Philosophy vs. Religion

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by SenatorB, Aug 30, 2006.

  1. SenatorB

    SenatorB J.S.P.S

    In the West, since Kant separated god from what he thought could be learned about the nature of things by means of reasoning, there has been a clear divide between philosophy and religion. Religion has been seen as a field in which "leaps of faith" are not just permitted but sometimes required; primacy may be given to what certain people state to be the case simply because of who they are (that is to say, what they say is taken as true regardless of whether or not it is demonstratably, or even arguably, true); and varying degrees of "otherness" are found, such as a transcendent God, beings whos status and/or knowledge is in some sense superhuman or supernatural, and/or various kinds of superhuman or supernatural power source(s). All or any of such factors are "believed" by adherents of the different religious traditions, either unquestioningly or within a questioning framework, and as such these people are known as "believers".

    A key point for believers is that they also believe that practicing their religion is directly linked with their destiny. The existence of this relationship between religious beliefs and practices and the individual destiny - particularly after death - is why religions are referred to as soteriologies, or "systems of salvation".

    In contrast to this, since Kant the discipline of philosophy has been primarily concerned with the investigation of what can be known of the nature and structure of reality by means of rational argument alone. That is to say, whatever specific topics philosophers concern themselves with, the way they do it must be logically watertight: no leaps of faith are permitted, no one's word is privileged over rationality, and no part of the exercise is anything other than a human intellectual endeavour. Philosophy is simply not soteriological - indeed, that is an important aspect of what distinguishes it from religion.

    Thus the Western philosophical tradition nowadays purports to concern itself only with certain knowledge and investigates only those issues that can be considered by means of logical argument. So rigidly has this methodological criterion come to be imposed that since the early 20th century the majority of philosophers have not concerned themselves with big metaphysical questions such as What is there? What exists? What is the absolute truth about the nature of reality? Modern philosophy tends to be concerned with detailed and technical questions about kinds of logic and linguistic analysis. Topics such as ethics and goodness, that earlier philosophers had discussed in the context of how they should live their own lives as they sought wisdom or understanding, tend to be considered and argued for as intellectual abstractions. Professional philosophy has become separated from the personal quest, and for many philosophy per se is understood only in this modern sense.
    (Just so it's not plagiarism, I paraphrased the above from one of my Philosophy textbooks I just got, which I can cite if anybody really cares)

    So my questions are... In our efforts to distance our philosophizing from religion, have we lost site of bigger issues that would otherwise be valuable to contemplate? Or alternatively, are our increasingly empirical studies exactly what we should continue, while ignoring anything bordering on the moral? Are we just right as we are? Which is more valuable to society and to the individual? Extrapolate on the concepts I brought up...


  2. kang

    kang Guest

    The Hindu religion addresses the need to both answer things empirically as well as spiritually.

    I'm not an expert on that religion by any means but I suppose the idea there is that the two do not have to be mutually exclusive.
  3. smuda

    smuda Registered Member

    Have we lost site of bigger issues that would otherwise be valuable to contemplate? Let them do both. Let them study and examine the issues of philosophy apart from salvation and then maybe that will help others stand on that work. I mean use their work as a foundation to look at relgion. I'm not a philosophy student but I do like eastern mysticism.

    Are our empirical studies okay whle ignoring the moral? Hell why not? I took a few philosophy classes all those years ago. Before that I came from a background of deep meditation and roman catholicism. My experiences of deep meditation gave me a foundation I continued to return to. And over the years I've realized the limit of study verses experience. I wouldn't want to be forced to choose only one. I need both. I need the knowledge and I need the experience. "Human beings are capable not merely of knowing about [the way things are], they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known." (Auldous Huxley) Maybe western civilization needed Kant to look at how we know things?
  4. Gryf

    Gryf Guest

    Well, yeah. I'd hope so, or most of your brain's been cut out, leaving just the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe isn't the only structure in that carapace, you know.
  5. Foucault

    Foucault Guest

    You should read Nietsche, heidigger, Camus, Sarte, Foucault, Derrida and deleuze. They all address these questions in one way or another. My guess is that you havent read much Continental Philosophy?
  6. SenatorB

    SenatorB J.S.P.S

    Interesting that you should mention this actually, as the philosophy book I quoted from was one about Indian Philosophy (largly about Hindu), and it went on to say after the part I quoted that Hindu does incorporate both things, as you said.

    I haven't studied too much philosophy (this is only my second class), but I was more curious as to what people's personal opinions and thoughts on the subject were, as opposed to asking a question I wanted a straight answer to.
  7. smuda

    smuda Registered Member

    Gry, my apologies. I screwed up that quote. I was trying to use it along the lines of this topic. Where I wrote "the way things are" the author said "Divine Ground." That isn't the topic so that was a goof. Of course we can know what we know. Sorry.

    I will chirp in that from what I've read of Hindu philosophy they have never seen a need to seperate theology from philosophy.

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