Religio: Revue pro religionistiku 20/1, 2012

See below for the English translation of the table of contents with English summaries.

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Obsah (v původních jazycích) / Table of contents (in original languages)

Téma: „Religionistika jako vědecký obor: Iluze?“

David Zbíral, Introduction to the Discussion “Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: A Delusion?”

Luther H. Martin – Donald Wiebe, Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: The Persistence of a Delusion

Hans Gerald Hödl, Is an Unbiased Science of Religion Impossible?

Hubert Seiwert, The Study of Religion as a Scientific Discipline: A Comment on Luther Martin and Donald Wiebe’s Paper

Radek Kundt, A Scientific Discipline: The Persistence of a Delusion?

Tomáš Bubík, Rethinking the Relationship between the Study of Religions, Theology and Religious Concerns: A Response to Some Aspects of Wiebe and Martin’s Paper

Kocku von Stuckrad, Straw Men and Scientific Nostalgia: A Response to Luther H. Martin and Donald Wiebe

Luther H. Martin – Donald Wiebe, Why the Possible is Not Impossible but is Unlikely: A Response to Our Colleagues

Studie

Jana Michalíková, Horizontalita a vertikalita ve staroseverských kosmologických představách

David Zbíral, Skeptický a materialistický proud ve středověkém křesťanství: Případ z Itálie 13. století

Rozhledy

Magdaléna Vitásková, Avicennovo učení o lásce

Recenze

Břetislav Horyna, Kritik der religionswissenschaftlichen Vernunft: Plädoyer für eine empirisch fundierte Theorie und Methodologie (Jiří Gebelt)

Mánavadharmašástra (Nora Melniková)

Jiřina Šedinová a kol., Dialog myšlenkových proudů středověkého judaismu: Mezi integrací a izolací (Mária Mičaninová)

Jana Valtrová, Středověká setkání s „jinými“: Modloslužebníci, židé, saracéni a heretici v misionářských zprávách o Asii (Josef Förster)

Věra Frolcová – Eva Večerková, Evropské Vánoce v tradicích lidové kultury (Alexandra Navrátilová)

Dušan Lužný – David Václavík a kol., Individualizace náboženství a identita: Poznámky k současné sociologii náboženství (Dan Ryšavý)

Milan Fujda, Akulturace hinduismu a formování moderní religiozity: K sociálním dějinám českého okultismu 1891-1941 (Matej Karásek)

Jakub Havlíček, Cesty božstev: Otázky interpretace náboženství a nacionalismu v moderním Japonsku (Pavel Šindelář)

Richard Madsen, Democracy’s Dharma: Religious Renaissance and Political Development in Taiwan (Lukas Pokorny)

Table of contents (English translation) with English summaries

Special Feature: “Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: A Delusion?”

David Zbíral, Introduction to the Discussion “Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: A Delusion?”

In this text, I introduce the special feature of Religio: Revue pro religionistiku 20/1, 2012, “Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: A Delusion?”. I briefly summarize the main argument of the original article “Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: The Persistence of a Delusion” by Luther H. Martin and Donald Wiebe, and those of the five responses by Hans Gerald Hödl, Hubert Seiwert, Radek Kundt, Tomáš Bubík, and Kocku von Stuckrad. At the end, I return to the EASR conference 2011 in Budapest, Hungary, where Martin and Wiebe’s paper was originally presented, and comment on this event.

Keywords: study of religions; religious studies; science; humanities; EASR conference 2011 in Budapest.

Luther H. Martin – Donald Wiebe, Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: The Persistence of a Delusion

The historical record shows that no undergraduate departments of Religious Studies have fully implemented a scientific program of study and research since such an approach was first advocated in the late nineteenth century – much less has there been any broad establishment of such a disciplinary field of study. And we argue – on cognitive- and neuro-scientific grounds – that such study is not ever likely to occur in that or any other setting. In our judgment, therefore, to entertain a hope that such a development is, pragmatically speaking, possible, is to be in the grip of a false and unshakeable delusion. And we “confess” that we ourselves have been so deluded.

