the gods

Edwin F Bryant efb3 at
Tue May 27 08:05:35 UTC 1997

On Tue, 27 May 1997, George Thompson wrote:

> Edwin,
> Let me remind you of Howard's original post:
> As scholars, we should first admit that there is no feature or
> >aspect of an
> >academic education that qualifies one, as a scholar, to say that there is, or
> >that there is not, a god of fire. This is a religious issue, and only a
> >hopeless logical positivist would argue that we must reject a god of fire on
> >"scientific" grounds. To affirm or deny a particular proposition places one
> >in the identical realm of discourse. An algebra teacher that marks a
> >student's answer right or wrong requires the same knowledge. To affirm that
> >Agni is the god of fire is no more a religious utterance than to deny that he
> >is and thus proceed to a discussion of how and why a community "created" this
> >notion.
> First, Howard says that questioning the existence of a god is off-limits
> for scholars. Second, he says that anyone who adopts the religious view
> that there is no such thing as a god of fire must be "a hopeless logical
> positivist." Then he says that yea-sayers and nay-sayers are all in the
> same boat [of discourse]. Then follows an unintelligible remark about
> algebra teachers. Finally, he denies that the religious view that Agni
> exists is a more religious view than the religious view that Agni doesn't
> exist. Oh yes, then there is something about someone [I don't know who]
> proceeding to a discussion about a community creating some notion [I don't
> know what].
> Have I left anything out or badly misunderstood something?
> Edwin, please tell me, what boundaries, exactly, is Howard delineating
> here? Honestly, this post rather looked to me like a rant than an argument.
George, I too found Howard's original posting to be a little convoluted
(although, in honesty, your analysis of it above seems more of a 'rant' to
me than his original statement).  However, Howard clarified his point in
a subsequent posting and has done so again in his last posting, making 
his argument quite plain and in no need of further comment from me. 

My question to Louis remains: why was it
considered appropriate, to drag in and broadcast Howard's
personal religious orientations when this was irrelevant to the simple
point he was making (which was not to advocate scholarly neutrality)?
Edwin Bryant

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list