 16.
10 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959), p. 10.
11 Ibid.
12 Ibid., p. 11.
13 Ibid.
14 See the German and French editions of Mircea Eliade's book The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion published as Das Heilige und das Profane (Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuchverlag GmbH, 1957a), and Le sacré et le profane (Éditions Gallimard, 1965), respectively.
15 Mircea Eliade (1959), op. cit., p. 20.
16 Ibid., p. 21.
17 Ibid., p. 68.
18 Ibid., p. 117.
19 Mircea Eliade (1965), op. cit., p. 100.
20 Eliade (1959), op. cit., p. 167.
21 See Mircea Eliade, Myths, Dreams and Mysteries: The Encounter between Contemporary Faiths and Archaic Reality (London: Collins, 1972a), especially in Chap. 7 "Mother Earth and Cosmic Hierogamies". French readers should consult Mircea Eliade, Mythes, rêves et mystères (Éditions Gallimard, 1957b). The Italian readers should see, Mircea Eliade, Miti sogni e misteri (Milano: Rusconi, 1976a).
22 Mircea Eliade, A History of Religious Ideas: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries Vol. 1 (London: Collins, 1979). p. 29.
23 For mythologies of death, cosmological symbolism of funerary rites and the "creative" aspects of the act of dying see Mircea Eliade, Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashions: Essays in Comparative Religions (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1976b), Chap. 3, "Mythologies of Death: An Introduction".
24 Mircea Eliade (1979), op. cit., p. 32.
25 Ibid., pp. 32f.
26 For more on religious symbolism see Mircea Eliade, "Methodological Remarks on the Study of Religious Symbolism," in The History of Religions: Essays in Methodology, edited by Mircea Eliade and Joseph M. Kitagawa (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1959), passim.
27 Mircea Eliade (1979), op. cit., p. 38.
28 Ibid.
29 Ibid. For various myths of the origin of death (Melanesian, Indonesian, Australian, Polynesian) see Mircea Eliade, From primitives to Zen: A Thematic sourcebook of the History of Religions (London: Collins, 1967), Chap 2, Section D "Myths of the Origin of Death". See Kunin's critique (vid. inf.) about Jung's influence upon Eliade's ideas of sexuality as act of ultimate reality for the primal religion.
30 Eliade (1979), op. cit., p. 38.
31 Ibid., p. 40.
32 Ibid., p. 41.
33 Ibid.
34 Ibid., pp. 41f.
35 See Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religions (London: Sheed and Ward Ltd., 1976c), Chap. 1.
36 Ibid., p. 99.
37 Ibid.
38 Ibid., Chap. 3.
39 Ibid., Chap. 4.
40 Ibid., Chaps. 5 and 7.
41 Ibid., Chap. 8.
42 Ibid., p. 397.
43 Ibid. See more about the ahistorical position of Eliade in Kunin's critique (vid. inf.).
44 See Mircea Eliade, Aspects du mythe (Éditions Gallimard, 1963), Chap. 3 "Mythes et rites de renouvellement".
45 Eliade (1979), op. cit., p. 42.
46 Eliade (1979), op. cit., p. 12.
47 Mircea Eliade (1969b), op. cit., p. 9.
48 Ibid., p. 8.
49 Eliade (1959), op. cit., p. 13.
50 Ibid., p. 14.
51 Ibid., p. 71.
52 Ibid.
53 Ibid., p. 116.
54 Ibid., p. 155.
55 Eliade (1969b), op. cit., p. 69.
56 Ibid.
57 Ibid., p. 70.
58 Rodney L. Taylor, "Mircea Eliade: The Self and the Journey," in Waiting for the Dawn: Mircea Eliade in Perspective, edited by David Carrasco and Jane Marie Swanberg. (Boulder: Westview Press, 1985), p. 134.
59 Carl Olson, The Theology and Philosophy of Mircea Eliade: A Search for the Centre (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992), p. 38.
60 John Bowker, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 308.
61 Eliade (1959), op. cit., p. 13.
62 Ibid.
63 Ibid.
64 Mircea. Eliade, "Cultural Fashions and the History of Religions," in The History of Religions: Essays on the Problem of Understanding, edited by Joseph M. Kitagawa (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1967), p. 34.
65 David Cave, Mircea Eliade's Vision for a New Humanism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 27.
66 David Cave, op. cit., p. 75.
67 Ibid.
68 Mircea Eliade, Zalmoxis the Vanishing God: Comparative Studies in the Religions and Folklore of Dacia and Eastern Europe (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1972b). The work was initially published in French under the title De Zalmoxis à Gengis-Khan: Études camparatives sur les religions et le folklore de la Dacie et de l'Europe Orientale (Paris: Payot, 1970).
69 See Mac Linscott Ricketts, Mircea Eliade: The Romanian Roots, 1907-1945 Vol. 2 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), in Chap. 28 "Symbols in Folklore, Religion, and Literature".
70 See Mircea Eliade (1972b), Chap. 7 "The Cult of the Mandragora in Romania".
71 Ibid., Chap. 6 "Romanian Shamanism?".
72 Mircea Eliade, "Marthe Bibesco and the Meeting of the Eastern and Western Literature," in Mircea Eliade: Symbolism, the Sacred, and the Arts, edited by Diane Apostolos-Cappadona (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1986), p. 157.
73 Mircea Eliade, Autobiography: Volume I 1907-1937 Journey East, Journey West (San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers, 1981), p, 203.
74 Ibid., p, 204.
75 Ibid., p, 203.
76 Mircea Eliade, La nostalgie des origines: Méthodologie et histoire des religions (Éditions Gallimard, 1971), passim.
77 Mircea Eliade, Autobiography: Volume II 1937-1960 Exile's Odyssey (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 8, in footnote 2.
78 See Ana Cartianu, Romanian Folk Tales (Bucharest: Minerva Publishing House, 1979), pp. 17-30.
79 Gail Kligman, The Wedding of the Dead: Ritual, Poetics, and Popular Culture in Transylvania (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), p. 220.
80 Ibid., p. 223.
81 Ibid.
82 Ibid., p. 244.
83 Mircea Eliade (1988), op. cit., p. 9.
84 Mircea Eliade, "The dragon and the shaman," in Man and his salvation: Studies in the memory of S. G. F. Brandon, edited by Eric J. Sharpe and John R. Hinnells (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1973), p. 99.
85 Graham Cunningham, Religion and Magic: Approaches and Theories (New York: New York University Press, 1999), pp. 37f.
86 Eliade (1959), op. cit., p. 10.
87 Ibid.
88 Ibid.
89 Eric J. Sharpe, Comparative Religion: A History (London: Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd., 1975), p. 217.
90 Ursula King, "Historical and Phenomenological Approaches," in Theory and Method in Religious Studies: Comparative Approaches to the Study of Religion, edited by Frank Whaling. (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1995), p. 123.
91 Ibid., p. 124.
92 Ibid., p. 127.
93 Bryan Rennie, "The Meaning and End of Mircea Eliade," in Changing Religious Worlds: The Meaning and End of Mircea Eliade, edited by Bryan Rennie. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001), p. 264.
94 Russell T. McCutcheon, The Discipline of Religion: Structure, Meaning, Rhetoric (New York: Routledge, 2003), 191.
95 Ibid., p. 192.
96 Ibid., p. 193.
97 Ibid.
98 Ibid.
99 Ibid.
100 Ibid. p. 192.
101 Ibid. p. 195.
102 Ibid. p. 200.
103 Ibid. p. 202.
104 Ibid. p. 209.
105 Ibid.
106 Ibid.
107 Ibid. p. 57.
108 Ibid.; see critical articles by Roger Corless, Russell T. McCutcheon, and Robert A. Segal.
109 Hans G. Kippenberg, Discovering Religious History in the Modern Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), p. ix.
110 Ibid.
111 Ibid., p. xi.
112 Ibid. See Steven M. Wasserstrom, Religion after Religion: Gershom Scholem, Mircea Eliade and Henry Cobin at Eranos (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), passim.
113 Vittorio Lanternari, "Sciences religieuses et mouvements religieux nouveaux dans l'Occident: Questions de méthode," in Current Progress in the Methodology of the Science of Religions, edited by Witold Tyloch. (Warsaw: Polish Scientific Publishers, 1984), p. 130.
114 See Joseph M. Kitagawa and Charles H., Long, eds. Myths and Symbols: Studies in the Honour of Mircea Eliade (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969), as studies honouring Mircea Eliade. Eliade is also the editor in chief of the monumental work The Encyclopedia of Religions (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987).
115 Seth D. Kunin, Religion: The Modern Theories (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2003), p. 127.
116 Ibid.
117 Ibid.
118 Ibid.
119 Ibid., p. 128.
120 Ibid.
121 Ibid.
122 Ibid. p. 139.
123 Ibid.


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article by Durac Livia(available in pdf format)

4th International Conference on HUMAN BEING IN CONTEMPORARY
May 28-31 2007, Volgograd
Abstracts of the papers accepted for presentation during the Conference
Durac, Livia
(„Petre Andrei” University, Iasi, Romania)
Mircea Eliade: the hermeneutics of the religious phenomenon
“The only purpose of existence is to find a meaning for existence.”
(Mircea Eliade)
General Considerations
On February 28th, 1907 in the capital of Romania was born the man who
was going to become the worldwide-known scientist and writer whose
Renaissance-like personality has built the background of his becoming.
When we speak of Mircea Eliade we think of the historian of religions,
the Orientalist, the ethnologist, the sociologist, the folklorist, the essay,
short story, novel and memoirs author, the playwright Mircea Eliade, if
we are to stop at enumerating the defining dimensions of his monumental
activity. He became an outstanding specialist in the history of religions in
1925-1926, an obviously early stage of his life for such a bold enterprise;
topics such as orthodoxy, Taoism, Buddhism, Orphism, Tantrism have
been a concern even since before the “Indian experience” that
systematized and deepened his knowledge. For this great Romanian
thinker, the history of religions is a complete discipline, which he places
in the foreground of cultural life; linguistics, literature, etymology,
ethnology, the philosophy of history, esthetics, anthropology, sociology,
psychology, all combine in harmony, synchronically, to complete the
field of the history of religions.
From his concerns with the field of the history of religions could not miss
the “working” coordinates necessary to the specialist in the mentioned
field. Therefore, the historian of religions must recompose, first of all, the
history of religious forms, and only afterwards develop the social,
political and cultural context of each of these forms. Without exaggerated
claims, we can state that the historian of religions is, from certain points
of view, an anticipator in the field, since he observes the results of the
research of Orientalists and ethnographers, as the great Asian religions or
the religions of people without a writing system represent important
sources for the culture of humanity. Religious phenomenology must be
placed outside the sphere of the specialist’s concerns with the history of
religions, and we refer to the phenomenology of the sacred, and
respectively with enlarging the research sphere from the known important
religions to archaic religions.
Another significant specific element that characterizes a historian of
religions is the fact that he has to place the religious phenomenon within
the spiritual field, identifying that “something” that the religious act
denotes as trans-historic. This clearly refers to hermeneutic research that
consists, on the one hand, in the understanding of the message by the
religious person, a witness to the hierophantic experience, and on the
other hand in the message that the religious person transmits to modern
world. Explaining the encounters of man with the sacred, starting from
pre-history until present – as a way of solving the requirements promoted
by contemporary history – the cultural and spiritual invigoration of the
peoples of Australia, Africa and Asia, all are included in the subject field
of the history of religions.
