Reviews theories which have been put forward to account for the origin and nature of religion, and covers both empirical (sociological, anthropological and psychological) theories and religious theories (revelation, religious experience, mysticism, etc.). The text asks 'Why theories of religion?'.
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: What is Religion?' This is the first text to review in a single volume the theories of religion which have been put forward by both believers and non-believers. 'Why theories of religion?' After raising and answering this question the author begins his examination of theories of religion by first looking at the explanations given by religious believers (Revelation and Religious Experience). He then considers the views of thinkers who have sought to transform religion into philosophy (Plato, Kant and Hegel), before reviewing the theories of those who have seen religion as arising out of errors in primitive thinking (Tylor, Frazer and Levy-Bruhl) and those 'masters of suspicion', as Paul Ricoeur has called them (Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Marx and Freud) who offered what they believed to be exhaustive psychological and sociological theories of the origin and nature of religion. In the course of his discussion the author also engages with many contemporary thinkers whose discussions of religion have been based on these classical accounts. In a brief conclusion the author tries to assess the future of the religions of the world in light of the increasingly close inter-religious encounters that are becoming a feature of the 'global village' of thetwenty-first century. Key Features * Comprehensive survey of the field * Theories will be considered against the phenomenon of religion world-wide * Theories offered in a way that lets the student make up his or her own mind