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Religion as Social Reality

A Take on the Emic–Etic Debate in Light of John Searle’s Philosophy of Society

Andrea Rota

In this article I argue that the shift from a private to a public–social understanding of religion raises new ontological and epistemological questions for the scientific study of religion\s. These questions are deeply related to three central features of the emic–etic debate, namely the problems of intentionality, objectivity, and comparison. Focusing on these interrelated issues, I discuss the potential of John Searle’s philosophy of society for the scientific study of religion\s. Considering the role of intentionality at the social level, I present Searle’s concept of “social ontology” and discuss its epistemological implications. To clarify Searle’s position regarding the objectivity of the social sciences, I propose a heuristic model contrasting different stances within the scientific study of religion\s. Finally, I explore some problematic aspects of Searle’s views for a comparative study of religion\s, and sketch a solution within his framework. I shall argue that a distinction between the epistemological and ontological dimensions of religious affairs would help clarify the issues at stake in the past and future of the emic–etic debate.

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A Matter of Perspective?

Disentangling the Emic–Etic Debate in the Scientific Study of Religion\s

Till Mostowlansky and Andrea Rota

This article introduces the emic–etic debate in the scientific study of religion\s and provides a frame for the special issue’s six articles on the topic. Departing from the broader debate’s early history in the 1960s, this article contextualizes the emic–etic debate and locates its point of entry into the scientific study of religion\s in the 1980s. This article argues that in the course of the debate the insider–outsider and emic–etic complexes have become entangled. In order to facilitate an understanding of the debate, this article maintains that the emic–etic debate in the scientific study of religion\s touches upon three central dimensions (existential–political, methodological, and epistemological). In order to move toward a clearer methodological and epistemological framework, this article furthermore proposes an iterative model that locates insider–outsider at the level of observers and emic–etic at the level of categories.

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Edited by Stefano Fogelberg Rota and Andreas Hellerstedt

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Andreas Hellerstedt and Stefano Fogelberg Rota

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Edited by Stefano Fogelberg Rota and Andreas Hellerstedt

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Shaping Heroic Virtue

Studies in the Art and Politics of Supereminence in Europe and Scandinavia

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Edited by Stefano Fogelberg Rota and Andreas Hellerstedt

In his Nichomachean Ethics (VII.I.I), Aristotle suggests the possibility of a perfection of virtue so extreme that it could be characterized as “heroic” or “divine”. In Shaping Heroic Virtue, eight scholars from different fields of the humanities explore the reception of this notion within a broad range of artistic, political and religious contexts and map its enduring importance in the self-fashioning of monarchs and political elites. The case studies included in the volume span from Late Antiquity to the 18th century and include material from different parts of Europe, with a particular emphasis on Scandinavia.

Contributors include Erik Eliasson, Stefano Fogelberg Rota, Andreas Hellerstedt, Kristine Kolrud, Jennie Nell, Nils Holger Petersen, Tania Preste and Biörn Tjällén.