World Religions And Philosophy. Over the next 10 weeks, we’ll be examining the “ BIG 5 ” of world religions:. Hinduism. Judaism. Buddhism. Christianity. Islam. What, if any, is the relationship between Philosophy and _____?. Religion Myth Science Ritual Anthropology Morality.
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the “BIG 5” of world religions:
Western Religions are generally designated as the monotheistic “Big 3” – meaning Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (which arguably could be considered an “Eastern” religion as well).
Asian/Eastern/Non-Western Religions are typically defined as such because they are (a) polytheistic, or (b) have no identifiable “god,” or are more grounded in “intimacy” than “integrity” (i.e., more “relationship-oriented” than “individualistic”).
The last point (c) will be more fully developed in a little while.
‘If A, then B’
‘All A are B’
Are the differences in Western & Eastern Religions and Philosophies an indication that people in the West & East do not “think” the same way?
No -- The simple answer: thinking is thinking… despite “where,” “HOW” people think does not change from culture to culture; our brains are all wired the same
WHAT people think “about” and how they perceive what they think about may be culturally influenced (just as a person’s attention and emphasis on things perceived also may be influenced by race, gender, religion, economics, and a host of other things)
But the basic “how” is the same for all people; the focus on the “what” and interpretation of that “what” may be at the root of any significant differences
What is it? A rabbit or a bird?
Study the stairs
Attentiveness, emphasis, and interpretation of perceptions are generally the reasons why people believe there are (cultural) differences in people’s thinking
But more realistically, there are no differences in thinking, just in attentiveness, emphasis, and interpretation
Since cultural philosophy is based on what a particular culture (or cultures) chooses to emphasize and explore, the differences between the West and East philosophically are a result of different focusing and interpreting – NOT a difference in thinking itself
See handout on “Integrity v Intimacy”
Belief in something sacred (e.g., gods or other supernatural beings).
A distinction between sacred and profane objects.
Ritual acts focused on sacred objects.
A moral code believed to have a sacred or supernatural basis.
Characteristically religious feelings (awe, sense of mystery, sense of guilt, adoration), which tend to be aroused in the presence of sacred objects and during the practice of ritual.
Prayer and other forms of communication with the supernatural.
A world-view or a general picture of the world as a whole and the place of the individual therein. This picture contains some specification of an over-all purpose or point of the world & an indication of how the individual fits into it.
A more or less total organization of one's life based on a worldview.
A social group bound together by the above.
Aquinas, for example, believed that if a person could reason out these laws by looking at nature, he would be able to immediately comprehend (and be able to follow) the Natural Laws and then be able to distinguish moral and immoral behavior.
An Eastern philosopher would look for the aesthetic sense of order in the (ever-changing) universe in the same way that an artist might think about creating a pleasing composition.
The difference is between discovering an order already there, even if we don’t see it (the Western approach), and helping to invent one (the Eastern approach).Western ‘Scientific’ v Eastern ‘Aesthetic’
“Reality” refers to the “really-real” that grounds this world of appearances (which itself is not real), since appearances are misleading and/or illusory.
The phenomenal world (as things appear) of process and change is simply wanwu (“the ten thousand things”).
Adherents to Eastern Philosophy and Religions are less inclined to asked what makes something real or why things exist, and they are more interested in negotiating the complex relationships among the changing phenomena themselves.West v East – Ontology (Being)
Being itself is complete (and perfect, like Plato’s ‘forms’) and has no further need to change.
Becoming takes precedence over being. “Being” is interpreted as a transitory state marked by further transition. The yin-yang relationship typifies the always changing situation of existence and experience. Everything is in “process.”West v East – Being (Part 2)
The realm of appearances (where we live) is characterized by ‘wholes’ and ‘parts’ – a world patterned by discreteness and permanence in which change is primarily the rearrangement of that which is unchanging (like the ‘atoms’ of Democritus).
