Deprovincializing Philosophy of Religion: From “Faith and Reason” to the Postcolonial Revaluation of Religious Epistemologies

Deprovincializing Philosophy of Religion: From “Faith and Reason” to the Postcolonial... Abstract While most textbook approaches to the philosophy of religion include a section variously entitled “Religious Epistemology,” “Faith and Reason,” or “The Rationality of Belief,” in this paper I argue that a deprovinicialized, global, and critical approach to the question of faith and reason might now appear more fully under the rubric of the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies. Accordingly, a global-critical philosophy of religion will challenge standard assumptions within contemporary philosophy of religion regarding the normativity of certain approaches to rationality and its justification, on the one hand, and the justification of theism as the central religious question, on the other. I argue that such a deprovinicialized philosophy of religion, while challenging certain secular norms, may embrace a religious and philosophical realism without reenthroning a single religious worldview as either culturally or epistemologically hegemonic. With justification, the contemporary university . . . may credit itself with having articulated the errors of modern western colonialism, of political and economic imperialism, and of a variety of more subtle ways of imposing its conception of the “all” (or totalité) on others. Often, however, these errors are attributed to “them,” as if the totalizing tendencies of the west were reified in some isolable, albeit very widespread, aggregations of power, rather than some characteristic of the culture in general, including therefore the discourses of the critics. . . . I would rather assume the latter: that we who are nurtured in the modern west bear some totalizing “gene,” so that the objects of criticism ought, reflexively, to include the critics as well. —Peter Ochs, “Revised: Comparative Religious Traditions” (2006, 485) Once Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Zhuang Zhou. Suddenly he woke up, and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuang Zhou. But he didn’t know if he were Zhuang Zhou who had dreamed he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuang Zhou. —Zhuangzi, “Discussion on Making All Things Equal” (2013, 36) A NUMBER OF RECENT WORKS have made the case for a revaluation of the role of philosophy within religious studies. A common theme throughout most of these works is the claim that for philosophy of religion to become useful for religious studies, philosophy of religion will need to deprovincialize, will need in other words to move beyond its penchant for attending only to the philosophical difficulties raised by certain predominant, largely Western forms of theistic belief. But what might such a deprovincialized philosophy of religion look like in the concrete? Most textbook approaches to the philosophy of religion include a section variously entitled “Religious Epistemology,” “Faith and Reason,” “The Rationality of Belief,” or some other heading along those lines. This is understandable. Some such treatment of the epistemological significance of our diverse religious claims, practices, and identities ought to remain a part of any religiously inclusive and critically informed approach to the philosophy of religion. However, in this paper, I will argue additionally that such a project ought also to challenge standard assumptions within contemporary philosophy of religion regarding the normativity of particular approaches to rationality and its justification, on the one hand, and the justification of theism as the central religious question, on the other.1 Put more positively, the challenge that religious epistemology poses to philosophy is not just the abstract challenge of belief but a more global challenge to the putatively neutral epistemological categories of the secular philosophical tribunal. I will argue, in other words, that a global and critical approach to the old question of faith and reason might now appear more fully under the rubric of the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies. THE POSTCOLONIAL REVALUATION OF EMIC EPISTEMOLOGIES Ever since the end of the Second World War, scholars within the humanities and some of the social sciences have increasingly recognized the way in which the thick description of different groups requires us to pay attention to their often quite distinct understandings of reason and rationality. Eschewing, for example, the functionalism of Bronislaw Malinkowski or A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, such scholars have argued that distinct cultures display their own living coherence, and that these distinct cultures ought to be evaluated on their own terms rather than according to putatively universal criteria of judgment that, upon inspection, turn out to be the all too local and particular products of prevailing academic cultures. Let us call this general movement to consider these different ways of knowing according to their own culturally diverse understandings of what counts as rationality the revaluation of emic epistemologies. Although initially derived from linguistics, the terms emic and etic have become terms of art within anthropology, social and behavioral science, religious studies, and other similar fields. An emic approach essentially designates an insider’s view of the matter in question; it is an account of the subject’s belief or action that the subject herself could find meaningful. An etic approach, by contrast, provides an observer’s account of the subject’s beliefs or practices, an account that generally purports to a certain universalizability or neutrality.2 Emic and etic ought to be understood as relative rather than absolute terms. A description that was etic may become emic as the description is assimilated by the subjects in question: a famous example of this can be seen in the way that the Buddhist revival in Therevada countries of South and Southeast Asia often included an image of pristine Buddhism (Gombrich and Obeyesekere’s so-called “protestant Buddhism”) that was itself drawn from Western colonialist and missionary representations (Gombrich and Obeyesekere 1988, 202–40).3 The opposite movement from etic to emic may happen, as well, as in cases of conversion, apostasy, the acquisition of new identity or citizenship, or simply when one undergoes a significant change of mind. An emic epistemology is an account not of the knowledge that a subject claims, but of the way in which the subject seeks to attain knowledge. Such epistemologies may be reflexively articulated in sophisticated systems or they may be implicit. Emic epistemologies do not determine what a subject takes to be true, but rather govern what a subject can regard as intelligible, the plausibility conditions under which a claim’s truth might become a compelling candidate for consideration. Furthermore, certain emic epistemologies may aim at something more than what Western academia has considered truth (adequacy, coherence, representation): namely, they may aim at a kind of soteriological oneness with truth (e.g., truth as realization). The revaluation of emic epistemologies in general is a salutary development, but for us to speak of this as a postcolonial revaluation, something more is needed. Over the last few decades, postcolonial theory—associated with writers such as Dipesh Chakrabarty, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Homi K. Bhabha, and others—has established itself not only as one of the main currents of contemporary literary theory on the one hand, and history on the other, but has also become a significant academic interdisciplinary field in its own right. Drawing upon but also going beyond the theoretical resources of Marxism, poststructuralism, and a broad postmodernism, postcolonial studies critically respond to the intellectual, cultural, and political legacies of Western imperialism and colonialism while also intending to empower non-Western theorists, critics, and writers to speak in their own voices, recall and narrate their own histories, and reinvent their own cultural legacies. It is hard to define the boundaries of the field of postcolonial studies, and it continues to be subject to its own internal renegotiation, but it is often marked by a number of common general strategies that range from demonstrating the way that particular, contingent, Eurocentric presentations of the world have come to be regarded as natural to challenging the way that the identities, cultures, struggles, and histories of non-Western peoples have been defined by European powers and the norms of European scholarship rather than being allowed to speak in their own name (Prabhu 2012; Spivak 1988). It is not only a question of representation, but also a question of parity. As Homi K. Bhabha puts it in his influential essay, “The Postcolonial and the Postmodern”: Postcolonial criticism bears witness to the unequal and uneven forces of cultural representation involved in the contest for political and social authority within the modern world order. Postcolonial perspectives emerge from the colonial testimony of Third World countries and the discourses of “minorities” within the geopolitical divisions of East and West, North and South. They intervene in those ideological discourses of modernity that attempt to give a hegemonic “normality” to the uneven development and the differential, often disadvantaged, histories of nations, races, communities, peoples. They formulate their critical revisions around issues of cultural difference, social authority, and political discrimination in order to reveal the antagonistic and ambivalent moments within the “rationalizations” of modernity. (Bhabha 1994, 171) The postcolonial not only indicates the study of those who were once subject to colonization—“post” shouldn’t be taken to designate a merely temporal relation—but also refers to the presence of voices, persons, traditions, and discourses that have the capacity to call modern, colonial, European constructions of rationality, authority, and legitimacy into question. Thus, Bhabha's oft-referenced claim relating the postcolonial to the postmodern: “The wider significance of the postmodern condition lies in the awareness that the epistemological ‘limits’ of those ethnocentric ideas are also the enunciative boundaries of a range of other dissonant, even dissident histories and voices—women, the colonized, minority groups, the bearers of policed sexualities” (Bhabha 1994). One powerful way to characterize the postcolonial project is that of provincializing Europe, as Dipesh Chakrabarty put it in his influential volume from the turn of the millennium (Chakrabarty 2000). Contested knowledges lie at the center of much of this postcolonial critique, so much so that colonialism itself may be seen, in one important sense, as an epistemological disorder and not only a cultural, economic, and political project of occupation and extraction. For this reason, it might be more accurate (albeit rather cumbersome) to speak of the postcolonial revaluation of emic and etic epistemologies. It is not enough merely to give a charitable ear to a supposedly emic other; one must also contextualize, politicize, and historically situate supposedly neutral and universal etic perspectives at the same time. What this entails in practice can be quite radical, as Chakrabarty has argued (Chakrabarty 2000), for postcolonial criticism is finally something much more than merely the inclusion of previously excluded voices. We can include the voices of the excluded without radically challenging our disciplinary practices. When historians, for instance, write histories-from-below, they quite rightly seek to include the voices of women, workers, the dispossessed, racial and sexual minorities, and so forth. But this move towards greater inclusion is itself a quite ordinary aspect of resilient disciplinary practices. As Chakrabarty writes, this is “how the discipline of history renews itself” (Chakrabarty 2000, 99). The postcolonial critique, however, at its most revolutionary, moves beyond the inclusion of excluded voices and minority histories to open itself to what Chakrabarty calls "subaltern pasts," pasts that in principle cannot be entertained by any nonrevolutionary extension of our current academic disciplines. Rather than challenging any given narrative or particular account of the world, subaltern voices present challenges to the presumed horizon of rationality against which any “legitimate” disciplinary development measures itself. What might this look like in practice? Among other things, Chakrabarty suggests this may require us to abandon disciplinary presumptions about the scope of naturalism, demythologization, and historicism (Chakrabarty 2000, 104–5, 11–113). Subaltern pasts, which are also contemporaneous with our present, may require scholars to entertain, if not to accept, claims about supernatural agencies, about gods and spirits acting to historical effect, about heterogeneous temporalities and nonordinary forms of subjectivity and agency, claims that at the very least relativize the putatively rational, disenchanted, and historical consciousness modern academic disciplines (including religious studies) regularly universalize. What Chakrabarty sees as a challenge to the discipline of history likewise poses a profound challenge to philosophy, religious studies, and the philosophy of religion, a challenge I am referring to as the postcolonial revaluation of emic (and etic) epistemologies. There are a host of factors involved in the revaluation of emic epistemologies, some of which are more theoretical, such as the postmodern critique of the ontotheological nature of contemporary Western thought, and some of which are more ethical, such as the feminist articulation of standpoint epistemologies or the postcolonial critique of the putative superiority of the Western rational subject and its ties to a politics of domination. Of course, even this tendency to speak of these as either theoretical or ethical may be considered part of the problem. The basic issue that is raised in all these approaches is a concern that the language and epistemic categories that emerge from modern Western scientific and philosophical traditions may be inadequate and even destructive when it comes to the analysis of knowledge claims from other cultures, other periods, diverse ways of knowing, and domains of reality unacknowledged by dominant modern ontologies. The cumulative effect of this revaluation of emic epistemologies often seems to be a new leveling of the field: one engages viewpoints from outside the modern West as interlocutors rather than mere subjects of study. Thus, for example, Gavin Flood argues that neither scholarly (outsider) nor traditional (insider) accounts of religion enjoy a priori epistemological privilege; rather, both traditional accounts and scholarly accounts must be treated as legitimate competing narratives and weighed accordingly (Flood 1999, 139–42). The challenge that serious considerations of emic epistemologies pose to the academy, in general, and to the academic study of religion, in particular, should not be minimized. In contrast to prevailing academic tendencies, many emic perspectives hold that exotic ontological entities (gods, devas, daikinis, angels, demons, the uncreated light, archetypal principles, the true self, and so forth) may be both real, agential, and constitutively involved in the production of religious knowledge and experience. Although it would be easier to dismiss such claims as mistaken and unsophisticated, careful historical and philosophical scholarship will not allow such an easy judgment, for many of these perspectives include elaborate accounts of the linguistic and social mediation of knowledge, careful tests for communal validation, and reflection upon the ethical consequences of such claims. Arguably, to ignore the alternative epistemological practices and diverse accounts of rationality that subtend what may otherwise appear to be religiously exotic claims is to commit ourselves to the error that Harold Roth has called “cognitive imperialism”: the more or less subtle ethnocentrism involved in taking European religious, philosophical, and scientific conceptions as academically normative (Roth 2008; Sherman 2014). According to Roth, the chief way in which contemporary religious studies might break with this cognitive imperialism is through a new willingness to incorporate first-person practices into our standard third-person methodological toolkit. In like manner, Jorge Ferrer and I have argued that a critical component in the assessment of many religious knowledge claims may be the revaluation of epistemological frameworks that take into account a wider engagement of human faculties—not only discursive reason, but also intuition, imagination, somatic knowing, meditation, contemplation, and so forth (Ferrer and Sherman 2008, 10–11). At this point, it may be important to issue a hesitation: recognizing that what counts as rational varies from culture to culture, that is to say, that practices of rationality are tradition and culture specific, need not force one into a subjective or nonrealist account of rationality. Here, I suspect, is where philosophy of religion has something to add to the religious studies discussion of these matters. The temptation within religious studies has often been to reduce too quickly the objects of its inquiry—the claims, symbols, traditions, moral practices, ritualized behaviors, and experiences we label religious—to some more secular, publically accessible domain of explanation. Arguably, from its very beginning, the modern discipline of religious studies has been searching for a way to legitimate itself. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, religious scholars, chastened by Enlightenment critiques and following in a path opened by Schleiermacher, sought to salvage something of the religious by freeing religious experience from putatively discredited metaphysical frameworks and locating the holy, the sacred, or the numinous within the epistemological subject. More recently, this turn to the subject itself began to seem utterly suspect. An array of critics challenged the supposedly privileged nature of the subject, pointing to its historicity, contingency, cultural, and linguistic particularity, its essentially gendered construction, and other such matters. The subject of modern religious studies—this self-conscious, self-reliant, self-transparent, and responsible individual—began to appear all too obviously “metaphysical.” Thus, hoping to get beyond the essentialization of the subject, many religious studies scholars adopted new linguistic strategies as a means of exploring human religion. There was something fitting about this religious appropriation of linguistic philosophy, for much of religion consists not in private religious experience or mystical enlightenment but in the public and discursive artifacts and practices of religious texts, parables, rituals, myths, doctrines, creeds, symbols, narratives, festivals, and so forth. It appears to me that within religious studies today, the prevailing motivation for paying renewed attention to emic epistemologies often stems from the widespread adoption of strong versions of this linguistic turn (although any strong distinction between scheme and content might motivate such a reconsideration, it is today the cultural-linguistic version of this distinction that prevails). And, at first glance, this makes sense. The linguistic turn within religious studies seems to emancipate emic viewpoints by energizing scholars to attend carefully to the richly articulated particular coherencies, speech conditions, and cultural frameworks of different religious traditions. However, one can, by contrast, argue that strong versions of the linguistic turn in fact covertly continue and compound the problem of an a priori privileging the scholar’s etic viewpoint over that of his or her emic subjects. Why? Because strong versions of the linguistic turn seem to know ahead of time how thoroughly language can or cannot refer to that which exists before, beyond, or beneath language, and this question seems to be one of the central questions involved in any critical tradition of religious practice and inquiry. When a strong version of the linguistic turn is simply assumed, then the object of religious studies is no longer the elucidation of the origin, nature, or ontological implications of religious tradition, experience, and the world in its own self-transcending. Rather, it is the analysis, interpretation, or critical deconstruction and reconstruction of the textual, the linguistic, and the symbolic. In this sense, much of modern religious studies can be seen as advancing the process of the linguistification of the sacred, a process that is central to the early Habermas’s description of the modern era itself (Habermas 1984). To “linguistify” the sacred means to evacuate it of its once transcendental authority—an authority vouchsafed by God or heaven or dharma—and to bring the legitimization of its cognitive and normative claims down into the purely human sphere, the cultural, the intersubjective space constituted by communicative exchanges among rational human beings.4 In the supposedly disenchanted world of postmodernity, the sacred has been detranscendentalized, relativized, contextualized, and diversified but, most fundamentally, assimilated to human linguistic expression. The effects of this have been widespread and can be discerned within many of the diverse topoi of contemporary religious studies: the currency of Wittgensteinian “language games” and “forms of life” approaches, the demise of classical foundationalism, the conceptual framework approach to understanding religious diversity, the interpretation of mysticism as a particular form of apophatic speech, the reading of medieval women’s religious experience as a form of self-authorization, and so forth. In all these areas—many of which are fruitful developments in themselves—the worrying aspect is the tendency to separate the referent of religious claims and practices from the objects, events, experiences, and realities of religious life to the manipulation and evaluation only of the language, signs, and meanings of religion. REALISM AND REVALUATION What is it that a philosopher of religion must bring to the ongoing discussion within religious studies about how best to treat emic epistemologies? Crucially, I believe that philosophers may warn their religious studies colleagues that strong versions of the linguistic turn—versions that take linguistic relativism to entail metaphysical nonrealism—cannot simply be presumed. Indeed, strong versions of the linguistic turn have come under increasing philosophical criticism, and this from both sides of the analytic/continental divide. Consider, for example, John Searle’s defense of metaphysical realism in the face of detractors such as Hilary Putnam and Nelson Goodman. Searle aims to expose the regular confusion within nonrealist philosophies of two separate theses: the thesis that reality exists independent of our representations of it (the external realism thesis), on the one hand, and the thesis that reality is correctly described only by one privileged conceptual scheme (the single-privileged scheme thesis), on the other. If one assumes that realism means there is only one correct account of the world, then the evident truth that all representations of reality are made relative to a set of pragmatically or traditionally selected concepts will indeed lead to a denial of metaphysical realism. But, as Searle argues, there is simply no reason to suppose that the external realism thesis entails the single-privileged scheme thesis. Against Putnam, Searle explains: Putnam thinks that because we can only state the fact that iron oxidizes relative to a vocabulary and conceptual system, that therefore the fact only exists relative to a vocabulary and conceptual system. So, on his view if conceptual relativism is true, then metaphysical realism is false. But the premise of his argument does not entail the conclusion. It is, indeed, trivially true that all statements are made within a conceptual apparatus for making statements. Without a language we cannot talk. It does, indeed, follow from this that given alternative conceptual apparatuses there will be alternative descriptions of reality. . . . But it simply does not follow that the fact that iron oxidizes is in any way language-dependent or relative to a system of concepts or anything of the sort. Long after we are all dead and there are no statements of any kind, iron will still oxidize; and this is just another way of saying that the fact that iron oxidizes does not depend in any way on the fact that we can state that iron oxidizes. (Does anyone really, seriously, doubt this?). (Lepore and Gulick 1991, 191) Searle’s non sequitur argument is only one of many such analytic arguments, including Quine’s critique of the two dogmas of empiricism and Davidson’s dismantling of conceptual schemes, that have begun to issue in a sort of philosophical sea change away from the confines of language alone and back, as Husserl once claimed, to the things themselves. As a striking sign of this, we might take note of Timothy Williamson, the successor to A. J. Ayer and Michael Dummett (via David Wiggins) in the Wykeham Chair of Logic at Oxford, who has argued forcefully that analytic philosophy ought to move beyond the linguistic turn. Philosophers cannot rest content simply to talk about talk and, as Williamson notes, much of the best philosophy in the closing decades of the twentieth century refused to do so. Williamson points to “the revival of metaphysical theorizing, realist in spirit, often speculative, often commonsensical, associated with Saul Kripke, David Lewis, Kit Fine, Peter van Inwagen, David Armstrong and many others: work that has, to cite just one example, made it anachronistic to dismiss essentialism as anachronistic” (Williamson 2007, 19). The revival of metaphysics, to which Williamson points, is momentous precisely because it was the rejection of such metaphysics that legitimated the linguistic turn in the first place. And yet now, in the wake of Quine’s naturalistic recuperation of ontology, Strawson’s defense of descriptive metaphysics, and the popularity of possible worlds semantics, much analytic philosophy has become overtly metaphysical. These different instances each signal, in their own way, a rejection of an extreme linguistic construal of philosophy—and the recuperation of a new ontic verve. Although different in style and temperament, a similar recuperation of realism in philosophy is taking place within continental circles. From Charles Taylor, Slavoj Zizek, and Alain Badiou to the new generation associated with figures such as Quentin Meillassoux, Catherine Malabou, Maurizio Ferraris, Graham Harman, and Markus Gabriel, many of the leading philosophers in the contemporary continental discussion are insisting, no less than their analytic counterparts, upon a return to realism often coupled with a new taste for speculative metaphysics. What does this have to do with the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies? In fact, quite a lot, for so long as we consider that alternative conceptual schemes allow us access only to scheme-relative facts, then we will necessarily conclude that the majority of competing emic religious epistemologies provides us access only to diverse cultural constructions of religious realities. At best, we may find ourselves arguing that different religious traditions, beliefs, and practices have some sort of neo-Durkheimian reference. We do not need to entertain seriously claims about the trikayas of Mahayana Buddhism, the Miraaj of the Prophet, or the Living Light of Hildegard of Bingen, because we already know that their contingent, contextual social mediation renders them socially constructed all the way down. But if we have reasons to think that strong versions of the linguistic turn are questionable, then we find ourselves having to entertain the possibility that in religion as elsewhere in life, we may be in touch with realities or objects whose antics, to use the language of Donald Davidson, make our sentences either true or false (Davidson 2006, 198).5 In his important text, Orientalism and Religion, Richard King provides a fine illustration of how the above discussion might concretely apply to the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies. Pointing to Buddhist philosophers such Dignaga, Kamalasila, and Dharmakirti, but also to the Hindu grammarian Bhartrhari, King shows the way that these premodern Asian epistemologists held that real nonconceptual access to reality may require the antecedent use of conceptual tools. King explains that, according to Dignaga: Sense-perception (pratyaksa), although immediate and non-conceptual in itself, is mediated in human experience by conceptual constructions (kalpana). What we apprehend with our senses, in its unmediated givenness, is the particular instant (svalaksana) that characterizes what is really there. However, the picture of reality that we, as unenlightened beings, construct is the product of the association of our ‘pure sensations’ with linguistic forms—such as names (nama), categories (jati) and concepts in general—acquired from our linguistic and cultural context. These, Dignaga argued, result in a misapprehension of reality since they derive from the construction of universals (samanyalaksana) in a world in which only unique particulars exist. (King 1999, 178–79) The point of Dignaga’s teaching is to enable one to cultivate—through ethical, intellectual, and analytic formation—the capacity to relinquish attachment to linguistic and cultural conditioning that causes us to misapprehend reality. Dignaga’s approach is essentially therapeutic, but it is not a subtraction story: only by acquiring certain concepts is one able to free oneself from the distorting tyranny of concepts. Put otherwise, in Dignaga’s case at least, we meet scheme-relative or language-relative confessions that are still regarded as truth-conducive—indeed, not only truth-conducive, but truth-realizing. Ordinary reality is constructed reality, but one may move through linguistic and social constructions to the unconditioned state of enlightenment (King 1999, 178–79). The case of the fifth-century CE Hindu grammarian Bhartrhari may be even more radical, for Bhartrhari held, long before Derrida, that there is nothing outside of the text, which is to say, no thought possible apart from language. As Bhartrhari puts it in Vakyapadiya 1.123, “There is no cognition in the world in which the word does not figure. All knowledge is, as it were, intertwined with the word” (Iyer 1965, 110). For Bhartrhari, language functions holistically. The unit of meaning is not the word, but the sentence, and finally the one continuous, indivisible reality of language as the sound of the universe, the monistic sound of Brhaman (śabda‐Brahman). Thus for Bhartrhari, far from distancing language users from reality, the mediation of language itself becomes how one attains to nondual realization. None of this settles the matter. The claims of a Dignaga or a Bhartrhari need to be tested, evaluated, and debated, just as we need to test, evaluate, debate, and