Special Issue "New Horizons in the Philosophy of Religion"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2015)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Jonathan Hill

Department of Theology and Religion, University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Northcote House, Exeter EX4 4QJ, UK
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 078 0738 5207
Interests: philosophy of religion; history of doctrine; patristics; scepticism; Leibniz; early modern philosophy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Philosophy of religion is more prominent today than it has been for decades. Works of “popular” philosophy of religion, often by figures who do not identify as philosophers, such as Richard Dawkins, have had a great impact on the media and public discussion about religion. Arguments for and against God’s existence, and about the nature and rationality of faith, have become popular talking points, and the rationality of viewpoints such as “Intelligent Design” has become a significant political and social issue, especially in the United States.

The traditional interest in the concept of God and arguments for or against his existence remains alive and well in contemporary academic philosophy of religion too. The “fine-tuning” argument, for example, has occasioned much debate in recent years. At the same time, however, the discipline has been widening its scope into quite different areas of investigation. There is great contemporary interest in the epistemology of religion, particularly with discussion of and reaction to the cluster of ideas known as “Reformed Epistemology”. Related areas include the nature of religious faith and of belief in general, topics that overlap with wider epistemological issues and with other disciplines entirely such as psychology and cognitive science. Researchers in these areas are interested in religious faith in all its historical and cultural variety. At the same time, there has been a surge of interest in the philosophical discussion of particular religious doctrines, particularly those of Christianity. Under the heading of “philosophical theology” or “analytic theology”, scholars have examined doctrines such as the Trinity, Incarnation, and atonement using the tools of analytic philosophy. Here, philosophy of religion overlaps very closely with confessional theology.

These developments have coincided with a greater interest in doing philosophy of religion through engagement with historical figures. Just as historians of philosophy in general are today combining historical exegesis with philosophical analysis, so too philosophers of religion are engaging critically with new historical work on figures such as Aquinas, Leibniz, Kant, and others, including representatives of non-Christian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Much philosophy of religion today is done by philosophers who also specialize in medieval or early modern philosophy – or in continental philosophy, which continues to be a great influence on contemporary Christian theology.

Finally, the nature of philosophy of religion itself has come under scrutiny in recent years, particularly from the viewpoint of feminist philosophy. Critics consider the degree to which the assumptions and concepts of this historically very male-dominated discipline reflect a peculiarly masculine point of view, and seek to find a new way of doing philosophy of religion that does justice to women’s concerns and experiences.

This issue will include examples of these traditional concerns and new directions in philosophy of religion, to give an overview and illustration of how the discipline operates today. It will also look at the ways in which contemporary philosophers of religion draw on resources from wider philosophical traditions such as analytic philosophy, continental philosophy, Indian philosophy, and other traditions.

Topics covered may include:

(1) Nature/ history of philosophy of religion (incl. relation to contemporary popular debate)

(2) Relationship between theology/philosophy of religion and modern (analytic) philosophy

(3) Relationship between theology/philosophy of religion and modern (continental) philosophy

(4) Relationship between theology/philosophy of religion and history of philosophy

(5) Philosophy of religion and psychology/cognitive science

(6) Feminism and philosophy of religion

(7) Religious faith/belief and epistemology

(8) Fine-tuning arguments

(9) Problem of evil

(10) Nature of religious experience

(11) Trinity/Incarnation

(12) Sin and atonement

(13) Philosophy of religious ethics

(14) South Asian philosophy of religion

There are many anthologies and collected volumes on philosophy of religion. These typically focus on introducing the subject (in which case there tends to be a lot of material on the concept of God and arguments for or against his existence, as well on medieval author) or on particular sub-topics (e.g. the philosophical analysis of doctrines such as the Trinity and Incarnation). By including material on the main areas of contemporary research, this issue will therefore be distinctive. In particular, the inclusion of feminist philosophy of religion, a topic that has really become prominent only in the past decade and a half, should set this issue apart from existing edited volumes on philosophy of religion in general.

Dr. Jonathan Hill
Guest Editor

References:

Anderson, P. and Clack, B., eds. (2003) Feminist Philosophy of Religion: Critical Readings London: Routledge

Cahn, S., ed. (2005) Ten Essential Texts in the Philosophy of Religion: Classics and Contemporary Issues Oxford: Oxford University Press

Cheetham, D. and King, R., eds. (2008) Contemporary Practice and Method in the Philosophy of Religion: New Essays London; New York: Continuum

Clark, K., ed. (2008) Readings in Philosophy of Religion Peterborough, ON: Broadview

Craig, W., ed. (2002) Philosophy of Religion: A Reader and Guide Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Goodchild, P., ed. (2002) Rethinking Philosophy of Religion: Approaches from Continental Philosophy New York: Fordham University Press

Kvanvig, J., ed. (2013) Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion vol. 4 Oxford: Oxford University Press

Mann, W., ed. (2004) The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Religion Oxford: Blackwell

Nagasawa, Y. and Wielenberg, E., eds. (2009) New Waves in Philosophy of Religion Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Peterson, M. and VanArragon, R., eds. (2004) Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion Oxford: Blackwell

