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Introduction: Plus ça change…

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Chapter Summary

Like the much earlier Social History turn in Departments of History, there is a shift to studying so-called real people's day-to-day lives, studying things from the ground up, as it were. It is apparently material evidence of the very beliefs, faiths, experiences, from which this approach claims to depart - prior, inner states that are still somehow assumed to motivate people to do this or that with their bodies, so as to act them out. The author is at a loss to explain how, apart from, say, simply changing the old word "manifestation" to the new "embodiment", represented by the work of Mircea Eliade but also so many others who drew on a mix of hermeneutics and phenomenology to come up with a method to "get at" what they considered to be the essential, private, and yet universal sine qua non of religion.

Keywords: earlier social history; Mircea Eliade; religion; sine qua non



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