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

By Ann Taves | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION Religions A BUILDING-BLOCK APPROACH

I had two insights in the course of writing this book that fundamentally altered my sense of how we ought to study religion. The first arose as I began to pay attention to the way scholars use terms related to religion. While we routinely refer to the study of religion and definitions of religion, I noticed that in switching to an ascriptive formulation, I was forced to use the adjective “religious” rather than the noun “religion.” Moreover, in drawing on Durkheim's definition of “the sacred” as things set apart and prohibited, I realized that he used his definition of “the sacred” to define a religion rather than religion per se. In fact, he makes a very clear distinction between “sacred things” and “religions.” In his words, it is only “when a certain number of sacred things have relations of coordination and subordination with one another, so as to form a system that has a certain coherence and does not belong to any other system of the same sort, [that] … the beliefs and rites, taken together, constitute a religion” (Durkheim 1912/1995, 38). He then adds: “By this definition, a religion is not necessarily contained within a single idea and does not derive from a single principle that may vary with the circumstances it deals with, while remaining basically the same everywhere. Instead, it is a whole formed of separate and relatively distinct parts” (38, emphasis added). Durkheim's distinction between “sacred things” and “religions” and his conception of religions as wholes formed of separate and relatively distinct parts led to the distinction between simple and composite ascriptions advanced in chapter 1.

The second insight, which came much later, had to do with the idea of “specialness” and its potential benefits as a second-order concept. This insight arose as I reflected on Sørensen's (2007) use of “magic” and “sacred” as second-order terms in relation to my use of “religious” as a second-order term in the first draft of this book. As I struggled to figure out how to discuss his theory of ritual, which he describes etically as a theory of “magic” and which he and I both think offers a coherent theory of how a great deal of “religious” ritual works, I finally decided it was just too confusing to use terms such as “magic,” “sacred,” and “religious” as second-order terms. In doing so, we wind up having to translate between second-order, scholarly discourses, when what we need is a common, more generic discourse that will allow us to analyze how

-161-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 212

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.