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Deconstructing Religion: Some Thoughts on Where We Go From Here — A Hermeneutical Proposal

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This paper overviews contemporary debates on the deconstruction / historization of the category ‘religion’. It argues that a hard deconstruction which seeks to suggest the term is an empty signifier and analytically useless is unfounded philosophically and empirically. However, a soft deconstruction which accepts the problems of employing the term, especially as found in the World Religions Paradigm, but suggests that ‘religion’ remains a useful tool to describe a specific social reality, is well founded. The article extends current debates by showing how philosophical hermeneutics, especially as exemplified by Hans-Georg Gadamer’s work, supports the soft deconstructive approach and further shows the conceptual inadequacy of hard deconstruction.

Affiliations: 1: S. Rajaratnam School of International StudiesSingapore


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