Methodological integration in the study of religions
Abstract"Religions" constitute a field of study and accordingly "the study of religion (or religions)" is a discipline. What is a discipline, that is, in the scientific sense? It is no more, and no less, than a methodically ordered approach to the study of a field. The field "religion(s)", no less than any other fields, requires a methodically ordered approach for its study. The methodically ordered approach, the discipline, takes on particular characteristics as required for the best study of the field. Consequently, the discipline of the study of religion(s) is not necessarily quite the same as the discipline required for the study of other fields, though it may be rather similar to the discipline required for the study of closely related fields. The disciplined study of religion cannot be split down the middle, for example between history and ethnology, just because some people prefer to work with a certain kind of source material or prefer a certain kind of professional badge. It is an unduly easy alibi to say that the study of religion is "interdisciplinary", even if this is helpful in a preliminary way. All too often an emphasis on "interdisciplinarity" seems to suggest an openness to a variety of methods while it in fact allows the challenge of methodological reflection to be avoided. By contrast, as has been seen above, the discipline of the study of religions both requires and can find its own specific methodological integration.
Copyright (c) 1999 Michael Pye
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