Modern Societies and the Science of Religions: Studies in Honour of Lammert Leertouwer

By Gerard Wiegers | Go to book overview

PILLARS, PLURALISM
AND
SECULARISATION:
A SOCIAL HISTORY OF DUTCH SCIENCES OF
RELIGIONS

JAN PLATVOET

Leiden University

To Lammert Leertouwer

In gratitude for bringing me to Leiden

The purpose of this contribution is to present a first draft of a social history of Dutch Science(s) of Religions.' In most of modern (post1970) Dutch Science of Religions Religions are investigated empirically, that is as cultural phenomena only.- Their meta-empirical origin, postulated by believers, is neither denied nor affirmed, because it is meta-testable, and, for that reason, cannot be an object of Science of Religions. Religions are, consequently, regarded (only) as parts, and products, of the cultural, social and other contexts of historical societies.

Just as religions are shaped and constrained by the time- and place-bound cultures, so is the academic Science of Religions a product of particular societies. It too is born and bred in, and shaped and constrained by, particular societies, or even parts of them, and their specific historical contexts. So, if modern methodology requires the Science of Religions to study religions as cultural products, then that same methodology demands too, that it analyses and understands itself also as a time- and place-bound phenomenon. The aim of this essay is to show that Dutch Science of Religions is shaped and constrained by the peculiar social, political, religious and academic histories of the Netherlands of the late 19th and the 20th centuries, and may, therefore, correctly be termed a product of that history.

The title of this essay presents a synopsis of its contents. 'Pillars'

1 Translations from Dutch in this article are by the author.

2 Cf. Van Baaren & Drijvers 1973.

-82-

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