5.3 Scholarly definitions of religion

Scholars offer us many different definitions of religion, but these definitions tend to be of two types. The first type is known as a substantive definition: that is, a definition that tells us what kind of thing religion is by pointing to its distinguishing characteristic – usually its beliefs and/or practices. We can find an example of a substantive definition of religion in my summary of the definitions found in the Concise Oxford Dictionary. Think again about d. Acc
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5.2 The ‘answer’ in your dictionary

Exercise 9

Please now look at the definition of ‘religion’ given in your dictionary.

  1. Do you think that the definition is going to help you when deciding what is or is not religion? Please give
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5.1 ‘Religion’ and ‘the religions’: two new notions

I want to begin our closer discussion of the question ‘what is religion?’ by looking briefly at the history of the use and meaning of the term. You may be surprised to find how recently the word ‘religion’ has taken on the meanings attached to it today.

Contemporary scholars of religion emphasise not merely the cultural breadth but also the antiquity of religious activity. Yet, the term ‘religion’ as we understand it today is very much a Western concept.

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4.4 Religion and social policy

Understanding religious beliefs and practices and what we mean by ‘religion’ is not merely of academic interest. It is often bound up with social policy and so relates to the rights and privileges of individuals. In Britain, for example, the Church of Scientology has not been allowed to register i
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4.3 The changing face of belief

The religious life of post-war Britain has become more varied, although Christianity in different forms remains the most influential religion. Yet, the influence of Christianity over British institutions has declined greatly over the last century and a half, although both England and Scotland still retain Established Author(s): The Open University

4.2 Reasons for studying religion

Exercise 7

Identify and jot down reasons that you think might prompt someone to make a study of religion.

Discussion

Here are some reasons in no special or
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2.1 Introduction

The original TV programme was divided into an introduction and seven sections, each preceded by a simple question that appears on screen. To help you to explore this material, we have split the programme into eight clips, each associated with an activity. Once you have completed all the activities, you will have viewed the TV programme in its entirety and considered some of the questions explored in the original OU course.

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1 Themes and issues in the history of art

This unit introduces you to a number of themes and issues in the history of art, taking as its pretext a visit to the Louvre in Paris. It asks three kinds of question:

  1. How did the Grand Louvre (as the modernised Louvre is called) – its buildings, paintings and sculptures – come to be as it is?

  2. How should we respond to the claim that the collections in the Louvre constitute a significant part of the canon of Western European art?
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • have an understanding of how the Grand Louvre has come to be as it is;

  • critically discuss the claim that the collections in the Louvre constitute a significant part of the canon of Western European art;

  • ask questions of museums and collections that are appropriate to art history.


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Introduction

This unit will help you to understand how major art collections are brought together over long periods of time and why particular pieces gain notoriety.

This material is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Art and its histories (A216) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this Author(s): The Open University

References

Aly, G. (1999) ‘Final Solution’: Nazi Population Policy and the Murder of the European Jews, Arnold.
Bartov, O. (1985) The Eastern Front 1941–1945: German Troops and the Barbarisation of Warfare, Macmillan.
Beevor, A. (1998) Stalingrad, Viking.
Browning, C. J. (1992a) The Path to Genocide: Essays on Lau
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5.2 The aftermath of the Holocaust

In interwar Europe ethnic Germans had been in an overwhelming majority in the populations of both Germany and Austria. In addition, the two largest minorities spread across the states of interwar Europe, and particularly the states of the centre and east, had been Germans and Jews. The war and the Holocaust produced ‘solutions’ to the questions of both minorities. The Jews of central and eastern Europe who survived were often unwilling to return to their former homes; indeed, many of thos
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4.2 Who to blame

Browning developed his work on Police Battalion 101 into a book, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (1992b). The same material was subsequently used, and reinterpreted, by Daniel J. Goldhagen for Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (1996). Goldhagen points the finger of blame for the Holocaust precisely at Germany. The Holocaust was, he stresses, a German phenomenon, and he argues that it built on what he det
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3.4 The mass production of death

Mass shootings by soldiers and Einsatzgruppen and the use of the mobile gas vans took time and energy. There was concern about the effects on the morale of the men involved. Towards the end of 1941, even before the Wannsee Conference, the Nazis had begun building camps in Poland that incorporated large gas chambers for the mass production of death. Belzec was the first to come into operation in February 1942, killing people with carbon monoxide first released from bottles and subsequen
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3.2 Plans for ‘resettlement’ of the Jews

The occupation of western Poland after the brief campaign of 1939 gave the Nazis Lebensraum to colonise with ethnic Germans, some of whom were soon to be repatriated to the Reich (and thence, often reluctantly, to the newly annexed provinces of the Warthgau and Danzig) by new conquests. But the preparation of these provinces for the colonists necessitated the expulsion of a million Poles and Jews, who were driven east to the Nazi-controlled satellite of Poland known as the Ge
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3.1 Terminology used during the ‘Final Solution’

The term ‘Final Solution’ (Die Endlösung) was a euphemism. Himmler was fully prepared to talk about killing to his immediate subordinates, but much of the Nazi killing machine was shrouded in bureaucratic euphemism. The doctors and administrators charged with murdering ‘incurables’ were the ‘Public Ambulance Service Ltd’ (Gemeinnützige Krankentransport GmbH); the motorised death squads which first went into action in Poland in 1939 were ‘task forces’ (Einsat
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2.3 The significance of Volksgemeinschaft in Nazi ideology

Hitler made no reference to Kristallnacht in his speeches at the time of the event. Less than three months later, however, on 30 January 1939, he gave a two-hour address to the Reichstag. The speech focused principally on the international situation but contained the ‘prophecy’ that a new war would bring about ‘the destruction Vernichtung of the Jewish race in Europe’. The ‘prophecy’ was singled out in newsreel coverage of the speech, yet neither the official
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2.1 Anti-Semitism and Hitler

Anti-Semitism was central to Hitler's world view and to that of most Nazi activists. Hitler considered Jews to have been foremost among profiteers and racketeers during World War I; they engineered the ‘stab in the back’ of November 1918; they were hand-in-glove with Bolshevism. In August 1919 Hitler was an instructor at a military camp at Lechfeld, near Augsburg. His task was to inject nationalist and anti-Bolshevik ideas into the men in the camp, many of whom were recently released pris
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1.3 Eugenics

Just as anti-Semitism was not unique to Nazi Germany, neither were ideas of racial superiority or attempts to create a society peopled by ‘better’ human beings. Politicians, scientists and social commentators in many European countries expressed concern about the ‘degeneracy’ of their respective ‘national stock’ in the years before World War I. Sir Francis Galton – scientist, anthropologist, cousin of Charles Darwin and inspired by his work – had coined the word ‘eugenics’
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1.2 Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism was not an invention of the twentieth century, nor was it simply a German phenomenon. In the years before 1914 violent pogroms were directed against Jews, who were made scapegoats for the problems of the Russian Empire. The flight of Jews from the east, first to escape the violent prejudices unleashed periodically in Tsarist Russia and then to escape the upheavals in the aftermath of World War I, sharpened the anti-Semitism which was already to be found in the west of Europe. Th
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