Journal Article

All Generalizations Are Bad: Postmodernism on Theories

Robert A. Segal

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 74, issue 1, pages 157-171
Published in print March 2006 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
All Generalizations Are Bad: Postmodernism on Theories

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The ramifications of postmodernism for theology have been discussed voluminously. I want to consider the ramifications of postmodernism for the social scientific study of religion, which above all means for theories of religion. Those ramifications are wholly negative: postmodernism opposes theories, and does so because it opposes generalizations. Objections to generalizations and thereby to theories in the social sciences long antedate the rise of postmodernism, but earlier objections are on modernist grounds. Postmodernism is oblivious to these criticisms and instead assumes that criticism begins with postmodernism itself. Where at least some modernist criticisms are not easily answerable, all postmodern criticisms are easily answerable, for all of them rest on confusions about theorizing.

Journal Article.  5416 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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