Religion, Interpretation and Diversity of Belief: The Framework Model for Kant to Durkheim to Davidson

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Often different religious traditions offer very different pictures of the world. In fact, religions are so fascinating partly because they present alternative pictures of the nature of time, space, persons, food, community, life, death, and so on. How are we to make sense of this radical diversity of belief? The most common response is to say that religions are alternative conceptual frameworks or schemes, whose categories organize experience in sometimes diverse ways. On this view of the framework model of religious belief we cannot map religious frameworks onto a single, comprehensive grid because they themselves function as the maps. In this sense, the Buddhist and Baptist are sometimes said to live in different worlds.Religion, Interpretation, and Diversity of Belief traces the history of the framework model from Kant to Durkheim, and then argues for its replacement. Rather than seeing religions as all-encompassing grids, we must recognize that they themseleves are constrained in at least two unavoidable ways: first, by the formal rules that make human experience possible at all, and second, by the fact that as language users we must presuppose that we hold the vast bulk of our beliefs in common. Given these constraints, we can then see religious differences, however dramatic, as relatively limited and largely theoretical.The framework model is deeply entrenched in those disciplines central to the study of religion, especially so in philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and theology. The negative thrust of this is to suggest this allegiance needs to be reconsidered. Positively, the book sketches a picture of linguistic interpretation on which our differences, religious or otherwise, stand out against the background of what we have in common