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

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest