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.
A Take on the Emic–Etic Debate in Light of John Searle’s Philosophy of Society
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.
Studies in the Art and Politics of Supereminence in Europe and Scandinavia
Edited by Stefano Fogelberg Rota and Andreas Hellerstedt
Contributors include Erik Eliasson, Stefano Fogelberg Rota, Andreas Hellerstedt, Kristine Kolrud, Jennie Nell, Nils Holger Petersen, Tania Preste and Biörn Tjällén.