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Comparative Religion

Religion in Relation: Method, Application and Moral Location by Ivan Strenski

By Ivan Strenski

In this selection of eleven essays the writer outlines a programme of integrative, contextualized reviews of faith. a few diversified subject matters are integrated in those glossy reviews of religion.

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His 'mythics' is thus marked by a self-proclaimed autonomy from historical and cultural data, anti-verificationism and anti-falsificationism, as well as a reliance upon dualist metaphysical beliefs. As such, it holds out little promise that it might fulfil the very crosscultural comparative aims which were promised. 6 POSTSCRIPT Whither, then, the study of religion and myths if Eliade's theoretical work in these fields be discredited? Several pathways lie wide open, despite Eliade's premature erection of detour signs along these routes.

45 But Professor Eliade goes beyond Malinowski's naturalistic preoccupation with the efficacy of myths for satisfying certain biological needs: myths function for man's metaphysical'cosmic' orientation. 46 A myth allows one to discover one's ontological place in the universe,47 to see oneself and one's existence in some grand vision of reality. A myth offers us our bearings and perspective not in some mundane geographical or cosmological sense but in a sense which touches the very heart of our tenuous contingency and discloses a 'boundary' or 'limit situation', a 'crisis' of existence.

Can we confidently attach historical and cross-cultural importance to the (supposed) existential mood of the primitive peoples whom anthropologists investigate? We do not know what these primitive societies were like before we began reading their 'cultural temperatures'. Are we so certain that Eliade: Theoretical Problems 37 their current existential need for spiritual orientation (if one can make a case for this) is not merely a reaction to the notoriously traumatic impact of Western culture upon them and thus not to be assigned perennial importance?

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