The Sisyphean discipline : a précis of "An Unnatural History of Religions"

Source document: Religio. 2020, vol. 28, iss. 1, pp. [3]-20
  • ISSN
    1210-3640 (print)
    2336-4475 (online)
The present contribution offers a recapitulation of the author's book entitled An Unnatural History of Religions: Academia, Post-truth and the Quest for Scientific Knowledge (2019). The book is intended to offer a most comprehensive account of the History of Religions as an academic discipline, from its inception as a Victorian science of religion to the postmodern rejection of master narratives and from the birth of contemporary Religious Studies to the recent resurgence of cognitive and evolutionary approaches. One of the major themes to emerge from the historiographical analysis is the constant disciplinary temptation to move aside scientific explanations in favour of fideistic redescriptions. Ever struggling to come to terms with science, the historical study of religions in all the major national schools of the past considered here has reaffirmed time and again the absolute value of religion as epistemic truth, delegitimizing, depreciating, and discarding scientific and rational tools as useless for grasping the inner core of human consciousness.