The Hermeneutic Perspective of the Renewal of the Religious Phenomenon
In a work published in Paris in 1971, Mircea Eliade tells us that the
religious phenomenon should use complete hermeneutics. He considers
necessary for the activity of the historian of religions to be based on both
the phenomenological and the hermeneutical approach: “Concerned with,
and often overwhelmed by collecting, publishing and analyzing religious
data, a work without any doubt both urgent an indispensable, scientists
have often forgotten to study their meaning. But this data is the
expression of varied religious experiences; in a final analysis, they
represent positions and situations assumed by man during his history.
Whether he likes it or not, the historian of religions has not completed his
work after having retraced the history of a religious form or after having
determined its sociological, economical or political context. Apart from
all these, he must understand his own meaning – in other words – identify
and clarify the situations and positions that made possible his appearance
or triumph in a specific moment of his history”.i The fact that the author
adopts such explicit positions places him in favor of a unitary approach,
and within this frame, phenomenology fulfills one of the most important
The author believes in the necessity of renewing the religious
phenomenon from a hermeneutical perspective; although he does not
minimize any of the scientific fields accessory to religion, acknowledging
the applicability of each of them, Eliade states however that, irrespective
of the nature of the information provided by one or another of these fields,
it cannot account for the religious phenomenon as a whole. Therefore, a
hermeneutic of the religious phenomenon would be characterized mainly
by the fact that, by studying the variety of religious aspects, the discipline
of religions must identify the universal religious configurations whose
action frame is represented by unique facts. It is necessary to mention that
Eliade’s attempt to present the morphology of the sacred takes place
beyond the religious phenomenon. Considering the efforts to grasp and
understand meanings, Mircea Eliade’s exegesis intensifies, including the
forms characterized by permanence and constancy, brought “to light”
through myths and symbols. Eliade’s hermeneutics acquires a creative
dimension as it allows speaking of a structure of the forms of religious
expression; this poses the problem of presenting the stages in the
individual’s trans-conscience, which “exhales” forms of religious
expression. Actually, we can speak of a tremendous interest of the author
in seeing and knowing homo religiosus. Starting with the Paleolithic until
nowadays, symbols have offered to the religious person – who has lived
the sacred dimension of his existence during all this time – an openness
towards the trans-historical world, connecting him with the transcendent
dimension. Moreover, Eliade considers that myth is a universal
phenomenon on which reality is structured, detailing – at the same time –
the existence of supernatural creatures.
Eliade faces the individual, as a subject of the religious experience, with
the object of this experience, a context in which he speaks of hierophany
or the manifestation of the sacred. The place of encounter of the religious
person with the sacred is directly determined (conditioned) by the
behavior of the religious persons themselves.
Julien Ries noted that all hierophany is based on three important
elements: the natural object, placed (and mentioned) in its normal
context; the invisible reality that forms the presented contents; the
mediator, which is nothing else but the object consecrated through a new
dimension, the sacred.ii
“1) The sacred is qualitatively different from the profane, however it can
appear anytime anyhow in the profane world, with the power to transform
any cosmic object into a paradox through hierophany (meaning that the
object stops being itself as a cosmic object, but still remains apparently
2) This dialectics of the sacred is valid for all religions, not only for the
so-called “primitive forms”. This dialectics is verified both in the
“worship” of stones and trees and in the scientific view on Indian
metamorphoses or in the supreme mystery of incarnation;
3) Purely elementary hierophanies are impossible to find (...), they are
combined with religious forms considered, from the evolutionary
perspective, superior (Supreme Beings, moral laws, mythologies, etc.);
4) We can find everywhere, even outside these superior religious forms, a
system in which elementary hierophanies are ordered.”iii
Douglas Allen believes that Mircea Eliade’s methodology is
characterized by two essential ideas: “the dialectics of the sacred and the
profane and the dominant character of symbolism or of symbolic
In his paper Introduction to the phenomenon of religion, the Spanish
author J. Martin Velasco, referring to what is called interpretation, from
the point of view of the analysis of the religious phenomenon, considers
that a structure cannot be conceived if it is not evaluated, interpreted – and
especially – understood from the inside. Therefore, phenomenological
research has, implicitly, a hermeneutic component or dimension.
Together with renown representatives such as J. Wach and G. Van der
Leeuw, Eliade will contribute to enriching this approach: considering
himself both a historian and a phenomenology researcher of religions, we
can speak of a combination of the two perspectives, which defines the
originality of his contribution to a fascinating field such as that of
The Primordial Dimension of the Sacred in the Becoming of the
Human Being
The approach of religious phenomenology is, in its essence, a meditation
as well as a reference to the idea of the time factor. We will find this
meditation on time specific to Eliade in most of the work of the
Romanian scientist, as the holistic reach o the meanings of the religious
depends on it. Indeed, we can say that the problem of time dominates
Eliade’s creations.
