Many religions abound in the world; some of them prevalent in certain regions while others are widely dispersed in many geographical areas. One of these religions, Animism, began in prehistoric times and is still practiced by some societies today. While experts differ as to the exact reasons that animism began, nearly all who accept it as a doctrine agree that its basis in spirituality is one that is shared to some degree among many religions. Animism research papers have been written by religion experts. We can produce a custom written project following your guidelines.
Animism (sometimes spelled Animism) is the belief that everything is spiritual, including sticks, stones, water, and animals; its primary goal to keep the peace between mankind and nature. The religion probably dates back to the Paleolithic Era. According to Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, primitive peoples, those without a written language, “believed that the spirits or souls caused life in human beings…pictured these souls as vapors or shadows going from one body to another…[and that] these souls passed not only between human beings but into plants, animals, and inanimate objects as well.”
Animism as a religion is based upon a twofold principle of evolution:
- The anthropological assumption that the savage races give a correct idea of religion in its primitive state
- The philosophical assumption that the savage state was the childhood of the race and that the savage mind should be likened to a child.
Animism and Robert Marett
Robert Marett described a form of animism as found in his studies of the Melanesians of the South Seas. According to the peoples in this region, the spirits, or mana, are supernatural powers that are independent of any soul. These spirits are believed to be so powerful that individuals who know how to use them can harness the power to kill animals or protect earthly possessions.
According to Tylor’s theory, primitive man developed the belief in Animism in order to explain the causes of sleep, dreams and death. Early man used the religion to help explain the “pictures” one saw in dreams, to distinguish the states of sleep and awake, and to explain why some lived while others died.
British anthropologist Robert Ranulph Marett disagreed with Tylor’s theory, claiming instead that primitive peoples did not possess the intellect to form the ideas that are basic to Tylor’s theory. Instead, Marett argued that early man recognized that some inanimate objects had particular characteristics, behaving in ways that often made them seem to be alive. Therefore, the development of animism was more emotional and intuitive in nature.