Georg Simmel and the Study of Religious Conflicts
The continuous rise of religious conflicts at different parts of the world has left so many questions unanswered and so many issues unresolved. The quest for supremacy, wealth, relevance and dominance are some of the major causes of religious conflict. Even within religions, there is constant news of conflicts of different kinds, which, unfortunately contrasts with the notion that religion qua religion is one (Madu, 2003). This has also attracted mostly negative attributes to conflict. However, some scholars have taken a different look at the positive side of this negative act - conflict. One of such scholars was Georg Simmel, a German philosopher and sociologist. This work, therefore aims at discussing the scholar Georg Simmel, his ideas and views about conflict in respect to the study of religious conflicts. This work explains how Georg Simmel presented conflict, a negative phenomenon as having some positive outcomes. Seeing religion as a fundamental process in man’s life and conflict as a dark tunnel the leads to a bright end of the tunnel, Georg Simmel presents conflict as what the writer terms “a negative beginning with a positive end”. To this end, this work shifts ground towards discussing how these bad sides of religious conflicts will be used to achieve something good. As widely believed that something good comes out of bad things, there are different positive roles religious conflict plays, as proposed by Georg Simmel which includes connection, definition, revitalization, social glue, integration and safety valve. For him, all these are necessary for achieving peace and unity only if the conflict is properly handled. Hence, religious conflict is bad in its entirety. Finally, the writer outlines some of the relevance of the work to students, scholars and the general public, advocating for peace.