Pojman, L., ed. (2003) Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology London: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning

Taliaferro, C. and Griffiths, P., eds. (2003) Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology Oxford: Blackwell

Wainwright, W., ed. (2005) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion Oxford: Oxford University Press

Zagzebski, L. and Miller, T., eds. (2009) Readings in Philosophy of Religion: Ancient to Contemporary Chichester; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • philosophy of religion
  • philosophical theology
  • analytic theology
  • theism
  • Christian doctrine
  • religious experience
  • Reformed Epistemology

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Qur’anic Interpretation and the Problem of Literalism: Ibn Rushd and the Enlightenment Project in the Islamic World
Religions 2015, 6(3), 1082-1106; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6031082
Received: 4 May 2015 / Revised: 11 August 2015 / Accepted: 26 August 2015 / Published: 11 September 2015
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Abstract
This article examines the claim that Ibn Rushd of Cordoba (“Averroës,” 12th century B.C.) is a precursor of the Enlightenment and a source of inspiration for the emancipation of contemporary Islamic societies. The paper critically discusses the fascination that Ibn Rushd has exercised [...] Read more.
This article examines the claim that Ibn Rushd of Cordoba (“Averroës,” 12th century B.C.) is a precursor of the Enlightenment and a source of inspiration for the emancipation of contemporary Islamic societies. The paper critically discusses the fascination that Ibn Rushd has exercised on several thinkers, from Ernest Renan to Salman Rushdie, and highlights the problem of literalism in Qur’anic interpretation. Based on Ibn Rushd’s Decisive Treatise (Fasl al-maqāl), the paper investigates Ibn Rushd’s proposed division of (Muslim) society into three distinct classes. The main question here is whether there is a substantial link between the people of the Muslim community, given the three distinct kinds of assent (tasdīq) introduced by Ibn Rushd. I argue that if such a link cannot be supplied, then it is hard to see in Ibn Rushd an enlightened social model for today’s Muslim societies. Furthermore, that the great majority of people are prevented from having any contact with non-literal interpretation of the Scripture and non-revealed ways of thinking. The latter position, though, does not seem to bring Ibn Rushd close to the Enlightenment. My analysis of religious language is inspired by Wittgenstein’s position that the meaning of a term cannot be detached from its use. I suggest that given the different lives of people belonging to Ibn Rushd’s different classes, the terms they use can mean quite different things. This argument in fact weakens Ibn Rushd’s association with the Enlightenment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons in the Philosophy of Religion)
Open AccessArticle Representation and Interpretation as the Basis of Participation in the Trinity
Religions 2015, 6(3), 1017-1032; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6031017
Received: 13 May 2015 / Revised: 3 August 2015 / Accepted: 17 August 2015 / Published: 27 August 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (210 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
I suggest that God’s life is the Spirit’s eternal interpretation of the Word as the perfect sign (representation) of the Father. Creaturely interpretations imperfectly mirror the perfect coherence of being and representation that is God’s life. When we respond to the incarnate Word [...] Read more.
I suggest that God’s life is the Spirit’s eternal interpretation of the Word as the perfect sign (representation) of the Father. Creaturely interpretations imperfectly mirror the perfect coherence of being and representation that is God’s life. When we respond to the incarnate Word we are adopted into the place occupied by the Spirit within the Trinity. By responding to the Word with the fullness of our being we are incorporated into the divine dynamic of truthful representation and loving response. Ontologically, this approach invites a retrieval of the idea of “vestiges of the Trinity in creation”. Epistemologically, it affirms that the basis of God’s self-communication (revelation) is the coherence of Being and Representation within God’s-self. Ethically, it challenges us to respond to suffering and injustice as these are illuminated by the incarnate Word, and to act as mediators for the incorporation of the whole creation into God’s life. The sacrament of the Eucharist is a sign that actualizes what it signifies, where what it signifies is the gift of participation in the divine life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons in the Philosophy of Religion)
Open AccessArticle “Weak Thought” and Christianity: Some Aspects of Vattimo’s Philosophy of Religion, Confrontation with Otakar Funda
Religions 2015, 6(3), 969-987; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6030969
Received: 30 April 2015 / Revised: 3 July 2015 / Accepted: 28 July 2015 / Published: 19 August 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (245 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The article expresses the philosophical thoughts of an Italian philosopher, G.Vattimo and his development of the philosophy of M. Heidegger and essential aspects of Vattimo’s philosophy of religion. In the first part, we clarify Vattimo’s interpretation of Heidegger’s destruction of traditional metaphysics, the [...] Read more.
