FFC 272

René Gothóni:
Attitudes and Interpretations in Comparative Religion.
FF Communications No. 272. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia (Academia Scientiarum Fennica). 173 pp.

ISBN 951-41-0876-0 (hardback)
ISBN 951-41-0877-9 (paperback)

20 euros (hardback)
17 euros (paperback)

What is the attitude of the scholar of Comparative Religion to religion and religiosity? What is the specific method in Comparative Religion? Does the study of religions differ from other corresponding disciplines?

The present volume tries to answer these questions on the basis of fieldwork among Sinhalese Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka and Orthodox monks and pilgrims on the Holy Mountain of Athos in Greece. Apart from refining a more perceptive view of religion and religiosity, the study elucidates the definition of religion and the principles applied in the comparative study of religions by factual cases from these two cultural fields.

The shift from the classical fieldwork procedure and its detached approach to the modern attitude of informed empathy and its engaged method is illustrated in the analyses of a Sinhalese Buddhist monk’s dilemma of prolonged liminality and of pilgrimage rediscovered by Europeans on Mount Athos. With empirical data and specific questions as cicerone, one of the findings is that commuting between engagement and detachment opens up new perspectives in interpreting and understanding religious practices, world views and socio-cultural settings foreign to our own.

RENÉ GOTHÓNI is Docent full-time in Comparative Religion at the University of Helsinki, Finland, Ordinary Member of the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, and Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. His publications include Modes of Life of Theravada Monks (Studia Orientalia 52, 1982), Paradise within Reach (Helsinki University Press, 1993), Tales and Truth (Helsinki University Press, 1994), How to Survive in Academia (Helsinki University Press, 1996) and Carl Robert Sederholms liv, verk och intellektuella individuation (Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, 1996).

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