Intellectualist and Symbolist Accounts of Religious Belief and Practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

An account of the relation between belief and practice is inseparable from a general theory of religion and religious discourse. Rejection of the one time popular, but now more or less defunct, nonrealist position of people such as D. Z,. Phillips, Don Cupitt, and indeed Wittgenstein leaves contemporary theorists in anthropology and the ''history of religions'' with basically the vastly different ''literalist'' and ''symbolist'' analyses of religion (i.e., its ritual and discourse, belief and practice) from which to choose. This article critically appraises John Skorupksi's influential defense of intellectualism. I argue that his dismissal of symbolist approaches is more theoretically radical than he recognizes. It rejects outright some of the very foundations and staples of contemporary anthropology in, for example, Durkheim. His argument for the rejection of the symbolist approach is examined. Skorupski's defense of intellectualism is set in the context of a problematically naive understanding of the nature and function of religion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-544
JournalPhilosophy of the Social Sciences
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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Religion
anthropology
history of religion
dismissal
discourse
religious behavior
Religious Practices
Intellectualist
Symbolist
Religious Beliefs
Rejection
Anthropology
Intellectualism
time
Theory of Religion
History of Religion
General Theory
Emile Durkheim
Theorists
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Cite this

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Intellectualist and Symbolist Accounts of Religious Belief and Practice. / Levine, Michael.

In: Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Vol. 27, No. 4, 1997, p. 526-544.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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