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Lincoln’s Clarion Call for Methodological Solipsism

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Chapter Summary

Bruce Lincoln's "Theses on Method" began as a contribution to a book panel on Brian K. Smith's Classifying the Universe (Oxford, 1994) at the 1995 American Academy of Religion (AAR) conference in Philadelphia. Acknowledging a comment by Jay Geller (2005: 19) in a Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (MTSR) symposium on the theses, Lincoln admitted that they "are less a discussion of method than an attempt to foster an attitude". Of greatest importance is Lincoln's emphasis on the "of" in "History of Religions". Primarily, it marks a relation between a subject matter and a methodology: "history is the method and religion the object of study". More significant, though, are questions about the supposed relation between the two discourses, a relation that Lincoln holds to be methodologically crucial. Thesis 1 asserts a hierarchical inter-linguistic relation, in that historical discourse "encompasses" religious discourse and lays "proprietary claim" over it.

Keywords: Bruce Lincoln; History of Religions; inter-linguistic relation; MTSR; Theses on Method



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