Contradictory Concepts

An Essay on the Semantic Structure of Religious Discourses

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
Lucian Hölscher Ruhr-University Bochum

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The widespread opinion among conceptual historians is that political concepts are always contested in their actual usage. Religious concepts in modernity are also not only contested; they are constructed on an ontological contradiction. They imply that the object to which they refer exists, and at the same time that it does not. I demonstrate this idea using four religious concepts: religion, God, the beyond, and spirit. I conclude with discussion on the reality status of religious concepts in modern historiography and religious studies.

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