A Grammar of Religious “Truth”: Pragmatic Considerations on the Nature of Religious Truth

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
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  • 1 School of Culture and Society, University of Aarhus, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark

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Abstract

This article explores various ways in which the concept of truth is actually used across discursive boundaries separating common sense, science, mathematics, and religion. Although my overall approach is pragmatic, I argue that we also need to take some semantic restrictions into consideration. The main objective of the article is the issue of translating concepts of truth in various linguistic and cultural contexts without losing sight of the particular network of connotations. I come to the conclusion that with regard to a religious discourse, a translatable concept of truth typically enters the grammatical place of the subject rather than the predicate. From this position the discursive constraints of authority, authenticity and expressivity are held in check by an internal predetermination of the implied possibility of falsehood. Most of all, however, the article focuses on non-propositional aspects of a religious expression of truth, in which case the very distinction between true and false becomes patently irrelevant.

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