This work is most misunderstood by those who approvingly cite this, and by those who criticize this work. This misunderstanding has nothing to do with the structure of the book, but everything to do with the nature of any scientific hypothesis. The author has *not* criticized the concept 'religion' because the latter is western: do we think the concept of positron is western? And this book is not a critique of essentialism: entire natural sciences are `essentialistic.' `culture' is not monolithic; of course, species is not monolithic either, yet is amenable to study. What properties of Christianity are ones by virtue of which Christianity is a religion? Here Sweet Willman, in his criticism of the book, presumed that the properties of Christianity = the properties of religion. There are others who criticize it because it conflicts with their intuition. Of course, the author explained the necessity of experiencing religion in India.
Coming back to what the book does: the author identified a set of problems through historical research. Any theory of religion has to solve these problems. The author proposed a hypothesis of religion that solves these problems, and further explains the experience of believers; that shows why one can't study, say, Christianity as religion without being a believer. Then it is showed, one is compelled to do theology in order to study Christianity as a world view. Given this, the author shifted the study to a different level of abstraction: religion as that which generates a configuration of learning. This hypothesis sheds light on various issues: skepticism of Antiquity; origin of natural sciences in the West; vacuous debates of all sorts of relativism; cultural differences; theories of actions; etc. In other words, this theory does generate more problems, and can solve the same problems-in the long run.
The author nowhere did mention that `Hinduism', `Buddhism' etc. are `something' else but not religions; whatever the conceptual gestalts these entities `Hinduism' etc. refer to are non-existent in the way unicorn is.
- Introduction:Contents , Acknowledgements and Introduction
- Chapter #1 :Some Puzzles and Problems
- Chapter #2 :“Not by One avenue Only …”
- Chapter #3:The Whore of Babylon and Other Revelations
- Chapter #4:Made in Paris, London, and Heidelberg
- Chapter #5:Requiem For a Theme
- Chapter #6:Shall The Twain Ever Meet?”
- Chapter #7:“Guilty as Charged, my Lords and Ladies?”
- Chapter #8: A Human Tragedy or The Divine Retribution?
- Chapter #9:Blessed are Those Who Seek…”
- Chapter#10:“Imagine There is No Religion…”
- Chapter#11:Prolegomena to a Comparative Science of Cultures
- Chapter#12:At the End of a Journey
- References:References, Name Index and Subject Index