Keywords: religious studies; history of religions; scientific study of religion; cognitive science; methodology.

Hans Gerald Hödl, Is an Unbiased Science of Religion Impossible?

In this paper I present a critical discussion of the essay “Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: The Persistence of a Delusion” by Luther H. Martin and Donald Wiebe (Religio: Revue pro religionistiku 20/1, 2012, 9-18). The focus of the argumentation lies on the assumptions the authors adopt. The authors’ understanding of the nature of science, concerning both methodology and the theory of science, is taken into consideration, and their definition of religion is discussed on the background of other definitions available. As an outcome, four questions are formulated that should be taken into account in further discussions of the topic. Finally, some remarks concerning the nature of religions are added. I think that the “Tylorian” definition of religion used by the authors is too narrow and I opt for an understanding of religion as based on the central questions facing human beings about the meaning of life that religions purport to give answers to. The persistence of religion is better explained by the ability of the human being to ask such questions than by the evolutionarily acquired proclivity towards “agent causality”. I try to show that this can be achieved at the level of meta-language that is clearly delineated from religious object language.

Keywords: definition of religion; nature of scientific inquiry; agent causality; religion and meaning.

Hubert Seiwert, The Study of Religion as a Scientific Discipline: A Comment on Luther Martin and Donald Wiebe’s Paper

The article discusses Donald Wiebe and Luther Martin’s paper “Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: The Persistence of a Delusion”. The central thesis of the two authors is that Religious Studies are not and probably can never be a “scientific” discipline. It is argued that the reasons given by the two authors to support their thesis are unconvincing and contradictory. Their suggestion that the study of religion should subscribe to an understanding of science that abandons the concept of agency and reduces human behaviour to “natural” causes is criticised on theoretical and methodological grounds. In fact, it is not possible to completely forsake hermeneutics and to study religion using the methods of the natural sciences because these methods do not allow us to identify religious behaviour. Therefore, the Study of Religion, of course, cannot be a discipline of the natural sciences. However, as a social science, the Study of Religion is no less possible than the social scientific study of any other subject.

Keywords: Religious Studies; study of religion; cognitive science of religion; methodology; theory; ideology.

Radek Kundt, A Scientific Discipline: The Persistence of a Delusion?

In my response to Martin and Wiebe’s academic “confession”, I try to show that there is a major inconsistency in their argument. This inconsistency resides within their partial and therefore biased application of universal unconscious mechanisms that constrain the human mind, where the application should have been complete. Their argument should have been directed at all sciences or at science in general in order for it to be sound, and not particularly at Religious Studies. This would result in the argument that any scientific discipline is a delusion, which is an outcome Martin and Wiebe do not hold, as they make science a sine qua non for their own argument.

Keywords: Religious Studies; Cognitive Science of Religion; Philosophy of Science.

Tomáš Bubík, Rethinking the Relationship between the Study of Religions, Theology and Religious Concerns: A Response to Some Aspects of Wiebe and Martin’s Paper

This response deals with some aspects of Luther Martin and Donald Wiebe’s paper “Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: The Persistence of a Delusion”. The authors think that the human mind in general constantly tends towards religiousness and thus comprehensive scientific inquiry into religion is actually impossible. They argue that “such study is not ever likely to occur in that or any other setting” (p. 9). They also stress that they were deluded in the past and argue that especially (or only) the cognitive approach can help us to elucidate the proclivity towards religiousness. I partly agree with them, particularly that the promotion of “extra-scientific” agendas in Academia is questionable, but I do not see it as such a serious problem. The reduction of the biases to only “religious” agendas is mistaken. The history of the field is a history of diverse “extra-scientific” agendas which change in accordance with social development and prevailing political interests. I present the situation from a central and eastern European point of view. At the same time, I argue that many scientific fields deal with the same issue, even if not to such an extent. This is because religious studies, more than other disciplines, attracts scholars with a special inclination toward religion. I also argue that scholarly results are much more important than “personal” agendas. Also, the aspiration of religious studies as presented by Martin and Wiebe seems to me too idealistic, perhaps utopist and thus unrealizable.