As we will demonstrate later, human objects and actions can represent
hierophanies (ontophanies); what we wish to mention here is that not only
they can acquire such an attribute, but also even space and time receive
the valences of the sacred. For the man in archaic cultures, space is not
homogenous, as it is the case for the space in which the modern scientific
man lives, meaning that certain areas of this space differ from one another
from a qualitative point of view. Sacred spaces exist and, therefore, there
also exist significant non-sacred amorphous spaces, lacking structure and
consistency. Moreover, this lack of spatial homogeneity determines the
religious person to experience an opposition between the sacred, unique,
real space, with a significant existence, and the completing amorphous
ambient around it: “We will see to what extent the discovery, that is, the
revelation of the sacred space has existential value for the religious
person: nothing can start without a prior orientation, and any orientation
implies setting a fixed point. This is why the religious persons strive to set
themselves at «the Center of the world».”v The condition for us to be able
to live in a world must be created, “and no world can be born in the
«chaos» of homogeneity and relativity of the profane space. Discovering
or designing a fixed point - «the Center» - means Creating the World.”vi
The phenomenological premise according to which the sacred is
irreducible characterizes the work of Mircea Eliade, for whom the sacred
imposes itself both as an explanatory principle of religion and as an
absolute concept of a unique ontology, which we can also find in the
religious act, irrespective of its nature: “But it is maybe too late to look for
another word, and «religion» can still be a useful term, with the condition
that we always remember that it does not necessarily imply the belief in a
God or in spirits, but it refers to the experience of the sacred and is
therefore related to the ideas of being, sense and truth.”vii Speaking in
terms of the position of the sacred as an ontological basis, Eliade explains:
“Through the exception of the sacred, the human spirit has apprehended
the difference between what proves to be real, strong, rich and significant,
and what does not have these qualities, that is, the chaotic and dangerous
flow of things, their random and meaningless appearances and
All this leads to the idea that, if in the becoming of the human being, there
is something with a primordial character, that “something” is, without a
doubt, the appearance of the sacred; therefore, the sacred proves to be an
immense force and its act, its manifestation, is included in the term
hierophany. Actually, the evolution of the history of religions – from the
most rudimentary to the most advanced ones – is made up of a large sum
of hierophanies, that is, of manifestations of the sacred reality.
In this entire frame, what would be the role of phenomenology? Julien
Ries offers a possible explanation according to which this role is played in
understanding the religious structures and phenomena, in interpreting the
meaning of each hierophany, as well as in extracting the revealed
meaning and the religious sense.ix Anything that existed or still exists can
be a receiver of the sacred: “After all, we do not know if there is anything
– object, gesture, physiological function or game, etc. – that has never
been transformed into hierophany, somewhere, during the history of
In the conception of Eliade, religious imaginary is wide open for any
object of the cosmos or of human life, with the necessary and only
condition that, during its evolution, it had been transformed into
The religious person can become, systematically, contemporary with the
gods, through myths and rituals; this occurs if the person is able to update
the primordial Time when the divine works took place. We must
remember that this rhythmical return to the sacred Time of origins does
not represent a refuse of the concrete world, as it is neither an escape from
dreams and imagination but, on the contrary, it is what Mircea Eliade
pointed out as an essential characteristic of man in primitive and archaic
societies, using the phrase ontological obsession.
If we start from the basic idea that everything comes down to an
archetypal model, which appears in different avatars, the natural
consequence is to compare these manifestations of the sacred. Hence we
witness the creation of a structure based on this exact comparison as well
as on the common elements with a repetitive character. For Eliade,
structure is not the final consequence in the analysis of the religious fact;
it is formed based on this comparison and is prior to the meaning that
results from it. The meaning of hierophanies in the world has a transhistorical
character; that is why, for the Romanian scientist, the primary
role is played by meaning, which transcends time and history seen as an
existential level of man, as well as a structure. Therefore, we can say that
everything starts from historic facts, which are manifestations with a
much deeper significance than a simple common apparition. We must
also mention that history does not contradict the idea of reversibility, as
the comparative approach sends us to very different moments from a
chronological perspective. If we were to analyze the “consequences” of
such a fact, we could state that the methodological dimension is actually
manifested in a scenario of a real spiritual adventure. The ability to
decipher a hierophany is beyond history, acquiring – in the case of Mircea
Eliade – connotations that surpass habitual research. We should
remember that the problematic of time is immanently related to the
system of deciphering the meaning of all religious phenomena. In other
words, meaning is – as the author himself explains – beyond time, and not
in the actual historical time. In what concerns the historian of religions,
this is just a starting point, and not a final result.
The aspiration of integration in the origin time is perfectly comparable to
the aspiration of recovering a strong, ideal and ingenuous world, the
world of illo tempore. Therefore, religious imagination is inspired from
the thirst of being, from the ontological dominant of the archaic man,
which determines the latter to sanctify religiously the entire universe,
modeling its structure and symbolic consistency in a strict relation with
the personal ontological need and to a re-dimensioning of space and time.
But man does not ontologically sanctify only the universe, but equally
himself, or some of his fellows.
Myth, a Connection between Present and Primordial Time
A good knowledge of myths and hence an exemplary accomplishment of
rituals places the religious person at the beginning of time. The function
of myth is of enthronement, as it makes a connection between the present
and the primordial time, showing how present behavior should reanimate
the primordial event. As Julien Ries pertinently states, Mircea Eliade “has
truly renewed the study of myth”xi.
Trying to define myth, Eliade says: “From my point of view, the
definition that seems the least imperfect, since it is the broadest, is the
following: myth tells a sacred story; it speaks about an event that took
place in the primordial time, a fabulous time of the «beginning». In other
words, myth tells about how, thanks to the actions of supernatural beings,
a reality was born, either a complete reality, the Cosmos, or mere
fragments: an island, a vegetal species, a human behavior, an institution.
Therefore, it is always the story of a «birth»: we are told how something
was produced, how it started to exist. Myth only tells about what has been
completed. The characters of myths are supernatural beings. They are
known especially because of what they did in the prestigious time of the
«beginning». Consequently, myths present their creative activity and the
sacred (not only «supernatural») character of their work. Actually, myths
describe the various and sometimes dramatic bursts of the sacred (or
supernatural) into the world. This very burst of the sacred is in fact the
basis of the world and makes it what it looks like today. What is more:
precisely as a result of the interventions of supernatural beings, man is
what he is today, a mortal sexed and cultural being.”xii
The universe is compared to an aging organism that loses its vitality and
becomes senile; this is the moment that demands destruction in order to
be able to be born again as a young vigorous world. In this context we can
point out the idea of a cyclic time previously mentioned by Eliade and
related to other aspects that characterize archaic thought.
