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Philosophy of Religion

Philosophy of Religion. Reflecting on Religion is an ancient tradition- Xenophanes (570BC). What is Philosophy?. “Philosophy is the rational attempt to formulate, understand, and answer fundamental questions.”- Kessler, xv. What is Rationality?.

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Philosophy of Religion

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  1. Philosophy of Religion Reflecting on Religion is an ancient tradition- Xenophanes (570BC)

  2. What is Philosophy? • “Philosophy is the rational attempt to formulate, understand, and answer fundamental questions.”- Kessler, xv.

  3. What is Rationality? • Consistency- Consistency principle: I like to keep consistent what I think, say and do, and will change to ensure that this is the case. • What if one’s actions conflict with one’s beliefs? • What if one’s beliefs conflict with each other?

  4. Conscientiousness Principle • If you believe you ought to do A, then do A. • If you don’t do A, then don’t believe that you ought to do A. • Change your beliefs and/or your actions- to keep the two in harmony.

  5. Conflicting Beliefs • Let’s look at two opposing positions. • Pacifism: Killing is always wrong. • Self-Defense: Killing in self-defense is sometimes right. • Consistency: Don’t combine accepting pacifism with accepting self-defense. • Don’t persist in inconsistent situation of accepting pacifism while also accepting self-defense). You need to give up one.

  6. Fundamental Questions What is real and how does it differ from what appears to be real? (Metaphysics) What is the nature of God or the Supreme Being (gods)?- Unchanging First Principle; Ultimate Truth; Not describable; the Numinous; Creator; Someone who speaks and acts on behalf of the people.

  7. Fundamental Questions What constitutes knowledge and how does it differ from opinion? (Epistemology) How can human beings know anything about God or ultimate reality?

  8. Fundamental Questions • What constitutes value- aesthetic (beauty) or moral (good)? How do such values differ from facts? How are value judgments justified? • How are religion and morality related?

  9. What is Philosophy? • Philosophy involves critical examination of self and of assumptions? • Is rationality being aware of biases? “A broader understanding comes about in comparison and contrast which lets the other be.- Charles Taylor

  10. Kinds of Biases • Western- view religion from the lens of Christianity. • Value – definitions can reflect value, e.g. “religion is an illusory hope for eternal life.”

  11. Kinds of Biases • Theory bias- viewing religion from cultural, historical, sociological, and psychological theory. • Central question-is religion more than any of these aspects?

  12. Kinds of Biases • Gender- Religion is often viewed through the lens of traditional patriarchic religion. Theologian Mary Daly- “If God is male, then the male is God.”

  13. Spirituality/ Religion • “Religious” is a personal characteristic; “religion” denotes an organization. • A person can belong to a religion and not be religious. • A person can be religious and not belong to a religion.

  14. Insider / Outsider • Insider-participant in religious tradition-promotes and is committed. • Outsider- studies, seeks understanding; not suppose is committed .

  15. Values for Course • Openness- seek evidence and understanding; not prejudge or think I am right. • Honesty- seeks to be aware of biases and try to view the religions sympathetically.

  16. Values for Course • Critical analysis- seeks to identify key elements; find assumptions that underlay a practice- e.g. gender, power or privilege. Seek counter evidence; raise good questions.

  17. Values for Course • Careful observation, reading and listening-project oneself into the viewpoint; see world from that perspective. • Critical tolerance- endorse freedom of religion; but do not automatically approve all.

  18. Philosophy again • You philosophize when you reflect critically upon what you are actually doing in your world. What you are doing, of course, in the first place, is living. And living involves passions, faiths, doubts and courage. The critical inquiry into what all these things mean and imply is philosophy.” Josiah Royce, 1892, The Spirit of Modern Philosophy: An Essay in the Form of Lectures. Boston and New York, Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1.

  19. The Quest Begins

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