Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

Table of Contents | Cover Page  |  Editors  |  Contributors  |  Introduction  |  Web Version


Reductionism has been stigmatized by Gilbert Ryle as "nothing but-ery": Religion is "nothing but" longing for a lost parent; love is "nothing but" sex; sex is "nothing but" body chemistry; body chemistry is "nothing but" a dance of fundamental particles; and so on. The most notorious kind of reductionism, that of the thoughts of rational agents to chemical processes within their bodies, is in fact self-refuting; to take chemists seriously is to imply that they say and write what they do because they have good reasons for doing so, which is not compatible with complete physical determination.

Hugo Meynell


I. A. Idinopulos and E. A. Yonan (eds.), Religion and Reductionism (Leiden: Brill, 1994); C. Taylor, The Explanation of Behavior (New York: Humanities Press, 1964).

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