A Fundamentalist Mindset?
This chapter reviews the discussions in the preceding chapters. The argument of this book simultaneously narrows and broadens some common terms. Fundamentalism is not simply the orthodox or traditional form of a religion, as it is often portrayed in popular discourse. Rather it represents a mindset that can be found in both religious and secular movements. Paranoia is not here a psychiatric diagnosis or a synonym for insanity but a sensibility or way of experiencing the self and the world that can coexist with technical and literary skill. The apocalyptic is not primarily a theological category but a state of mind that dichotomizes the world in black-and-white terms and seeks a total, almost always violent, purification of the world. None of the editors or authors of this volume claims that this psychologically oriented approach is the only approach to take to understanding fundamentalism. However, it is an important approach and one that has been neglected. That neglect has been detrimental to our understanding of these movements, and this psychologically oriented approach brings with it significant insights into fundamentalism.
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