Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion

Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion

Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 252
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  • Book Info
    Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion
    Book Description:

    "There is no attempt here to lay down as inviolable or to legislate certain ways of looking at things or ways of proceeding for philosophers of religion, only proposals for how to deal with a range of basic issues-proposals that I hope will ignite much fruitful discussion and which, in any case, I shall take as a basis for my own ongoing work in the field."-from the Preface

    Providing an original and systematic treatment of foundational issues in philosophy of religion, J. L. Schellenberg's new book addresses the structure of religious and irreligious belief, the varieties of religious skepticism, and the nature of religion itself. From the author's searching analysis of faith emerges a novel understanding of propositional faith as requiring the absence of belief. Schellenberg asks what the aims of the field should be, setting out a series of principles for carrying out some of the most important of these aims.

    His account of justification considers not only belief but also other responses to religious claims and distinguishes the justification of responses, propositions, and persons. Throughout Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion, Schellenberg is laying the groundwork for an elaboration of his own vision while at the same time suggesting how philosophers might rethink assumptions guiding most of today's work in analytic philosophy of religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6233-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    J. L. S.
  4. CHAPTER 1 On Religion
    (pp. 1-38)

    A rather large concept, which contributes its color to every part of the map whose configurations we are seeking to discern, is the concept of religion. Because of its pervasiveness in philosophy of religion, a book on prolegomena to inquiry in that field might be expected to have something to say about this concept. Indeed, a careful analysis would seem warranted. Yet the need for this can be contested, and its justification can be misunderstood. I therefore begin this discussion by considering more closely why it ought to be undertaken.

    One reason that might be put forward for analyzing “religion”...

  5. CHAPTER 2 On Belief
    (pp. 39-74)

    Having clarified “religion” as far as we have, we are closer to being in a position to tackle the ideas of religious belief and a generalized religious disbelief. Philosophers of religion are obviously very interested in the former attitude; one could go on for pages listing the titles referring to it. There is less mention of the latter, but clearly it is something in which philosophers are interested and should be interested, for it represents an important answer to the question of what response to religious claims is rationally most appropriate—an answer about as opposed, intellectually, to religious belief...

  6. CHAPTER 3 On Religious Belief and Religious Disbelief
    (pp. 75-94)

    At the beginning of Chapter 2 I spoke of wishing to color in the borders of the discussion by considering the “outermost” responses to religious claims—religious belief and religious disbelief—before analyzing other responses falling between them. But then we saw how even before that, we needed to become better acquainted with the belief element those opposites have in common. Now, with a better understanding both of religion and of belief in hand, we are finally able to approach religious belief and religious disbelief directly and with a realistic hope of illuminating their natures. I discuss them in that...

  7. CHAPTER 4 On Religious skepticism
    (pp. 95-105)

    Once or twice already I have mentioned that there are responses to religious claims which fall between (propositional) belief and disbelief. The most obvious of these is skepticism. Everyone knows both that there are religious believers and disbelievers and that there are religious skeptics, and also that skeptics lack precisely what the believers and disbelievers possess: where believers and disbelievers in their different ways hold beliefs, skeptics are uncertain or in doubt. Here I want to get clearer about the nature of this skepticism. Now presumably we know a lot more than we did at the beginning of the book...

  8. CHAPTER 5 On Religious Faith (I)
    (pp. 106-126)

    It might be thought that, having already dealt with matters of belief and of religious belief, this book requires no chapter on religious faith—let alone two! Most philosophers, influenced by common interpretations of such notable figures as Aquinas and Kierkegaard, or else by the theological habits of the often highly doctrinal forms of religion most familiar to them, have held that religious faith is (propositional) religious belief or, at the very least, that it entails such belief.¹ Many of these philosophers, notoriously, have criticized religious faith because they have thought religious belief to be somewhat naive and foolish, or...

  9. CHAPTER 6 On Religious Faith (II)
    (pp. 127-166)

    The central idea of this chapter is that of religious faith without propositional religious belief. Let it be emphasized immediately that in supporting this idea I am not arguing that someone could have religious faith without any beliefs whatever, or that there are no particular beliefs (concerning value, say) that are necessarily possessed by one who has faith, but only that it is possible to have such faith without religious belief. Even so, the claim is a strong one and may seem radical. To see why, we need only recall my comments at the beginning of the previous chapter concerning...

  10. CHAPTER 7 On the Aims of Philosophy of Religion
    (pp. 167-194)

    Our investigations in previous chapters of the nature of religion, belief, religious belief and disbelief, religious skepticism, and religious faith were undertaken not just for their own sake but also because of the larger aims that philosophers seek to carry out in connection with such phenomena, the correct development and pursuit of which are facilitated by a proper understanding of them. But what are these aims? And how are they correctly developed? These are themselves prolegomena issues inasmuch as it belongs to the area of prolegomena to determine what, really, we should be seeking to do in philosophy of religion,...

  11. CHAPTER 8 On Principles of Evaluation in Philosophy of Religion
    (pp. 195-222)

    In this chapter I undertake an investigation of how best to pursue some of the aims discussed in the previous one. My focus is on evaluative aims, and, even more narrowly, on the evaluation of various actual and possible responses to religious claims—believing, faith-full, purely skeptical, and disbelieving¹—which the goal of determining whether religious practice is justified requires philosophers to examine. Several points can be raised in support of this way of proceeding. (1) Most philosophers of religion are already very well acquainted with the procedures of analysis involved in clarifying the meanings of religious claims and the...

  12. Index
    (pp. 223-226)