In this essay, I will explain how William Cavanaugh uses the operations of knowing to explain why many theorists continue to wrongly assume that religion is especially prone to cause violence. First of all, one must have an experience of data. The raw materials of data that Cavanaugh uses is the thoughts and feelings of the people that identify themselves as religious; that challenge conventional wisdom. He also expresses his own personal thoughts when it comes to conventional wisdom, challenged the “right” way. This information is indicated on page 6.
Then, one must ask questions for understanding. In this case, Cavanaugh indirectly asks himself: Why is the situation the way it is? What’s going on? Why are the arguments used by authors incoherent? In my opinion, he indirectly does so when he states that the English-speaking academic world has been inundated by books and articles attempting to explain why religion has a peculiar tendency toward violence and that they all have in common an inability to find a convincing way to separate religious violence from secular violence. This is indicated on page 7.
Following this, one must have a direct insight. A direct insight is the grasp of links or connections between the elements of data. Cavanaugh’s direct insight is when he discovers a pattern after analyzing authors’ theories on whether or not religion causes violence. He discovers that people have a tendency to treat all sorts of things as absolutes. He concludes this insight by saying that applying an empirical test to the question of absolutism is more practical than general theories about the violence of religion. This is indicated on page 12.
Finally, to complete the operation of understanding, one must fully understand using the expression of a direct or inverse insight by formulae. Basically in this step, the author concludes what he has understood. He states that the point is that the distinction between “secular” and religious violence is misleading and should be abstained. This information is indicated on page 12. Finally, one must ask questions for judgement. Cavanaugh asks himself: If the conventional wisdom that religion causes violence is so incoherent, why is it so widespread? This is indicated on page 13.
Following this step, one must also have a reflective insight. A reflective insight is a fit or lack of fit between the proposed understanding, and the evidence given in one’s experiences and previous judgments. Cavanaugh therefore states that despite its incoherence, the idea that religion is prone to violence thus administrates a paired opposition between “the secular West” and a religious “Other” who is irrational and violent. He provides examples using different theories provided by different authors. This information is given from page 13 to 16.
Finally one must have a final judgement, which is the judgment of Fact. It is the expression of a reflective insight in concepts. In this case, Cavanaugh decides to end his essay with a conclusion referring Harry’s book which states that America has access to liberal values and we must use our power to promote those values and that America will take military action to promote those values if necessary. He ended his essay this way in my opinion to prove his initial point that was the incoherence of arguments. This information is on page 17.