NotaBene .

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Premodern Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogues and the Formation of Comparative Concepts. How encounters between European missionaries and Japanese in the 16th and 17th centuries changed the conceptual world (Part I)

Abstract

The 16th and 17th centuries witnessed a considerable intensification of cultural encounters, which necessitated cross-cultural comparisons and the formation of abstract categories for the sake of comparing heterogeneous phenomena. Although initially such comparisons and the concomitant establishment of categories that functioned as tertia comparationis, were rather unsystematic and implicit, they paved the way for modern science and scholarship, which was in its formative period, chiefly concerned with the classification of both natural and cultural objects, whereat 'religious' phenomena played a paramount role with regard to the latter. Moreover, as unsystematic as cross-cultural comparisons in the early modern period may have been, they obviously presupposed certain cultural universals and classified things on the basis of implicit (perhaps even unconscious) criteria.

Drawing on examples from Japanese and European sources of the 17th century, this paper attempts to reconstruct the respective emic criteria for comparing and classifying socio-cultural formations and related phenomena, which are nowadays habitually categorised as 'religion' or 'religious'. On a theoretical level, it engages the problem of the relationship between emic and etic categories that function as tertia comparationis. The paper further discusses the risks and rewards of a comparative history of comparisons within the study of religion, which may ideally help to overcome the implicit Eurocentrism that has haunted most genealogical approaches in our discipline so far. It aims at pointing a way out of the deadlock between cultural particularism and radical incommensurabilism on the one side and cultural universalism and undue generalisation on the other.

»

Premodern Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogues and the Formation of Comparative Concepts. How encounters between European missionaries and Japanese in the 16th and 17th centuries changed the conceptual world (Part I)

Abstract

The 16th and 17th centuries witnessed a considerable intensification of cultural encounters, which necessitated cross-cultural comparisons and the formation of abstract categories for the sake of comparing heterogeneous phenomena. Although initially such comparisons and the concomitant establishment of categories that functioned as tertia comparationis, were rather unsystematic and implicit, they paved the way for modern science and scholarship, which was in its formative period, chiefly concerned with the classification of both natural and cultural objects, whereat 'religious' phenomena played a paramount role with regard to the latter. Moreover, as unsystematic as cross-cultural comparisons in the early modern period may have been, they obviously presupposed certain cultural universals and classified things on the basis of implicit (perhaps even unconscious) criteria.

Drawing on examples from Japanese and European sources of the 17th century, this paper attempts to reconstruct the respective emic criteria for comparing and classifying socio-cultural formations and related phenomena, which are nowadays habitually categorised as 'religion' or 'religious'. On a theoretical level, it engages the problem of the relationship between emic and etic categories that function as tertia comparationis. The paper further discusses the risks and rewards of a comparative history of comparisons within the study of religion, which may ideally help to overcome the implicit Eurocentrism that has haunted most genealogical approaches in our discipline so far. It aims at pointing a way out of the deadlock between cultural particularism and radical incommensurabilism on the one side and cultural universalism and undue generalisation on the other.

»

Premodern Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogues and the Formation of Comparative Concepts. How encounters between European missionaries and Japanese in the 16th and 17th centuries changed the conceptual world (Part I)

Abstract

The 16th and 17th centuries witnessed a considerable intensification of cultural encounters, which necessitated cross-cultural comparisons and the formation of abstract categories for the sake of comparing heterogeneous phenomena. Although initially such comparisons and the concomitant establishment of categories that functioned as tertia comparationis, were rather unsystematic and implicit, they paved the way for modern science and scholarship, which was in its formative period, chiefly concerned with the classification of both natural and cultural objects, whereat 'religious' phenomena played a paramount role with regard to the latter. Moreover, as unsystematic as cross-cultural comparisons in the early modern period may have been, they obviously presupposed certain cultural universals and classified things on the basis of implicit (perhaps even unconscious) criteria.

Drawing on examples from Japanese and European sources of the 17th century, this paper attempts to reconstruct the respective emic criteria for comparing and classifying socio-cultural formations and related phenomena, which are nowadays habitually categorised as 'religion' or 'religious'. On a theoretical level, it engages the problem of the relationship between emic and etic categories that function as tertia comparationis. The paper further discusses the risks and rewards of a comparative history of comparisons within the study of religion, which may ideally help to overcome the implicit Eurocentrism that has haunted most genealogical approaches in our discipline so far. It aims at pointing a way out of the deadlock between cultural particularism and radical incommensurabilism on the one side and cultural universalism and undue generalisation on the other.

»