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The Meaning and End of Religion
In The Meaning & End of Religion, Smith contends that religion is a peculiarly European concept of recent origin. Practitioners of any given faith don't come to regard what they do as 'religion' until they have sprouted that form of collective self-regard which causes them to have absorbed the perspective of the outsider. Religion, in the modern sense of the word, is a ...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published January 5th 1991 by Augsburg Fortress Publishing
(first published January 1st 1959)
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May 25, 2015 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing · review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Howard Burkle, Dennis Haas, Harold Kasimow
This is a truly important book, the thesis of which is summarized in its description here. It was assigned to all Religious Studies majors taking the Senior Seminar with Grinnell's faculty which then consisted of the Rev. Dennis Haas, Harold Kasimow, Howard Burkle and two junior faculty on terminal assignment. The three senior faculty listed are to be commended for selecting this text as a required capstone reading.
This classic work is a study of the evolution of "religion" as a reified, essentialist concept in modern intellectual history. Religion, as Cantwell Smith persuasively argues, is--when understood either as designating an absolute "thing" in human experience ("religion in general") or as indicating a particular instantiation of that thing ("the Christian religion" or "the Buddhist religion")--purely a modern intellectualist construct, one that has no parallel in pre-modern Western thought or in t ...more
This book is very enlightening to me. To all those who have developed some prior judgments just by reading the title, note that this is not about the end of "religion" as you understand it. It is more about the exploration of the term "religion" itself, which is nowhere said in any religious scripture, with the exception of the Qur'an. But even so, according to Smith's analysis, what the Qur'an means by "religion" (din) is not the same at all as the term "religion" that we in modern times seem t ...more
Wilfred Cantwell Smith (July 21, 1916 – February 7, 2000) was a Canadian professor of comparative religion who from 1964–1973 was director of Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions. The Harvard Gazette characterized him as one of the field's most influential figures of the past century. In his 1962 work The Meaning and End of Religion he notably and controversially questioned the validi ...moreMore about Wilfred Cantwell Smith...