Wesen und Erscheinung In the history of the study of religion: A post-structuralist perspective1

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion


After arguing that classical phenomenology of religion is more heir to Hegelian rather than Husserlian phenomenolgy, this article proposes that the Hegelian concept of an essential and unified human nature grounds the basic operations of the field. Such Hegelian motifs as the insistence on essence and structure as the pnmary heuristic tools for understanding historical materials and the appeal to a universal and transcendental subjectivity which unites historically diverse moments are identified in the writings of Tiele, Chanteple, Otto, Hultkrantz, and Eliade, among others. The article concludes with a post-structualist critique of ideological humanism's construction of trans-historical identities and suggests that by delineating more fully the Hegelian heritage of phenomenology of religion, understood as discursive practice intimately involved in the construction of its object, such categories as "Religion" may turn out to be more an integral part of Occidental Humanism than a universal feature of human societies.

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