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Recognizing Religion: Disciplinary Traditions, Epistemology, and History

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AbstractQuestions of methodology hang on epistemology. I consider the conceptualization of the subject of the study of religion, arguing that the disciplines that carry out the study and also the objects or subjects of their study can be understood as traditions. I briefly review the conceptualization of religion within the anthropological tradition, noting a tension between understanding religion as socially immanent or as a set of explicit beliefs and practices constitutive of the transcendent. Religion is probably conceptualized rather differently within religious studies, especially insofar as each tradition has formulated itself in relation to secularism in its own way and in relation to, or confrontation with, other distinct traditions, whether of science or theology. Drawing on a meteorological metaphor, I suggest that both disciplines and religions qua traditions can be understood to change along historical “fronts;” these form both the conditions of our knowledge and its appropriate subject matter.

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto, Department of Anthropology19 Russell Street, Toronto, on M5S2S2Canadalambek@utsc.utoronto.ca

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2014-03-18
2016-12-05

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