Material limits

January 16, 2014

In her review of Robert Bartlett’s Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things?, a study of the Christian cult of saints from the martyrs to the Reformation (Books, 19/26 December), Helen Fulton helpfully suggests a limitation of the book when she writes that “the evidence-based methodology constructs a tenor of strict objectivity deliberately stripped of analysis or interpretation”. In supplying an example that tells us something about “the why of saints and the powers claimed for them”, she points to “the profit motive that lay behind the trade in relics”. She tacitly restricts answers to the “why” to the realm of the non-transcendent, in this way extending a central assumption of scientific methodology. In declaring allegiance to the openness of analysis, she nonetheless seems to accept a totalising limit on what the source and nature of interpretation might be.

Norman Klassen
St Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo
Canada

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework