Re: Religion and ethnocentrism

Jana Fortier (fortier@STUDENTS.WISC.EDU)
Thu, 11 Apr 1996 10:08:59 -0500

A few questions for Brian:
*since when are women styled as "girls"?
*since when are androcentric statements performed by only boys (or men)?
*since when was Soren Kierkegaard invoked into the postmodern hall of fame?
*was there a woman arging about your hateful "truths"?
*since when was your religious belief more "true" than someone elses belief
of the "truth" of their religion?
*why is "the truth" that conflicts with your own bother you so much?
*is this an ad hominum attack? ;-) (answer: no)


At 06:15 PM 4/10/96 -0500, brian wrote:
>Since when is relativism a girl thing? I know plenty of non-andros who
>would assent to a simple statement like "If p then q; if not p then not
>q." That is not a testosterone driven kind of thing. The idea that there
>are "multiple truths" is such a postmodern Western bunch of garbage; why
>bother using the word "truth" in such an absurd way. Of course there are
>things that people believe to be true that can be demonstrated to others
>in such a way that, given certain parameters, they will also agree to be
>true. There are other things which people believe to be true that cannot
>be demonstrated. But an inability to demonstrate what one believes to be
>true does NOT mean that this is a "subjective" (i.e. "true for me"
>whateverthehellthatmeans) "truth". There is no problem disagreeing about
>who is correct, but if the notion of "correctness" is thrown out the
>window then you do not have "multiple truths" you have no truth at all.
>On Wed, 10 Apr 1996, Jana Fortier wrote:
>> geez, here you men go again w/ your androcentric ways of knowing the world.
>> one guy says "my religion is true" and the other distorts it into "my
>> religion is the ONLY true [one]" !!! haven't you guys ever heard of
>> multiple truths? how do you think we all teach anthro when there's a
>> million origin stories out there? of course they're all true, because
>> they're all subjectively defined truths. Even S. Kierkegaard wasnt that
>> androcentric (remember he outline subjective and objective truth very
>> At 11:15 AM 4/9/96 -0400, you wrote:
>> >In message <Pine.NXT.3.91.960408141942.18908A-100000@mango> Brian Michael
>> >Howell writes:
>> >> It is most certainly not "ethnocentric" to believe that one's religion is
>> >> true. As the originator of this thread pointed out, if one thought that
>> >> one's religion was not true, then that person would either be atheistic
>> >> or of the religion which they did think is true. Religion and ethnicity
>> >> are not the same thing, so to think that your religion is true is in no
>> >> way to think that your ethnicity is superior.
>> >
>> >
>> >Ethnicity refers to culture, and religion is most certainly a part of
>> >Therefore, yes, I think that to believe that your religion is the only
>> >one and that all others are "false" is a display of ethnocentrism,
although as
>> >you point out it might not extend to other areas of the culture(s) in
>> >I agree that people who believe their religion to be true could simply
have no
>> >opinion about the truth or falsity of other religious belief systems, but I
>> >suspect that those people are in the minority. I wonder too whether people
>> >might subscribe to a system of religious belief without calling into
>> >the ultimate "truth" of the system.
>> >
>> >
>> >> Do you, Dr. Kephart, believe it is the duty of the anthropology
>> >> instructor to "teach" students that their religion is false and that to
>> >> think otherwise is ethnocentric?
>> >
>> >No, absolutely not. I do think think that we should teach them that
>> >like the rest of culture, is a human universal which is expressed in a
>> number of
>> >ways and can be studied from an anthropological perspective. I think we
>> >also tell them that to persist in the belief that their religion is the ONLY
>> >true one, and that all others are false, is (partial?) ethnocentrism which
>> might
>> >ordinarily be harmless, like food preferences, but which has also led to
>> >like the Inquisition.
>> >
>> >Ronald Kephart
>> >Dept of Language & Literature
>> >University of North Florida
>> >Jacksonville, FL USA 32224-2645
>> >Phone: (904) 646-2580
>> >