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Knowledge is Made for Cutting: Foucault, Cognitive Science, and Intellectual Taste

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Abstract This paper attempts to situate the contemporary prominence of cognitive science accounts of religion by viewing cognitive science through a Foucaultian lens. The paper focuses on two trajectories in cognitive science: the modular approach of Pascal Boyer and the metaphorical approach of Lakoff and Johnson. Beginning with a brief discussion of Foucault’s Birth of a Clinic, I identify three methodological moves central to empiricism. I then show how these three moves structure the modular and the metaphorical approach, both of which conjoin a particular way of seeing with a particular way of saying. In each case, religion is used to close, rather than open, the biological body. I contend that both approaches are part of a larger cultural incitement to (at least discourse about) religiosity. I conclude by reflecting on disciplinary differences as matters of intellectual taste.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Religion, Hofstra University 115 Hofstra University, Hempstead NY 11549 USA


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