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“The Happy Side of Babel”

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Radical Plurality, Narrative Fiction and the Philosophy of Religion

image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Philosophers and other scholars of religion are increasingly recognizing that if philosophy of religion is to remain relevant to the study of religion, its scope must be expanded well beyond the confines of a highly intellectualized and abstract “theism.” Means of engendering this expansion include methodological diversification—drawing upon thickly described accounts of religious life such as those afforded by ethnographies and certain narrative artworks. Focusing on the latter, this article engages with the question of whether works of narrative fiction—literary or cinematic—can do philosophy of religion in ways that illuminate what D.Z. Phillips characterizes as the “radical plurality” of contemporary religion. Closely examining the examples of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and especially Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, my discussion is contextualized within broader debates over whether philosophy’s purpose is to advocate certain religious and moral perspectives or to elucidate those perspectives in more disinterested terms.

Affiliations: 1: School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, University of Leeds Leeds, LS2 9JTUnited Kingdom


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