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Religion, Science, and EmpireClassifying Hinduism and Islam in British India$
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Peter Gottschalk

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195393019

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393019.001.0001

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Second Theoretical Interlude Five Modes of Comparison

Second Theoretical Interlude Five Modes of Comparison

(p.132) Second Theoretical Interlude Five Modes of Comparison
Religion, Science, and Empire

Peter Gottschalk

Oxford University Press

Religion scholar Jonathan Z. Smith identifies five modes of social comparison: the ethnographic, encyclopedic, morphologic, evolutionary, and statistical. Each mode essentially shapes the perception of difference and similarity. This is particularly evident in the hierarchies and teleologies that form central parts of some modes, often valuing the members of one category over another because they are “higher” or “more advanced.” These modes bear examination because each form of social or cultural knowledge operative in British India–or anywhere–necessarily depends on at least one of these modes.

Keywords:   comparison, classification, hierarchy, Jonathan Z. Smith, ethnographic comparison, statistical comparison, encyclopedic comparison, morphological comparison, evolutionary comparison

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