Lecture Notes 1 - Intro to POR


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Lecture Notes 1 - Intro to POR

  1. 1. Welcome to: Philosophy of Religion
  2. 2. Alex Rodriguez's wife, Cynthia, to file for divorce According to the New York Daily News, Gossip Section, Cynthia Rodriguez, 34, has told friends she believes Madonna, 49, has used mystical Jewish religion of kabbalah to brainwash her husband.
  3. 3. Philosophy of Religion What is Philosophy? What is Philosophy of Religion?
  4. 4. What is Philosophy?
  5. 5. Philosophy: Some Popular Misconceptions <ul><li>Philosophy: an attitude or outlook on life </li></ul><ul><li>Philosophy: a bunch of grand general principles used to guide us in various practical activities such as gardening, playing tennis, investing our money, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Philosophy: thought-provoking sayings, such as, “You can't wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.” – Navajo Proverb </li></ul><ul><li>So while these are not typically confusing in their own context, they don’t accurately capture the fullness of the field of philosophy </li></ul>
  6. 6. What is Philosophy? Philosophy, like most academic fields, actually consists of several main branches. These branches themselves have sub-branches and can become very specialized as one progresses through the field of study. Metaphysics – studies the nature of ultimate reality. Epistemology – studies the scope and nature of knowledge. Logic - study of correct reasoning and argument. <ul><li>Axiology (study of values) </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics – studies questions of how we should act. </li></ul><ul><li>Aesthetics – Studies questions about art and beauty </li></ul><ul><li>Social/Political Philosophy – </li></ul><ul><li>studies questions of which </li></ul><ul><li>political and/or economic </li></ul><ul><li>institutions are most fair and just. </li></ul>Philosophy
  7. 7. What is Philosophy? But this diagram below is a bit misleading. The main branches of philosophy are not independent of one another. So, for instance, if you were to make a metaphysical claim (about the nature of ultimate reality), a likely question to follow such a claim could be, “How do you know that?” which leads from metaphysics to epistemology. Metaphysics – studies the nature of ultimate reality. Epistemology – studies the scope and nature of knowledge. Logic - study of correct reasoning and argument. <ul><li>Axiology (study of values) </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics – studies questions of how we should act. </li></ul><ul><li>Aesthetics – Studies questions about art and beauty </li></ul><ul><li>Social/Political Philosophy – </li></ul><ul><li>studies questions of which </li></ul><ul><li>political and/or economic </li></ul><ul><li>institutions are most fair and just. </li></ul>Philosophy
  8. 8. Philosophy philos (love) sophia (wisdom) Love of Wisdom To Love Wisdom
  9. 9. <ul><li>a rigorous examination of the concepts that hold together a larger framework, worldview, culture </li></ul><ul><li>(i.e. what do they presume, imply, are they defensible?) </li></ul><ul><li>a reflective examination of the conceptual structure </li></ul><ul><li>and ideas of a particular human enterprise or claim </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g. law, justice, ethics, knowledge, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>intellectual engagement in those common conceptual </li></ul><ul><li>themes that underlie and overlap among all academic </li></ul><ul><li>disciplines. </li></ul>Philosophy: Love of Wisdom… or is there more to it?
  10. 10. Why Study Philosophy? <ul><li>To understand how ideas influence our experience. </li></ul><ul><li>To free us from from prejudice, self-deceptive notions, and half-truths. </li></ul><ul><li>To enlarge our conception of what is possible. </li></ul><ul><li>To increase our appreciation of other people’s viewpoints, perspectives, rights, and needs. </li></ul><ul><li>To understand the “history of the present” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a critical examination of the history of ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>where we are culturally and as individuals in terms of how we think about things is largely a result of an accumulation of a history of ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>challenges claims of “human nature,” or “that’s just the way things are.” </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Ways of Knowing How Do We Make Sense of the World? With the help of Stories? With the help of Revelation? With the help of Reason? Mythology Religion Phi losophy
  12. 12. Philosophy Philosophy can therefore be understood as an exploration of the fundamental questions about human existence, knowledge, and reality by using reason and argument. We begin to philosophize when we present arguments in defense of our claims about reality and how we know it.
  13. 13. Philosophy, You, and Us You, as a student, come into class with a profoundly unique background. Your participation allows other students, as well as the instructor, to be exposed to a different set of views. In short, you are also a teacher. As a student, as a human being, welcome differences and conflict. Use these as an opportunity to genuinely attempt to understand another’s ideas, arguments, and beliefs. Intellectual honesty ought to be one’s goal… or as Plato tells us, “ Know Thyself .”
  14. 14. 3 Key Elements of Philosophical Reflection 1. In order to philosophize we need to know how to construct and evaluate arguments. 2. Philosophy naturally emerges as a response to persistent questioning and a critical state of mind. A satisfied and incurious condition generally does not yield philosophical thought. 3. Philosophy has a tendency to lead to a plurality of different answers and perspectives. For most complex questions, there are several perspectives supported by reason. In this sense, equally reasonable people may not agree.
