This is the free rider problem. The free rider, whom Hume calls the sensible knave, wants to get the benefits that result from having a practice in place without having to always follow its rules. He knows that the only way to obtain the advantages of social cooperation is for the practice of justice to be in place, but he also realizes that a single act of justice will not significantly damage the practice. Most people will obey the rules of justice, so if he commits one act of injustice, the institution will not be in any danger of collapsing.
Suppose he has the opportunity to commit an act of injustice that will benefit him greatly. Hume confesses that if the sensible knave expects an answer, he is not sure there is one that will convince him. If his heart rebel not against such pernicious maxims, if he feel no reluctance to thoughts of villainy or baseness, he has indeed lost a considerable motive to virtue…. There is no general agreement about whether Hume actually provides an answer to the sensible knave and if he does, whether it is adequate. Hume wrote forcefully and incisively on almost every central question in the philosophy of religion, contributing to ongoing debates about the reliability of reports of miracles, the immateriality and immortality of the soul, the morality of suicide, and the natural history of religion, among others.
All his work excited heated reactions from his contemporaries, and his arguments still figure centrally in discussions of these issues today. In the debates about causation and ethics, there is an initial critical phase , where Hume assesses the arguments of his predecessors and contemporaries, followed by a constructive phase , where he develops his own position.
In the natural religion debate, however, the situation is very different. Instead of resolving this debate, Hume effectively dissolves it. The Dialogues are a sustained and penetrating critical examination of a prominent argument from analogy for the existence and nature of God, the argument from design. The argument from design attempts to establish that the order we find in the universe is so like the order we find in the products of human artifice that it too must be the product of an intelligent designer.
The Dialogues record a conversation between three characters. Cleanthes and Demea represent the central positions in the eighteenth—century natural religion debate. Instead, they used the order and regularity they found in the universe to construct a probabilistic argument for a divine designer. Holdouts clung to demonstrative proof in science and theology against the rising tide of probability. Demea is the champion of these conservative traditionalists. There was no genuinely sceptical presence in the eighteenth—century natural religion debate.
This makes Philo , who both Cleanthes and Demea characterize as a sceptic , the ringer in the conversation. Demea holds that God is completely unknown and incomprehensible; all we can say is that God is a being without restriction, absolutely infinite and universal. Natural objects and human artifacts resemble one another, so by analogy, their causes also resemble each other.
God is therefore like a human mind, only very much greater in every respect.
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He launches a battery of arguments to show just how weak it is. The dissimilarities between human artifacts and the universe are more striking than their similarities. We only experience a tiny part of the universe for a short time; much of what we do experience is unknown to us. How can we legitimately infer anything about remote parts of the universe, much less the universe as a whole? We have no experience of the origin of a universe. Since causal inference requires a basis in experienced constant conjunction between two kinds of things, how can we legitimately draw any conclusion whatsoever about the origin of the universe?
Does it even require a cause? One or many? Does the cause of the universe itself require a cause? The problem, then, is not just that the analogy is weak; the real problem is that it attempts to take us beyond what we can know. The barbs they throw at each other, and the speeches Philo goads them to make, help create a dilemma that Philo uses them to construct. He directs the dilemma at Cleanthes, but it affects both characters, although Demea is slow to realize this. He argues that mystics like Demea are no better than atheists , since they make God so remote and incomprehensible that he bears no resemblance to human characteristics.
Demea adds that giving God human characteristics, even if they are greatly magnified, denies him attributes theists have always ascribed to him. How can an anthropomorphic God have the unity , simplicity, and immutability of the God of traditional theism? If he accepts the argument from design, he must be committed to a God who is finite in all respects. But what does it mean to say that God is finitely perfect? Why think that the universe is more like a human artifact than an animal or a vegetable? To illustrate, Philo throws out a number of outlandish alternative hypotheses.
Total suspense of judgment is the only reasonable response. Otherwise, we go beyond the bounds of anything to which we can give specific content. We can only give the idea of God intelligible content at the perilously high cost of denying that he is really God. To do so is to abandon God for some kind of superhero. Demea offers an a priori alternative to the design argument in Part 9. Demea begins the discussion in Part Our forms of worship are attempts to appease unknown powers that oppress and torment us. DCNR They proceed with a joint litany of the misery and melancholy of the human condition, topping each other with catalogues of woes.
