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Book: Thinking with J. Z. Smith

Chapter: 16. Is There Room for "This Sort of Reflexivity"? The Meaning of J. Z. Smith in Religious Education

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.39932


Jack C. Laughlin and Kornel Zathureczky link J. Z. Smith’s views on undergraduate college education with those expressed by Richard Rorty and argue that we should see Smith as firmly positioned within the tradition of American Pragmatism. They posit a “Rortyan-Smithian pragmatism” and point out the extent to which Smith’s imagining religion is informed by Pragmatism, especially by the work of the Rortyan “redescribing ironist” acutely aware of the contingency of her work. In their opinion, Smith’s “confession to the Rortyan imperative of acculturation before edification is an admission that the unsettling of commonplace ideas—about religion—is parasitic upon their very reproduction. And to the extent that that’s the case, there is never a critic then, without a caretaker” (below: xx). It is in this context that Laughlin and Zathureczky then analyze the Éthique et culture religieuse (ECR) program in the Canadian province of Québec.

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