  15. 15. Philosophy vs. Religion Philosophy Religion <ul><li>Questions all assumption of authority (political, social, traditions, never dogmatic). </li></ul><ul><li>Concerned with questions </li></ul><ul><li>(large, persistent, metaphysical). </li></ul><ul><li>Only subservient to self-imposed standards of rationality and reasonable argument. </li></ul><ul><li>Value driven – according to humanity’s highest potential </li></ul><ul><li>Appeals to authority (God, gods, prophets, religious denomination, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Provide all-encompassing answers to the life’s questions (meaning, purpose, reality). </li></ul><ul><li>Principally subservient. </li></ul><ul><li>Value driven – according to </li></ul><ul><li>serving the will of the Divine. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Bertrand Russell, “The Value of Philosophy” “ Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what they might be; it removes the . . . arrogant dogmatism of those who have never traveled into the region of liberating doubt…”
  17. 17. What is Philosophy? Philosophy is like a table. Philosophy helps us lay out issues and examines them in an orderly and thorough manner. It helps us determine what is at stake with certain ideas, assumptions, and what are the implications that follow from those – notice the concern with clarity and the lack of equal concern for answers.
  18. 18. God said it, I believe it, that settles it.
  19. 19. God said it, I believe it, that settles it. <ul><li>How do you know there is a God? </li></ul><ul><li>Which God said it? </li></ul><ul><li>Couldn’t somebody be making it up? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we decide what God means? </li></ul><ul><li>Uh… so? </li></ul><ul><li>A lot of people believe false things </li></ul><ul><li>What settles it? </li></ul><ul><li>What does “it” refer to: that it’s believed, or that God said it? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Weekly Expectations <ul><li>Reading Assignments (See Course Outline in Syllabus) </li></ul><ul><li>Short Essay Assignments </li></ul><ul><li>Academic Honesty </li></ul>
  21. 21. Short Essay #1 John Hick notes that “It is also necessary, in the “one world” of today, to face the problem of apparently conflicting truth claims of the various religions.” p. 4 Philosophy of Religion , 1990 John J. Hick Two of the main branches of philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology, deal with this “problem” noted above. Discuss why this problem is an epistemological and metaphysical one.
  22. 22. What is Philosophy of Religion? Not religious philosophizing – the philosophical defense of religious convictions and to demonstrate rationally the existence of God, thus preparing the way for claims of revelation. Philosophy of Religion , 1990 John J. Hick Revelation – “the communication of some truth by God to a rational creature through means which are beyond the ordinary course of nature.” p. 56
  23. 23. What is Philosophy of Religion? “ [Philosophy of Religion] is not an organ of religious teaching…” p. 1 Philosophy of Religion , 1990 John J. Hick
  24. 24. What is Philosophy of Religion? “ [Philosophy of Religion] studies the concepts and belief systems of religion as well as the prior phenomena of religious experience and the activities of worship and meditation on which these belief systems rest and out of which they have arisen.” p. 1 Philosophy of Religion , 1990 John J. Hick
  25. 25. What is Philosophy of Religion? “ [Philosophy of Religion] seeks to analyze concepts such as God, dharma, Brahman, salvation, worship, creation, sacrifice, nirvana, eternal life, etc., and to determine the nature of religious utterances in comparison with those of everyday life, scientific discovery, morality, and the imaginative expression of the arts.” p. 2 Philosophy of Religion , 1990 John J. Hick
  26. 26. Marjoe Gotner started his show biz career as a child evangelist in the 1950s, forced into that mold by a domineering mother. By the time Marjoe was sixteen his family had amassed maybe three million dollars; shortly after his sixteenth birthday, his father ran away with the money, and disillusioned he left his mother for San Francisco. In the late 1960s, Marjoe suffered a crisis of conscience, so he took a film crew behind the scenes of the “revival meeting” business to expose his own hypocrisy. In the documentary, Marjoe exposed himself and other preachers as spiritual frauds who would whip crowds of believers into a frenzy for the purposes of increasing the size of their “offerings” which he would divide up according to an agreed upon “split.” View two clips from the documentary here and here . 1972 Academy Award Winner Category: Documentary
  27. 27. On the one hand, Marjoe Gotner gave thousands of believers profound and meaningful spiritual experiences (e.g. laying on of hands, speaking in tongues). On the other hand, even through Marjoe’s own admission, he was a fraud. What can we say about these spiritual experiences? Note that the point here is not that preachers are frauds, the question is: what can we say about these individual subjective religious experiences in terms of their being a result of metaphysical realities? Are subjective experiences good evidence? 1972 Academy Award Winner Category: Documentary
  28. 28. Evidence based on individual psychology Evidence of Experience X Individual psychological experiences, then, cannot be reliable “evidence” for metaphysical realities.
  29. 29. Online Resources <ul><li>http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/ </li></ul><ul><li>The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>http://plato.stanford.edu/ </li></ul><ul><li>The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.ditext.com/encyc/frame.html </li></ul><ul><li>Meta-Encyclopedia of Philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/ </li></ul><ul><li>Philosophical Dictionary </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.philosophypages.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Philosophy Pages--with lots of information and links </li></ul>