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A Final Note: Subjectivity in the Study of Religion

None of the tools used to study religion can claim to be totally objective. In other words, the point of view of the observer will always to some extent influence one's analysis and interpretation. We have already seen this truth at work in reader-response criticism. One's culture, economic situation, social status, etc. form the lens through which one looks at religion and, for that matter, the entire world. No method attains complete, unbiased objectivity. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that as one observes and interpretes religion, one must attempt to be aware of his/her own perspective and possible biases. These are like filters which determine how we perceive religious traditions. If we are ignorant of our own presuppositions and biases, we will probably not succeed in understanding those whose view of reality differs from our own.



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