Demea is also scornful of theodicies, blissfully unaware that all too soon he will be offering his own. But hoping that the extent of human misery is not so widespread is not the same as proving that it is. Cleanthes is on weak ground. He thinks he finally has Philo on the ropes. In forcing a sceptic to prove a positive thesis, he must not only succeed at a difficult task, but violates his scepticism in the process. Cleanthes fails to realize that Philo will make his case without needing to prove anything, nor does he realize that he will soon be the one who needs a proof.
Demea objects that Cleanthes exaggerates the dire consequences of acknowledging the human condition, and, despite his earlier vehement rejection of theodicies, offers his own. Cleanthes retorts that Demea denies the facts, and offers only empty hypotheses, which, if intelligible at all, could only establish their bare possibility, but never their reality. Cleanthes has now put himself in the position in which he thought he had put Philo. He must establish that the facts are as he claims, and Philo is quick to stress how difficult this will be. By resting his case on such an uncertain point, any conclusion he draws will be equally uncertain.
Philo then ups the ante by granting for the sake of argument that human happiness exceeds human misery. But if God is infinitely powerful, wise, and good, why is there any misery at all? He admits that if we go beyond their usual meanings when we apply human terms to God, what we say is indeed unintelligible. Abandoning all human analogy is thus to abandon natural religion, but preserving it makes it impossible to reconcile evil with an infinite God.
Cleanthes realizes he has painted himself into a corner, but once again he thinks there is a way out. Instead of God, he is now committed to some kind of superhero. Besides, the story he is telling is itself a theodicy. In any case, Cleanthes is no better off than he was before. Conjectures may show that the data are consistent with the idea of God, but are never sufficient to prove that he actually exists.
Philo then proceeds to outline four possible hypotheses about the cause of the universe: it is perfectly good; it is perfectly evil; it is both good and evil; it is neither good nor evil. The regularity and uniformity of the general laws we find in experience is sufficient to discount the third, so the fourth seems the most probable. On that hypothesis, the cause of the universe is entirely indifferent to the amount of good and evil in the world.
These points about natural evil also apply to moral evil. We have even less reason, in fact, since moral evil outweighs moral goodness more than natural evil outweighs natural goodness. Since every effect must have a cause, either the chain of causes goes back infinitely, or it stops with the original principle that is the ultimate cause of all things—God. If he leans on the mystery—mongering he has professed until now, Philo has shown that, because of its lack of specific content, it does not point exclusively to a good God.
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- The continuum.
- Blind Perspective.
Commitment without content turns out to be no commitment at all. Demea realizes this, dimly at least, as he leaves the conversation. Philo seems to reverse field, apparently recanting what he has argued for so forcefully. His remarks are, however, by no means straightforward. Some take Philo—and, by implication, Hume—to be outing himself as a closet theist. Others conclude that, since he holds all the cards at this point, he can afford to be conciliatory.
But there is no need to force the irony here. In fact, what he says here reiterates his position in Part 8, that function alone is no proof of divine design:. I would fain know how an animal could subsist, unless its parts were so adjusted? DCNR 8. At the conversation continues, Philo provides a diagnosis of the dispute. But verbal disputes can be resolved—or dissolved —by providing clear definitions. However, the dilemma about the content of our idea of God that Philo has constructed clearly implies that such a constructive solution is not possible here.
Philo explains why only a critical solution is possible by offering a deeper diagnosis of the problem. These are the controversies concerning the degrees of any quality or circumstance. This is exactly what the dispute over intelligent design is about. The dispute about design is actually worse than a verbal dispute. Anything is like anything else in some remote respect. So the ordering principle of the universe, if indeed there is one, can be absolutely anything.
As it concludes, it is no longer clear that these questions are really so distinct as originally assumed. What, then, are we to make of the claim about his existence? EHU 2. If we stop short of the limit, we may have content, but we have also lost God. Life and Works 2. The relation between the Treatise and the Enquiries 3. Philosophical Project 4. Account of the Mind 4. Causation 5. The Idea of Necessary Connection 6. Moral Philosophy 7. Philosophy of Religion 8. MOL 3 Katherine Falconer Hume realized that David was uncommonly precocious, so when his older brother went up to Edinburgh University, Hume went with him, although he was only 10 or As his diagnosis of traditional metaphysics reveals, Hume believes that the chief obstacle … to our improvement in the moral or metaphysical sciences is the obscurity of the ideas, and ambiguity of the terms.
