The Science of Religion and the Sociology of Knowledge
Some Methodological Questions
Ambitiously undertaking to develop a strategy for making the study of religion "scientific," Ninian Smart tackles a set of interrelated issues that bear importantly on the status of religion as an academic discipline. He draws a clear distinction between studying religion and "doing theology," and considers how phenomenological method may be used in investigating objects of religious attitudes without presupposing the existence of God or gods. He goes on to criticize projectionist theories of religion (notably Berger's) and theories of rationality in both religion and anthropology.
On this basis he builds a theory of religious dynamics which gives religious ideas and entities an autonomous place in the sociology of knowledge. His overall purpose is thus "to indicate ways forward in the study of religion which free it from being crypto-apologetics or elevating poetry."
First published in 1973.
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