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Sociological Inquiry 42 (2): 155-172

Symposium on Shepherd, Religion and the Counter Culture-A New Religiosity Comment
ROBERT N. BELLAH* University of California, Berkeley

I think the article makes an important point and makes it rather well. I do have a few reservations about some points in your argument which I pass along for the sake of discussion and not as suggestions for revisions of the present piece. For one thing, your picture of the counter culture focusing almost exclusively on drugs and rock music is I think a bit one-sided. Some of the newer currents in the youth culture are decidedly ascetic and against the use of drugs. May I cite a very recent book by Jacob Needleman called The New Religions and published by Scribners. It deals with some of the movements currently spreading in the San Francisco Bay Area. You do, at the very end of the article, suggest some of the diversity involved in this counter culture, but I would be inclined to feel that it is considerably more heterogeneous than you describe it. I also sense more tension between the religious and the political aspects than you seem to find. My biggest problem, though, is with your uncompromising stand that the Jewish-ChristianIslamic traditions rest overwhelmingly on truth claims and not on experience. I would certainly not deny altogether that you have a point. The point comes out most strongly in comparative perspective, since I know of no other major religion which so explicitly emphasizes the cognitive claim as this one. Nonetheless, I still doubt that in fact in the religious psychology of the ordinary believer the truth claim is as central or as important as you make out. There are two major lines that I would pursue in attempting to undermine the most extreme form of your argument. One is that experience has always been central in the Christian tradition, in practice and often in theory. You virtually admit as much for the Protestant side, but I think the same can be said for the Catholic side although the terms are somewhat different. In the case of the Catholics the experience of conversion is not so central, but the sacramental life as a context of experience is absolutely central. It seems to me that the Mass and the

Eucharist are really the centerpieces of Catholic religiosity, and not creeds and dogmas in spite of the prevalence of Catholic rationalism for nearly a thousand years. The second line of argument I would take is that insistence on truth claims stated in purely objective cognitive terms may in fact not be functioning in ways analogous to the operation of truth claims in other realms of human existence. That is to say, what is purely a cognitive expression may in fact be operating in the conscious or unconscious life of the believer as an expressive emotional statement rather than as a statement of fact. For example, the assertion that the end of time has come and it is necessary to repent or one will be lost does indeed have a strong cognitive component and we have seen examples of the absurdity of groups who have fixed the date for the end to come. On the other hand, we also have sufficient social psychological understanding of the situations which produce this kind of belief to see that it is functioning primarily as a form of deep emotional expression for people who find themselves for one reason or another in a baffling and frustrating situation which seems to have for them no way out. The apparent objective cognitive form of the statement therefore cannot be taken at face value without distorting the very profound and shaking experiences which produce the cognitive belief. But once we admit that the religious belief is rooted in a deep religious experience, the dichotomy which you draw between traditional Judaic-Christian religiosity and the newer forms tends to wash out. On the other hand, it seems to me that you tend to overlook the extent to which the new counter culture religiosity also involves more than a few truth claims of a non-empirical sort. For example, a Zen Buddhist is by no means avoiding non-empirical truth claims when he speaks of the attainment of enlightenment or the realization of the Buddha nature. When he says that the truth of our existence is that we are all without exceptions Buddhas and that the apparent forms of the world are absolutely empty, we have statements which seem to convey *Ed.s Note: This comment is from a letter by cognitive proof but which are certainly not Bellah sent Shepherd in response to the latters request for evaluation of the paper. It is printed either common-sensical or scientific. They are simply the Zen equivalent of statements that with Bellahs kind permission.

Jesus is the son of God. At a more commonplace level, the belief in vibrations, in astrology, and in the effects of various kinds of symbolic diets all seem to me to involve truth claim elements that are parallel to aspects of the Jewish-Christian tradition. What my remarks suggest is not that your analysis is mistaken but simply that it is too


stark. I think you have pointed out validly differences of emphasis but when you translate differences of emphasis into absolute statements of contrast, it seems to me that you distort the real picture on both sides. But in spite of these reservations I very much would like to see this piece appear, since I think it does add an important dimension to the present discussions.

Comment: Vive la Diffkrence Lest Music Does Defeat George Herbert Mead
University of Pittsburgh

In arguing for a precise analogy between music and a new religiosity, Shepherd does not claim identity between the two. But when attention goes wholly to similarities, the result tends to collapse the distinction. And Shepherd travels in good company. No less than a Bellah at least once explicitly collapsed artistic and religious symbolism though he remains far from advocating it in general (1970: 206). If, furthermore, religious symbols are those that relate man to the ultimate conditions of his existence in part through relating him to himself (Bellah, 1970: 26), then no less than a Heisenberg (1942: 18) equated religion and science. Feyerabend (1966) argued for a breakdown of boundaries among all three. Motives and justifications differ, but groping for some new synthesis abounds. Given a fairly differentiated symbolic universe and specialized social organizations for its production, this is only to be expected. But if in analogizing we fall into the trap of forgetting differences, we shall not only fail in our search for integrative symbolism, we shall also diminish our cognitive-rational grasp of different symbolic realities attained. For such an approach carries the cost of a non-functional mode of thought. It prevents us from seeing that different types of statements with different aims condition each other. Yet it is precisely functionalism with its emphasis on mutual contingency among the components of functionally differentiated symbol systems that enabled us to view man as productive of and responsive to multi-layered realities. Let us not sacrifice lightly what has been gained with considerable effort. My comment, therefore, will attempt the following: (1) sketch the important distinctions that functionalism suggests; and ( 2 ) argue that the substitution of religious with expressive symbolism potentially makes for a profoundly different religious life posing challenging questions for (a) our conception of personal identity, and (b) the place of morals in modernity.

The perspective of action theory suggests at least two powerful deterrents against the false independence which fuels this clamor for a new synthesis. First, no production of statements is possible without simultaneously involvement of aIl four types of symbols: constitutive, moral, expressive, and cognitive. Secondly, the notion of Iart pour Iart is as much a myth as similar claims for science or religion. As to the former, one merely has to keep in mind that the institutionalized production of scientific statements could not do without a capacity to categorize, an underlying moral commitment that knowledge is better than ignorance, a commitment to elegance in explanation, and a massive dose of cognition. Similarly, no amount of apperceiving beauty suffices for the production of music that is more than noise. One does need cognitive symbols as well. Concerning the second point, no functionally differentiated action of whatever kind is carried on for its own sake. The implied notion of completely independent goals contradicts the idea of Parsons functional differentiation. But these activities are guided by different codes of control. In science it is cognitive rationality, in art appreciative, and in religion it is the rationality of ultimate meaning. And if one refuses to treat these phenomena as functionally differentiated one loses the capacity to even raise the isssue of interchange, transitivity, or de-differentiation to the level of a problem. The German non-economic middleclass used art for religious ends already a hundred years before American youth tried it. But if we are to advance our understanding of the conditions making for such substitutability, the distinction is crucial. Next to different codes, where else lie the distinctions? The production of an order, a cosmos radically different from the sociocultural of every-day common sense experience does not distinguish science, art, and religion. A U are order statements of radical difference to common