This suggests that There is a secret tie or union among particular ideas, which causes the mind to conjoin them more frequently, and makes the one, upon its appearance, introduce the other. Hume maintains that this principle is custom or habit : whenever the repetition of any particular act or operation produces a propensity to renew the same act or operation … we always say, that this propensity is the effect of Custom.
Hume intends these characterizations to go beyond merely recording intensity of feeling to capture how belief renders realities … more present to us than fictions, causes them to weigh more in the thought, and gives them a superior influence on the passions and imagination. Custom, Hume maintains, in language that anticipates and influenced Darwin, is that principle by which this correspondence has been effected; so necessary to the subsistence of our species, and the regulation of our conduct, in every circumstance of human life. The first, A cause is an object, followed by another, where all the objects similar to the first are followed by objects similar to the second, gives the relevant external impressions , while the second, A cause is an object followed by another, and whose appearance always conveys the thought to the other, captures the internal impression —our awareness of being determined by custom to move from cause to effect.
As he says, It can never in the least concern us to know, that such objects are causes, and such others effects, if both the causes and effects are indifferent to us. But he complains that this is not only highly implausible, but also contrary to the usual maxims, by which nature is conducted, where a few principles produce all the variety we observe in the universe. Thus while self-interest is the original motive to the establishment of justice: but a sympathy with public interest is the source of the moral approbation, which attends that virtue. Philosophy of Religion Hume wrote forcefully and incisively on almost every central question in the philosophy of religion, contributing to ongoing debates about the reliability of reports of miracles, the immateriality and immortality of the soul, the morality of suicide, and the natural history of religion, among others.
Philo joins in, claiming he is convinced that the best and indeed the only method of bringing everyone to a due sense of religion is by just representations of the misery and wickedness of men. In fact, what he says here reiterates his position in Part 8, that function alone is no proof of divine design: it is in vain … to insist on the uses of the parts of animals or vegetables and their curious adjustment to each other. Selby-Bigge, 2 nd ed. Nidditch, Oxford: Clarendon Press, Keynes and P. Sraffa, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Selby-Bigge, 3 rd ed. Greig, 2 volumes, Oxford: Clarendon Press, Beauchamp, Oxford: Clarendon Press, Miller, Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, The History of England , edited by William B.
Todd, Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, Mossner, Oxford: Clarendon Press, Works on Hume Ainslie, D. Ainslie, D. Allison, H. Baier, A. Baxter, D. Beauchamp, T. Bennett, J. Blackburn, S. Bricke, J. Box, M. Brown, C. Morris, , Starting with Hume , London: Continuum. Buckle, S. Cohon, R. De Pierris, G. Dicker, G. Earman, J. Fodor, J. Fogelin, R. Frasca-Spada, M. Kail eds. Garrett, D. Harris, J. Holden, T. Jones, P. Kail, P.
Livingston, D. Loeb, L. Millican, P. Mossner, E. Noonan, H. Norton, D. Taylor eds. Noxon, J. Owen, D. Passmore, J. Pears, D. Penelhum, T. Price, H. Radcliffe, E. Read, R. Richman ed. Russell, P. Schmitt, F. Smith, N. Stanistreet, P. Stewart, M. Wright eds. Strawson, G. Stroud, B.
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Taylor, J. Traiger, S. Tweyman, S. He believed that the release of new waves of spiritual energy, signaled by certain astrological changes e. He further suggested that people use this new energy to make manifest the New Age. Returning to the United States in the mids, Spangler became the major architect of the movement. He presented his ideas in a set of popular books beginning with Revelation: The Birth of a New Age and attracted many leaders from older occult and metaphysical organizations to the growing movement.
The collapsing psychedelic movement also provided new supporters, including spokespersons such as noted psychologist Richard Alpert, who, like Timothy Leary , was an advocate of the use of hallucinogenic drugs to achieve mystical experiences. Alpert, however, found enlightenment in India, and returning to the West as Baba Ram Dass , he disavowed the drug experience and advocated more traditional spiritual disciplines.
Simultaneously, periodicals were published to disseminate information and to create a sense of community within the decentralized movement. As the movement grew, bookstores opened that specialized in the sale of New Age books, videos, and meditative aids. The New Age movement united a body of diverse believers with two simple ideas. First, it predicted that a New Age of heightened spiritual consciousness and international peace would arrive and bring an end to racism, poverty, sickness, hunger, and war. This social transformation would result from the massive spiritual awakening of the general population during the next generation.
Second, individuals could obtain a foretaste of the New Age through their own spiritual transformation. Initial changes would put the believer on the sadhana , a new path of continual growth and transformation. Traditional occult practices e. Transpersonal psychology an approach combining Eastern mysticism and Western rationalism to understand psychological health and spiritual well-being and other new academic disciplines that study states of consciousness encouraged the belief that consciousness-altering practices such as Zen meditation could be practiced apart from the particular contexts in which they originated.
The movement also spoke to the sick and psychologically wounded, especially those who had been unable to find help though traditional medicine and psychotherapy. Aligning themselves with the Holistic Health movement—which advocated alternative and natural healing practices such as massage , natural food diets, chiropractic , and acupuncture—believers in the New Age promoted spiritual healing. They also sought the integration of older divinatory practices astrology, tarot, and I Ching with standard psychological counseling.
Two transformative tools, channeling and the use of crystals, were identified with the New Age movement as it peaked in the s. Many New Agers discovered their psychic abilities and became known as channels. Either consciously or in a trance, they claimed to establish contact with various preternatural or extraterrestrial entities who spoke through them on a wide range of spiritual, philosophical, and psychological topics. Drawing upon the myth of Atlantis , one channeler, Frank Alpert, proposed the use of crystals as healing-transformative tools.
Crystals were thought to be great reservoirs of energy and distinct healing and of transformative powers that could be released for personal benefit. Some members of the movement found support for their belief in their ability to transform world culture in a story about monkeys learning to wash food. According to the story, reportedly taken from the anthropological literature, a number of monkeys learned by example to wash their food. After the th monkey had absorbed the lesson, all monkeys jumped ahead in consciousness and started washing their food.
The story turned out to be a significant distortion of the scientific report; however, many New Agers believed that if a small critical mass of people adopted the more advanced perspective of the New Age, there would be a sudden explosion of higher consciousness throughout the world. The th-monkey idea led to a series of mass gatherings beginning with the Harmonic Convergence, which was a set of coordinated gatherings of people at various places around the world on August 16—17, that was designed to bring about a leap in human consciousness.
By the end of the s, the New Age movement had lost its momentum. Although primarily a religious movement, it was derided for its acceptance of unscientific ideas and practices especially its advocacy of crystals and channeling. Then Spangler, Los Angeles publisher Jeremy Tarcher, and the editors of several leading New Age periodicals announced that although they still adhered to the goals of personal transformation, they no longer believed in the coming New Age. Although its vision of massive social transformation died, the movement attracted hundreds of thousands of new adherents to one branch or other of the Western esoteric-metaphysical tradition.
There is also a strong focus on healing, particularly using forms of alternative medicine , and an emphasis on a New Age approach to science that seeks to unite science and spirituality. Centered primarily in Western countries, those involved in the New Age have been primarily from middle and upper-middle-class backgrounds. The degree to which New Agers are involved in the milieu varied considerably, from those who adopted a number of New Age ideas and practices to those who fully embraced and dedicated their lives to it.
The New Age has generated criticism from established Christian organisations as well as modern Pagan and indigenous communities. From the s onward, the New Age became the subject of research by academic scholars of religious studies. The New Age phenomenon has proved difficult to define,  with much scholarly disagreement as to its scope.
The scholar of religion Paul Heelas characterised the New Age as "an eclectic hotch-potch of beliefs, practices, and ways of life" that can be identified as a singular phenomenon through their use of "the same or very similar lingua franca to do with the human and planetary condition and how it can be transformed. The scholar of religion Wouter Hanegraaff adopted a different approach by asserting that "New Age" was "a label attached indiscriminately to whatever seems to fit it" and that as a result it "means very different things to different people".
Chryssides called it "a counter-cultural Zeitgeist ",  while the sociologist of religion Steven Bruce suggested that New Age was a milieu ;  Heelas and scholar of religion Linda Woodhead called it the "holistic milieu". There is no central authority within the New Age phenomenon that can determine what counts as New Age and what does not.