The article expresses the philosophical thoughts of an Italian philosopher, G.Vattimo and his development of the philosophy of M. Heidegger and essential aspects of Vattimo’s philosophy of religion. In the first part, we clarify Vattimo’s interpretation of Heidegger’s destruction of traditional metaphysics, the occurrence of ontological difference and the historical process of the oblivion of Being. According to Vattimo, the oblivion of Being is Heidegger’s reaction to European nihilism. It brings with it his philosophical questions on metaphysics, the substance of technology and course of technical civilisation. For Vattimo, it was only secularisation which enables one to pose questions about God, sense, and meaning. In a postmodern world, the world of technology and science has an ontological meaning for human beings and awakens them to who they are. In the article, we also focus our attention on some problematic points in his philosophy of religion. The first problem is a conflict among differentiated interpretations. Vattimo claims that kenosis has neither anything in common with “indefinite negation of God”, nor does it apologise for any interpretation of the Holy Scripture. In addition, he refuses radical demythologisation. In his opinion, there are no necessary reasons to follow this step. There are some authors who have serious reasons for it and the interpretation of kenosis leads to atheism. We will confront Vattimo’s philosophy with the thinking of the current Czech atheistic philosopher Otakar Funda. The next problem is a reduction of soteriology on the process of human being’s emancipation. There is no place for metaphysical evil here. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons in the Philosophy of Religion)
Open AccessArticle Images of Reality: Iris Murdoch’s Five Ways from Art to Religion
Religions 2015, 6(3), 875-890; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6030875
Received: 8 May 2015 / Revised: 15 June 2015 / Accepted: 13 July 2015 / Published: 30 July 2015
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Abstract
Art plays a significant role in Iris Murdoch’s moral philosophy, a major part of which may be interpreted as a proposal for the revision of religious belief. In this paper, I identify within Murdoch’s philosophical writings five distinct but related ways in which [...] Read more.
Art plays a significant role in Iris Murdoch’s moral philosophy, a major part of which may be interpreted as a proposal for the revision of religious belief. In this paper, I identify within Murdoch’s philosophical writings five distinct but related ways in which great art can assist moral/religious belief and practice: art can reveal to us “the world as we were never able so clearly to see it before”; this revelatory capacity provides us with evidence for the existence of the Good, a metaphor for a transcendent reality of which God was also a symbol; art is a “hall of reflection” in which “everything under the sun can be examined and considered”; art provides us with an analogue for the way in which we should try to perceive our world; and art enables us to transcend our selfish concerns. I consider three possible objections: that Murdoch’s theory is not applicable to all forms of art; that the meaning of works of art is often ambiguous; and that there is disagreement about what constitutes a great work of art. I argue that none of these objections are decisive, and that all forms of art have at least the potential to furnish us with important tools for developing the insight required to live a moral/religious life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons in the Philosophy of Religion)
Open AccessArticle The New Secular Humanists: Ronald Dworkin and Philip Kitcher on Life without God
Religions 2015, 6(3), 839-851; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6030839
Received: 29 April 2015 / Revised: 6 July 2015 / Accepted: 7 July 2015 / Published: 17 July 2015
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Abstract
Ronald Dworkin and Philip Kitcher recognize that traditional, religious faith—especially in Christian theistic tradition—has virtues that seem to be missing in a secular worldview. To remedy this apparent deficit, they both propose that a secular worldview can provide a satisfying foundation for a [...] Read more.
Ronald Dworkin and Philip Kitcher recognize that traditional, religious faith—especially in Christian theistic tradition—has virtues that seem to be missing in a secular worldview. To remedy this apparent deficit, they both propose that a secular worldview can provide a satisfying foundation for a flourishing, meaningful life. Moreover, Kitcher argues that secular humanism is far more justified than a religious worldview because it does not face the problem of diversity that arises in the case of religion. I argue that secular humanism faces the same problem of diversity that Kitcher proposes undermines religious belief. I further argue that Dworkin’s and Kitcher’s secular alternative to a religious worldview is problematic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons in the Philosophy of Religion)
Open AccessArticle Reason, Rhythm, and Rituality. Reinterpreting Religious Cult from a Postmodern, Phenomenological Perspective
Religions 2015, 6(3), 819-838; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6030819
Received: 4 May 2015 / Revised: 25 May 2015 / Accepted: 17 June 2015 / Published: 10 July 2015
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Abstract
Contemporary philosophy of religion is often focused, at a theoretical level, on the epistemic value of religious doctrines, and at a practical level, on the possible impact of organized religion on secular society and politics. However, the cultic dimension of religion, such as [...] Read more.
Contemporary philosophy of religion is often focused, at a theoretical level, on the epistemic value of religious doctrines, and at a practical level, on the possible impact of organized religion on secular society and politics. However, the cultic dimension of religion, such as prayer, religious service, ascetic practices, and other rituals, is considered as completely “irrational” and incomprehensible from a secular perspective and therefore often neglected by postmodern philosophy. The paper intends to call into question this rather simplistic interpretation by retracing the historical origins of the devaluation of religious symbolism in occidental thought, which culminates in Kant’s philosophy of religion. We then shall analyze to what extent certain paradoxical aspects of Habermas’ view on religion can be interpreted as consequences of the dilemma brought about by the Kantian dichotomy between man as moral subject and man as natural, sensible being. In a third step, we shall develop an alternative, phenomenological interpretation, which does not consider religious practice as a primitive, irrational phenomenon but as a proto-ethical schematism that aims at integrating the sphere of pure practical reason into the rhythmic structure of living, embodied consciousness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons in the Philosophy of Religion)
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