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Religious Studies within the Tension of Rationalism and Romanticism (completed)

The modern academic study of religion has its roots in so contrasting sceneries as the European Enlightenment of the 18th century and the Romantic Movement in the first half of the 19th century. How did each of these currents contribute to the emergence of Religious Studies as a separate academic discipline towards the end of the 19th century?

About the project

The academic study of religion arose as an autonomous discipline at several European universities in the 1870s. But its roots reach further back, partly to the Enlightenment of the 18th, partly to the Romantic Movement in the first half of the 19th century. But what impact did each of these currents have on the emerging study of religion? The central hypothesis of this project is that the theoretical foundation is to be found in the critical rationality of the Enlightenment, while the institutionalisation of Religious Studies as a separate, autonomous tradition has its most important condition in the Romantic Movement, especially in its interest in the different historical religions and its understanding of religion as an essential element in human nature. A prominent role in this connection were played by liberal Protestant theologians having a tendency to place Christianity as the peak of the religious evolution.

The sources will be selected texts from the pre-history of Religious Studies on the European continent and in Great Britain, partly methodological considerations, partly empirical investigations into the history of religions.

The first achievements were two conference papers (Erfurt 2007, Oslo 2009). Depending on the progress of the work a presentation of the results in further papers or within a monograph (probably in German) will be taken into consideration.

Objectives

 The aim of the project is answering the following questions:

  • How did impulses such as the Enlightenment of the 18th century and the Romantic Movement in the first half of the 19th century contribute to the emergence of Religious Studies as a separate academic discipline towards the end of the 19th century?
  • What impact did each of these currents have on the emerging study of religion?
Published Apr. 28, 2010 1:15 PM - Last modified Feb. 1, 2017 3:00 PM