The relationship between religion and the social sciences has had a long and contentious history. There are those who argue that the social sciences are commited to reducing the origin, function, and subject matter of religion to something non-religious. Whereas other scholars, most notably Mircea Eliade, have argued that religion must be studied as something irreducibly religious. Since the debate started, the advent of postmodernism has challenged the social scientific view of objectivity and profoundly altered the view of the social sciences held by scholars of religious studies. In this debate, Robert Segal has been recognized as one of the most important and brilliant voices. In this new book he examines the chief themes and figures involved in the study of religion, both historical and contemporary, describing how the debate has unfolded and developed. He also examines the future of the study of religion in the light of changes in the social sciences.
Robert Segal is regarded by many academics as the world's leading authority on the study of religion, and on mythology. American by birth, he joined the Dept of Religious Studies at Lancaster in 1994 after working in some of the top universities in the States. He is the author of numerous works including: The Poimandres as Myth, Explaining and Interpreting Religion, Jospeh Campbell (Penguin), The Gnostic Jung (princeton, 1992), Encountering Jung on Mythology (Princeton, 1998), The Allure of Gnosticism, The Myth and Ritual Theory (Blackwell) and the Hero Myth Reader (Blackwell). He is currently editing our own Companion to the Study of Religion. Robert also edits the CUP journal, Religion.