Sunday, September 26, 2010

Slow going . . .

with Pascal Boyer.

Just a brief note of explanation.

I've found Pascal Boyer's Religion Explained to be pretty heavy going. It's good in that it tends to deal pretty systematically with a range of different approached to each of the central questions about religion it treats, but I always get the feeling--the same feeling I got reading Pinker's Blank Slate--that many of the arguments get presented in such a way as they are nothing but epiphenomena of Boyer's own argument.

As in Pinker, there is a veneer of reasonableness and even-handedness that is really disingenuous. So I don't get very far reading before I'm diverted into a) dealing with the actual arguments; b) filling out some of the detail Boyer seems to me to neglect and c) noting the rhetorical strategies he uses to cover up his elisions.

Lastly, I get the feeling that over the course of the book he might return to some topics to treat them in greater detail, so I'm reluctant to attack something I find on page 50 that he addresses on page 150. So, this will probably have to wait to I get all the way through . . .