Richard L. Wood

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A Short Essay in Memory of Robert N. Bellah (1927-2013)

  • Abstract

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Keywords: religion, Bellah, symbolic realism, American culture, science and religion

In memory of Robert N. Bellah (d. 2013), this essay outlines his key intellectual contributions and recalls his interpersonal style in interaction with students and colleagues. Three key contributions are highlighted: the analysis of American culture of individualism; the theoretical framework of symbolic realism; and the role of religion in human evolution. Bellah's contributions to human thought and democratic life helping a wide audience of scholars, institutional leaders, and democratic citizens come to terms with their roles; a proposal for integrating faith and social science within an ethic of critical inquiry, and identifying the deep roots of religion qua symbolic thinking, groupness, ritual, and ultimate meaning.

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