Chapter 8 The World of Religion: A Reevaluation of Geo Widengren’s Phenomenology of Religion

In: The Legacy, Life and Work of Geo Widengren and the Study of the History of Religions after World War II
Clemens Cavallin
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The reading and reevaluation in this chapter of Widengren’s phenomenology of religion probe the consequences of that the discipline of the history of religions with the demise of phenomenology lost a vital support that provided it with a basic taxonomy bringing order to an increasing mass of data. And with the following reliance on theories and conceptual schemes primarily designed for the understanding and analysis of human sociability, psychology, or economic thinking, religion mostly came to be seen as an epiphenomenon. Such a perspective destabilizes the discipline, leading to a stronger emphasis on the methodological rejection of religious worldviews as the primary disciplinary identity marker, signaled by the importance of the principle of non-confessionality. In this way, history of religions is founded on a rejection of, or a struggle to achieve distance from what it studies – resisting to be absorbed into its object – leading to a tensed professional tremendum et fascinans.

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