16. The Study of Religion, Bricolage and Brandom
Theory in a Time of Excess - Beyond Reflection and Explanation in Religious Studies Scholarship - Aaron W. Hughes
Matthew C. Bagger [+]
University of Alabama
Matthew Bagger teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. He is the author of Religious Experience, Justification, and History (Cambridge University Press, 1999), The Uses of Paradox: Religion, Self-Transformation, and the Absurd (Columbia University Press, 2007), and editor of Pragmatism, Naturalism, and Religion (Columbia University Press, forthcoming).
The chief glory of the Study of Religion is its theoretical eclecticism. As a field, claims Bagger, programmatic theoretical approaches should be resisted. Instead, he argues that the use and development of theory should be driven by specific questions that arise in particular studies of religious phenomena. Metatheoretical reflection should generally be closely tethered to works of first-order scholarship. The use of Robert Brandom’s analysis of existential commitments to illuminate so-called narrative theology illustrates these claims and bears implications for the cognitive science of religion.