While acknowledging that "New Age" was a problematic term, the scholar of religion James R. Lewis stated that it remained a useful etic category for scholars to use because, "There exists no comparable term which covers all aspects of the movement. The New Age is also a form of Western esotericism.
The New Age has also been identified by various scholars of religion as part of the cultic milieu. Through their shared marginalisation within a given society, these disparate ideas interact and create new syntheses. Hammer identified much of the New Age as corresponding to the concept of " folk religions " in that it seeks to deal with existential questions regarding subjects like death and disease in "an unsystematic fashion, often through a process of bricolage from already available narratives and rituals".
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The first, the social camp , represents groups that primarily seek to bring about social change, while the second, the occult camp , instead focus on contact with spirit entities and channeling. York's third group, the spiritual camp , represents a middle ground between these two camps that focuses largely on individual development. The term new age , along with related terms like new era and new world , long predate the emergence of the New Age movement, and have widely been used to assert that a better way of life for humanity is dawning. Between the s and s a small number of groups and individuals became preoccupied with the concept of a coming "New Age" and prominently used the term accordingly.
According to scholar Nevill Drury , the New Age has a "tangible history",  although Hanegraaff expressed the view that most New Agers were "surprisingly ignorant about the actual historical roots of their beliefs". As a form of Western esotericism,  the New Age has antecedents that stretch back to southern Europe in Late Antiquity. Scholars call this new esoteric trend occultism , and this occultism was a key factor in the development of the worldview from which the New Age emerged. One of the earliest influences on the New Age was the Swedish 18th century Christian mystic Emanuel Swedenborg , who professed the ability to communicate with angels, demons, and spirits.
Swedenborg's attempt to unite science and religion and his prediction of a coming era in particular have been cited as ways that he prefigured the New Age. A further major influence on the New Age was the Theosophical Society , an occult group co-founded by the Russian Helena Blavatsky in the late 19th century. In her books Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine , Blavatsky claimed that her Society was conveying the essence of all world religions, and it thus emphasized a focus on comparative religion. Hanegraaff believed that the New Age's direct antecedents could be found in the UFO religions of the s, which he termed a "proto-New Age movement".
From a historical perspective, the New Age phenomenon is rooted in the counterculture of the s. In Britain, a number of small religious groups that came to be identified as the "light" movement had begun declaring the existence of a coming new age, influenced strongly by the Theosophical ideas of Blavatsky and Bailey. All of these groups created the backdrop from which the New Age movement emerged. As James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton point out, the New Age phenomenon represents "a synthesis of many different preexisting movements and strands of thought".
By the early s, use of the term "New Age" was increasingly common within the cultic milieu. He noted that as this happened, the meaning of the term "New Age" changed; whereas it had once referred specifically to a coming era, at this point it came to be used in a wider sense to refer to a variety of spiritual activities and practices. The counterculture of the s had rapidly declined by the start of the s, in large part due to the collapse of the commune movement,  but it would be many former members of the counter-culture and hippie subculture who subsequently became early adherents of the New Age movement.
Hanegraaff terms the broader development the New Age sensu lato , or "New Age in the wider sense". Erhard , a transformational training course that became a prominent part of the early movement. The Convergence attracted more people to the movement than any other single event. Knight Ramtha , Neale Donald Walsch Conversations with God note that Walsch denies being a "channeler" and his books make it obvious that he is not one, though the text emerged through a dialogue with a deeper part of himself in a process comparable to automatic writing contributed to the movement's growth.
New Age ideas influenced the development of rave culture in the late s and s. By the late s, some publishers dropped the term "New Age" as a marketing device. Melton presented a conference paper in which he argued that, given that he knew of nobody describing their practices as "New Age" anymore, the New Age had died. Other scholars disagreed with Melton's idea; in Daren Kemp stated that "New Age is still very much alive".
In , the scholar of religion Hugh Urban argued that New Age spirituality is growing in the United States and can be expected to become more visible: "According to many recent surveys of religious affiliation, the 'spiritual but not religious' category is one of the fastest-growing trends in American culture, so the New Age attitude of spiritual individualism and eclecticism may well be an increasingly visible one in the decades to come".
Australian scholar Paul J. Farrelly, in his doctoral dissertation at Australian National University , argued that, while the New Age may become less popular in the West, it is actually booming in Taiwan , where it is regarded as something comparatively new, and is being exported from Taiwan to Mainland China , while it is more or less tolerated by the authorities.
The New Age places strong emphasis on the idea that the individual and their own experiences are the primary source of authority on spiritual matters. New Age religiosity is typified by its eclecticism. Hess noted that in his experience, a common attitude among New Agers was that "any alternative spiritual path is good because it is spiritual and alternative". As part of its eclecticism, the New Age draws ideas from many different cultural and spiritual traditions from across the world, often legitimising this approach by reference to "a very vague claim" about underlying global unity.
A belief in divinity is integral to New Age ideas, although understandings of this divinity vary. Most New Age groups believe in an Ultimate Source from which all things originate, which is usually conflated with the divine. Cosmogonical creation stories are common in New Age sources,  with these accounts reflecting the movement's holistic framework by describing an original, primal oneness from which all things in the universe emanated.
MacKian argued that a central, but often overlooked, element of the phenomenon was an emphasis on " spirit ", and in particular participants' desire for a relationship with spirit. New Age literature often refers to benevolent non-human spirit-beings who are interested in humanity's spiritual development; these are variously referred to as angels, guardian angels , personal guides, masters, teachers, and contacts.
Although not present in every New Age group,  a core belief within the milieu is in channeling. Prominent examples of New Age channeling include Jane Roberts' claims that she was contacted by an entity called Seth, and Helen Schucman's claims to have channeled Jesus Christ. New Age thought typically envisions the world as developing through cosmological cycles that can be identified astrologically. A common belief among the New Age is that humanity has entered, or is coming to enter, a new period known as the Age of Aquarius ,  which Melton has characterised as a "New Age of love, joy, peace, abundance, and harmony[ There are also differences in how this new age is envisioned.
There are various beliefs within the milieu as to how this new age will come about, but most emphasise the idea that it will be established through human agency ; others assert that it will be established with the aid of non-human forces such as spirits or extra-terrestrials. Another recurring element of New Age is an emphasis on healing and alternative medicine. The healing elements of the movement are difficult to classify given that a variety of terms are used, with some New Age authors using different terms to refer to the same trends, while others use the same term to refer to different things.
The first of these was the Human Potential Movement , which argues that contemporary Western society suppresses much human potential, and accordingly professes to offer a path through which individuals can access those parts of themselves that they have alienated and suppressed, thus enabling them to reach their full potential and live a meaningful life.
Hanegraaff identified the second main healing current in the New Age movement as being holistic health. This emerged in the s out of the free clinic movement of the s, and has various connections with the Human Potential Movement. The inter-relation of holistic health with the New Age movement is illustrated in Jenny Butler's ethnographic description of "Angel therapy" in Ireland.
According to Drury, the New Age attempts to create "a worldview that includes both science and spirituality",  while Hess noted how New Agers have "a penchant for bringing together the technical and the spiritual, the scientific and the religious". In this, the milieu is interested in developing unified world views to discover the nature of the divine and establish a scientific basis for religious belief. Despite New Agers' appeals to science, most of the academic and scientific establishments dismiss "New Age science" as pseudo-science , or at best existing in part on the fringes of genuine scientific research.
There is no ethical cohesion within the New Age phenomenon,  although Hanegraaff argued that the central ethical tenet of the New Age is to cultivate one's own divine potential. According to Hanegraaff, the question of death and afterlife is not a "pressing problem requiring an answer" in the New Age. Sutcliffe . Sociological investigation indicates that certain sectors of society are more likely to engage in New Age practices than others.
Sutcliffe noted that although most influential New Age figureheads were male,  approximately two-thirds of its participants were female. The majority of New Agers are from the middle and upper-middle classes of Western society. Heelas added that within the baby boomers, the movement had nevertheless attracted a diverse clientele. The degree to which individuals are involved in the New Age varies.
The second consisted of "serious part-timers" who worked in unrelated fields but who nevertheless spent much of their free time involved in movement activities. The third was that of "casual part-timers" who occasionally involved themselves in New Age activities but for whom the movement was not a central aspect of their life. MacKian suggested that this phenomenon was "an inherently social mode of spirituality", one which cultivated a sense of belonging among its participants and encouraged relations both with other humans and with non-human, otherworldly spirit entities.
Online connections were one of the ways that interested individuals met new contacts and established networks. Some New Agers advocate living in a simple and sustainable manner to reduce humanity's impact on the natural resources of Earth; and they shun consumerism.
Bruce argued that in seeking to "denying the validity of externally imposed controls and privileging the divine within", the New Age sought to dismantle pre-existing social order, but that it failed to present anything adequate in its place. New Age spirituality has led to a wide array of literature on the subject and an active niche market, with books, music, crafts, and services in alternative medicine available at New Age stores, fairs , and festivals. A number of New Age proponents have emphasised the use of spiritual techniques as a tool for attaining financial prosperity, thus moving the movement away from its counter-cultural origins.
Embracing this attitude, various books have been published espousing such an ethos, established New Age centres have held spiritual retreats and classes aimed specifically at business people, and New Age groups have developed specialised training for businesses. Given that it encourages individuals to choose spiritual practices on the grounds of personal preference and thus encourages them to behave as a consumer, the New Age has been considered to be well suited to modern society.
The term " New Age music " is applied, sometimes in a derogative manner, to forms of ambient music , a genre that developed in the s and was popularised in the s, particularly with the work of Brian Eno. The style began in the late s and early s with the works of free-form jazz groups recording on the ECM label; such as Oregon , the Paul Winter Consort , and other pre-ambient bands; as well as ambient music performer Brian Eno, classical avant-garde musician Daniel Kobialka ,   and the psychoacoustic environments recordings of Irv Teibel.
New-age music evolved to include a wide range of styles from electronic space music using synthesizers and acoustic instrumentals using Native American flutes and drums , singing bowls , Australian didgeridoos and world music sounds to spiritual chanting from other cultures.
While many commentators have focused on the spiritual and cultural aspects of the New Age movement, it also has a political component. The New Age political movement became visible in the s, peaked in the s, and continued into the s. Lewis observed that, despite the common caricature of New Agers as narcissistic, "significant numbers" of them were "trying to make the planet a better place on which to live,"  and scholar J.
Although New Age activists have been motivated by New Age concepts like holism, interconnectedness, monism, and environmentalism, their political ideas are diverse,  ranging from far-right and conservative through to liberal , socialist , and libertarian. The standard political labels—left or right, liberal or conservative—miss the mark. The extent to which New Age spokespeople mix religion and politics varies.
He believed that in contrast to the conventional political focus on the "institutional and economic symptoms" of society's problems, his "New Age politics" would focus on "psychocultural roots" of these issues. Many New Agers advocate globalisation and localisation , but reject nationalism and the role of the nation-state.
Scholars have noted several New Age political groups. It advocated a change in consciousness — in "basic underlying assumptions" — in order to come to grips with global crises. Scholar J. According to Melton et al. Group decision-making was facilitated by short periods of silence. Lewis counted "Green politics" as one of the New Age's more visible activities. Green Party movement began as an initiative of a handful of activists including Charlene Spretnak , co-author of a "'new age' interpretation" of the German Green movement Capra and Spretnak's Green Politics , and Mark Satin, author of New Age Politics.
Greens' founding document, the "Ten Key Values" statement. While the term "New Age" may have fallen out of favor,   scholar George Chryssides notes that the New Age by whatever name is "still alive and active" in the 21st century. Tough love". Mainstream periodicals tended to be less than sympathetic; sociologist Paul Ray and psychologist Sherry Anderson discussed in their book The Cultural Creatives , what they called the media's "zest for attacking" New Age ideas, and offered the example of a Lance Morrow essay in Time magazine.
Some New Agers and New Age sympathizers responded to such criticisms. For example, sympathizers Ray and Anderson said that much of it was an attempt to "stereotype" the movement for idealistic and spiritual change, and to cut back on its popularity. Initially, academic interest in the New Age was minimal. Gordon Melton in Sutcliffe and Gilhus argued that 'New Age studies' could be seen as having experienced two waves; in the first, scholars focused on "macro-level analyses of the content and boundaries" of the "movement", while the second wave featured "more variegated and contextualized studies of particular beliefs and practices".
Mainstream Christianity has typically rejected the ideas of the New Age;  Christian critiques often emphasise that the New Age places the human individual before God. Peretti 's novel This Present Darkness , which sold over a million copies; it depicted the New Age as being in league with feminism and secular education as part of a conspiracy to overthrow Christianity.