Previous CDs and Books

The CD Glimtarna är livet (Glimpses of life are life) consists of 19 troubadour-like songs portraying a philosophy of life about what it means to be human in this world of joy, sorrow, trials and hopes. Professor René Gothóni, who wrote the lyrics and the music, conveys through the words and the notes his conviction that life is constituted of glimpses.
Through the songs he relates his positive outlook and belief in the inherent potential creativity that we all have. He draws attention to the funny, tragi-comic humanness of being human. He argues that the more we reflect upon the different phases in our life cycle in a bright and humoristic way, the more meaningful our life becomes. His motto “spiritual food through musical mood” gives us good advice: take a hold of your life! 

René Gothóni took piano lessons when he was young and studied piano playing at the Palmgren Conservatory in Pori (formerly Porin musiikkiopisto) from 1961 to 1967. He taught himself to play guitar, and wrote and recorded songs in the late sixties. In 2010 he transferred them onto a CD entitled René Gothóni Nostalgic 1966-1971 to celebrate his sixtieth birthday. Encouraged by the good response he decided to empty his desk drawer of the songs he had written in Swedish between the years 1972 and 2011.

The meditative and reflective character of the texts reflect discussions René has had with monks on the Holy Mountain of Athos, who emphasize the importance of verbalizing feelings and thoughts in order to detach them from experiences that have assumed significance over the years. The musical atmosphere in the songs strengthens the feeling of being present in what has been experienced. This makes it easy for listeners to find themselves in the texts and to adopt a reflective philosophy of life.

Production, words and music: René Gothóni
Guitar, piano and vocals: René Gothóni
Recorded in the SoundTeam Godzinsky studio
Mastering: SoundTeam Godzinsky
Photographs: Timo Peltonen
Layout: René Gothóni

With gratitude to: The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, the Otto A. Malm Foundation, Robi de Godzinsky, Raili Gothóni, Jussi Piekkala and Rabbe Österholm

New books

Religious Experience: North and South (click here)

Words Matter

I'm delighted to inform you that my new book has appeared at Peter
Lang. Here's the blurb:

René Gothóni: WORDS MATTER. Hermeneutics in the Study of
Religions.Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New
York, Wien,2011. XIV, 220 pp., 2 coloured ill., num. graphs.Religions
andDiscourse. Vol. 52, Edited by James M.M. Francis
ISBN 978-3-0343-0268-5 pb.sFr. 61.00 / EUR* 41.60 / EUR** 42.80 /
EUR38.90 / £ 35.00 / US-$ 60.95

The challenge of methodic quality has haunted scholars in the human
and social sciences since the end of the nineteenth century with the
explosive and public success of the natural sciences and their
precision and aim of controlling nature. The discussion has been
dominated by the quest for proper scientific concepts and methods
comparable to those employed in the natural sciences.

This book discloses the limits of scientific concepts and
methods,and the failure of approaches in the human sciences emulating
the scientific procedures in the natural sciences, notably the
cognitive science of religion, to articulate religious life in its

The author demonstrates on the basis of his own field research
conducted among Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka and Orthodox monks and
pilgrims on the Holy Mountain of Athos in Greece how preconceptions
and historical belongingness determine interpretation. He argues
that in the human sciences words matter more than concepts and
propositions, and elucidates how words are revelatory of the
authenticity of being, when the attitude adopted is that the view of
the encountered other might be right.

In the conclusion the author identifies the methodic characteristics
of hermeneutic reflection and proposes an analytic model for the
human sciences that enables scholars to articulate the authenticity
of actual life in words that reach the other.



Listen to a short example from the song "Livet är så skönt"


The Challenge: the kind of knowledge of quality aimed at
TheUniqueness: humans possesses speech and words are revelatory of
beingBeyond Methodic Truth: method as discernment and movement
betweenconcept and word ­ A Pilgrim among Pilgrims: the relation
betweensubject matter and interpreter ­ Symbols: how historical
belongingness determines interpretation ­ Towards a Method of
Hermeneutic Reflection: the question of truth ­ The Method of
Hermeneutic Reflection: Units and Universe, and the characteristics
of hermeneutic reflection.

René Gothóni is Professor of Comparative Religion at the University
of Helsinki, a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, and a life
member of the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters. He is also
President of the Finnish Society of Friends of Mount Athos. His
publications include Attitudes and Interpretations in Comparative
Religion (2000) and The Unknown Pilgrim (2006), and he edited
How to do Comparative Religion? Three Ways, Many Goals (2005),
The Monastic Magnet. Roads to and from Mount Athos (with G. Speake,
2008) and Pilgrims and Travellers in the Search of the Holy (2010).

© 2011 René Gothóni. Distribution:


(© René Gothóni 2011