A significant part is played in this context by the ritual of initiation, which
consists in the experience of death (be it that of the shaman or of the
individual arrived at puberty, an experience followed by that of the rebirth
at a new higher ontological level. For boys (and sometimes even for
girls), puberty rituals presuppose completing an initiating period; this
implies assuming death and requires the presence of signs that indicate
the fact that they are dead: they live inside a forest, which is by definition
a land of death and darkness, they paint their bodies using colors specific
to corpses, or they are not allowed to speak or use their hands to eat, and
in winter time they are willingly forgotten by their friends and families.
Death is followed by rebirth at a new higher level. What is the role of this
complex process, and especially why must the individual tend towards
completing the initiation process, towards its end? Because, during
initiation, the beginner has the chance to discover myths, respectively the
sacred history of the world and of the community he lives in, of the origin
of institutions and behaviors, discovers names of gods, and sometimes his
own secret name.
An important result of the efforts made by the Romanian scientist in the
direction of “perfecting” the field of the history of religions is to be found
at the highest point of his career, between 1976-1983, when the author
published in Paris, in three volumes, the work entitled Histoire des
croyances et des idées religieuses (The History of Religious Beliefs and
Ideas). It represents a synthesis of the main actions of the religious person,
starting from pre-history until present, and its incontestable originality
resides precisely in its approach and in the perspectives it offers.
Dedicated to the analysis of what represents the fundamental unit of
religious phenomena, Mircea Eliade draws the reader’s attention to the
infinite indivisibility of the expressions included in them. The famous
historian of religion suggests a new mentality that explains the message
based on the sacred and perceived through symbols and myths, and
following this “path” he gets to the understanding of the religious person.
Mircea Eliade is the only historian of religions of his predecessors who
wrote a history of religious ideas and beliefs. What differentiates him
from the rest is that he makes a distinction between a history analysis
lacking a generalizing perspective and a history of religious ideas,
although we should remember that he was once criticized for being an
anti-historian. The Romanian scientist, unlike his predecessors in the
field, used a more detailed approach of history and therefore of time, far
from satisfied with their being placed in parentheses and considering that
this way he has fulfilled his complex mission. Eliade considers that it is
not at all normal for the time when religious phenomena appeared to be
ignored; on the contrary, the identification of the structures and meanings
specific to religion requires them to be correctly placed in time and space.
Adrian Marino’s work Hermeneutica lui Mircea Eliade (The
Hermeneutics of Mircea Eliade) includes a very detailed analysis of
Mircea Eliade’s relation to history. A. Marino stresses the hermeneutic
character of Eliade’s approach, placing him on the orbit of the bestknown
hermeneutic scientists.
As it happens with any representative name in a field, Eliade could not
have stayed in the readers’ “reserve”. They have always existed and
definitely will always exist; in the end nobody denies their value and
usefulness. All in all, with criticisms and appreciations, Mircea Eliade’s
work is one of reference for the science of religions, and his contribution
to investigating the religious imaginary is – without a doubt – remarkable.
We mention only Gilbert Durand, who, discussing the exceptional
personality of the Romanian scientist, compared him to Henry Corbin:
“The difficulty of historicist explanations of the sacred determined in the
first years of our century an entire flow of «phenomenological» analyses
of the sacred (that is, sticking to «the thing itself », to the object specific to
homo religiosus). To this trend belong two of the main restorers of the
role of imagery in religious apparitions / «hierophanies» in human
thought: the Romanian Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) and the French Henry
Corbin (1903-1978).xiii

1. Allen, Douglas, L’analise phénoménologique de l’experience religieuse in Les
Cahiers de l’Herne - Mircea Eliade, Editions de l’Herne, Paris, 1978.
2. Durand, Gilbert, Aventurile imaginii. Imaginatia simbolica. Imaginarul,
Nemira Publishing House, Bucharest, 1999.
3. Eliade, Mircea, Tratat de istorie a religiilor, Humanitas Publishing House,
Bucharest, 1992.
4. Eliade, Mircea, Nostalgia originilor, Humanitas Publishing House, Bucharest,
5. Eliade, Mircea, Le sacré et le profan, Gallimard, 1996.
6. Eliade, Mircea, Tratat de istorie a religiilor, Humanitas Publishing House,
Bucharest, 1992.
7. Eliade, Mircea, Aspecte ale mitului, Univers Publishing House, Bucharest,
8. Ries, Julien, Sacrul în istoria religioasa a omenirii, Polirom Publishing House,
Iasi, 2000.
9. Ries, Julien, Histoire de religions, phénoménologie et herméneutique, in Les
Cahiers de l’Herne Mircea Eliade, Editions de l’Herne, Paris, 1978.


i Mircea Eliade, Nostalgia originilor, Humanitas Publishing House, Bucharest,
1994 p.14
ii Julien Ries, Histoire de religions, phénoménologie et herméneutique, in Les
Cahiers de l’Herne
Mircea Eliade, Editions de l’Herne, Paris, 1978.
iii Mircea Eliade, Tratat de istorie a religiilor, Humanitas Publishing House,
Bucharest, 1992, p.46.
iv Douglas Allen, L’analise phénoménologique de l’experience religieuse in Les
Cahiers de l’Herne - Mircea Eliade, Editions de l’Herne, Paris, 1978, p.128
v Mircea Eliade, Le sacré et le profan, Ed.Gallimard, 1996, p.31.
vi Mircea Eliade, quoted work, p.63.
vii Mircea Eliade, Tratat de istorie a religiilor, Humanitas Publishing House,
Bucharest, 1992, p.5.
viii Mircea Eliade, quoted work, p.6.
