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Phenomenology as Insider Trading: Some Stipulations for the Religious "Skin Trade"

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This paper examines some of the interpretations of the insider/outsider distinction as it is understood in the study of religion but in light of Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore's arguments about semantic holism and atomism. It argues that this application shows that if the outsider/insider distinction is approached as a form of global holism coupled with linguistic determinism, then it is a pseudo-problem and no further energy ought to be wasted on it. Also argued is that radically exclusive insidership or radically inclusive insidership are indefensible positions. Instead, this paper proposes that access to the inside of a worldview is, in principle, no different for a insider than for an outsider; it is a matter of degree and not kind. No variety of religious information is, per se, incommunicable, except that of the individual subject's existential subjecthood. Insidership and outsidership in the academic study of religion indicate positions with respect to agency, thematization, and explanation and should not be defined, primarily, by occupation, material, or methods.

Affiliations: 1: Notre Dame Theologian in Residence, St. omas Aquinas Center at Purdue University, 535 West State, West Lafayette, IN 47906


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