Monday, 28 April 2014

Free Virtual Issue of Philosophy Compass on Meta-philosophy of Religion

Yujin Nagasawa, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham and Co-Director of the John Hick Centre for the Philosophy of Religion has edited a free, virtual issue of Philosophy Compass on meta-philosophy of religion. Four articles have been specially selected by Nagasawa, the editor of the Philosophy of Religion section of the journal, and will be available for free for the next six months (until October 2014). The articles address the nature, scope and methodology of the philosophy of religion.

Table of Contents:

The Enduring Appeal of Natural Theological Arguments

Helen De Cruz*

Natural theology is the branch of theology and philosophy that attempts to gain knowledge of God through non-revealed sources. In a narrower sense, natural theology is the discipline that presents rational arguments for the existence of God. Given that these arguments rarely directly persuade those who are not convinced by their conclusions, why do they enjoy an enduring appeal? This article examines two reasons for the continuing popularity of natural theological arguments: (i) they appeal to intuitions that humans robustly hold and that emerge early in cognitive development; (ii) they serve an argumentative function by presenting particular religious views as live options. I conclude with observations on the role of natural theology in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion.

Is There a Distinctively Feminist Philosophy of Religion?

Elizabeth D. Burns

Feminist philosophers of religion such as Grace Jantzen and Pamela Sue Anderson have endeavoured, firstly, to identify masculine bias in the concepts of God found in the scriptures of the world’s religions and in the philosophical writings in which religious beliefs are assessed and proposed and, secondly, to transform the philosophy of religion, and thereby the lives of women, by recommending new or expanded epistemologies and using these to revision a concept of the divine which will inspire both women and men to work for the flourishing of the whole of humankind. It is argued, firstly, that the philosophies of Jantzen and Anderson are by no means as different from each other as they might, at first, appear. Secondly, it is suggested that their epistemologies are not distinctively feminist, and that the classical divine attributes of the Abrahamic faiths do not necessarily privilege the masculine. Perhaps the only way in which a philosophy of religion might be distinctively feminist is by emphasising the inclusion of women. This might mean being more open to concepts of the divine which are not, even in a metaphorical sense, masculine, and enhancing awareness of the ways in which abstract arguments about the divine could be relevant to the practical aspects of human life which have traditionally been the preserve of women. Insofar as these are increasingly also the responsibility of men, however, a feminist philosophy of religion might now be more appropriately characterised as an inclusivist philosophy of religion.

Doing Philosophy in Style: A New Look at the Analytic/Continental Divide

N. N. Trakakis

Questions of style are often deemed of marginal importance in philosophy, as well as in metaphilosophical debates concerning the analytic/Continental divide. I take issue with this common tendency by showing how style – suitably conceived not merely as a way of writing, but as a form of expression intimately linked to a form of life – occupies a central role in philosophy. After providing an analysis of the concept of style, I take a fresh look at the analytic/Continental division by examining the various stylistic differences between philosophers on each side. Despite these differences, I argue, both sides of the divide suffer from a common stylistic deficiency, and if this deficiency were rectified the gulf separating the two traditions may not appear as insurmountable as it presently does. To show this, I draw principally from the philosophy of religion, a field that has recently experienced a renewal in both the analytic and Continental traditions.

Some Issues in Chinese Philosophy of Religion

Xiaomei Yang

Chinese philosophy of religion is a less discussed and less clearly formed area in the study of Chinese philosophy. It is true that there is virtually no discussion in Chinese philosophy about rationality or justification of religious beliefs comparable to the discussion of the same issues in Western philosophy of religion. The inquiry about rationality and justification of religious beliefs has shaped Western philosophy of religion. However, the scope of philosophy of religion in the Western context has been widened since Hume and Kant. When the West began to be exposed to non-Western religions, philosophical reflection on non-Western religions is also brought into the scope of philosophy of Religion. We can expect that the concept of religion will become much broader, the scope of philosophy of religion will expand and new issues, especially, issues concerning specific and non-Western religions, will be framed. When we look at philosophy of religion in a broad sense, the field of Chinese philosophy of religion begins to emerge. In this survey paper, I will focus on several issues which, in a broad sense of philosophy of religion, can be construed as the issues of Chinese philosophy of religion. One of the issues is about the religiosity of Confucianism. The second issue is about the concept of Tian. The third is the issue regarding the origin and nature of Chinese state religion and its characteristics which also have caught the attention of scholars, especially, in China. Is Confucianism a religion? How should we construe the religiosity of Confucianism if it does have a religious dimension? Is Tian a theological term? How does Tian differ from Western God? Is the sacrifice to Tian religious and a form of monotheism? What is the nature of state religion in traditional China? What is the relation between the state religion and Confucianism in traditional China? The debates on the issues addressing these questions will be introduced and discussed in this paper.

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