Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 S - Sects


Sects: Groups of the faithful of some religious or political ideology, generally marked by fanaticism.

New religions and ideologies tend to start as sects organized around a leader and his ideas or values, and more generally, many dedicated and organized groups, whether of bussinessmen, scientists, idealists, or soccer hooligans, tend to have some of the characteristics of sects, simply because fanaticism, faith, wishful thinking and groupthinking are very human.

It should be noted that there are and have been sects of many kinds, including some that are both non-violent and quite courageous (such as e.g. the Essenes seem to have been, among whom Jesus prophesied, or the Quakers, or Martin Luther King's anti-discrimination movement).

By and large sects have committed much harm, and indeed have also been harmed much, e.g. by other sects. Some of the chapters of Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' contain much information about early Christian sects, and their tenets and practices, from which one may learn that many men may kill for the most refined of theological reasons, on the pretense of divine love and inspiration.


See also: Clifford, Faith, Prejudice


Gibbon, Hazlitt

 Original: Oct 30, 2007                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top