31. mai 2011

Å kritisere begreper når man selv bruker begreper - eller: å kategorisere og navngi religiøse praksiser

Innlegget er på engelsk fordi det er hentet fra en artikkel jeg holder på å skrive på nevnte språk.

A critical examination of terminology and categorization cannot avoid making use of terms and categories itself. In the textbooks a variety of different terms are used, and to elucidate how this changes or endures, I myself must employ terms and categories. But which ones to choose? Are some terms better than others? In the textbooks one can for example find both the use of Japanese religion (in the singular), Japanese religions (in the plural) and Shinto and Buddhism, to denote (almost) the same religious practices in the same area. Are some of these better than the other, and what should I use as a reference when describing the textbooks uses?


Terms are not what they describe. Therefore, to decide which term is the most correct to use, one must consider a number of factors, for example which is the more conventional used to describe what it seeks to describe. But is this enough? From my point of view, all these terms have advantages and disadvantages. For example Japanese religion (in the singular) is a good choice when wanting to highlight how religious practices in a society are woven so close together that in practice it is impossible to extract different traditions. The term Japanese religions (in the plural), on the other hand, can denote for example that the religious practices, although interwoven in this society, can be distinguished as different traditions. The last choice, naming different religions, is practical when focusing on how different religious practice can be ascribed different traditions which are also apparent in other societies, in other parts of the world. All of these terms are therefore legitimate!

My only solution, when trying to elucidate the terms used in the textbooks, is to stay as close to what I find in the books as possible. However, I have no choice but to be pragmatic and hope that my use of terms will be more clarifying than confusing.

Ingen kommentarer: