Social Scientific Interpretations of Religion. Comparing the Hermeneutic Methodologies of James, Weber, Heidegger, and Durkheim

Author: Loewen, Gregory Victor
The study of religion is at once a taking stock of the historical consciousness of the texts that define the object, here, those of James, Weber, Heidegger, Durkheim, and others, while at the same time making meaning anew, which for history had been but tacit or perhaps unknown. Such a study accomplishes the renewal of both the most profound dialogue as it takes place within human history by representing the fundamental insights from an age which affirmed its triumph over religion, as well as aiding the realization that this event is in fact achieved only by the recognition that the idea of the sacred is the source of dialogue itself.


“Above all, in a world shaped by commodification, media, culture industry, and cyberspace, where everything solid melts into thin air, we are more than ever in need of understanding notions such as ressentiment, authenticity, kerygmatic text, and sacredness as immanent (literally meaning held within) in our shared lifeworld, or in the meaningful actions of the quotidian. Such understanding cannot come about unless it is preceded by a serious and in-depth attempt to re-read classical texts of modernity and social theory from novel viewpoint points that are informed by philosophical hermeneutics and critical theory, and that are sensitive to the human condition and predicament. The overall intellectual feat and achievement of Professor Loewen in this book can be summarized as that of a major step in the direction of such re-reading.” – Prof. Farzad Bawani, University of Edmonton

“. . . the author’s subtle engagement with the thinkers in question cannot but provoke very serious reflections, which the more superficial accounts abundant these days do not stir. In a sense, then, it is an invitation to enter into the dialogue which is at the heart of reality according to the hermeneutic point of view. This book will certainly be of great importance not only for those working in Sociology of Religion but also those working in Philosophy of Religion.” – Prof. Daniel Regnier, University of Saskatchewan

“One of the (many) strengths of Greg Loewen’s book lies in his stance that hermeneutics is actually a practice; an ongoing activity characterized by immanence. Viewing immanent interpretation as a human proclivity, perhaps a prototypical necessity—ancient and part of our search for meaning and guidance—means that it lies within us all generation after generation.” – Prof. Peter H. Stephenson, University of Victoria

Table of Contents

Preface by Farzad Bawani
1. Introduction
2. James and the Romantic
3. Weber and the Historic
4. Heidegger and the Phenomenologic
5. Durkheim and the Dialogic
6. Summary: The Future of the Inclusion