ix Julien Ries, quoted work
x Mircea Eliade, quoted work, p.25
xi Julien Ries, Sacrul în istoria religioasa a omenirii, Polirom Publishing House,
Iasi, 2000, p.65
xiiMircea Eliade, Aspecte ale mitului, Univers Publishing House, Bucharest, 1978,
xiii Gilbert Durand, Aventurile imaginii. Imaginatia simbolica. Imaginarul,
Publishing House, Bucharest, 1999, p.172



Shamanism - Extracted from Richard Shand
A Master of Ecstasy
"The word shaman comes to English from the Tungus language via Russian. Among the Tungus of Siberia it is both a noun and a verb. While the Tungus have no word for shamanism, it has come into usage by anthropologists, historians of religion and others in contemporary society to designate the experience and the practices of the shaman. Its usage has grown to include similar experiences and practices in cultures outside of the original Ural-Altaic cultures from which the term shaman originated. Thus shamanism is not the name of a religion or group of religions."
"Shamanism is classified by anthropologists as an archaic magico-religious phenomenon in which the shaman is the great master of ecstasy. Shamanism itself, was defined by the late Mircea Eliade as a technique of ecstasy. A shaman may exhibit a particular magical specialty (such as control over fire, wind or magical flight). When a specialization is present the most common is as a healer. The distinguishing characteristic of shamanism is its focus on an ecstatic trance state in which the soul of the shaman is believed to leave the body and ascend to the sky (heavens) or descend into the earth (underworld). The shaman makes use of spirit helpers, which he or she communicates with, all the while retaining control over his or her own consciousness. (Examples of possession occur, but are the exception, rather than the rule.) It is also important to note that while most shamans in traditional societies are men, either women or men may and have become shamans." - Dean Edwards, "Shamanism-General Overview" (FAQ)
"These myths refer to a time when communication between heaven and earth was possible; in consequence of a certain event or a ritual fault, the communication was broken off, but heroes and medicine men are nevertheless able to reestablish it." - Mircea Elliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
"By entering an ecstatic state, induced by ritual dancing and the invocation of spirits, the shaman is believed able to return to that time, visiting heaven and hell to talk with gods, spirits of the dead, and animals." - Cosmic Duality
"Shamans reach the state that gives them access to the supernatural world in a variety of ways. A very common way is by ingesting mind-altering drugs of various types." - James Davila, "Enoch as a Divine Mediator"
"It is the Siberian and Latin American shamans who have most often employed psychedelics as booster rockets to launch their cosmic travels. In Siberia the preferred substance has been the mushroom known as Amanita muscaria or agaric. This is perhaps the much-praised soma of early Indian religion as well as one of the drugs referred to in European legends." - Roger N.Walsh, The Spirit of Shamanism
"Another common method is to listen to the protracted pounding of a drum. Less direct methods are also widely practiced. These include various forms of isolation and self-denial, such as fasting, solitary confinement, celibacy, dietary and purity restrictions, and protracted prayer. Igjugarjuk, a Caribou Inuit shaman, claims to have been isolated by his mentor in a small snow hut where he fasted and meditated in the cold, drinking only a little water twice, for thirty days. After his initiatory vision (see below) he continued a rigorous regime involving a special diet and celibacy. Leonard Crow Dog, a Native American Sioux shaman, describes in detail the process of his first vision quest. He participated in a sweat lodge ceremony for spiritual cleansing, then was taken to a fasting place of his family's, where he was wrapped naked in a blanket and left in a hole to fast and pray alone for two days (an adult shaman will fast four or more days). Wallace Black Elk also frequently describes both the sweat lodge ('stone-people-lodge') ceremony and the vision quest. Ascetic practices by Japanese shamans are especially prevalent among those who actively seek shamanhood rather than being called by a deity. These practices include fasting and dietary restrictions of various kinds, seclusion in a dark place, walking pilgrimages between sacred places, and rigorous regimes of immersion and bathing in ice-cold water. These disciplines, especially the endurance of cold, eventually fill the shaman with heat and spiritual might." - James Davila, "Enoch as a Divine Mediator"
"Let him who would join himself to the prince of Torah wash his garments and his clothes and let him immerse (in) a strict immersion as a safeguard in case of pollution. And let him dwell for twelve days in a room or in an upper chamber. Let him not go out or come in, and he must neither eat nor drink. But from evening to evening see that he eats his bread, clean bread of his own hands, and he drinks pure water, and that he does not taste any kind of vegetable. And let him insert this midrash of the prince of Torah into the prayer three times in every single day; it is after the prayer that he should pray it from its beginning to its end. And afterward, let him sit and recite during the twelve days, the days of his fasting, from morning until evening, and let him not be silent. And in every hour that he finishes it let him stand on his feet and adjure by the servants (and?) by their king, twelve times by every single prince. Afterward let him adjure every single one of them by the seal." - Sar Torah, paras. 299-300
The shaman is said to 'make a journey,' during which he is spoken to by the spirits, who give him curing instructions and make their wishes known for certain kinds of propitiatory sacrifices; they may also appear to him in the form of visions or apparitions. Motifs of death and rebirth, often involving bodily dismemberment and reassimilation, are common in shamanism..." - McKenna and McKenna, The Invisible Landscape
"...It appears that shamans are able to draw on a range of psychologically skillful diagnostic and therapeutic techniques accumulated by their predecessors over centuries. Some of these techniques clearly foreshadow ones widely used today and thereby confirm the reputation of shamans as humankind's first psychotherapists." - Roger N.Walsh, The Spirit of Shamanism
"We know today that the medicine man derives his power from a circular feedback involving his personal myth and the hopes and expectations of those who share it with him. The ensuing 'mutual exaltation' was studied by McDougal and by Gustave LeBon many years ago. It is still regarded as one of the key factors in the psychology of masses. It has subsequently been reinterpreted in Freudian terms as the individual's willing surrender to an all-powerful father figure capable of meeting the childish dependency needs still lingering in members of the group." - Ehrewald, The ESP Experience
"Shamanism often exists alongside and even in cooperation with the religious or healing practices of the community....Knowledge of other realms of being and consciousness and the cosmology of those regions is the basis of the shamanic perspective and power. With this knowledge, the shaman is able to serve as a bridge between the mundane and the higher and lower states. The shaman lives at the edge of reality as most people would recognize it and most commonly at the edge of society itself." - Dean Edwards, "Shamanism-General Overview" (FAQ)
Initiation Rituals
