chapter  5
41 Pages

Cognitive capital and the codifi cation of religion

Cognitive processes ain’t all in the head … once the hegemony of skin and skull is usurped, we may be able to see ourselves more truly as creatures of the world.

Clark, A. and Chalmers, D. (1998) ‘The Extended Mind’ in Analysis, 58(1), p. 8

Scholars of religion are always inescapably dependent on other fi elds of study in the making and unmaking of their object of study. One of the problems that this entails is an uncritical celebration of the hybrid discourses, which are put to the service of the object to form either a ‘science of religion’ (the art of measuring a taxonomy) or a ‘contemporary theology of the age’ (the art of updating belief). What is remarkable about these inter-disciplinary engagements is the suspension of a critical politic to evaluate the interdisciplinary discourse. One of the reasons for this blindness is the false assumption that the preliminary concepts of ‘science’ exclude a wider socioeconomic dimension, something that maintains the ideological isolation of the religious object and the valued method. There is in effect an inter-disciplinary collusion, as the method becomes part of the process of making the object, something we have seen in relation to William James, and which continues in contemporary projects. As Harvey Whitehouse (2005A: 2, emphasis added) rightly indicates, even if he does not fully sustain the ambition: ‘A scientifi c theory of religion must tell us what, for the purposes of that theory, constitutes religion’. This alliance of method and the making of the object often conceal the values of the method in the making of the object.