refine the claims of Searle, Taylor, Heidegger, Saussure, and so forth, to say nothing of Maimonides, Augustine, Mulla Sadra, and others. Nothing about my commendation of the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies in any way entails that a global-critical philosophy of religion should reenthrone one or another religious tradition—there is no question of returning to the hegemonic theological governance of either society at large or the academy in general. Evaluation and debate, of course, raise again the thorny problem of the differing perspectives, standpoints, and criteria required for any testing of particular claims. How are we to evaluate each other’s epistemologies if our very criteria of rationality differ? Chakrabarty raises a similar question himself in the course of reflecting on his teacher Ranajit Guha’s classic essay, “The Prose of Counter-Insurgency” (Guha 1988). In that essay, Guha had provided an account of the mid-nineteenth-century Santal rebellion. The Santals, a tribal group from eastern India (modern day Jharkhand), rebelled in 1855 against British colonial powers and the economically oppressive racism of nonlocal upper-caste Indian landowners. In keeping with Guha’s postcolonial desire to open the discipline of history to subaltern voices—in other words, to take emic subaltern understandings seriously—Guha sought to pay attention to the historical consciousness that animated the Santals during their rebellion. However, as Chakrabarty notes, in doing so Guha encountered a paradox, for Santal leaders ascribed their rebellion not to their own historical agency but rather to the initiative of a god, namely Thakur, the supreme god of Santal tradition. In the months before the rebellion commenced, Thakur repeatedly visited and then deputized the brothers Sido and Kanhu Murmu to lead the rebellion in his name. In the historical decree (perwannah) calling for the revolt, the supernatural agency acting through the brothers Murmu is made explicit: The Thacoor has descended in the house of Seedoo Manjee, Kanoo Manjee, Bhyrub and Chand, at Bhugnudihee in Pergunnah Kunjeala. The Thakoor in person is conversing with them, he has descended from Heaven, he is conversing with Kanoor and Seedoo, The Sahibs and the white Soldiers will fight. Kanoo and Seedoo Manjee are not fighting. The Thacoor himself will fight. Therefore you Sahibs and Soldiers fight with the Thacoor himself. (quoted in Guha 1988, 85) The paradox lies in Guha’s desire both to see subaltern classes acting in accord with their own agency and subjectivity (and thus to reject stagist and colonialist readings of the Santals as prepolitical, religiously fanatical, irrational, and nonagential), while at the same time wishing to understand the Santals in terms of their own subaltern consciousness. Thus the dilemma, as Chakrabarty puts it: In his own telling, then, the subaltern is not necessarily the subject of his or her history, but in the history of Subaltern Studies or in any democratically minded history, he or she is. What does it mean, then, when we both take the subaltern’s views seriously—the subaltern ascribes the agency for their rebellion to some god—and want to confer on the subaltern agency or subjecthood in their own history, a status the subaltern’s statement denies? (Chakrabarty 2000, 103) Chakrabarty’s conclusion, developed in part through a reading of Rudolf Bultmann, is that insofar as one remains within the discipline of history one cannot countenance the supernatural: “A narrative strategy that is rationally defensible in the modern understanding of what constitutes public life—and the historians speak in the public sphere—cannot be based on a relationship that allows the divine or the supernatural a direct hand in the affairs of the world” (Chakrabarty 2000, 104). The historian can claim that the brothers Murmu believed Thakur appeared to them, but he or she cannot ask the question whether Thakur did in fact call upon Kanoo and Seedoo to lead the rebellion. “The Santals’ statement that God was the main instigator of the rebellion,” writes Chakrabarty, “has to be anthropologized (i.e. converted into somebody’s belief or made into an object of anthropological analysis) before it finds a place in the historian’s narrative” (Chakrabarty 2000, 105). More radically and enigmatically, however, Chakrabarty further suggests that history or historicism, thus understood, is not the only legitimate way of remembering the past. For all its putative universality and resilience, the historian’s method of explaining the past can neither discredit nor elide the heterogeneities of human life, including other ways of attending to our diverse histories, temporalities, and experience. Human life cannot be captured exhaustively by secular political and historical lenses. Accordingly, Chakrabarty holds that we need to abandon both the assumption of homogeneous secular time and the assumption that “gods and spirits” are functions of the socius, rather than explanatorily basic in themselves. I try, on the other hand, to think without the assumption of even a logical priority of the social. One empirically knows of no society in which humans have existed without gods and spirits accompanying them. Although the God of monotheism may have taken a few knocks—if not actually “died”—in the nineteenth-century European story of “the disenchantment of the world,” the gods and other agents inhabiting practices of so-called “superstition” have never died anywhere. I take gods and spirits to be existentially coeval with the human, and think from the assumption that the question of being human involves the question of being with gods and spirits. (Chakrabarty 2000, 15–16) Reflecting on Chakrabarty’s relevance for her own work, the feminist scholar of medieval Christian mysticism, Amy Hollywood, wonders whether we ought not to press Chakrabarty’s account even further. Hollywood notes that the naturalistic explanatory categories of modern social science, religious studies, and philosophy of religion alike, categories that make sense to Hollywood and her interlocutors, would be unintelligible both to the Santals and to Hollywood’s medieval Christian mystics. “All of which suggests,” she writes, “that there might be good epistemological, ethical, and political reasons to question the extent to which we allow modern categories of analysis . . . to shape our reading of the past, particularly the religious past” (Hollywood 2016, 120–21). Chakrabarty, to be sure, allows that there are other ways of remembering the past, but seems convinced that emancipatory political possibilities require us to play by the rules of a disenchanted, demythologized public square. However, for her part, Hollywood not only wonders how we know this to be the case, but also whether emancipatory political goals exhaust the desiderata of scholarship that aim at understanding, explanation, and the promotion of human flourishing. Might there be emancipatory possibilities in the life worlds rendered visible through alternative histories? Perhaps even more radically, should we assume that agency, as understood within secular historiography, is the only way in which to think about politics (either in the past or in the present)? . . . And finally, are there ends other than those of emancipation to which we must attend in our desire to understand, explain, and promote the flourishing of human lives? (Hollywood 2016, 127) How are we to adjudicate such questions? The way forward may lie in recognizing that the salient distinction is not between insider and outsider, emic and etic, or secular and supernaturalist, but rather between critical and noncritical, on the one hand, and translatable and nontranslatable, on the other. Those traditions of reflection that are more critical, those that conduct an ongoing, flourishing conversation about the goods that constitute them, and those that are more readily capable of transposition outside of the cultural nexus of their genesis—such traditions enjoy an epistemic advantage.6 Such transpositions and translations, however, do not suppose some third neutral or universal discourse either in the form of secular and naturalist proscription or in some set of procedural rules for communicative rationality. Of course, interlocutors occupy their own unique standpoints and perspectives, but this is hardly reason for skepticism. We believe our standpoints provide us fallible but genuine access to the real, and ought to expect the same from our interlocutors. Because we do not yet know what reality is capable of nor how deep the mystery goes, we have no choice but to engage in reflection, dialogue, and debate with one another, which necessarily includes the precarity of theoretical (and often linguistic) translation. Such translations are achieved only in the process of attending to another tradition, another way of knowing, another universe of discourse insofar as we are able to engage with it. But our capacity to engage expands precisely through our active participation in such undertakings. A NEW GOD OR THE NOVA EFFECT? One of the central challenges preventing us from seriously reconsidering the philosophical value of emic epistemologies in the past has certainly been the dominance of normative secularity within the academy. Of course, normative secularity—the active and unabashed privileging of etic perspectives, especially the privileging of naturalist etic perspectives—is still alive and well, even in the academic study of religion. Moving beyond the social scientific naturalism of a previous generation of scholars such as Robert Segal, Russell McCutcheon, Donald Wiebe, or J. Samuel Preus, the cognitive science of religion takes an even more strictly naturalist and reductionist approach to the explanation of religion and its persistence. Scholars working in this field seek to explain (or explain away) the acquisition and continuance of religion by reference to the sorts of explanations offered in evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. Thus, for example, religion is seen as an evolutionary spandrel, a consequence of the brain’s hazard-precaution system, or its Hyperactive Agency Detection Device. From the perspective of a global critical philosophy of religion, however, what is most noteworthy about these approaches is the degree to which they continue and exacerbate the assumption that etic explanations are to be privileged over emic understandings of these same behaviors. Today, however, such assumptions are much harder justifiably to maintain than in the past. In the heyday of the secularization thesis, many scholars assumed that the scholarly task was that of explaining away religious behaviors and phenomena by reducing them to some more etic explanations of basic agency. Prayer, bhakti, dhikr, biblical study, ritual and liturgical celebration, and so forth—religion in all its guises—these were regarded, not as affirmative human behaviors, but as responses to a lack of some sort. Such actions were not to be understood emically on their own terms or in their own emic registers, but rather by reference to some etic standard (e.g., social utility, evolutionary adaptation, material production, etc.). However, once what Charles Taylor has called the immanent frame of secularity is revealed as its own form of traditioned reason, then the formal, de jure prescription against emic frameworks is itself rendered suspect (Taylor 2007; Stout 2004). Arguably, it is a paradigmatically modern and Western belief to assume that reasonable argument is confined to the secular public square. Considered globally, such an assumption appears not only contingent but wholly questionable, and yet much of our current academic practice, even within religious studies, seems to be organized by this and similar intuitions. The marked preference for historicist approaches in the study of religion, for example, seems to be motivated by a strong desire to restrict scholarly inquiries to those aspects of religious traditions that are objectively observable. But one might wonder, what aspects of religious life and practice does this privileging of the third-person perspective leave out? One plausible account would contend that this restriction is itself rooted in particular epistemological assumptions inherited from the European Enlightenment but also in certain theological assumptions inherited from late-medieval Christendom. These philosophical and theological inheritances conspire together to make credible the peculiarly Western and modern assumption that the object of religion is a supernatural and, therefore, cognitively inaccessible agent (this despite the alternative report of many theistic philosophers of religion). Such an assumption, in turn, allows us to treat religious knowledge as something private, leading not only to the widespread sentiment that religious argument can never be more than apologetics, but also to the conclusion that whatever religious experience is, it could never be taken as veridical. If we suspend these various assumptions, however, might we not discover that pessimism about the possibility of reasonable religious disagreement, argument, and inquiry also falls by the wayside? Surely such an expansion of reasonable discourse is a genuine scholarly desideratum. Far from a critical deficit then, the revaluation of emic epistemologies may provide us with a certain critical advantage when attending to the diversity of lived religious practices, events, and phenomena. Nor is there any reason to treat such an expansion of discourse as somehow anachronistic: indeed, it can be quite modern. The revaluation of emic and etic perspectives may be understood as part of the proliferation of new spiritual options that paradoxically abound under the sociological conditions of our supposedly secular modernity. Charles Taylor has recently named this surprising efflorescence of new spiritual options the “NOVA effect,” but the phenomena was already noted by Nietzsche (Taylor 2007). Nietzsche recognized that the tremendous cultural event of the death of God did not spell the end of religion but invited new religions, new rituals, new acts of divinization. Consider the familiar lines from The Gay Science: God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? (Nietzsche 1974, §125) In his notebooks, Nietzsche records a similar sentiment. The crucified god, he thinks, artificially constrained the wild proliferation of divinities that has now at last become possible once again. And how many new gods are still possible! As for myself, in whom the religious, that is to say god-forming [gottbildende], instinct occasionally becomes active at impossible times—how differently, how variously the divine has revealed itself to me each time! So many strange things have passed before me in those timeless moments that fall into one’s life as if from the moon, when one no longer has any idea how old one is or how young one will yet be—I should not doubt that there are many kind of gods. (Nietzsche 1967, §1038) In a less dithyrambic spirit, this insight into the new plurality of spiritual options opened by modernity lies at the heart of Peter Berger’s abandonment of the secularization thesis that he himself helped to make famous. Berger writes that in the late twentieth and now twenty-first century, it becomes clear that, as far as religion is concerned, “modernity does not necessarily secularize; however, probably necessarily, it does pluralize” (Berger 2010, 3). When we reconsider emic epistemologies, we will perforce often reconsider epistemologies from outside the modern West. While some may think this a kind of anachronism or a romanticizing of the past, the above account suggests that there is indeed something very modern about considering a vast diversity of spiritual and religious options. In revaluing emic perspectives, philosophers of religion are not involved in a kind of regression to a time when one or another version of theology unproblematically dominated the sciences or even explained all religious phenomena. Instead, this revaluation simply points to the fact that Western, secular epistemologies may not be the best or final arbiters in the assessment of religious knowledge claims, in particular those emerging from long-term, habituated religious or contemplative practice. Here, Richard King’s caveat is important: “My point is not that Western scholars should necessarily accept the emic perspectives over which they are claiming the authority to speak, but rather that they at least entertain the possibility that such perspectives are a legitimate stance to adopt and engage them in constructive debate” (King 1999, 183). This cannot be overemphasized, for if we were simply to revert to a situation in which each party enjoyed the privacy of their own theological discourse—somewhat along the lines of the early George Lindbeck whose cultural-linguistic theory reads religious doctrines as the grammatical rules of a given community—then we would perforce remain wholly within the linguistic turn and therefore also within the a priori privileging of etic (linguistified) accounts of rationality (Lindbeck 2009). But we cannot assume that dominant inherited accounts of rationality are immune to transformation, especially the sort of transformation that occurs when one enters into philosophical dialogue with interlocutors whose knowledge practices have been formed through radically different experiences of the world, of other human beings, and of the mysteries of life, death, existence, and so forth. In the revaluation of emic epistemologies, a critically aware and pluralistic approach to the philosophy of religion expands its horizons and does more than just consider the philosophical viability of religious claims. We do not simply ask whether religious people achieve knowledge or attain truth. Rather, in the light of people’s diverse encounters with the world and with the realties they hold to reverberate at the heart of the world, even beyond the world, we are forced also to ask what knowledge itself is and how truth may yet meet us. CONCLUSION In this article, I have introduced and contextualized the notion of the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies by relating it to a number of diverse movements within religious studies and postcolonial studies, on the one hand, and to the newly contested nature of the secular, on the other. I argued, furthermore, that a revaluation of emic epistemologies in no way entails that a critically engaged and pluralistic approach to the philosophy of religion reenthrone one or another of the hegemonic theologies that putatively governed either society or the academy in the past. Nor, I have suggested, does this attention to religious and epistemological diversity require philosophers of religion to check their truth claims, theistic or otherwise, at the door. Philosophy of religion cannot become cultural studies; it cannot eschew the evaluation of diverse, culturally indexed claims altogether without ceasing to be philosophy in any substantive sense. Especially when dealing with religiously charged concepts about normativity, ultimacy, divinity, the absolute, nature itself, and so on, philosophy has no neutral “cool place” from which to assess the claims of others. As a number of excellent works on the intersection of philosophy and religious studies have recently recognized, our inquiries into these matters, whether secular or otherwise, are inherently self-implicating and ought to be acknowledged as such (Roberts 2013; Schilbrack 2014; Lewis 2015). Indeed, it is precisely the claim to a privileged place of neutrality that constitutes the chief strategy of the hegemonic epistemologies we now look at with suspicion. In the classical topoi of philosophy of religion, it has been common to address epistemological matters under the rubric of faith and reason, but I have argued that this too quickly assumes that faith and reason can be neatly divided from one another, and moreover that the philosopher or religious studies scholar can be neatly identified with the latter term. I have endeavored to show that such monological constructions of reason are politically, geographically, and historically contingent, and that they serve to police the field of critical discourse by excluding those who fail to abide by these contingent norms. If, however, we see the task of a global-critical philosophy of religion as, among other things, revaluating both emic and etic epistemologies, then the field of reasonable, realist discourse is thrown open to all those who engage in the speculative, reflective activity of reason-giving of whatever sort. There is something potentially emancipatory about this, not least because it widens the field of genuine interlocutors, which is to say the sphere of representation and parity. There is much more that needs to be said and thought about the many issues I have raised, but I hope I have provided at least some impetus to discussion and a few arguments for consideration. By way of conclusion, allow me a few provocative questions. Could it be that a postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies is important not only because it affords us a thicker account of what we name religion, but also because it meets a critical personal, socio-cultural, and even spiritual need? Moreover, might one ask: is our present commitment to modest, delimited, naturalistic inquiries really as innocuous as it appears (or as it pretends to be)? Might it not be the case that the principled refusal to countenance and take seriously religious reasons has in fact ceded the field to a variety of increasingly stringent, sometimes violent voices of competing fideisms against which, in principle, no argument can be raised? In other words, as delicious as philosophy is, might taking seriously the epistemologies of others have a more than philosophical significance? This article was initially written during three wonderful years as a lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. I would like to thank my colleagues, mentors, and students for their support, inspiration, and conversation about these and related matters. The initial draft of this article was prepared for the Global-Critical Philosophy of Religion Seminar at the 2015 American Academy of Religion annual conference in Atlanta. Many thanks to the conveners, Gereon Kopf and Timothy Knepper, the panelists, and participants for their comments, criticisms, and support. Thanks are also due to my colleague at CIIS, Jorge Ferrer, with whom I first began exploring some of these ideas over a decade ago. REFERENCES Berger, Peter L. 2010. Between Relativism and Fundamentalism: Religious Resources for a Middle Position . Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. Bhabha, Homi K. 1994. The Location of Culture . London: Routledge. Blackburn, Anne M. 2010. Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka, Buddhism and Modernity . Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Davidson, Donald. 2006. The Essential Davidson . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ferrer, Jorge N., and Sherman Jacob H.. 2008. “ The Participatory Turn in Spirituality, Mysticism, and Religious Studies.” In The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, and Religious Studies , edited by Sherman Jacob H.and Ferrer Jorge N., 1– 80. Albany: State University of New York Press. Flood, Gavin D. 1999. Beyond Phenomenology: Rethinking the Study of Religion . London: Cassell. Gombrich, Richard F., and Obeyesekere Gananath. 1988. Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Guha, Ranajit. 1988. “ The Prose of Counter-Insurgency.” In Selected Subaltern Studies , edited by Guha Ranajitand Spivak Gayatri Chakravorty, 45– 89. New York: Oxford University Press. Habermas, Jürgen. 1984. The Theory of Communicative Action . Boston: Beacon Press. Habermas, Jürgen. 2008. Between Naturalism and Religion: Philosophical Essays . Cambridge, UK: Polity. Habermas, Jürgen, and Cronin Ciaran. 2010. An Awareness of What Is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular Age . Cambridge, UK: Polity. Habermas, Jürgen, and Mendieta Eduardo. 2002. Religion and Rationality: Essays on Reason, God and Modernity . Cambridge, UK: Polity. Hollywood, Amy M. 2016. Acute Melancholia and Other Essays: Mysticism, History, and the Study of Religion, Gender, Theory, and Religion . New York: Columbia University Press. Iyer, K. A. Subramania. 1965. The Vakyapadiya of Bhartrhari and its Vrtti . Poona: Deccan College Monograph. King, Richard. 1999. Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and ‘the Mystic East’ . New York: Routledge. Lepore, Ernest, and van Gulick Robert. 1991. John Searle and His Critics . Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell. Lewis, Thomas A. 2015. Why Philosophy Matters for the Study of Religion--and Vice Versa . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Lindbeck, George A. 2009. The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age . 25th anniversary ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox. MacIntyre, Alasdair C. 2007. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory . 3rd ed. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. McCutcheon, Russell T. 1999. The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader, Controversies in the Study of Religion . London: Cassell. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. 1967. The Will to Power . Translated by Kaufmann Walter Arnold. New York: Random House. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. 1974. The Gay Science; With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs . Translated by Kaufmann Walter Arnold. New York: Random House. Ochs, Peter. 2006. “ Revised: Comparative Religious Traditions.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion  74 ( 2): 483– 94. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Prabhu, Joseph. 2012. “ Philosophy in an Age of Postcolonialism.” Journal for the Academic Study of Religion  25 ( 2): 123– 38. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Rescher, Nicholas. 1980. “ Conceptual Schemes.” In Midwest Studies in Philosophy . Vol. 5, Studies in Epistemology, edited by French P. A., Jr., Uehling T. E., and Wettstein H., 323– 45. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Roberts, Tyler T. 2013. Encountering Religion: Responsibility and Criticism after Secularism, Insurrections . New York: Columbia University Press. Roth, Harold. 2008. “ Against Cognitive Imperialism: A Call for a Non-Ethnocentric Approach to Cognitive Science and Religious Studies.” Religion East & West  ( 8): 1– 26. Schilbrack, Kevin. 2014. Philosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto . Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. Sherman, Jacob Holsinger. 2014. “ On the Emerging Field of Contemplative Studies and Its Relationship to the Study of Spirituality.” Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality  14 ( 2): 208– 29. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 1988. “ Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Cultue , edited by Nelson Cary and Grossberg Lawrence, 271– 313. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Stout, Jeffrey. 2004. Democracy and Tradition . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Taylor, Charles. 1980. “ Theories of Meaning.” Man and World  13 ( 3–4): 281– 302. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Taylor, Charles. 2007. A Secular Age . Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Williamson, Timothy. 2007. The Philosophy of Philosophy, The Blackwell/Brown Lectures in Philosophy . Malden, MA: Blackwell. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Zhuangzi. 2013. The Complete Works of Zhuangzi . Translated by Watson Burton. Translations from the Asian Classics. New York: Columbia University Press. Footnotes 1 I am not claiming that questions about the justification of theism have no place within philosophy of religion—theism is clearly an extraordinarily compelling question for billions of those within Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and many Hindu traditions—but only that we cannot take theism and naturalism to exhaust the salient set of metaphysical and theological options worthy of philosophical consideration. 2 For a fine account of the emic/etic distinction, see Russell McCutcheon, “Theoretical Background: Insides, Outsides, and The Scholar of Religion” in McCutcheon 1999. 3 Gombrich and Obeyesekere’s influential thesis has not been without its critics. Anne Blackburn, for example, has persuasively argued that the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, at least, was in fact more a function of creative, local Sri Lankan traditions of Buddhist renewal than a function of the assimilation of colonial and missionary representations (Blackburn 2010). 4 Habermas has since tempered his confidence in the secularization thesis and now sees a place for the public expression of religious belief, even if he continues to insist that governmental decisions must be made from within the confines of a still-neutral secular discourse (Habermas and Mendieta 2002; Habermas 2008; Habermas and Cronin 2010). 5 Of course, as a naturalist, Davidson meant that the antics of the objects of the material world make our sentences either true or false, but shorn of his naturalism, his conclusions regarding conceptual schemes can be extended to questions such as those we entertain in the philosophy of religion. For a critique of Davidson’s complete dismantling of conceptual schemes, see “The Importance of Herder” in Taylor 1980 (cf. also Rescher 1980). 6 I am influenced here by MacIntyre’s account of traditions as institutions that exist precisely by virtue of the continuous renegotiation of the goods that constitute them, rather than the putatively conservative vision of traditions as static deposits of identity and stability. As MacIntyre writes, “The traditions through which particular practices are transmitted and reshaped never exist in isolation for larger social traditions. What constitutes such traditions? We are apt to be misled here by the ideological uses to which the concept of a tradition has been put by conservative political theorists. Characteristically such theorists have followed Burke in contrasting tradition with reason and the stability of tradition with conflict. Both contrasts obfuscate. For all reasoning takes place within the context of some traditional mode of thought, transcending through criticism and invention the limitations of what had hitherto been reasoned in that tradition; this is as true of modern physics as of medieval logic. Moreover when a tradition is in good order it is always partially constituted by an argument about the goods the pursuit of which gives to that tradition its particular point and purpose. So when an institution—a university, say, or a farm, or a hospital—is the bearer of a tradition of practice or practices, its common life will be partly, but in a centrally important way, constituted by a continuous argument as to what a university is and ought to be or what good farming is or what good medicine is. Traditions, when vital, embody continuities of conflict. Indeed when a tradition becomes Burkean, it is always dying or dead.” (MacIntyre 2007, 221–22). © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Religion. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the American Academy of Religion Oxford University Press

Deprovincializing Philosophy of Religion: From “Faith and Reason” to the Postcolonial Revaluation of Religious Epistemologies

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Abstract

Abstract While most textbook approaches to the philosophy of religion include a section variously entitled “Religious Epistemology,” “Faith and Reason,” or “The Rationality of Belief,” in this paper I argue that a deprovinicialized, global, and critical approach to the question of faith and reason might now appear more fully under the rubric of the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies. Accordingly, a global-critical philosophy of religion will challenge standard assumptions within contemporary philosophy of religion regarding the normativity of certain approaches to rationality and its justification, on the one hand, and the justification of theism as the central religious question, on the other. I argue that such a deprovinicialized philosophy of religion, while challenging certain secular norms, may embrace a religious and philosophical realism without reenthroning a single religious worldview as either culturally or epistemologically hegemonic. With justification, the contemporary university . . . may credit itself with having articulated the errors of modern western colonialism, of political and economic imperialism, and of a variety of more subtle ways of imposing its conception of the “all” (or totalité) on others. Often, however, these errors are attributed to “them,” as if the totalizing tendencies of the west were reified in some isolable, albeit very widespread, aggregations of power, rather than some characteristic of the culture in general, including therefore the discourses of the critics. . . . I would rather assume the latter: that we who are nurtured in the modern west bear some totalizing “gene,” so that the objects of criticism ought, reflexively, to include the critics as well. —Peter Ochs, “Revised: Comparative Religious Traditions” (2006, 485) Once Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Zhuang Zhou. Suddenly he woke up, and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuang Zhou. But he didn’t know if he were Zhuang Zhou who had dreamed he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuang Zhou. —Zhuangzi, “Discussion on Making All Things Equal” (2013, 36) A NUMBER OF RECENT WORKS have made the case for a revaluation of the role of philosophy within religious studies. A common theme throughout most of these works is the claim that for philosophy of religion to become useful for religious studies, philosophy of religion will need to deprovincialize, will need in other words to move beyond its penchant for attending only to the philosophical difficulties raised by certain predominant, largely Western forms of theistic belief. But what might such a deprovincialized philosophy of religion look like in the concrete? Most textbook approaches to the philosophy of religion include a section variously entitled “Religious Epistemology,” “Faith and Reason,” “The Rationality of Belief,” or some other heading along those lines. This is understandable. Some such treatment of the epistemological significance of our diverse religious claims, practices, and identities ought to remain a part of any religiously inclusive and critically informed approach to the philosophy of religion. However, in this paper, I will argue additionally that such a project ought also to challenge standard assumptions within contemporary philosophy of religion regarding the normativity of particular approaches to rationality and its justification, on the one hand, and the justification of theism as the central religious question, on the other.1 Put more positively, the challenge that religious epistemology poses to philosophy is not just the abstract challenge of belief but a more global challenge to the putatively neutral epistemological categories of the secular philosophical tribunal. I will argue, in other words, that a global and critical approach to the old question of faith and reason might now appear more fully under the rubric of the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies. THE POSTCOLONIAL REVALUATION OF EMIC EPISTEMOLOGIES Ever since the end of the Second World War, scholars within the humanities and some of the social sciences have increasingly recognized the way in which the thick description of different groups requires us to pay attention to their often quite distinct understandings of reason and rationality. Eschewing, for example, the functionalism of Bronislaw Malinkowski or A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, such scholars have argued that distinct cultures display their own living coherence, and that these distinct cultures ought to be evaluated on their own terms rather than according to putatively universal criteria of judgment that, upon inspection, turn out to be the all too local and particular products of prevailing academic cultures. Let us call this general movement to consider these different ways of knowing according to their own culturally diverse understandings of what counts as rationality the revaluation of emic epistemologies. Although initially derived from linguistics, the terms emic and etic have become terms of art within anthropology, social and behavioral science, religious studies, and other similar fields. An emic approach essentially designates an insider’s view of the matter in question; it is an account of the subject’s belief or action that the subject herself could find meaningful. An etic approach, by contrast, provides an observer’s account of the subject’s beliefs or practices, an account that generally purports to a certain universalizability or neutrality.2 Emic and etic ought to be understood as relative rather than absolute terms. A description that was etic may become emic as the description is assimilated by the subjects in question: a famous example of this can be seen in the way that the Buddhist revival in Therevada countries of South and Southeast Asia often included an image of pristine Buddhism (Gombrich and Obeyesekere’s so-called “protestant Buddhism”) that was itself drawn from Western colonialist and missionary representations (Gombrich and Obeyesekere 1988, 202–40).3 The opposite movement from etic to emic may happen, as well, as in cases of conversion, apostasy, the acquisition of new identity or citizenship, or simply when one undergoes a significant change of mind. An emic epistemology is an account not of the knowledge that a subject claims, but of the way in which the subject seeks to attain knowledge. Such epistemologies may be reflexively articulated in sophisticated systems or they may be implicit. Emic epistemologies do not determine what a subject takes to be true, but rather govern what a subject can regard as intelligible, the plausibility conditions under which a claim’s truth might become a compelling candidate for consideration. Furthermore, certain emic epistemologies may aim at something more than what Western academia has considered truth (adequacy, coherence, representation): namely, they may aim at a kind of soteriological oneness with truth (e.g., truth as realization). The revaluation of emic epistemologies in general is a salutary development, but for us to speak of this as a postcolonial revaluation, something more is needed. Over the last few decades, postcolonial theory—associated with writers such as Dipesh Chakrabarty, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Homi K. Bhabha, and others—has established itself not only as one of the main currents of contemporary literary theory on the one hand, and history on the other, but has also become a significant academic interdisciplinary field in its own right. Drawing upon but also going beyond the theoretical resources of Marxism, poststructuralism, and a broad postmodernism, postcolonial studies critically respond to the intellectual, cultural, and political legacies of Western imperialism and colonialism while also intending to empower non-Western theorists, critics, and writers to speak in their own voices, recall and narrate their own histories, and reinvent their own cultural legacies. It is hard to define the boundaries of the field of postcolonial studies, and it continues to be subject to its own internal renegotiation, but it is often marked by a number of common general strategies that range from demonstrating the way that particular, contingent, Eurocentric presentations of the world have come to be regarded as natural to challenging the way that the identities, cultures, struggles, and histories of non-Western peoples have been defined by European powers and the norms of European scholarship rather than being allowed to speak in their own name (Prabhu 2012; Spivak 1988). It is not only a question of representation, but also a question of parity. As Homi K. Bhabha puts it in his influential essay, “The Postcolonial and the Postmodern”: Postcolonial criticism bears witness to the unequal and uneven forces of cultural representation involved in the contest for political and social authority within the modern world order. Postcolonial perspectives emerge from the colonial testimony of Third World countries and the discourses of “minorities” within the geopolitical divisions of East and West, North and South. They intervene in those ideological discourses of modernity that attempt to give a hegemonic “normality” to the uneven development and the differential, often disadvantaged, histories of nations, races, communities, peoples. They formulate their critical revisions around issues of cultural difference, social authority, and political discrimination in order to reveal the antagonistic and ambivalent moments within the “rationalizations” of modernity. (Bhabha 1994, 171) The postcolonial not only indicates the study of those who were once subject to colonization—“post” shouldn’t be taken to designate a merely temporal relation—but also refers to the presence of voices, persons, traditions, and discourses that have the capacity to call modern, colonial, European constructions of rationality, authority, and legitimacy into question. Thus, Bhabha's oft-referenced claim relating the postcolonial to the postmodern: “The wider significance of the postmodern condition lies in the awareness that the epistemological ‘limits’ of those ethnocentric ideas are also the enunciative boundaries of a range of other dissonant, even dissident histories and voices—women, the colonized, minority groups, the bearers of policed sexualities” (Bhabha 1994). One powerful way to characterize the postcolonial project is that of provincializing Europe, as Dipesh Chakrabarty put it in his influential volume from the turn of the millennium (Chakrabarty 2000). Contested knowledges lie at the center of much of this postcolonial critique, so much so that colonialism itself may be seen, in one important sense, as an epistemological disorder and not only a cultural, economic, and political project of occupation and extraction. For this reason, it might be more accurate (albeit rather cumbersome) to speak of the postcolonial revaluation of emic and etic epistemologies. It is not enough merely to give a charitable ear to a supposedly emic other; one must also contextualize, politicize, and historically situate supposedly neutral and universal etic perspectives at the same time. What this entails in practice can be quite radical, as Chakrabarty has argued (Chakrabarty 2000), for postcolonial criticism is finally something much more than merely the inclusion of previously excluded voices. We can include the voices of the excluded without radically challenging our disciplinary practices. When historians, for instance, write histories-from-below, they quite rightly seek to include the voices of women, workers, the dispossessed, racial and sexual minorities, and so forth. But this move towards greater inclusion is itself a quite ordinary aspect of resilient disciplinary practices. As Chakrabarty writes, this is “how the discipline of history renews itself” (Chakrabarty 2000, 99). The postcolonial critique, however, at its most revolutionary, moves beyond the inclusion of excluded voices and minority histories to open itself to what Chakrabarty calls "subaltern pasts," pasts that in principle cannot be entertained by any nonrevolutionary extension of our current academic disciplines. Rather than challenging any given narrative or particular account of the world, subaltern voices present challenges to the presumed horizon of rationality against which any “legitimate” disciplinary development measures itself. What might this look like in practice? Among other things, Chakrabarty suggests this may require us to abandon disciplinary presumptions about the scope of naturalism, demythologization, and historicism (Chakrabarty 2000, 104–5, 11–113). Subaltern pasts, which are also contemporaneous with our present, may require scholars to entertain, if not to accept, claims about supernatural agencies, about gods and spirits acting to historical effect, about heterogeneous temporalities and nonordinary forms of subjectivity and agency, claims that at the very least relativize the putatively rational, disenchanted, and historical consciousness modern academic disciplines (including religious studies) regularly universalize. What Chakrabarty sees as a challenge to the discipline of history likewise poses a profound challenge to philosophy, religious studies, and the philosophy of religion, a challenge I am referring to as the postcolonial revaluation of emic (and etic) epistemologies. There are a host of factors involved in the revaluation of emic epistemologies, some of which are more theoretical, such as the postmodern critique of the ontotheological nature of contemporary Western thought, and some of which are more ethical, such as the feminist articulation of standpoint epistemologies or the postcolonial critique of the putative superiority of the Western rational subject and its ties to a politics of domination. Of course, even this tendency to speak of these as either theoretical or ethical may be considered part of the problem. The basic issue that is raised in all these approaches is a concern that the language and epistemic categories that emerge from modern Western scientific and philosophical traditions may be inadequate and even destructive when it comes to the analysis of knowledge claims from other cultures, other periods, diverse ways of knowing, and domains of reality unacknowledged by dominant modern ontologies. The cumulative effect of this revaluation of emic epistemologies often seems to be a new leveling of the field: one engages viewpoints from outside the modern West as interlocutors rather than mere subjects of study. Thus, for example, Gavin Flood argues that neither scholarly (outsider) nor traditional (insider) accounts of religion enjoy a priori epistemological privilege; rather, both traditional accounts and scholarly accounts must be treated as legitimate competing narratives and weighed accordingly (Flood 1999, 139–42). The challenge that serious considerations of emic epistemologies pose to the academy, in general, and to the academic study of religion, in particular, should not be minimized. In contrast to prevailing academic tendencies, many emic perspectives hold that exotic ontological entities (gods, devas, daikinis, angels, demons, the uncreated light, archetypal principles, the true self, and so forth) may be both real, agential, and constitutively involved in the production of religious knowledge and experience. Although it would be easier to dismiss such claims as mistaken and unsophisticated, careful historical and philosophical scholarship will not allow such an easy judgment, for many of these perspectives include elaborate accounts of the linguistic and social mediation of knowledge, careful tests for communal validation, and reflection upon the ethical consequences of such claims. Arguably, to ignore the alternative epistemological practices and diverse accounts of rationality that subtend what may otherwise appear to be religiously exotic claims is to commit ourselves to the error that Harold Roth has called “cognitive imperialism”: the more or less subtle ethnocentrism involved in taking European religious, philosophical, and scientific conceptions as academically normative (Roth 2008; Sherman 2014). According to Roth, the chief way in which contemporary religious studies might break with this cognitive imperialism is through a new willingness to incorporate first-person practices into our standard third-person methodological toolkit. In like manner, Jorge Ferrer and I have argued that a critical component in the assessment of many religious knowledge claims may be the revaluation of epistemological frameworks that take into account a wider engagement of human faculties—not only discursive reason, but also intuition, imagination, somatic knowing, meditation, contemplation, and so forth (Ferrer and Sherman 2008, 10–11). At this point, it may be important to issue a hesitation: recognizing that what counts as rational varies from culture to culture, that is to say, that practices of rationality are tradition and culture specific, need not force one into a subjective or nonrealist account of rationality. Here, I suspect, is where philosophy of religion has something to add to the religious studies discussion of these matters. The temptation within religious studies has often been to reduce too quickly the objects of its inquiry—the claims, symbols, traditions, moral practices, ritualized behaviors, and experiences we label religious—to some more secular, publically accessible domain of explanation. Arguably, from its very beginning, the modern discipline of religious studies has been searching for a way to legitimate itself. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, religious scholars, chastened by Enlightenment critiques and following in a path opened by Schleiermacher, sought to salvage something of the religious by freeing religious experience from putatively discredited metaphysical frameworks and locating the holy, the sacred, or the numinous within the epistemological subject. More recently, this turn to the subject itself began to seem utterly suspect. An array of critics challenged the supposedly privileged nature of the subject, pointing to its historicity, contingency, cultural, and linguistic particularity, its essentially gendered construction, and other such matters. The subject of modern religious studies—this self-conscious, self-reliant, self-transparent, and responsible individual—began to appear all too obviously “metaphysical.” Thus, hoping to get beyond the essentialization of the subject, many religious studies scholars adopted new linguistic strategies as a means of exploring human religion. There was something fitting about this religious appropriation of linguistic philosophy, for much of religion consists not in private religious experience or mystical enlightenment but in the public and discursive artifacts and practices of religious texts, parables, rituals, myths, doctrines, creeds, symbols, narratives, festivals, and so forth. It appears to me that within religious studies today, the prevailing motivation for paying renewed attention to emic epistemologies often stems from the widespread adoption of strong versions of this linguistic turn (although any strong distinction between scheme and content might motivate such a reconsideration, it is today the cultural-linguistic version of this distinction that prevails). And, at first glance, this makes sense. The linguistic turn within religious studies seems to emancipate emic viewpoints by energizing scholars to attend carefully to the richly articulated particular coherencies, speech conditions, and cultural frameworks of different religious traditions. However, one can, by contrast, argue that strong versions of the linguistic turn in fact covertly continue and compound the problem of an a priori privileging the scholar’s etic viewpoint over that of his or her emic subjects. Why? Because strong versions of the linguistic turn seem to know ahead of time how thoroughly language can or cannot refer to that which exists before, beyond, or beneath language, and this question seems to be one of the central questions involved in any critical tradition of religious practice and inquiry. When a strong version of the linguistic turn is simply assumed, then the object of religious studies is no longer the elucidation of the origin, nature, or ontological implications of religious tradition, experience, and the world in its own self-transcending. Rather, it is the analysis, interpretation, or critical deconstruction and reconstruction of the textual, the linguistic, and the symbolic. In this sense, much of modern religious studies can be seen as advancing the process of the linguistification of the sacred, a process that is central to the early Habermas’s description of the modern era itself (Habermas 1984). To “linguistify” the sacred means to evacuate it of its once transcendental authority—an authority vouchsafed by God or heaven or dharma—and to bring the legitimization of its cognitive and normative claims down into the purely human sphere, the cultural, the intersubjective space constituted by communicative exchanges among rational human beings.4 In the supposedly disenchanted world of postmodernity, the sacred has been detranscendentalized, relativized, contextualized, and diversified but, most fundamentally, assimilated to human linguistic expression. The effects of this have been widespread and can be discerned within many of the diverse topoi of contemporary religious studies: the currency of Wittgensteinian “language games” and “forms of life” approaches, the demise of classical foundationalism, the conceptual framework approach to understanding religious diversity, the interpretation of mysticism as a particular form of apophatic speech, the reading of medieval women’s religious experience as a form of self-authorization, and so forth. In all these areas—many of which are fruitful developments in themselves—the worrying aspect is the tendency to separate the referent of religious claims and practices from the objects, events, experiences, and realities of religious life to the manipulation and evaluation only of the language, signs, and meanings of religion. REALISM AND REVALUATION What is it that a philosopher of religion must bring to the ongoing discussion within religious studies about how best to treat emic epistemologies? Crucially, I believe that philosophers may warn their religious studies colleagues that strong versions of the linguistic turn—versions that take linguistic relativism to entail metaphysical nonrealism—cannot simply be presumed. Indeed, strong versions of the linguistic turn have come under increasing philosophical criticism, and this from both sides of the analytic/continental divide. Consider, for example, John Searle’s defense of metaphysical realism in the face of detractors such as Hilary Putnam and Nelson Goodman. Searle aims to expose the regular confusion within nonrealist philosophies of two separate theses: the thesis that reality exists independent of our representations of it (the external realism thesis), on the one hand, and the thesis that reality is correctly described only by one privileged conceptual scheme (the single-privileged scheme thesis), on the other. If one assumes that realism means there is only one correct account of the world, then the evident truth that all representations of reality are made relative to a set of pragmatically or traditionally selected concepts will indeed lead to a denial of metaphysical realism. But, as Searle argues, there is simply no reason to suppose that the external realism thesis entails the single-privileged scheme thesis. Against Putnam, Searle explains: Putnam thinks that because we can only state the fact that iron oxidizes relative to a vocabulary and conceptual system, that therefore the fact only exists relative to a vocabulary and conceptual system. So, on his view if conceptual relativism is true, then metaphysical realism is false. But the premise of his argument does not entail the conclusion. It is, indeed, trivially true that all statements are made within a conceptual apparatus for making statements. Without a language we cannot talk. It does, indeed, follow from this that given alternative conceptual apparatuses there will be alternative descriptions of reality. . . . But it simply does not follow that the fact that iron oxidizes is in any way language-dependent or relative to a system of concepts or anything of the sort. Long after we are all dead and there are no statements of any kind, iron will still oxidize; and this is just another way of saying that the fact that iron oxidizes does not depend in any way on the fact that we can state that iron oxidizes. (Does anyone really, seriously, doubt this?). (Lepore and Gulick 1991, 191) Searle’s non sequitur argument is only one of many such analytic arguments, including Quine’s critique of the two dogmas of empiricism and Davidson’s dismantling of conceptual schemes, that have begun to issue in a sort of philosophical sea change away from the confines of language alone and back, as Husserl once claimed, to the things themselves. As a striking sign of this, we might take note of Timothy Williamson, the successor to A. J. Ayer and Michael Dummett (via David Wiggins) in the Wykeham Chair of Logic at Oxford, who has argued forcefully that analytic philosophy ought to move beyond the linguistic turn. Philosophers cannot rest content simply to talk about talk and, as Williamson notes, much of the best philosophy in the closing decades of the twentieth century refused to do so. Williamson points to “the revival of metaphysical theorizing, realist in spirit, often speculative, often commonsensical, associated with Saul Kripke, David Lewis, Kit Fine, Peter van Inwagen, David Armstrong and many others: work that has, to cite just one example, made it anachronistic to dismiss essentialism as anachronistic” (Williamson 2007, 19). The revival of metaphysics, to which Williamson points, is momentous precisely because it was the rejection of such metaphysics that legitimated the linguistic turn in the first place. And yet now, in the wake of Quine’s naturalistic recuperation of ontology, Strawson’s defense of descriptive metaphysics, and the popularity of possible worlds semantics, much analytic philosophy has become overtly metaphysical. These different instances each signal, in their own way, a rejection of an extreme linguistic construal of philosophy—and the recuperation of a new ontic verve. Although different in style and temperament, a similar recuperation of realism in philosophy is taking place within continental circles. From Charles Taylor, Slavoj Zizek, and Alain Badiou to the new generation associated with figures such as Quentin Meillassoux, Catherine Malabou, Maurizio Ferraris, Graham Harman, and Markus Gabriel, many of the leading philosophers in the contemporary continental discussion are insisting, no less than their analytic counterparts, upon a return to realism often coupled with a new taste for speculative metaphysics. What does this have to do with the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies? In fact, quite a lot, for so long as we consider that alternative conceptual schemes allow us access only to scheme-relative facts, then we will necessarily conclude that the majority of competing emic religious epistemologies provides us access only to diverse cultural constructions of religious realities. At best, we may find ourselves arguing that different religious traditions, beliefs, and practices have some sort of neo-Durkheimian reference. We do not need to entertain seriously claims about the trikayas of Mahayana Buddhism, the Miraaj of the Prophet, or the Living Light of Hildegard of Bingen, because we already know that their contingent, contextual social mediation renders them socially constructed all the way down. But if we have reasons to think that strong versions of the linguistic turn are questionable, then we find ourselves having to entertain the possibility that in religion as elsewhere in life, we may be in touch with realities or objects whose antics, to use the language of Donald Davidson, make our sentences either true or false (Davidson 2006, 198).5 In his important text, Orientalism and Religion, Richard King provides a fine illustration of how the above discussion might concretely apply to the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies. Pointing to Buddhist philosophers such Dignaga, Kamalasila, and Dharmakirti, but also to the Hindu grammarian Bhartrhari, King shows the way that these premodern Asian epistemologists held that real nonconceptual access to reality may require the antecedent use of conceptual tools. King explains that, according to Dignaga: Sense-perception (pratyaksa), although immediate and non-conceptual in itself, is mediated in human experience by conceptual constructions (kalpana). What we apprehend with our senses, in its unmediated givenness, is the particular instant (svalaksana) that characterizes what is really there. However, the picture of reality that we, as unenlightened beings, construct is the product of the association of our ‘pure sensations’ with linguistic forms—such as names (nama), categories (jati) and concepts in general—acquired from our linguistic and cultural context. These, Dignaga argued, result in a misapprehension of reality since they derive from the construction of universals (samanyalaksana) in a world in which only unique particulars exist. (King 1999, 178–79) The point of Dignaga’s teaching is to enable one to cultivate—through ethical, intellectual, and analytic formation—the capacity to relinquish attachment to linguistic and cultural conditioning that causes us to misapprehend reality. Dignaga’s approach is essentially therapeutic, but it is not a subtraction story: only by acquiring certain concepts is one able to free oneself from the distorting tyranny of concepts. Put otherwise, in Dignaga’s case at least, we meet scheme-relative or language-relative confessions that are still regarded as truth-conducive—indeed, not only truth-conducive, but truth-realizing. Ordinary reality is constructed reality, but one may move through linguistic and social constructions to the unconditioned state of enlightenment (King 1999, 178–79). The case of the fifth-century CE Hindu grammarian Bhartrhari may be even more radical, for Bhartrhari held, long before Derrida, that there is nothing outside of the text, which is to say, no thought possible apart from language. As Bhartrhari puts it in Vakyapadiya 1.123, “There is no cognition in the world in which the word does not figure. All knowledge is, as it were, intertwined with the word” (Iyer 1965, 110). For Bhartrhari, language functions holistically. The unit of meaning is not the word, but the sentence, and finally the one continuous, indivisible reality of language as the sound of the universe, the monistic sound of Brhaman (śabda‐Brahman). Thus for Bhartrhari, far from distancing language users from reality, the mediation of language itself becomes how one attains to nondual realization. None of this settles the matter. The claims of a Dignaga or a Bhartrhari need to be tested, evaluated, and debated, just as we need to test, evaluate, debate, and refine