"A common experience of the call to shamanism is a psychic or spiritual crisis, which often accompanies a physical or even a medical crisis, and is cured by the shaman him or herself....The shaman is often marked by eccentric behavior such as periods of melancholy, solitude, visions, singing in his or her sleep, etc. The inability of the traditional remedies to cure the condition of the shamanic candidate and the eventual self cure by the new shaman is a significant episode in development of the shaman. The underlying significant aspect of this experience, when it is present, is the ability of the shaman to manage and resolve periods of distress." - Dean Edwards, "Shamanism-General Overview" (FAQ)
"Frequently a candidate will gain shamanic powers during a visionary experience in which he or she undergoes some form of death or personal destruction and disintegration at the hands of divine beings, followed by a corresponding resurrection or reintegration that purges and gives a qualitatively different life to the initiate. For example, the Siberian (Tagvi Samoyed) Sereptie, in his long and arduous initiatory vision (on which see below), was at one point reduced to a skeleton and then was 'forged' with a hammer and anvil. Autdaruta, an Inuit initiate, had a vision in which he was eaten by a bear and then was vomited up, having gained power over the spirits." - James R. Davila, "Hekhalot Literature and Mysticism"
"I saw that I was painted red all over, and my joints were painted black, with white stripes between the joints. My bay had lightning stripes all over him and his mane was cloud. And when I breathed, my breath was lightning." - Nick Black Elk, in the narrative of his Great Vision
"...The important moments of a shamanic initiation are these five; first, torture and violent dismemberment of the body; second, scraping away of the flesh until the body is reduced to a skeleton; third, substitution of viscera and reveal of the blood; fourth, a period spent in Hell, during which the future shaman is taught by the souls of dead shamans and by 'demons'; fifth, an ascent to Heaven to obtain consecration from the God of Heaven" - Mircea Eliade, Rites and Symbols of Initiation
"They are cut up by demons or by their ancestral spirits; their bones are cleaned, the flesh scraped off, the body fluids thrown away, and their eyes torn from their sockets...His bones are then covered with new flesh and in some cases he is also given new blood." - Fabrega and Silver in Behavioral Science 15
"The ecstatic experience of the shaman goes beyond a feeling or perception of the sacred, the demonic or of natural spirits. It involves them shaman directly and actively in transcendent realities or lower realms of being.""The shaman is not recognized as legitimate without having undergone two types of training:1) Ecstatic (dreams, trances, etc.)2) Traditional ('shamanic techniques, names and functions of spirits,mythology and genealogy of the clan, secret language, etc.)The two-fold course of instruction, given by the spirits and the old master shamans is equivalent to an initiation.' [Mircea Eliade, The Encyclopedia of Religion, v. 13 , p. 202; Mcmillian, N.Y., 1987.] It is also possible for the entire process to take place in the dream state or in ecstatic experience." - Dean Edwards, "Shamanism-General Overview" (FAQ)
"The novice's task of learning to see the spirits involves two stages. The first is simply to catch an initial glimpse of them. The second is to deepen and stabilize this glimpse into a permanent visionary capacity in which the spirits can be summoned and seen at will." - Roger N. Walsh, The Spirit of Shamanism
"All this long and tiring ceremony has as its object transforming the apprentice magician's initial and momentary and ecstatic experience...into a permanent condition - that in which it is possible to see the spirits." - Mircea Elliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
"The next thing an old shaman has to do for his pupil is to procure him anak ua by which is meant his 'angakoq', i.e., the altogether special and particular element which makes this man an angakoq (shaman). It is also called his quamenEg his 'lightning' or 'enlightenment', for anak ua consists of a mysterious light which the shaman suddenly feels in his body, inside his head, within the brain, an inexplicable searchlight, a luminous fire, which enables him to see in the dark both literally and metaphorically speaking, for he can now, even with closed eyes see through darkness and perceive things and coming events which are hidden from others; thus they look into the future and into the secrets of others."The first time a young shaman experiences this is as if the house in which he is suddenly rises; he sees far ahead of him, through mountains, exactly as if the earth were on a great plain, and his eyes could reach to the end of the earth. Nothing is hidden from him any longer; not only can he see things far, far away, but he can also discover souls, stolen souls, which are either kept concealed in far, strange lands or have been taken up or down to the Land of the dead." - K. Rasmussen, Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos
A Second Real World
"The pre-eminently shamanic technique is the passage from one cosmic region to another - from earth to the sky or from earth to the underworld. The shaman knows the mystery of the breakthrough in plane. This communication among the cosmic zones is made possible by the very structure of the universe." - Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
"The main feature of the shamans' universe is...the cosmic center, a bond or axis connecting earth, heaven and hell. It is often pictured as a tree or a pole holding up the sky. In a trance state, a shaman can travel disembodied from one region to another, climbing the tree into the heavens or following its downward extension. By doing so he can meet and consult the gods. There is always a numerical factor. He climbs through a fixed number of celestial stages, or descends through a fixed number of infernal ones. His key number may be expressed in his costume - for example, in a set of bells which he attaches to it. The key number varies from shaman to shaman and from tribe to tribe." - Geoffrey Ashe, The Ancient Wisdom
"He commands the techniques of ecstasy - that is, because his soul can safely abandon his body and roam at vast distances, can penetrate the underworld and rise to the sky. Through his own ecstatic experience he knows the roads of the extraterrestrial regions. He can go below and above because he has already been there. The danger of losing his way in these forbidden regions is still great; but sanctified by his initiation and furnished with his guardian spirit, a shaman is the only human being able to challenge the danger and venture into a mystical geography." - Mircea Elliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
"In the ages of the rude beginnings of culture, man believed that he was discovering a second real world in dream, and here is the origin of metaphysics. Without dream, mankind would never have had occasion to invent such a division of the world. The parting of soul and body goes also with this way of interpreting dream; likewise, the idea of a soul's apparitional body: whence, all belief in ghosts, and apparently, too, in gods." - Neitzsche, Human, All-Too-Human
"We must recognize ourselves as beings of four dimensions. Do we not in sleep live in a fantastic fairy kingdom where everything is capable of transformation, where there is no stability belonging to the physical world, where one man can become another or two men at the same time, where the most improbable things look simple and natural, where events often occur in inverse order, from end to beginning, where we see the symbolical images of ideas and moods, where we talk with the dead, fly in the air, pass through walls, are drowned or burnt, die and remain alive?" - P. D. Ouspensky
Perception in Trance States
The ceremonies of the Cult of the Horned god were first found in the Paleolithic cave paintings of Ariege which depicted a dancing figure in the skin of a horned animal.
Cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic (20-30,000 years ago) depicts zig zags and dots combined with realistic images of animals against grid forms. Similar abstract geometric are also found in the ritual art of the South African bushman where the trance dance of the shaman is a central unifying force of the community. In the dance the shaman perceives his body as stretching and becoming elongated. His spirit soars out of the top of his head and is transformed into an animal. In the century old depictions of the trance dance, the bushman shaman absorb the energy of a dying eland and take on many of the magic animal's physical characteristics. He perceives his transformed state as similar to being under water; he has difficulty breathing and feels weightless. When he returns from his spirit journey he is able to perform healing and even his sweat supposedly posses curative powers. A few days later the shaman would be able to reflect upon his experience and paint it in natural rock shelters found in the surrounding cliffs. There was no esoteric stream of wisdom and everyone in the village would share in knowledge of the spirit world.
Psychologists differentiate two stages in trance states induced by drugs, fasting and/or sensory deprivation.1.) Antopic forms - abstract geometric forms such as grids, dots and spirals2.) Realistic images from memory combined in surreal ways against a geometric background.The Paleolithic paintings depicts similar hallucinatory images to the modern bushman's but differ in one respect; they were not done out in the open but in the deep, dark recesses of caves. Was the sensory deprivation of being immersed in the dark a means of inducing a trance state in the Cro-Magnon shaman? - "Images of Another World" An episode of Ancient Mysteries broadcast by the A&E Network
"Among the Eskimo shaman's clairvoyance is the result of qaumenaq, which means 'lightning' or 'illumination'. It is a mysterious light which the shaman suddenly feels in his body, inside his head, within the brain, enabling him to see in the dark, both literally and metaphorically speaking, for he can now even with closed eyes, see through darkness and perceive things and coming events which are hidden from others. With the experience of the light goes a feeling of ascension, distant vision, clairvoyance, the perception of invisible entities and foreknowledge of the future. There is an interesting parallel, despite differences, in the initiation of Australian medicine-men, who go through a ritual death, and are filled with solidified light in the form of rock-crystals; on returning to life they have similar powers of clairvoyance and extra-sensory perception." - John Ferguson, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Mysticism and the Mystery Religions
Hypnogogic images"Hypnogogic images are the germinal stuff of dreams, and they usually begin with flashes of light. Often, an illuminated circle, lozenge, or other generally round form appears to come nearer and nearer, swelling to gigantic size. This particular image is known as the Isakower phenomenon, named after an Austrian psychoanalyst who first identified it. Isakower claimed the image was rooted in the memory of the mother's breast as it approached the infant's mouth.""Hypnagogic images can be interpreted in many different ways. Literally and figuratively, it's all in the eye of the beholder. The drowsy person in the hypnagogic state is just as open to suggestions as subjects in the hypnotized state.""When people start floating n the hypnagogic state, the amplitude and frequency of brainwaves decrease. The alpha rhythms of wakefulness are progressively replaced by slower theta activity. This translates to a loss of volitional control, a sense of paralysis. As the person descends further into sleep itself, the outside physical world retreats to the fringe of consciousness and the new reality becomes the internal dream world."
The final stage of hypnagogic images is, "polyopia, the multiplication of the image, usually seen in one eye....These specks of light...are produced by electrical activity in the visual system and brain. One can almost imagine the specks representing electric sparks flying along the neural pathways of the brain." They may look like hundred of stars "but they can also take the form of spots, circles, swirls, grids, checkerboards, or other figures composed of curves or lines. They are easy to see in the dark, but, in the light, they are on the borderline of perception.""Even when the hypnagogic forms are not consciously noticed, they can still register as subliminal stimuli and influence subsequent image formation and fantasy."
- Ronald K.Siegel, Fire in the Brain


Mircia Eliade's Biography

web Resources:-
article in Look Smart Find Articles
Journal for the Study of religions and Ideologies (article)
abstract of journal article (Doshisha American Studies) translation

west minister college web
Mircea Eliade: the hermeneutics of the religious phenomenon ...

Experience and hermeneutics in the histo- ry of religions

Mircea Eliade
Encarta Article

Terms used in Mircea Eliade'sThe Sacred and the Profane,The Nature of Religion
article in wikipedia-important