After we deconstruct 'religion', then what?

In cooperation with History of Hermetic Philosophy

16okt2017 20:00 - 21:30


Many scholars of religion are arguing today that the very term 'religion' should be replaced by different concepts. But how convincing is that argument?

People today often assume that different religions have existed throughout human history. But several scholars have argued that this use of the term 'religion' is relatively recent, perhaps only a few hundred years old, and these scholars argue that to use this anachronistic term for cultures in the past simply invents religion where it did not really exist. They recommend that we deconstruct the term and ask: who developed the concept of 'religion' and what interests does it serve? In this lecture, Prof. Schilbrack intends to credit the deconstructionist questions but nevertheless give an account of how historians and social scientists can study religion transhistorically and transculturally. His goal is to provide an account of 'religion' that recognizes both that this theoretical term is a social product and that its referent existed before the concept emerged.

About the speaker

Kevin Schilbrack writes about philosophical questions raised by the academic study of religion. A graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School, he is now professor and chair of the department of Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian State University. He is the author of Philosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto (Blackwell, 2014) and he is presently interested in the relevance of embodied cognition and social ontology for understanding what religion is and how it works.

Location: SPUI25