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Explaining and Interpreting Religion: Essays on the Issue
     

Explaining and Interpreting Religion: Essays on the Issue

by Robert A. Segal
 

This collection of recent essays on the social scientific study of religion makes the fundamental claim that on the one hand social scientists cannot be facilely grouped into «explainers» rather than «interpreters» of religion and that on the other hand scholars of religious studies - religionists - cannot fend off the social scientific

Overview

This collection of recent essays on the social scientific study of religion makes the fundamental claim that on the one hand social scientists cannot be facilely grouped into «explainers» rather than «interpreters» of religion and that on the other hand scholars of religious studies - religionists - cannot fend off the social scientific challenge by rejecting explanation for interpretation. Not only are the concepts of explanation and interpretation defined differently in different fields, but by most definitions of the terms religionists and social scientists alike both explain and interpret religion. An acute hiatus between religionists and social scientists remains, but it is over how, not whether, religion gets explained and interpreted.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
«In this fine collection of essays Robert Segal demonstrates once again his ability both to explicate the interpretive and explanatory intentions of those social scientists thought by scholars in religious studies to be compatible with the latter's interpretive aims and to identify the methodological confusions of scholars in religious studies imprisoned in the hermeneutic hall of mirrors. I attach particular importance to his brilliant essay on meanings and causes because these categories provide the context for the battleground for all scholars engaged in the study of religion.» (E. Thomas Lawson, Western Michigan University)
«In a series of briskly written, no-nonsense studies, Segal leads the reader through a thicket of conceptual and logical problems raised by both classical and contemporary students of religion. Readers will be grateful for the direction Segal provides.» (Ivan Strenski, University of California, Santa Barbara)
«This brilliant book, full of insights capable of further extension, is a must for anyone wanting to come to grips with methodological issues in the study of religion seriously.» (Arvind Sharma, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion)
«Universities with religious studies departments should have this book in their library.» (Lorne Dawson, Studies in Religion)
«Those who wish to find a convenient point of access into the debate over explanation and interpretation in the study of religion will be well served by this volume...These essays break large, programmatic statements down into clear, thorough, and useful arguments.» (Tim Murphy, Religious Studies Review)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820419145
Publisher:
Lang, Peter Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
12/01/1992
Series:
Toronto Studies in Religion Series , #16
Pages:
155

Meet the Author

The Author: Robert A. Segal, Professor of Religious Studies at Louisiana State University, is the author of The Poimandres as Myth: Scholarly Theory and Gnostic Meaning, Joseph Campbell: An Introduction, Religion and the Social Sciences: Essays on the Confrontation, and The Gnostic Jung. He has also published many articles in the areas of methodology and theory in the study of religion, theories of myth, and Gnosticism. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and has taught at Reed College, Stanford University, the University of Toronto, the University of Pittsburgh, and Tulane University.

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