- 宗教哲学研究 (ISSN:02897105)
- vol.10, pp.50-67, 1993 (Released:2018-03-29)
“Millenarianism” is a term originally employed by medieval and early modern European historians, but has been referred to in various studies of many cultural, religious and nativistic movement outside the western world, such as the Prophetism in Africa, the Ghost Dance in North America, and the Cargo Cults in Melanesia. There is no consistent use of terminology among historians and cultural anthropologists, and the aim of this thesis is to offer some prospect for the integration of these studies.
Some fundamental standpoints are discerned among them. Critical examination of these standpoints —psychological, sociological— of science of religion, would make two opposite tendencies clear. One is the view that millenarianism is something absurd or eccentric, and that the absurdity is to be reduced to psychological or sociological deficiencies. This is nothing but “labelling”. The other makes efforts to understand millenarianism which is essentially alien to our secular world view. It must be the process of understanding to endeavor to explain what seems alien to us, and we call this kind of attitude “proper appreciation”. Most studies are situated between these two polaritic tendencies.
How can we avoid the labelling? There is something to learn in the standpoint of science of religion. As the science of religion is concerned with the integrated understanding of various religious phenomena which seem, at a glance, so hardly to be identifiable that we have difficulties in comprehending them under one word “religion”,so we must make much of our identification of many millenarian movements, for we have the tacit understanding that we also have an element in our experience which causes millenarianism. That is why we can recognize millenarianism. Thus, the preliminary lines for the study are laid down. First, the proper appreciation should be pursued as far as possible, not only to avoid labelling, but to carry our tacit understanding of millenarianism into direct statements. Second, the proper appreciation results in extending the application of millenarianism, because any of its limitation might presume the prejudiced labelling. This is only an immediate plan for the study, but we must start from it.