Benefits Of Methodological Agnosticism

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In anthropology, there are four main approaches that one can take when observing a religion or cultural practice: methodological atheism, methodological theism, methodological ludism, and methodological agnosticism. Each of these approaches has its own benefits as well as down sides. Methodological agnosticism is the best method of approach when an anthropologist is attempting to study and understand a particular culture and religion. Methodological agnosticism works best because it allows for the anthropologist to be as objective as humanly possible by taking into consideration both the cultural aspect as well as the logical scientific aspect. One of the methods discussed in class was methodological atheism. Methodological atheism is the anthropological approach that…show more content…
In this approach, the anthropologist “plays” along with a religious practice or belief only so far as to gain an understanding of the belief without condoning the actions taken in the rituals. Edith Turner wrote an article titled “The Reality of Spirits: A Tabooed or Permitted Field of Study?” in which she explained how while merely playing along with a ritual, she actually sent someone into a trance. “We were running a workshop at the New York University Department of Performance Studies which was attended by performance and anthropology students… We enacted the Umbanda trance session… The New York University students duly followed our direction… During the ritual a woman student… actually went into trance, there in New York University” (Turner 9). This example that Turner gave is a reason why I believe methodological ludism should not be used. While playing along with a ritual, the anthropologist does not know the possible consequences of his or her actions. Even though playing along allows the anthropologist to get a better understanding of the religion, it should not be done without first respecting the

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