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The Meaning and End of Religion : a New Approach to the Religious Traditions of Mankind

Author: Wilfred Cantwell Smith
Publisher: New York : New American Library, 1964. ©1963
Series: Mentor book.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
In The Meaning & End of Religion, Smith contends that religion is a peculiarly European concept of recent origin. Practitioners of any given faith don't come to regard what they do as 'religion' until they have sprouted that form of collective self-regard which causes them to have absorbed the perspective of the outsider. Religion, in the modern sense of the word, is a product of identity politics & apologetics:  Read more...
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Smith, Wilfred Cantwell, 1916-2000.
Meaning and End of Religion
(OCoLC)989012875
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Wilfred Cantwell Smith
OCLC Number: 169995
Language Note: Text in English.
Description: 352 pages : illustrations ; 19 cm.
Contents: "Religion" in the West --
Other cultures. "The religions" --
The special case of Islam --
Is the concept adequate? --
The cumulative tradition --
Faith.
Series Title: Mentor book.
Responsibility: by Wilfred Cantwell Smith.

Abstract:

In The Meaning & End of Religion, Smith contends that religion is a peculiarly European concept of recent origin. Practitioners of any given faith don't come to regard what they do as 'religion' until they have sprouted that form of collective self-regard which causes them to have absorbed the perspective of the outsider. Religion, in the modern sense of the word, is a product of identity politics & apologetics: "One's own 'religion' may be piety & faith, obedience, worship & a vision of god. An alien 'religion' is a system of beliefs or rituals, an abstract & impersonal pattern of observables. A dialectic ensues, however. If one's own religion is attacked, by unbelievers who necessarily conceptualize it schematically, or all religion is by the indifferent, one tends to leap to the defence of what is attacked, so that presently participants of a faith--especially those most involved in argument--are using the term in the same externalist & theoretical sense as their opponents. Religion as a systematic entity, as it emerged in the 17th & 18th centuries, is a concept of polemics & apologetics."

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