Agreed, but in this case, Hobbes is basing his argument on only one of two possible etymologies, so it's perhaps more relevant than you let on here. If religion rises from religare, then he's correct to point to some sort of "bound"-ness at the root of the term. If, however, it rises from religere, this notion of people being bound would be eisegesis rather than exegesis.Immanuel Can wrote:Etymology is helpful, but is not the answer to everything...
(We could even go a step further and consider that "religion" in the Western context a few centuries ago simply meant "Christianity" at one point and was to be used to separate "religion" from "paganism," etc. It's not until the late-19th century (Max Muller) that we really get into a sort of comparative mode where "religion" is coherent as a category. The debate going on here is distinctly modern.)
There is currently a serious and extended debate within the Religious Studies field over both the meaning and etymology of "religion." Some appeal to Emile Durkheim, others to Clifford Geertz, still others to Mircea Eliade, etc, etc, etc. In short, what the scholars are quickly finding out is that this attempt to definitively state what constitutes "religion" is perhaps a hopeless task, the scholar being better-served to definition "religion" with a particular context (i.e. their work). So to alter your quote a bit, I would say that it's "more important to ask 'How is the word being used in this thread?'" insofar as it's difficult to get at even popular uses of the term, much less technical ones.Immanuel Can wrote:It's more important to ask, "How is the word being used now?"
Personally, I'm inclined to agree with Hobbes that "religion" at its core carries with it an element of binding, though I disagree with him as to what is the nature of that binding.
EDIT: I.C., I see that you've mentioned the above in an earlier post. That's what I get for coming in halfway. If this post proves to be redundant, mea culpa.