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Naturalism, Normativity, and the Study of Religion
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Religions 2017, 8(11), 234; doi:10.3390/rel8110234

Intelligibility and Normativity in the Study of Religion

Center for Theology, Science, and Human Flourishing, University of Notre Dame, 1201 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
Received: 23 August 2017 / Revised: 20 September 2017 / Accepted: 13 October 2017 / Published: 25 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Description, Prescription, and Value in the Study of Religion)
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Abstract

In his essay “The Devil in Mr. Jones,” J. Z. Smith issues a call. If religionists do not, he writes, “persist in the quest for intelligibility, there can be no human sciences, let alone, any place for the study of religion within them.” How should Smith’s call be construed? In other words, what constitutes the “quest for intelligibility”? And what (if anything) differentiates the religionist’s quest for intelligibility from that of other humanistic scholars? Taking as my starting point Smith’s call, I will mount a constructive proposal. On my proposal, religionists should conceive their task as twofold. First, religionists should comparatively describe religious phenomena. Second, they should evaluate these phenomena. Only if the practices of description and prescription are tethered will religious studies succeed in its quest for intelligibility. View Full-Text
Keywords: comparison; description; normativity; prescription; John P. Reeder Jr.; J. Z. Smith comparison; description; normativity; prescription; John P. Reeder Jr.; J. Z. Smith
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Ranganathan, B. Intelligibility and Normativity in the Study of Religion. Religions 2017, 8, 234.

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