Response Bataille, theory, and politics: A response to Carl Olson TIM MURPHY Recently Carl Olson published an article on Bataille's theory of religion (Olson 1994) in MTSR. He gives a substantial exposition of Bataille's theory of religion and related notions, followed by a very strong criticism, and finally a rejection (in the main) of Bataille's theory. While I disagree with some aspects of Olson's account of Bataille,' for the present occasion I wish only to discuss the reasons Olson gives for his critique and rejection of Bataille. These reasons are of two different kinds: first, epistemological and methodological; second, political and normative. On the first set of issues, Olson uses the example of the Sioux Sun Dance ritual in an attempt to show that Bataille's s theory of religion does not "fit the facts" as well as other kinds of theories. He claims that Bataille's "theoretical world-view takes precedence over the religious phenomena that he examines" (Olson 1994: 246). On the second set of issues, Olson argues that "Bataille's hermeneutical program is a political manifesto and not an apt tool for interpreting religious phenomena" (Olson 1994: 247). Each of these claims will be briefly examined in turn. My
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1996
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