the claims of Searle, Taylor, Heidegger, Saussure, and so forth, to say nothing of Maimonides, Augustine, Mulla Sadra, and others. Nothing about my commendation of the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies in any way entails that a global-critical philosophy of religion should reenthrone one or another religious tradition—there is no question of returning to the hegemonic theological governance of either society at large or the academy in general. Evaluation and debate, of course, raise again the thorny problem of the differing perspectives, standpoints, and criteria required for any testing of particular claims. How are we to evaluate each other’s epistemologies if our very criteria of rationality differ? Chakrabarty raises a similar question himself in the course of reflecting on his teacher Ranajit Guha’s classic essay, “The Prose of Counter-Insurgency” (Guha 1988). In that essay, Guha had provided an account of the mid-nineteenth-century Santal rebellion. The Santals, a tribal group from eastern India (modern day Jharkhand), rebelled in 1855 against British colonial powers and the economically oppressive racism of nonlocal upper-caste Indian landowners. In keeping with Guha’s postcolonial desire to open the discipline of history to subaltern voices—in other words, to take emic subaltern understandings seriously—Guha sought to pay attention to the historical consciousness that animated the Santals during their rebellion. However, as Chakrabarty notes, in doing so Guha encountered a paradox, for Santal leaders ascribed their rebellion not to their own historical agency but rather to the initiative of a god, namely Thakur, the supreme god of Santal tradition. In the months before the rebellion commenced, Thakur repeatedly visited and then deputized the brothers Sido and Kanhu Murmu to lead the rebellion in his name. In the historical decree (perwannah) calling for the revolt, the supernatural agency acting through the brothers Murmu is made explicit: The Thacoor has descended in the house of Seedoo Manjee, Kanoo Manjee, Bhyrub and Chand, at Bhugnudihee in Pergunnah Kunjeala. The Thakoor in person is conversing with them, he has descended from Heaven, he is conversing with Kanoor and Seedoo, The Sahibs and the white Soldiers will fight. Kanoo and Seedoo Manjee are not fighting. The Thacoor himself will fight. Therefore you Sahibs and Soldiers fight with the Thacoor himself. (quoted in Guha 1988, 85) The paradox lies in Guha’s desire both to see subaltern classes acting in accord with their own agency and subjectivity (and thus to reject stagist and colonialist readings of the Santals as prepolitical, religiously fanatical, irrational, and nonagential), while at the same time wishing to understand the Santals in terms of their own subaltern consciousness. Thus the dilemma, as Chakrabarty puts it: In his own telling, then, the subaltern is not necessarily the subject of his or her history, but in the history of Subaltern Studies or in any democratically minded history, he or she is. What does it mean, then, when we both take the subaltern’s views seriously—the subaltern ascribes the agency for their rebellion to some god—and want to confer on the subaltern agency or subjecthood in their own history, a status the subaltern’s statement denies? (Chakrabarty 2000, 103) Chakrabarty’s conclusion, developed in part through a reading of Rudolf Bultmann, is that insofar as one remains within the discipline of history one cannot countenance the supernatural: “A narrative strategy that is rationally defensible in the modern understanding of what constitutes public life—and the historians speak in the public sphere—cannot be based on a relationship that allows the divine or the supernatural a direct hand in the affairs of the world” (Chakrabarty 2000, 104). The historian can claim that the brothers Murmu believed Thakur appeared to them, but he or she cannot ask the question whether Thakur did in fact call upon Kanoo and Seedoo to lead the rebellion. “The Santals’ statement that God was the main instigator of the rebellion,” writes Chakrabarty, “has to be anthropologized (i.e. converted into somebody’s belief or made into an object of anthropological analysis) before it finds a place in the historian’s narrative” (Chakrabarty 2000, 105). More radically and enigmatically, however, Chakrabarty further suggests that history or historicism, thus understood, is not the only legitimate way of remembering the past. For all its putative universality and resilience, the historian’s method of explaining the past can neither discredit nor elide the heterogeneities of human life, including other ways of attending to our diverse histories, temporalities, and experience. Human life cannot be captured exhaustively by secular political and historical lenses. Accordingly, Chakrabarty holds that we need to abandon both the assumption of homogeneous secular time and the assumption that “gods and spirits” are functions of the socius, rather than explanatorily basic in themselves. I try, on the other hand, to think without the assumption of even a logical priority of the social. One empirically knows of no society in which humans have existed without gods and spirits accompanying them. Although the God of monotheism may have taken a few knocks—if not actually “died”—in the nineteenth-century European story of “the disenchantment of the world,” the gods and other agents inhabiting practices of so-called “superstition” have never died anywhere. I take gods and spirits to be existentially coeval with the human, and think from the assumption that the question of being human involves the question of being with gods and spirits. (Chakrabarty 2000, 15–16) Reflecting on Chakrabarty’s relevance for her own work, the feminist scholar of medieval Christian mysticism, Amy Hollywood, wonders whether we ought not to press Chakrabarty’s account even further. Hollywood notes that the naturalistic explanatory categories of modern social science, religious studies, and philosophy of religion alike, categories that make sense to Hollywood and her interlocutors, would be unintelligible both to the Santals and to Hollywood’s medieval Christian mystics. “All of which suggests,” she writes, “that there might be good epistemological, ethical, and political reasons to question the extent to which we allow modern categories of analysis . . . to shape our reading of the past, particularly the religious past” (Hollywood 2016, 120–21). Chakrabarty, to be sure, allows that there are other ways of remembering the past, but seems convinced that emancipatory political possibilities require us to play by the rules of a disenchanted, demythologized public square. However, for her part, Hollywood not only wonders how we know this to be the case, but also whether emancipatory political goals exhaust the desiderata of scholarship that aim at understanding, explanation, and the promotion of human flourishing. Might there be emancipatory possibilities in the life worlds rendered visible through alternative histories? Perhaps even more radically, should we assume that agency, as understood within secular historiography, is the only way in which to think about politics (either in the past or in the present)? . . . And finally, are there ends other than those of emancipation to which we must attend in our desire to understand, explain, and promote the flourishing of human lives? (Hollywood 2016, 127) How are we to adjudicate such questions? The way forward may lie in recognizing that the salient distinction is not between insider and outsider, emic and etic, or secular and supernaturalist, but rather between critical and noncritical, on the one hand, and translatable and nontranslatable, on the other. Those traditions of reflection that are more critical, those that conduct an ongoing, flourishing conversation about the goods that constitute them, and those that are more readily capable of transposition outside of the cultural nexus of their genesis—such traditions enjoy an epistemic advantage.6 Such transpositions and translations, however, do not suppose some third neutral or universal discourse either in the form of secular and naturalist proscription or in some set of procedural rules for communicative rationality. Of course, interlocutors occupy their own unique standpoints and perspectives, but this is hardly reason for skepticism. We believe our standpoints provide us fallible but genuine access to the real, and ought to expect the same from our interlocutors. Because we do not yet know what reality is capable of nor how deep the mystery goes, we have no choice but to engage in reflection, dialogue, and debate with one another, which necessarily includes the precarity of theoretical (and often linguistic) translation. Such translations are achieved only in the process of attending to another tradition, another way of knowing, another universe of discourse insofar as we are able to engage with it. But our capacity to engage expands precisely through our active participation in such undertakings. A NEW GOD OR THE NOVA EFFECT? One of the central challenges preventing us from seriously reconsidering the philosophical value of emic epistemologies in the past has certainly been the dominance of normative secularity within the academy. Of course, normative secularity—the active and unabashed privileging of etic perspectives, especially the privileging of naturalist etic perspectives—is still alive and well, even in the academic study of religion. Moving beyond the social scientific naturalism of a previous generation of scholars such as Robert Segal, Russell McCutcheon, Donald Wiebe, or J. Samuel Preus, the cognitive science of religion takes an even more strictly naturalist and reductionist approach to the explanation of religion and its persistence. Scholars working in this field seek to explain (or explain away) the acquisition and continuance of religion by reference to the sorts of explanations offered in evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. Thus, for example, religion is seen as an evolutionary spandrel, a consequence of the brain’s hazard-precaution system, or its Hyperactive Agency Detection Device. From the perspective of a global critical philosophy of religion, however, what is most noteworthy about these approaches is the degree to which they continue and exacerbate the assumption that etic explanations are to be privileged over emic understandings of these same behaviors. Today, however, such assumptions are much harder justifiably to maintain than in the past. In the heyday of the secularization thesis, many scholars assumed that the scholarly task was that of explaining away religious behaviors and phenomena by reducing them to some more etic explanations of basic agency. Prayer, bhakti, dhikr, biblical study, ritual and liturgical celebration, and so forth—religion in all its guises—these were regarded, not as affirmative human behaviors, but as responses to a lack of some sort. Such actions were not to be understood emically on their own terms or in their own emic registers, but rather by reference to some etic standard (e.g., social utility, evolutionary adaptation, material production, etc.). However, once what Charles Taylor has called the immanent frame of secularity is revealed as its own form of traditioned reason, then the formal, de jure prescription against emic frameworks is itself rendered suspect (Taylor 2007; Stout 2004). Arguably, it is a paradigmatically modern and Western belief to assume that reasonable argument is confined to the secular public square. Considered globally, such an assumption appears not only contingent but wholly questionable, and yet much of our current academic practice, even within religious studies, seems to be organized by this and similar intuitions. The marked preference for historicist approaches in the study of religion, for example, seems to be motivated by a strong desire to restrict scholarly inquiries to those aspects of religious traditions that are objectively observable. But one might wonder, what aspects of religious life and practice does this privileging of the third-person perspective leave out? One plausible account would contend that this restriction is itself rooted in particular epistemological assumptions inherited from the European Enlightenment but also in certain theological assumptions inherited from late-medieval Christendom. These philosophical and theological inheritances conspire together to make credible the peculiarly Western and modern assumption that the object of religion is a supernatural and, therefore, cognitively inaccessible agent (this despite the alternative report of many theistic philosophers of religion). Such an assumption, in turn, allows us to treat religious knowledge as something private, leading not only to the widespread sentiment that religious argument can never be more than apologetics, but also to the conclusion that whatever religious experience is, it could never be taken as veridical. If we suspend these various assumptions, however, might we not discover that pessimism about the possibility of reasonable religious disagreement, argument, and inquiry also falls by the wayside? Surely such an expansion of reasonable discourse is a genuine scholarly desideratum. Far from a critical deficit then, the revaluation of emic epistemologies may provide us with a certain critical advantage when attending to the diversity of lived religious practices, events, and phenomena. Nor is there any reason to treat such an expansion of discourse as somehow anachronistic: indeed, it can be quite modern. The revaluation of emic and etic perspectives may be understood as part of the proliferation of new spiritual options that paradoxically abound under the sociological conditions of our supposedly secular modernity. Charles Taylor has recently named this surprising efflorescence of new spiritual options the “NOVA effect,” but the phenomena was already noted by Nietzsche (Taylor 2007). Nietzsche recognized that the tremendous cultural event of the death of God did not spell the end of religion but invited new religions, new rituals, new acts of divinization. Consider the familiar lines from The Gay Science: God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? (Nietzsche 1974, §125) In his notebooks, Nietzsche records a similar sentiment. The crucified god, he thinks, artificially constrained the wild proliferation of divinities that has now at last become possible once again. And how many new gods are still possible! As for myself, in whom the religious, that is to say god-forming [gottbildende], instinct occasionally becomes active at impossible times—how differently, how variously the divine has revealed itself to me each time! So many strange things have passed before me in those timeless moments that fall into one’s life as if from the moon, when one no longer has any idea how old one is or how young one will yet be—I should not doubt that there are many kind of gods. (Nietzsche 1967, §1038) In a less dithyrambic spirit, this insight into the new plurality of spiritual options opened by modernity lies at the heart of Peter Berger’s abandonment of the secularization thesis that he himself helped to make famous. Berger writes that in the late twentieth and now twenty-first century, it becomes clear that, as far as religion is concerned, “modernity does not necessarily secularize; however, probably necessarily, it does pluralize” (Berger 2010, 3). When we reconsider emic epistemologies, we will perforce often reconsider epistemologies from outside the modern West. While some may think this a kind of anachronism or a romanticizing of the past, the above account suggests that there is indeed something very modern