Basic assumptions of the critical theory
Nowadays, there exists a variety of theories which attempt to explain the functioning and development of human society at large and various organizations in particular. At the same time, among such a variety of theories it is hardly possible to find a lot of them which could be really recognized as reliable and trustworthy theories. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the critical theory which uses a purely scientific approach to the development of human society and basic process that take place in it. In other words, the critical theory is focused on the analysis and understanding of the basic principles of functioning of human society, causes and effects of complicated processes that take place in society and their impact on the life of each individual as well as the society at large.
Speaking about the critical theory it is hardly possible to avoid underlining the fact that this is a socially oriented theory. No wander the critical theory is also often called the social theory because society has always been the primary concern of this theory. However, unlike many other theories, such as traditional theory, the social theory is not simply focused on understanding and explaining human society and processes that take place in it, but this theory also attempts to critically evaluate them and, in general, the theory is focused on critiquing and changing human society.
Obviously, society has a very complicated structure and, in spite of all the benefits of social life, it is still far from perfect. This is why one of the major goals of the critical theory is to identify the major problems of society, critically analyze them in order to find out their causes and after that find possible solutions of these problems. The ultimate goal of the critical theory is the creation of the society deprived of significant drawbacks where each individual has ample opportunities to realize his/her inclinations and reveal his/her abilities and talents (Calhoun, 226). Naturally, such a goal is a bit idealistic but it also implies other goals such as critical evaluation of society and its development in historical context. In fact, the critical theory attempts to understand how the society came to be configured at a particular point in time. Finally, the critical theory uses a combination of social sciences in its researches, including economics, sociology, history, political science, and others.
The Roman Catholic Church
At the same time, the subject of concern of the critical theory may be not only society at large but some particular institutions and organizations that produce a profound impact on the development of society and define its current configuration. In this respect, the Roman Catholic Church may be viewed as one of the most powerful organizations, which influences dramatically the life of millions of people throughout the world. In fact, according to recent data the number of adepts of the Roman Catholic Church exceeds one billion people (Woods, 159) and constitutes about one sixth of the total population of the Earth.
However, it should be said that the Roman Catholic Church gradually loses its positions in economic and political life of countries but still remains quite a powerful ideological tool that influence and defines the consciousness of millions people. To put it more precisely, the Roman Catholic Church to a significant extent shapes the perception of the surrounding world and the internal world of its adepts.
Naturally, taking into consideration the huge amount of adepts of the Roman Catholic Church, it would be quite logical to presuppose that it is spread worldwide, but in actuality, the Roman Catholic Church is represented disproportionally in different parts of the world. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church is dominating religious institution in Latin America, Europe, except its Eastern and South Eastern parts, it has numerous missions in Africa and Asia, but, historically, its positions were particularly strong in Europe and America, while in Asia, for instance, the Church faced a strong resistance from the part of Islam as well as Buddhism and other religions dominating in the continent.
The Roman Catholic Church has quite a complicated structure which unites one Western or Latin Catholic Church and 22 Eastern Catholic autonomous particular churches, all of which are united under the power of the Bishop of Rome, alone or along with the College of Bishops, as the highest authority. The church is divided into jurisdictional areas, usually on a territorial basis, each of which is headed by a bishop. The head of the Roman Catholic Church is the Pope. The Roman Catholic Church targets at the spread of Christianity and the popularization of its faith for the sake of salvation of people and their souls.
The Analysis of the Roman Catholic Church
On analyzing the Roman Catholic Church from the point of view of the critical theory, it is necessary to underline that this religious institution played an extremely important historical role in the development of the Western civilization and the world at large. It should be said that the current popularity and the wide spread of the Roman Catholic Church is determined by its historical development since often the expansion of Europeans, both political and economic, was accompanied by the spread of Christianity which was brought to other peoples of the world by the Roman Catholic Church. In this respect, it is possible to remind the colonization of America, both North and South, when catholic priests constituted an important part of European expeditions in the continents. The same situation could be observed in Africa and Asia, where the Roman Catholic Church penetrated along with European colonizers. But even earlier, the Roman Catholic Church became the dominant religious power in Western and Central Europe gradually spreading its influence Northward and Eastward.
