The Heathen in His Blindness

S. N. Balagangadhara
"The Heathen in His Blindness"
Asia, the West and the Dynamic of Religion
Online forum about "the heathen"
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Today, most intellectuals agree that (a) Christianity profoundly influenced western culture; (b) members from different cultures experience many aspects of the world differently; (c) the empirical and theoretical study of both culture and religion emerged within the West.

The present study argues that these truisms have implications for the conceptualisation of religion and culture. More specifically, the thesis is that non-western cultures and religions differ from the descriptions prevalent in the West, and it is also explained why this has been the case. The author proposes novel analyses of religion, the Roman ‘religio’, the construction of ‘religions’ in India, and the nature of cultural differences. Religion is important to the West because the constitution and the identity of western culture are tied to the dynamic of Christianity as a religion.

“…Balagangadhara has confronted us with questions which we cannot evade anymore”

Vivek Dhareshwar Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore, India

“…Balagangadhara has reinforced for the secular study of religion the awareness that the origins of the discipline are indelibly Western, and provided an invaluable service in reminding scholars they should be wary in assuming that the having of a religion or a world-view is a cultural universal.”

Philip C. Almond The University of Queensland, Australia

“Is it philosophy, or religion, or anthropology, or intellectual history? Not the least merit of ‘The Heathen in His Blindness…’ is that it demonstrates again how artificial are the distinctions we draw between them, and how the most creative work often involves transgressing conventional boundaries between disciplines.”

David Loy Bunyo University, Japan

“…Balagangadhara’s study offers more than a criticism of some Western scholarship: it presents a critique of Western culture. And in this respect its implications deserve to be taken most seriously.”

David A. Pailin University of Manchester, U.K.

“Balagangadhara’s fascinating, substantial volume… makes a valuable contribution… Balagangadhara’s detailed… accounts of Greco-Roman, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist history and philosophy will both inspire and infuriate in these domains. His work is especially compelling in chapters that show how so-called secular views originate in religious discourse and are perpetually re-defined with reference to it.”

Naomi R. Goldenberg University of Ottawa, Canada


In Belgium, at the address of the Research Centre:
Ghent University Apotheekstraat 5 9000 Gent Belgium

Online, the book can be ordered from Manohar Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major online stores