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UNIVERSALS, GENERAL TERMS AND THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF RELIGION

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A comparative study of religion rests on comparison and generalization. Both require that the object of study, the subject matters of various religions have something in common - certain properties that warrant their juxtaposition in analyses. If they had nothing in common, "the study" of religion would not make any sense. But it seemingly does, thus "religions" presumably form a subject matter with certain regularities. Such regularities may be "emic universals" on the level of socio-cultural formations and they may be "etic universals" on the levels of the analysts' stock of general terms - and the two levels are connected. This article focuses mainly on the role of universals as general concepts in method and theory, i.e., on the status and use of etic level generalizations such as models, maps, metaphors that are constructed in order to explain and make sense, as general terms, of emic level entities, properties, functions, structures etc. The last part concerns the use of universals in four modes of comparison of material, cognitive and symbolic matters.

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/content/journals/10.1163/156852701752245550
2001-07-01
2016-09-28

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