Obviously, such a tremendous success of the Roman Catholic Church cannot be explained by some miracle or the interference of divine powers, instead, it was quite a logical historical process, since from the religious point of view there is also Orthodox Christianity which is basically spread in Eastern and South Eastern Europe, which is also based on the Christian teaching but it has failed to become as influential as the Roman Catholic Church. On the other hand, the ideology of the Roman Catholic Church, being based on traditional Christian norms, was a very important part of the life of the church and one of the main factors that determined its popularity, but it is necessary to underline that its ideology was rather used by the civil authorities to promote their power in their own countries, i.e. Western and Central Europe, and colonize other peoples all over the world.
What is meant here is the fact that practically since the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church, this Church has played the role of the main ideologist of Western civilization. To put it more precisely, traditional Christian ideas which basically meet main humanistic ideals were very popular among people and readily accepted by them, regardless their social background. Naturally, the official authorities could hardly fail to use this great ideological power of the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, the official authorities actively supported the Roman Catholic Church, which, in response, supported the existing socio-economic and political order. In fact, nowadays the situation has hardly changed and the Roman Catholic Church still appeals to refuse from any sort of social struggle and improvement of social position of people, instead, it attempts to convince its adepts to remain quiet, obedient Christians who will rewarded in their afterlife for their obedience and virtuous life. In such a way, it is possible to estimate that the Roman Catholic Church serves as a powerful ideological tool which maintains the stability in the modern society, satisfying major spiritual needs of people and giving them clear moral and ethical norms and standards the fulfillment of which is supposed to bring rewards in the afterlife.
At the same time, the ideological role of the Roman Catholic Church is not limited solely by the support of the existing social order in a particular period of time. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church, and this is what makes this church so popular, serves a mediator between people and the God. In other words, the Roman Catholic Church provides people with an opportunity to communicate with the God through Catholic priests. In such a way, the Church fulfils the intermediary functions and provides people with a spiritual and moral relief giving them hope that with the help of the Roman Catholic Church they can communicate with the God, who, as they sincerely believe, can help them overcome their problems and improve their life consistently.
Naturally, this is an obvious mysticism that cannot be supported by any scientific facts but what is more important here is the fact that the Roman Catholic Church creates a great illusion, a strong belief in some supernatural power that can help them and, in such a way, millions of people find reconciliation with the severe reality and their current material problems which are out shadowed by the spiritual satisfaction which the Roman Catholic Church provides its adepts with. As a result, the adepts of the Roman Catholic Church readily accept the existing social order and, therefore, the particular social configuration is maintained due to the ideological and spiritual impact of the Roman Catholic Church on its adepts.
On the other hand, it is obvious that the Roman Catholic church contributes considerably to the maintenance of the power of the God, which serves as the only supreme, supernatural being that actually rules everything in the universe. According to the Roman Catholic Church, human life as well as the fate of the entire world is in hands of the God. At the same time, though its teaching the Roman Catholic Church maintains not only the belief in the almighty power of the God but it also assist to maintain the political power since political rulers are represented by the Church as given by the God. Finally, it should be said that the ideology of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the power may be even viewed in three dimensions: political, the power of official authorities sanctioned by the God, spiritual, the power of the Roman Catholic Church as a mediator between the God and its adepts, and socio-economic, since the Church acclaims to maintain the stability of the social order and reject strife for material prosperity.
Carroll, W. History of Christendom. New York: Christendom Press, 2006.
Calhoun, C. Critical Social Theory: Culture, History, and the Challenge of Difference. Blackwell, 1995.
Crocker, III, H. W. Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church: A 2,000-Year History. LA: Prima Lifestyles, 2001.
Miller, A. S. The Roman Catholic Church: A Divine Institution or a Human Invention?. London: Tower of David Publications, 2006.
Russel, G. Introduction to Philosophy. New York: Random House, 2004.
Woods, Jr., T. How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. Chicago: Regnery Publishing, 2005.
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