Robert Bellah, fully Robert Neelly Bellah

Robert
Bellah, fully Robert Neelly Bellah
1927
2013

American Sociologist, Professor of Sociology at University of California, Berkeley

Author Quotes

Women have entered the work force . . . partly to express their feelings of self-worth . . . partly because today many families would not survive without two incomes, partly because they are not at all sure their marriages will last. The day of the husband as permanent meal-ticket is over, a fact most women recognize, however they feel about "women's liberation."

We could talk further about the importance of finding an occupation that both gives you a sense of self-respect and provides the resources to live an autonomous life. We talk in Habits of the Heart, about these issues-how for many Americans, at various levels in the occupational hierarchy, the job somehow doesn't prove adequate in fulfilling one's autonomous self and often becomes a means-an instrument-to the acquisition of those resources which will allow one to live in a private lifestyle that will somehow fulfill this expectation that we will find this unique person-who we really are-and attain self-realization, self-fulfillment, happiness. The terms are several but they all point in the same direction. But when we press the question, "What are the criteria that tell us what happiness is or that define the wants that when they are satisfied will lead to self-realization?", then the confident tones that we have been hearing begin to falter. And instead of any clear notion of any content there is simply the reassertion of "Whatever for you that fulfillment or happiness may be." It is not surprising that Americans turn to psychology as the place that is focused on that inner self.

We have imagined ourselves a special creation, set apart from other humans. In the last twentieth century, we see that our poverty is as absolute as that of the poorest nations. We have attempted to deny the human condition in our quest for power after power. It would be well for us to rejoin the human race, to accept our essential poverty as a gift, and to share our material wealth with those in need.

I discovered the cognitive neuroscientist Merlin Donald

I don't want to imply that it's uniquely American that people growing up have to come to terms with their independence and their separation to some extent from parents and from teachers. That's normal in any culture. It's that our culture pushes, emphasizes, and intensifies it beyond, I think, virtually any culture I know about.

Leaving home in a sense involves a kind of second birth in which we give birth to ourselves.

However painful the process of leaving home, for parents and for children, the really frightening thing for both would be the prospect of the child never leaving home.

As Robert Coles says, psychology in this instance means a concentration, persistent if not feverish, upon one's thoughts, feelings, wishes, worries, bordering on if not embracing solipsism-the self as the only or main form of reality. To the point where, in the book, we speak of ontological individualism. That is, the self is the only real thing in the world. I am real. All of you are more or less fictitious. I know what I feel but I don't know for sure what you feel.

But goodness alone is never enough. A hard cold wisdom is required, too, for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom invariably accomplishes evil.

We have imagined ourselves a special creation, set apart from other humans. In the last twentieth century, we see that our poverty is as absolute as that of the poorest nations. We have attempted to deny the human condition in our quest for power after power. It would be well for us to rejoin the human race, to accept our essential poverty as a gift, and to share our material wealth with those in need.

Women have entered the work force . . . partly to express their feelings of self-worth . . . partly because today many families would not survive without two incomes, partly because they are not at all sure their marriages will last. The day of the husband as permanent meal-ticket is over, a fact most women recognize, however they feel about "women's liberation."

We could talk further about the importance of finding an occupation that both gives you a sense of self-respect and provides the resources to live an autonomous life. We talk in Habits of the Heart, about these issues-how for many Americans, at various levels in the occupational hierarchy, the job somehow doesn't prove adequate in fulfilling one's autonomous self and often becomes a means-an instrument-to the acquisition of those resources which will allow one to live in a private lifestyle that will somehow fulfill this expectation that we will find this unique person-who we really are-and attain self-realization, self-fulfillment, happiness. The terms are several but they all point in the same direction. But when we press the question, "What are the criteria that tell us what happiness is or that define the wants that when they are satisfied will lead to self-realization?", then the confident tones that we have been hearing begin to falter. And instead of any clear notion of any content there is simply the reassertion of "Whatever for you that fulfillment or happiness may be." It is not surprising that Americans turn to psychology as the place that is focused on that inner self.

I don't want to imply that it's uniquely American that people growing up have to come to terms with their independence and their separation to some extent from parents and from teachers. That's normal in any culture. It's that our culture pushes, emphasizes, and intensifies it beyond, I think, virtually any culture I know about.

Leaving home in a sense involves a kind of second birth in which we give birth to ourselves.

However painful the process of leaving home, for parents and for children, the really frightening thing for both would be the prospect of the child never leaving home.

I discovered the cognitive neuroscientist Merlin Donald

As Robert Coles says, psychology in this instance means a concentration, persistent if not feverish, upon one's thoughts, feelings, wishes, worries, bordering on if not embracing solipsism-the self as the only or main form of reality. To the point where, in the book, we speak of ontological individualism. That is, the self is the only real thing in the world. I am real. All of you are more or less fictitious. I know what I feel but I don't know for sure what you feel.

But goodness alone is never enough. A hard cold wisdom is required, too, for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom invariably accomplishes evil.

It was the deep belief of the founders of the republic could succeed only with virtuous citizens. Only if there was a moral law within would citizens be able to maintain a free government.

American cultural traditions define personality, achievement, and the purpose of human life in ways that leave the individual suspended in glorious, but terrifying, isolation. These are limitations of our culture, of the categories and ways of thinking we have inherited, not limitations of individuals... who inhabit this culture.

Freedom is perhaps the most resonant, deeply held American value. In some ways, it defines the good in both personal and political life. Yet freedom turns out to mean being left alone by others, not having other people’s values, ideas, or styles of life forced upon one, being free of arbitrary authority in work, family, and political life. What it is that one might do with that freedom is much more difficult for Americans to define.

That happiness is to be attained through limitless material acquisition is denied by every religion and philosophy known to humankind, but it is preached incessantly by every American television set.

We have to treat others as part of who awe are, rather than as a ‘them’ with whom we are in constant competition.

Author Picture
First Name
Robert
Last Name
Bellah, fully Robert Neelly Bellah
Birth Date
1927
Death Date
2013
Bio

American Sociologist, Professor of Sociology at University of California, Berkeley