Kevin SchilbrackPhilosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto

Wiley-Blackwell, 2014

by Kristian Petersen on July 18, 2014

Kevin Schilbrack

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Religion] Very often evaluative questions about cultural phenomena are avoided for more descriptive or explanatory goals when approaching religions. Traditionally, this set of concerns has been left to philosophers of religion. In Philosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), Kevin Schilbrack, professor of Religious Studies at Appalachian State University, argues that philosophical approaches to the study of religions plays a central role in our understanding of both religious communities and the discipline of Religious Studies. This book offers both a critique of “Traditional Philosophy of Religion,”characterized as narrow, intellectualist, and insular, and a toolkit for achieving a global, practice-centered, and reflexive philosophical approach. With our wide-ranging goals in sight we are offered a new definition of religion that points us in a common direction for analyzing social data. Ultimately, Schilbrack positions his new evaluative approach as one branch in a tripartite methodology, complimenting more dominant descriptive and explanatory approaches. Overall, this books looks to the future of the field and offers interesting directions for others to follow. In our conversation we discuss religious practice, cognition, belief, embodiment, conceptual metaphors, definitional boundaries, ‘superempirical realities,’ and the ontology of “religion.”

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