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The Rhetoric of Religion Within 'the Ruins of the University'

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The objective of the article is to legitimise studies concerned with religion within a radically changed perspective on the university. It is argued that if studies concerning religion are located in an interactional philosophy of meaning instead of continuing in an objectivistic philosophy of meaning, they participate naturally in disciplinary conversations conducted in a university set upon social engagement. Both the field ofreligion and the university have been approached from the theoretical perspective of rhetoric. The first part of the article explores the 'symbolic construction of social reality', and functions as a theoretical point of departure on which the argumentation of the following two sections, entitled 'From a "Uni"-versity to a "Multi"-versity' and 'The study of Religion in the university of dissensus', elaborates. It is indicated that the demise ofa unifying principle emanating from the modern university requires a shift from constative structures of meaning to performative structures of meaning, enabling the university to be yet another locus in a heterogeneous society where discourses of knowledge can be produced and exchanged. The final section argues that if the rhetoricity of religious discourses is recognised and acknowledged, the field of study not only expands, but the university of dissensus becomes the appropriate site for this exchange of knowledge.

Affiliations: 1: Department of New Testament University of South Africa P O Box 392, Pretoria, 0003 Republic of South Africa, Email:


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