about considering a vast diversity of spiritual and religious options. In revaluing emic perspectives, philosophers of religion are not involved in a kind of regression to a time when one or another version of theology unproblematically dominated the sciences or even explained all religious phenomena. Instead, this revaluation simply points to the fact that Western, secular epistemologies may not be the best or final arbiters in the assessment of religious knowledge claims, in particular those emerging from long-term, habituated religious or contemplative practice. Here, Richard King’s caveat is important: “My point is not that Western scholars should necessarily accept the emic perspectives over which they are claiming the authority to speak, but rather that they at least entertain the possibility that such perspectives are a legitimate stance to adopt and engage them in constructive debate” (King 1999, 183). This cannot be overemphasized, for if we were simply to revert to a situation in which each party enjoyed the privacy of their own theological discourse—somewhat along the lines of the early George Lindbeck whose cultural-linguistic theory reads religious doctrines as the grammatical rules of a given community—then we would perforce remain wholly within the linguistic turn and therefore also within the a priori privileging of etic (linguistified) accounts of rationality (Lindbeck 2009). But we cannot assume that dominant inherited accounts of rationality are immune to transformation, especially the sort of transformation that occurs when one enters into philosophical dialogue with interlocutors whose knowledge practices have been formed through radically different experiences of the world, of other human beings, and of the mysteries of life, death, existence, and so forth. In the revaluation of emic epistemologies, a critically aware and pluralistic approach to the philosophy of religion expands its horizons and does more than just consider the philosophical viability of religious claims. We do not simply ask whether religious people achieve knowledge or attain truth. Rather, in the light of people’s diverse encounters with the world and with the realties they hold to reverberate at the heart of the world, even beyond the world, we are forced also to ask what knowledge itself is and how truth may yet meet us. CONCLUSION In this article, I have introduced and contextualized the notion of the postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies by relating it to a number of diverse movements within religious studies and postcolonial studies, on the one hand, and to the newly contested nature of the secular, on the other. I argued, furthermore, that a revaluation of emic epistemologies in no way entails that a critically engaged and pluralistic approach to the philosophy of religion reenthrone one or another of the hegemonic theologies that putatively governed either society or the academy in the past. Nor, I have suggested, does this attention to religious and epistemological diversity require philosophers of religion to check their truth claims, theistic or otherwise, at the door. Philosophy of religion cannot become cultural studies; it cannot eschew the evaluation of diverse, culturally indexed claims altogether without ceasing to be philosophy in any substantive sense. Especially when dealing with religiously charged concepts about normativity, ultimacy, divinity, the absolute, nature itself, and so on, philosophy has no neutral “cool place” from which to assess the claims of others. As a number of excellent works on the intersection of philosophy and religious studies have recently recognized, our inquiries into these matters, whether secular or otherwise, are inherently self-implicating and ought to be acknowledged as such (Roberts 2013; Schilbrack 2014; Lewis 2015). Indeed, it is precisely the claim to a privileged place of neutrality that constitutes the chief strategy of the hegemonic epistemologies we now look at with suspicion. In the classical topoi of philosophy of religion, it has been common to address epistemological matters under the rubric of faith and reason, but I have argued that this too quickly assumes that faith and reason can be neatly divided from one another, and moreover that the philosopher or religious studies scholar can be neatly identified with the latter term. I have endeavored to show that such monological constructions of reason are politically, geographically, and historically contingent, and that they serve to police the field of critical discourse by excluding those who fail to abide by these contingent norms. If, however, we see the task of a global-critical philosophy of religion as, among other things, revaluating both emic and etic epistemologies, then the field of reasonable, realist discourse is thrown open to all those who engage in the speculative, reflective activity of reason-giving of whatever sort. There is something potentially emancipatory about this, not least because it widens the field of genuine interlocutors, which is to say the sphere of representation and parity. There is much more that needs to be said and thought about the many issues I have raised, but I hope I have provided at least some impetus to discussion and a few arguments for consideration. By way of conclusion, allow me a few provocative questions. Could it be that a postcolonial revaluation of emic epistemologies is important not only because it affords us a thicker account of what we name religion, but also because it meets a critical personal, socio-cultural, and even spiritual need? Moreover, might one ask: is our present commitment to modest, delimited, naturalistic inquiries really as innocuous as it appears (or as it pretends to be)? Might it not be the case that the principled refusal to countenance and take seriously religious reasons has in fact ceded the field to a variety of increasingly stringent, sometimes violent voices of competing fideisms against which, in principle, no argument can be raised? In other words, as delicious as philosophy is, might taking seriously the epistemologies of others have a more than philosophical significance? This article was initially written during three wonderful years as a lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. I would like to thank my colleagues, mentors, and students for their support, inspiration, and conversation about these and related matters. The initial draft of this article was prepared for the Global-Critical Philosophy of Religion Seminar at the 2015 American Academy of Religion annual conference in Atlanta. Many thanks to the conveners, Gereon Kopf and Timothy Knepper, the panelists, and participants for their comments, criticisms, and support. Thanks are also due to my colleague at CIIS, Jorge Ferrer, with whom I first began exploring some of these ideas over a decade ago. REFERENCES Berger, Peter L. 2010. Between Relativism and Fundamentalism: Religious Resources for a Middle Position . Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. Bhabha, Homi K. 1994. The Location of Culture . London: Routledge. Blackburn, Anne M. 2010. Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka, Buddhism and Modernity . Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Davidson, Donald. 2006. The Essential Davidson . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ferrer, Jorge N., and Sherman Jacob H.. 2008. “ The Participatory Turn in Spirituality, Mysticism, and Religious Studies.” In The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, and Religious Studies , edited by Sherman Jacob H.and Ferrer Jorge N., 1– 80. Albany: State University of New York Press. Flood, Gavin D. 1999. Beyond Phenomenology: Rethinking the Study of Religion . London: Cassell. Gombrich, Richard F., and Obeyesekere Gananath. 1988. Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Guha, Ranajit. 1988. “ The Prose of Counter-Insurgency.” In Selected Subaltern Studies , edited by Guha Ranajitand Spivak Gayatri Chakravorty, 45– 89. New York: Oxford University Press. Habermas, Jürgen. 1984. The Theory of Communicative Action . Boston: Beacon Press. Habermas, Jürgen. 2008. Between Naturalism and Religion: Philosophical Essays . Cambridge, UK: Polity. Habermas, Jürgen, and Cronin Ciaran. 2010. An Awareness of What Is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular Age . Cambridge, UK: Polity. Habermas, Jürgen, and Mendieta Eduardo. 2002. Religion and Rationality: Essays on Reason, God and Modernity . Cambridge, UK: Polity. Hollywood, Amy M. 2016. Acute Melancholia and Other Essays: Mysticism, History, and the Study of Religion, Gender, Theory, and Religion . New York: Columbia University Press. Iyer, K. A. Subramania. 1965. The Vakyapadiya of Bhartrhari and its Vrtti . Poona: Deccan College Monograph. King, Richard. 1999. Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and ‘the Mystic East’ . New York: Routledge. Lepore, Ernest, and van Gulick Robert. 1991. John Searle and His Critics . Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell. Lewis, Thomas A. 2015. Why Philosophy Matters for the Study of Religion--and Vice Versa . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Lindbeck, George A. 2009. The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age . 25th anniversary ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox. MacIntyre, Alasdair C. 2007. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory . 3rd ed. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. McCutcheon, Russell T. 1999. The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader, Controversies in the Study of Religion . London: Cassell. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. 1967. The Will to Power . Translated by Kaufmann Walter Arnold. New York: Random House. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. 1974. The Gay Science; With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs . Translated by Kaufmann Walter Arnold. New York: Random House. Ochs, Peter. 2006. “ Revised: Comparative Religious Traditions.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion  74 ( 2): 483– 94. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Prabhu, Joseph. 2012. “ Philosophy in an Age of Postcolonialism.” Journal for the Academic Study of Religion  25 ( 2): 123– 38. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Rescher, Nicholas. 1980. “ Conceptual Schemes.” In Midwest Studies in Philosophy . Vol. 5, Studies in Epistemology, edited by French P. A., Jr., Uehling T. E., and Wettstein H., 323– 45. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Roberts, Tyler T. 2013. Encountering Religion: Responsibility and Criticism after Secularism, Insurrections . New York: Columbia University Press. Roth, Harold. 2008. “ Against Cognitive Imperialism: A Call for a Non-Ethnocentric Approach to Cognitive Science and Religious Studies.” Religion East & West  ( 8): 1– 26. Schilbrack, Kevin. 2014. Philosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto . Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. Sherman, Jacob Holsinger. 2014. “ On the Emerging Field of Contemplative Studies and Its Relationship to the Study of Spirituality.” Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality  14 ( 2): 208– 29. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 1988. “ Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Cultue , edited by Nelson Cary and Grossberg Lawrence, 271– 313. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Stout, Jeffrey. 2004. Democracy and Tradition . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Taylor, Charles. 1980. “ Theories of Meaning.” Man and World  13 ( 3–4): 281– 302. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Taylor, Charles. 2007. A Secular Age . Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Williamson, Timothy. 2007. The Philosophy of Philosophy, The Blackwell/Brown Lectures in Philosophy . Malden, MA: Blackwell. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Zhuangzi. 2013. The Complete Works of Zhuangzi . Translated by Watson Burton. Translations from the Asian Classics. New York: Columbia University Press. Footnotes 1 I am not claiming that questions about the justification of theism have no place within philosophy of religion—theism is clearly an extraordinarily compelling question for billions of those within Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and many Hindu traditions—but only that we cannot take theism and naturalism to exhaust the salient set of metaphysical and theological options worthy of philosophical consideration. 2 For a fine account of the emic/etic distinction, see Russell McCutcheon, “Theoretical Background: Insides, Outsides, and The Scholar of Religion” in McCutcheon 1999. 3 Gombrich and Obeyesekere’s influential thesis has not been without its critics. Anne Blackburn, for example, has persuasively argued that the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, at least, was in fact more a function of creative, local Sri Lankan traditions of Buddhist renewal than a function of the assimilation of colonial and missionary representations (Blackburn 2010). 4 Habermas has since tempered his confidence in the secularization thesis and now sees a place for the public expression of religious belief, even if he continues to insist that governmental decisions must be made from within the confines of a still-neutral secular discourse (Habermas and Mendieta 2002; Habermas 2008; Habermas and Cronin 2010). 5 Of course, as a naturalist, Davidson meant that the antics of the objects of the material world make our sentences either true or false, but shorn of his naturalism, his conclusions regarding conceptual schemes can be extended to questions such as those we entertain in the philosophy of religion. For a critique of Davidson’s complete dismantling of conceptual schemes, see “The Importance of Herder” in Taylor 1980 (cf. also Rescher 1980). 6 I am influenced here by MacIntyre’s account of traditions as institutions that exist precisely by virtue of the continuous renegotiation of the goods that constitute them, rather than the putatively conservative vision of traditions as static deposits of identity and stability. As MacIntyre writes, “The traditions through which particular practices are transmitted and reshaped never exist in isolation for larger social traditions. What constitutes such traditions? We are apt to be misled here by the ideological uses to which the concept of a tradition has been put by conservative political theorists. Characteristically such theorists have followed Burke in contrasting tradition with reason and the stability of tradition with conflict. Both contrasts obfuscate. For all reasoning takes place within the context of some traditional mode of thought, transcending through criticism and invention the limitations of what had hitherto been reasoned in that tradition; this is as true of modern physics as of medieval logic. Moreover when a tradition is in good order it is always partially constituted by an argument about the goods the pursuit of which gives to that tradition its particular point and purpose. So when an institution—a university, say, or a farm, or a hospital—is the bearer of a tradition of practice or practices, its common life will be partly, but in a centrally important way, constituted by a continuous argument as to what a university is and ought to be or what good farming is or what good medicine is. Traditions, when vital, embody continuities of conflict. Indeed when a tradition becomes Burkean, it is always dying or dead.” (MacIntyre 2007, 221–22). © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Religion. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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