On the Definition of Religion

William E. Arnal and Russell T. McCutcheon

in The Sacred Is the Profane

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199757114
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979530 | DOI:
On the Definition of Religion

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This chapter describes classical approaches to defining religion and attempts to classify them. Definitions are distinguished on the basis of their defining religious data in terms of some basic and substantive essence, or in terms of their function and context. It argues that, in the end, most classic academic definitions of religion fail to demarcate consistently what they aim to demarcate. Following Asad, the explanation for this failure is found in the political nature of “religion” as a category.

Keywords: definition; religion; Geertz Clifford; Durkheim Émile; Asad Talal

Chapter.  6594 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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