chapter
14 Pages

READER AS PRODUCER: JONATHAN Z. SMITH ON EXEGESIS, INGENUITY, ELABORATION

A good account of religion's ontology would be an antidote for what one might call naive idealism. This naive idealism and linguistic idealism has caused a lack of interest in social theory in recent religious studies. Social theory has treated four units as ontologically basic: the mind, the individual, social practices, and social wholes. Starting from any of these four units' leads to a quite different social ontology. The various individualist social theories and methodological stances take the social to consist only of actions performed by individuals and their mental states and/or mental stuff. The human mind is designed for social activity and not for reading Reality. The antidote to both the tendency to idealism and the problems with social wholism and individualism lies in the convergent approaches of philosophers and social theorists from widely differing traditions that make social practices ontologically primary for human sociality while denying various forms of individualism and forms of social wholism.