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Religions 2019, 10(1), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010029

On What a Religion Is Not

Dipartimento di Studi letterari, filosofici e di storia dell’arte, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Via Cracovia, 50, 00133 Roma, Italy
Received: 3 October 2018 / Revised: 19 December 2018 / Accepted: 25 December 2018 / Published: 4 January 2019
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Abstract

Ordinary uses of the terms religion, religious belief, religious matters, and similar seem to give voice to a substantive understanding of what is a religion. Contrary to such uses, empirical research on religions casts more than one doubt on the soundness of a substantive approach. My paper moves from the empirical findings which question the substantive understanding of religious affairs, and explores how not to handle the notion of religion. Particularly, I mean to reject the mainstream received views on religion. At first, I will introduce blocks of empirical evidence in support of the proposition that religious diversity characterizes both the comparison among different traditions and any religious tradition from within. In the subsequent sections I will consider two strategies for characterizing religions. First, I will deal with the phenomenally inclusive view, which is an endeavor of construing religions in conformity with the evidence that religion and similar are ordinarily used in an equivocal manner. Second, I will then approach both strong substantive accounts of religion and the most flexible one I know (i.e., Schellenberg’s ultimism). I provide reasons which should incline to reject all of these. View Full-Text
Keywords: definitions of religion; substantive vs. functional debate; J. Schellenberg; ultimism definitions of religion; substantive vs. functional debate; J. Schellenberg; ultimism
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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Bertini, D. On What a Religion Is Not. Religions 2019, 10, 29.

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