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Science Envy in Theories of Religion

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Recent theorizing about religion has largely shifted from the cultural to the biological domain. This, however, comes with a cost. To explore this in greater detail, the present essay is divided into three parts: first, I seek to reclaim and redefine what usually passes for the “phenomenology” of religion in the writings traditionally associated with likes of Gerardus van der Leeuw, often by way of Mircea Eliade. I seek to take an initial, tentative step in this reclamation by returning to an admittedly idiosyncratic reading of one version of Heidegger’s philosophy that emerges from the pages of his Sein und Zeit. Second, to show how this new theorizing, rather than contribute to the dubious and quasi-theological discourses associated with the philosophy of religion, enables us to focus with renewed energy upon the constant process of self- and group making. In the third section, I try to nudge (with the aim of perhaps dislodging) what could well become the new regnant discourse of current theorizing about religion.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Jewish Thought SUNY, Buffalo USA, Email:


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