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Comparative Religion as a Life Science

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William E. Paden’s Neo-Plinian “New Naturalism”

image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

The present paper offers a brief contextualization of William E. Paden’s New Patterns in Comparative Religion (2016). Paden’s “new naturalism” entails the unification of cognition, biology, sociology, and ecology in order to bring down the divide between natural sciences and the humanities. While some representatives of the neo-phenomenological trend in comparative religion are currently reviving the most epistemically unwarranted assumptions of Mircea Eliade’s (1907-1986) disciplinary approach, Paden’s proposal stands out as an indispensable asset for the reorientation of comparative history of religions as a life science. Nonetheless, the presence of some problematic Eliadean tenets in Paden’s volume is called into question.

Affiliations: 1: Department for the Study of Religions, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University Arna Nováka 1/1, 602 00 BrnoCzech Republic


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