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Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building-Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things
     

Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building-Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things

by Ann Taves
 

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ISBN-10: 0691140871

ISBN-13: 9780691140872

Pub. Date: 09/28/2009

Publisher: Princeton University Press

The essence of religion was once widely thought to be a unique form of experience that could not be explained in neurological, psychological, or sociological terms. In recent decades scholars have questioned the privileging of the idea of religious experience in the study of religion, an approach that effectively isolated the study of religion from the social and

Overview

The essence of religion was once widely thought to be a unique form of experience that could not be explained in neurological, psychological, or sociological terms. In recent decades scholars have questioned the privileging of the idea of religious experience in the study of religion, an approach that effectively isolated the study of religion from the social and natural sciences. Religious Experience Reconsidered lays out a framework for research into religious phenomena that reclaims experience as a central concept while bridging the divide between religious studies and the sciences.

Ann Taves shifts the focus from "religious experience," conceived as a fixed and stable thing, to an examination of the processes by which people attribute meaning to their experiences. She proposes a new approach that unites the study of religion with fields as diverse as neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, and psychology to better understand how these processes are incorporated into the broader cultural formations we think of as religious or spiritual. Taves addresses a series of key questions: how can we set up studies without obscuring contestations over meaning and value? What is the relationship between experience and consciousness? How can research into consciousness help us access and interpret the experiences of others? Why do people individually or collectively explain their experiences in religious terms? How can we set up studies that allow us to compare experiences across times and cultures?

Religious Experience Reconsidered demonstrates how methods from the sciences can be combined with those from the humanities to advance a naturalistic understanding of the experiences that people deem religious.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691140872
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
09/28/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables....................ix
Acknowledgments....................xi
Preface....................xiii
Introduction The Problem of "Religious Experience"....................3
Experiences Deemed Religious....................8
Previous Work....................9
The Argument....................12
Why an Attributional Approach Is Better....................14
Chapter One Religion: Deeming Things Religious....................16
The Sui Generis and Ascriptive Models of "Religious Experience"....................17
Deeming Things Religious....................22
Special Things and Things Set Apart....................28
Setting up Research....................48
Conclusion: A Four-Fold Matrix....................53
Chapter Two Experience: Accessing Conscious Behavior....................56
Clarifying the Concept....................58
Accessing Experience....................63
Representation and Experience Revisited....................73
Conclusion....................86
Chapter Three Explanation: Attributing Causality....................88
Attribution Theory: An Overview....................90
An Attributional Theory of Religion....................94
Four Levels of Analysis and Attribution....................111
Conclusion....................118
Chapter Four Comparison: Constructing an Object of Study....................120
Comparing Experiences....................121
Specifying a Point of Comparison....................126
Comparing Simple and Composite Formations....................129
Imagination and Reality....................156
Conclusion Religions: A Building-Block Approach....................161
Building Blocks....................162
Religions as Composite Formations....................164
Implications....................165
Appendix A: General Attribution Theory of Religion....................169
Appendix B: Personal Accounts of Stephen Bradley and William Barnard....................172
Appendix C: Preliminary Thoughts on the Elaboration of Composite Formations....................176
Glossary....................181
Works Cited....................183
Name Index....................203
Subject Index....................207

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