Homo Religiosus: reasons for a reconsideration

Julian Ignacio López


Discussions on Mircea Eliade’s contributions to the study of religion are often focus on his controversial notion of the sacred, mainly deployed in his work The sacred and the Profane (1959). However, it is often disregarded that Eliade understands the sacred as closely related with another key notion: the homo religiosus. Because this notion has been overlooked and understudied, the purpose of this writing is to reconsider the value of the ‘homo religiosus’ and advocate for its legitimacy through a two-step argumentation. Firstly, departing from Eliade’s understanding of the homo religiosus, its meaning and implications will be briefly exposed. Secondly, a justification of the validity of this expression will be attempted through a subject-object approach and the application of the philosophical principle of operari sequitur esse. While the former means that the homo religiosus (subject) is always understood as operating in relation with something else (object), the latter allows to account for the implications of this expression through its effects, as this principle states that every being operates according to its ontological constitution. This paper proposes six ways in which the validity of the homo religiosus can be justified through this reasoning: while three of them are alternative approaches from different disciplines, the other three are paradoxically based on the anti-religious argumentations of Nietzsche, Marx and Freud.


Mircea Eliade; Homo Religiosus; Religion; The Sacred: operari sequitur esse

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