Keywords: Study of Religions; theology; religious concerns; Central and Eastern Europe; ideology of humanities; politics of education; inter-religious dialogue.

Kocku von Stuckrad, Straw Men and Scientific Nostalgia: A Response to Luther H. Martin and Donald Wiebe

This article argues that Luther H. Martin and Donald Wiebe present a position that is based on many unwarranted and romantic assumptions. To begin with, the authors underestimate (the potential of) the academic rigor of a critical study of religion. This underestimation of the study of religion goes along with an overestimation of the scholarly rigor of the natural sciences. Martin and Wiebe do not seem to take notice of critical scholarship in the historiography and epistemology of science and stick to a naïve image of the natural sciences that most historians of science would deconstruct today. The authors have written a polemic against relativist positions in the humanities, but their argument is itself under-theorized, which turns their critique of ‘postmodernism’ against themselves. Finally, it is noted that Martin and Wiebe’s argumentation appears to be self-contradictory. For instance, when the authors claim that the human species’ anti-science proclivity is as true of professional scholars of religion as of other intellectuals, one wonders why the authors assume that scholars who engage in cognitive research are an exception to that rule, as they apparently resist the anti-science proclivity.

Keywords: Luther H. Martin; Donald Wiebe; method and theory in the study of religion; definitions of religion; cognitive study of religion; discursive study of religion; natural sciences; relativism.

Luther H. Martin – Donald Wiebe, Why the Possible is Not Impossible but is Unlikely: A Response to Our Colleagues

This paper is a response to the responses to our paper “Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: The Persistence of a Delusion” by Hans Gerald Hödl, Hubert Seiwert, Radek Kundt, Tomáš Bubík, and Kocku von Stuckrad, published in this same issue of Religio: Revue pro religionistiku. Some of the respondents actually overstate our position. We have claimed, and still now claim, that a fully scientific program of “Religious Studies”, even if possible, is highly unlikely to ever be achieved.

Keywords: religious studies; religious concerns; history of the study of religion; cognitive science of religion.

Articles

Jana Michalíková, Horizontality and Verticality in Old-Norse Views on Cosmology

The aim of this article is to determine how two logically contradictory cosmological concepts, the vertical and the horizontal, could have co-existed in the Old Nordic mythological system and what their function was.

I first reject Eleazar Meletinskij’s idea that the horizontal and vertical axes can be transformed into each other. I show that relationships expressed on each of the axes are not entirely identical, and therefore it is likely that they express different mythological information connected to different mythological contexts that have to be examined more closely.

In the second part of the article I raise objections against Jens Peter Schjødt’s denial of verticality in the original Old-Norse cosmology. Jens Peter Schjødt claims that the idea of a realm of gods located in heaven originates only in Snorri’s Edda and, having arisen because of Christian influence, was never a proper part of the Old-Norse world view. I introduce several examples from both Poetic Edda and scaldic poetry in order to show that the idea of gods located in heaven was quite widespread in Nordic mythology and it cannot be reduced to an inconsiderable and marginal outcome of foreign influence.

In the last part of the article I present specific contexts and functions of each of the axes. The horizontal axis is connected with the concept of the cyclic time and with the idea of sustainable cosmic balance. The horizontal axis articulates the problems of society as a whole, the necessity of maintaining a temporary cosmic order and, therefore, the necessity of maintaining a constant defence against the powers of chaos; it articulates the problem of external threat and is mainly connected with physical confrontation.

The vertical axis, on the other hand, is connected with the concept of linear time and appears mostly in the context of death. It articulates the problems of individuals rather than those of society and is connected with subtle phenomena of an intellectual and spiritual character such as magic, art and the existential problems of individuals.

Keywords: Old-Norse religion; Old-Norse mythology; cosmology; vertical axis; horizontal axis; world view.

David Zbíral, Skeptical and Materialistic Currents in Medieval Christianity: A Case from 13th-Century Italy

In June 1299, James (Giacomo) Flamenghi, monk of the Monte Armato abbey near Bologna, was reported to the inquisitor Guido of Vicenza for his lack of observance of ordinary Christian practices. For many years, he avoided fasting, confession, communion, the liturgy of the hours, and Mass. He was also known for his radical ideas: on many occasions, he was heard questioning the existence of the afterlife, paradise, hell, and the immortal soul. In this article, I analyze James Flamenghi’s thought and behavior as portrayed in the register of the Bologna inquisition, and place it in the context of different forms of religious skepticism in medieval Europe. I conclude that his skepticism was less a philosophical system than a practical worldview linked to a hedonistic lifestyle. Nevertheless, it seems highly consistent, and difficult to reduce to a simple expression of anticlericalism.

Keywords: religious skepticism; criticism of religion; materialism; James (Giacomo) Flamenghi; inquisition of Bologna.

Commentaries and Discussions

Magdaléna Vitásková, Avicenna’s Teachings on Love

Avicenna (Ibn Sina, 980-1037) was one of the most highly regarded philosophers in eastern Islamic lands. This article analyses the theme of love (ḥubb / ishq) in the broader context of Avicenna’s psychological and cosmological teachings. This analysis is mainly based on the interpretation of two of the philosopher’s works dealing with this theme, namely The Treatise on Love (Risala fi ’l-‛ishq) and The Living, Son of the Vigilant (Hayy ibn Yaqdhan). In the first part of the article attention is paid to the phenomenon of love as a means to achieving the perfection of form (i.e. the soul), proceeding in a hierarchy of beings from the roughest to the purest. The second part draws a brief picture of Avicenna’s opinion on love between humans, describing gazing at a beautiful face and embracing and kissing a beloved person as ennobling activities. The third part is dedicated to love between man and God, a topic which was always considered controversial. While Islamic philosophy denounced the possibility of God’s love for man, Islamic mysticism (Sufism) focused on this motif. Avicenna seems to stand just on the boundary between these two different attitudes, when he describes God as loving his own manifestation in the Universe.

Keywords: Avicenna (Ibn Sina); Islamic philosophy; teachings on love; God’s love; Islamic psychology; Islamic cosmology; hierarchy of forms.

Reviews

Břetislav Horyna, Kritik der religionswissenschaftlichen Vernunft: Plädoyer für eine empirisch fundierte Theorie und Methodologie (Jiří Gebelt)

Mánavadharmašástra (Nora Melniková)

Jiřina Šedinová a kol., Dialog myšlenkových proudů středověkého judaismu: Mezi integrací a izolací (Mária Mičaninová)

Jana Valtrová, Středověká setkání s „jinými“: Modloslužebníci, židé, saracéni a heretici v misionářských zprávách o Asii (Josef Förster)

Věra Frolcová – Eva Večerková, Evropské Vánoce v tradicích lidové kultury (Alexandra Navrátilová)

Dušan Lužný – David Václavík a kol., Individualizace náboženství a identita: Poznámky k současné sociologii náboženství (Dan Ryšavý)

Milan Fujda, Akulturace hinduismu a formování moderní religiozity: K sociálním dějinám českého okultismu 1891-1941 (Matej Karásek)

Jakub Havlíček, Cesty božstev: Otázky interpretace náboženství a nacionalismu v moderním Japonsku (Pavel Šindelář)

Richard Madsen, Democracy’s Dharma: Religious Renaissance and Political Development in Taiwan (Lukas Pokorny)

Dekorativní ornament

Česká společnost
pro religionistiku

je občanské sdružení, které se zabývá podporou religionistiky – vědeckého studia náboženství.

Aktuality

4. 6. 2017

Nové číslo časopisu Religio

Vyšlo nové číslo časopisu Religio 2/2016 (úplný text čísla).

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Zápis z valného shromáždění ČSR

Na stránce Zápisy byl zveřejněn zápis z valného shromáždění ČSR, konaného v Brně 9. února 2015.

10. 6. 2013

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