Since everything is always in a transitory state, there is no final whole we call ‘Cosmos’ or ‘World.’ The world is an interactive field. It iswanwu– ‘the ten thousand things.’
There are no ‘parts’ or ‘objects’; the ‘things’ are simply states of becoming -- just happenings, processes, or events.West v East – the World/Cosmos
The universe began somewhere and is going somewhere, and this tradition is characterized by a predominance of linear, cause-and-effect explanations for why things are what they are and the way they are and will stay the way they are.
Order is simply the patterned regularity we find in the world as we discover it and as we add to it; it’s the way things happen and the way we make things happen (the Tao).
Order, then, is the unique graining in any piece of wood, the DNA genetic map in every cell, the veins in any blade of grass, and so forth.
Order is the Eternal Now, an always changing pattern of order that inheres in and is inseparable from the uncreated and unending world that is ordered.West v East - Order
Design – by Robert Frost
I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,On a white heal-all, holding up a mothLike a white piece of rigid satin cloth--Assorted characters of death and blightMixed ready to begin the morning right,Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,And dead wings carried like a paper kite.What had that flower to do with being white,The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?What brought the kindred spider to that height,Then steered the white moth thither in the night?What but design of darkness to appall?--If design govern in a thing so small.
they live in spontaneously self-originating and self-ordering world which has no beginning or end and no independently assigned purpose.
Eastern Aestheticism means that shaping life is a process of education and refinement, comparable in many ways to learning to draw bamboo ink paintings or to writing well-formed characters in the art of calligraphy or to studying the flow of the water in a stream.
Creativity is a notion that can only be characterized in terms of self-actualization for all involved.
Creativity can only make sense in a world with ontological parity. Either everything shares in creativity or the world is sharply divided into the creator and the created – the maker and the made.
There is an absence of linear causality or of singular determination.West v East – Power v Creativity 1
For example, in the East a poem is not an externally crafted product; rather, it is a creative process of spontaneous self-actualization through the realization of novelty.
Creativity is both self-creativity and co-creativity in a world of mutually actualized selves, each a focus of transactional realization in a realm of interdependent processes.
In this sense, the opposite of clarity is confusion – a state of unarticulated ideas or feelings.
In classical Eastern texts, allusive and connotatively rich language is more highly prized than clarity, precision, and argumentative rigor.
For the East, the opposite of clarity is not confusion, but something like ‘vagueness.’
We must attempt to avoid what A.N.Whitehead called ‘the Fallacy of the Perfect Dictionary.’
For example, besides ‘creativity,’in Chinesechengcarries the associations of ‘sincerity’ and ‘integrity.’ Can you figure out how all three definitions could work together?West v East - Language
With death, a person can either cease to exist or expect some sort of judgment and then reward or punishment (which would last through eternity) based on the kind of life he lived while his spiritual self (i.e., his soul) was dwelling in a material body.
Death celebrates the uniqueness of each person by punctuating and consummating the ongoing process in such a way as to produce distinct intimate events defined in terms of our unique relations with someone else.
A person who lives forever is one who is remembered by those with whom he had relationships. A person who never developed relationships and is forgotten ceases to exist.
Or, in the case of Buddhism, it means that our useless human “strivings” are finally over; it is a “release” from this world.West v East – Death
Pervasive in the Eastern tradition (not just Daoist or Confucian), the recognition that the form of one kind of thing gives way to the ceaseless adventure of becoming other things is grounded in a transformational perspective.
Confucius stood on a riverbank and mused about the flux and flow of life, saying, “Isn’t life’s passing just like this, never ceasing day or night!”
Such a recognition of continuity and intimacy presumably stimulates empathetic feelings for other creatures in a shared environment.
Life and death are not rivaling forces.
The Chinese focus is on the interdependence and complimentary of opposites – on the yin and yang, mind and body continuum where each can only be explained by reference to each other.
Indian (Hindu and Buddhist) cosmology is non-dualistic. Everything that is, is Brahman. The universe has to be grasped dynamically, as it moves, vibrates and dances. it moves and grows and changes continually. Brahman is the eternal Now, and in eternity there is no before or after, for everything is everywhere, always.
West don’t think differently but they
still have different notions about
things because their attentiveness
towards and perception of the
world leads them to reach
different conclusions about things.
OK. So what?
There is an easy (but
become the foundations
for different religions.
this (other than for a grade)?
One good reason is that you will know more about
the people you meet and work with who may have
religious beliefs which are different from yours.
Not everyone in the
United States is a
or an Atheist.
There are many
in the U.S.
There are a lot of religions in
the world, and we are going
to be studying only 5 of them.
Islam (600 AD) and Hinduism
(c.a. 1500 BC), almost
all of the major world religions
(including Chinese Confucianism
& Daoism) began during the
THE AXIAL AGE
According to the German philosopher Karl Jaspers, the AXIAL AGE was the period from 800 BC to 200 BC during which the same intensity of thought appeared in three different regions: China, India and the Occidental Near East & West. After the Axial Age, the different regions of Earth never again showed such parallelism. Jaspers defined this period as that against which future generations measure the quality of their thinking but was unable to define any cause or connection for it. The word axial in the phrase Axial Age should be interpreted to mean pivotal. The name is derived from the German word Achse, which means both axis and pivot. However, in this case the word was mistranslated as axial, and the term has stuck. The phrase Axial Age is frequently seen in the writing of English-speaking theologians such as Karen Armstrong.
claim the wealth), and there is a marked growth of
violence as well as a stuggle for global empires (e.g.,
Alexander the Great). The battles and violence leads
to the dislocation of large numbers of people.
5. Man becomes less certain about his home, his economic
situation, and even about his existence itself. He
yearns for his salvation (i.e., ‘saved’ from these things).
6. He tries to gain salvation by reflection. For the first time in
history, philosophers appear in public. Philosophical
disputes ensue to convince the other party. This ends
in discussion, fractionalization, and ultimately chaos.
7. This chaos produces today’s thinking categories.
8. Man’s opinions, manners, and customs are hereby put to
the test, doubted, and done away with.
All these characteristics appeared under the same sociological circumstances: China, India, and the Occidental Near East & West were divided into small states engaged in a never-ending struggle against each other. The scholars roamed from city to city to exchange ideas. These scholars were the wise men of religion and philosophical systems; in China, Confucianism and Taoism; in India, Brahmanism (later called Hinduism) and Buddhism; in the Occident, the religion of Zarathustra; in Canaan, Judaism; and in Greece, sophism and philosophy.SOURCE: Karl Jaspers: Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte, Fischer Bücherei, Frankfurt/M – Hamburg, July 1955.
- the ability to listen
- the ability to read
- the ability to do independent research
- the ability to do essay writing
-having an open and questioning mind
Let’s look at Chapter 1 and then come back for some questions.
a. to gain strength to deal with personal problems.
b. because of the desire for life beyond death.
c. because of the desire for this life to have meaning.
d. all of these.
c. the experience is the most intense of all human experiences.
d. all of these.
3.The experience of "connecting" with a divine, transcendent reality or “Unseen Reality” has been called by many names including __________.
d. Any of the above.
a. non-emotional responses, direct knowledge
b. emotional responses, belief in a non-rational
c. intuition, emotional responses
d. rational thought, non-rational modes of knowing
5. Westerners sometimes embrace Eastern religions in an attempt to avoid life’s realities. Psychologist John Welwood’s calls this attempt _________ _________.
a. “spiritual escapism”
b. “world denial.”
c. “spiritual bypassing.”
d. “new-age pilgrimages.”
a. Spiritual practices
d. any of these.
a. to aid in personal inner exploration.
b. to explain the creation of the world.
c. to present a model for how people should behave.
d. any of these.
9. Followers of any religion who resist contemporary influence while affirming historically traditional doctrines or practices should be called _______, a term more appropriate than “fundamentalists,” which is misleading in several ways.