O'Reilly logo

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

The Scientification of Religion

Book Description

The enigmatic relation between religion and science still presents a challenge to European societies and to ideas about what it means to be ‘modern.’ This book argues that European secularism, rather than pushing back religious truth claims, in fact has been religiously productive itself. The institutional establishment of new disciplines in the nineteenth century, such as religious studies, anthropology, psychology, classical studies, and the study of various religious traditions, led to a professionalization of knowledge about religion that in turn attributed new meanings to religion. This attribution of meaning resulted in the emergence of new religious identities and practices. In a dynamic that is closely linked to this discursive change, the natural sciences adopted religious and metaphysical claims and integrated them in their framework of meaning, resulting in a special form of scientific religiosity that has gained much influence in the twentieth century. Applying methods that come from historical discourse analysis, the book demonstrates that religious semantics have been reconfigured in the secular sciences. Ultimately, the scientification of religion perpetuated religious truth claims under conditions of secularism.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright Page
  3. Preface
  4. Table of Contents
  5. 1 Religion and Science in Discursive Perspective
    1. The Discursive Construction of Knowledge
      1. Historical Analysis of Discourse
    2. Discursive Study of Religion: Concepts and Definitions
      1. Basic Concepts for Discourse Analysis
      2. Consequences for a Discursive Study of Religion
    3. Methodological Implications
      1. Determining the Research Question
      2. Selecting Data and Building a Corpus
      3. Choosing the Most Suitable Method to Analyze the Data Sets
    4. Beyond Binaries: An Outline of the Argument
  6. Part One: Discarded Knowledge and Its New Legitimacy in Secular Discourse
    1. 2 From Polemical Disjunction to New Integration: The Science of the Stars
      1. The Differentiation of Branches of Knowledge
        1. The Responses of the Astrologers
      2. Polemical Disjunctions and their Complexities in the Eighteenth Century
        1. Astrological Semantics in the Secret Societies of the Eighteenth Century
      3. The Perpetuation of ASTROLOGY in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Literature and Philosophy
        1. Astrology in Goethe’s Time
        2. Aestheticization and Psychologization of Astral Powers in the Romantic Period
      4. Re-Enchantment of the Cosmos around 1900
      5. The Marriage of Secular Psychology and Astrology: Carl Gustav Jung
        1. The Dialogue between Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Gustav Jung and Its Impact
    2. 3 Alchemical Quests in Modern Garb
      1. Alchemy as the ‘Occult Other’
      2. VITALISM: A Ménage-a-Trois of Life, Spirit, and Matter
      3. Rearrangements in the Twentieth Century
    3. 4 Darwinism Turned into Religion: Monism
      1. Ernst Haeckel: From Darwinism to Pantheistic Monism
      2. Wilhelm Ostwald: Entanglements Personified
      3. Discursive Implications: Holistic Thinking between NEW AGE SCIENCE, Nature-Based Spirituality, and a New Philosophy of Nature
        1. Fritjof Capra
        2. Ilya Prigogine
        3. Gregory Bateson
        4. Rupert Sheldrake
        5. David Bohm
    4. 5 Merging Occultism, Philosophy, Science, and the Academic Study of Religion: The Theosophical Society
      1. Helena P. Blavatsky as a Discursive Hub
        1. Unveiling the Hidden Knowledge of Isis
        2. Secret Doctrines and Synthetic Discourse
        3. Wars of Succession
      2. The German Knot: Rudolf Steiner
  7. Part Two: Academics as Religious Pioneers
    1. 6 The Trouble with Europe: Academic Orientalism and New Mystical Religions
      1. Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, and Dynamics of Jewish Self-Orientalization
        1. Martin Buber: In Search of the Eastern Urjudentum
        2. Gershom Scholem: ‘Jewish Mysticism’ as an Antidote to ‘Europe’
      2. Rudolf Otto and Gerardus van der Leeuw: Oriental Wisdom and the Ultimate Access to the Sacred
        1. Rudolf Otto
        2. Gerardus van der Leeuw
        3. Gender, Eroticism, and the Unveiling of an Orientalized Salome
        4. Discursive Materializations: Globalized Sufism and Kabbalah
        5. Kabbalistic Entanglements in the Life Sciences
    2. 7 In Search of the Great Goddess: How Academic Theories Generated Paganism and Witchcraft
      1. Matriarchy as an Historical Myth: Johann Jakob Bachofen
      2. Archaeologists and Classicists Discover the Great Goddess
      3. Charles G. Leland and Robert Graves: Popularizing the Idea of the Goddess
        1. Charles Godfrey Leland
        2. Robert Graves
      4. Discursive Materializations in (the Study of) Paganism and Esotericism
    3. 8 Normatizing Shamanism: Academic Teachers as Religious Experts
      1. Mircea Eliade: Scholar and Novelist of Shamanism
      2. Shamanic and Academic Authorities: The Routinization of Charisma
        1. Carlos Castaneda
        2. Joan Halifax
        3. Michael Harner
      3. Authority Contested
  8. Conclusion: The Scientification of Religion
  9. Bibliography
  10. Index