What is a religiology?

Andrzej Bronk

Abstract


Since the second half of the twentieth century, the Polish, Catholic academic community, especially at the Catholic University of Lublin, has used the word religiology (religiologia) as a general notion for all disciplines trying more or less systematically to describe, explain, interpret and understand the phenomenon of religion. Another Polish word, religioznawstwo (the study of religion), is also used generally for all empirical disciplines of religion but mostly with the exclusion of the philosophy of religion and theology of religion, thought to be non-scientific. This mistrust of religious scholars toward philosophy and theology has its origins in the history of the study of religions (called ”history or religions”) in the positivist age and in scientism, which regards only (natural) sciences as a worthy type of knowledge. But it also stems from an unfortunate, sometimes patronizing style of expression by theologians suggesting, as it were, that only philosophy and theology can have a ”full” knowledge of the nature of religious phenomena. In this situation it seems proper to reserve the word religioznawstwo (or nauki religioznawcze) only for empirical sciences of religion and to use the word religiologia (or nauki religiologiczne) for all kinds of study of religion along with philosophy of religion and theology of religion. There remains however the question of the methodological unity and autonomy of the different studies in religions and of how to judge the contribution of philosophy and (Christian) theology, whose ways of justifying its theses are different from those of the (natural) sciences.

Keywords


methodological autonomy; philosophy of religion; religion; religiology; religious study; science; scientific study of religion; terminology; theology of religion

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