Beyond Beliefs : An Analysis of Religion and the Secular in James K. A. Smith

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201711285748
Title: Beyond Beliefs : An Analysis of Religion and the Secular in James K. A. Smith
Author: Gillin, Joel
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Teologinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology
Helsingfors universitet, Teologiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2017
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201711285748
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/228939
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Abstract: This study is a descriptive account and analysis of the ideas and arguments of Canadian philosopher James K. A. Smith (1970 - ) in regard to religion and the secular. Using Smith’s published texts, the study examines some of the problems he sees with these concepts from different subfields of philosophy and evaluates Smith’s proposed solutions. The study begins with a discursive overview of the issues scholars face in the study of religion and the secular. Next, the study examines Smith’s engagement with theological traditions and postmodern thought to critique the epistemology and ontology of the secular, followed by Smith’s articulation of a “liturgical” anthropology as a model for understanding religion and secular practices. The final chapter explores the implications of Smith’s analysis and his advocacy of a post-secular approach to 1) the study of religion, 2) the public square, and 3) religious conflict. The study finds that Smith cogently employs postmodern thought to deconstruct the foundationalist epistemology of the secular. Furthermore, he argues that the secular relies upon an unsubstantiated ontology of closed, autonomous nature that gives secular theorizing and science an unwarranted privileged epistemic status. Modern philosophical anthropology is also found to be overly cognitive, and Smith proposes an original model emphasizing embodiment in which humans are desiring beings shaped by formative practices (“liturgies”). With these results, Smith’s post-secular approach to the study of religion shows that common distinctions between secular and religious beliefs and practices are misleading. A liturgical framework may provide better conceptual tools to locate and explain human behavior, including religious/secular violence, with some complications requiring further research. His analysis suggests a normative post-secularism which allows space for religious identities in the public sphere could potentially meet the challenges of pluralism and religious conflict.
Subject: religion
secular
post-secularism
religious conflict
Smith, James K. A.


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