Eliade, Mircea (1907-86)

Robert A. Segal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


Mircea Eliade was a Romanian-born historian of religions who spent his last three decades at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He was one of the last great comparativists and was celebrated for his writings on the myths, rituals, and symbols of religions around the world. He was most celebrated for his lifelong defense of the approach to religion that characterizes the discipline of religious studies. Eliade maintains that religion originates to serve a distinctly religious end: providing contact with God. He assumes that, by contrast, all of the social sciences account for religion non-religiously: as serving some sociological, anthropological, psychological, or economic end. Eliade advocates the religious account over any social scientific account on two grounds: that the religious account coincides with the account offered by believers themselves, and, even more, that it alone satisfactorily accounts for, so to speak, the religious nature of religion. Eliade was influential outside of religious studies as well as within it. His attempt to find religiosity in the beliefs and activities of professedly atheistic moderns was especially influential.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.


  • Comparativists
  • Mircea Eliade
  • Religion


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