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J., E. (1920). Religion and Culture. A Critical Survey of Methods of Approach to Religious Phenomena: By Frederick Schleiter, (Columbia University Press, New York, 1919. Pp. 193 and Bibliography).. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:336-337.

(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:336-337

Religion and Culture. A Critical Survey of Methods of Approach to Religious Phenomena: By Frederick Schleiter, (Columbia University Press, New York, 1919. Pp. 193 and Bibliography).

Review by:
E. J.

As the title indicates, this volume is intended rather as a critical review than as an original contribution to this extensive subject, one covered by such terms as comparative religion, social psychology, anthropology and ethnology. The author is mainly concerned with the difficult question of methodology; he discusses the criteria we possess for the interpretation of anthropological data, the principles underlying the various modes of approach, and the most suitable starting points for investigation. These are very complex problems, which can only be discussed in an appropriate place and at considerable length, so that the reviewer will confine himself here to giving his impression of the book as a whole.

One feels that the author, doubtless in the endeavour to be objective, has refrained too much from constructive criticism of the methods he deals with, so that the book consists too much of a series of quotations of one theory and method after another, and fails to present the organic relations between them in an imaginative way. It serves the purpose excellently well of orienting students as to the main trends of work in these fields, and provides a useful and well-chosen bibliography. That his presentation of these, however, is not always to be depended on may be illustrated to the readers of this Journal familiar with the dynamic psychology of Freud, by the following passage, where they will be astonished to read that Freud "considers that they (i. e. the traditional principles of associationism—contiguity in space and time, cause and effect, and similarity) constitute a satisfactory explanation of the juxtaposition of psychic content involved in magic. The support of this position by Freud is nothing short of a curious anachronism". As it is mainly Freud's work which has made such a position an anachronism, the comment is distinctly entertaining.

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