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840:222 ISSUES IN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

Dr. James W. Jones

Existentialism and Modern Atheism

 

Part One: Religion and Modern Society (modernity)

 

A. Historical Background: The break-up of  pre-modern society and the rise of modern culture.

1. The Pre-modern Synthesis

2.  The 17th century and the age of reason : 1787 – Newton’s Principia

3. The possibility of a non-religious culture

 

B. Cultural Background: The moral accounting of Modernity

1. E. Durkheim – anomie and the cult of the individual

2. G. Simmel – rationalization

3. M. Weber – disenchantment

4. Three characteristics of modernity

                 religion

marginalization of religion

 

C. Modernity as a new “sensibility” or new consciousness: nature as random and our

            need for control.

 

Part Two: Philosophical Background

 

A. G. F. Hegel (1770-1831)

1. Descartes’ idea of objectivity and the “self” as the common ground beneath the

              subject-object split

2. The self as model for the cosmos; the world “Geist.”

3. Three crucial concepts:

             know itself; the dialectic of history: thesis – antithesis – synthesis

 

B. L. Feuerbach (1804-1872)

                           understand ourselves

             between the Universal and the particular in Hegel’s philosophy –

                                  God as a threat to human autonomy and freedom

 2. God as a projection of human consciousness Nietzsche – values as human creations; 

 

C. F. Nietzsche (1844-1900)

1. The Death of God

2. The “Ubermensch” or “higher man”

3. The survival of the fittest and the end of Christianity

4. Nietzsche and the history of modern atheism

5. Nietzsche as a prophet of modernity or why the century’s greatest atheist mourned the death of God

 

840:222 ISSUES IN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

Dr. James W. Jones

 

                    Religious Thought and Modern Society (modernity)

 

A. Historical Background: The break-up of medieval society and the rise of modern culture.

1. The Medieval Synthesis

2. Nationalism, capitalism, and the reformation

3. The 17th century and the age of reason

3. The possibility of a non-religious culture

 

B. Cultural Background: The moral accounting of Modernity

1. E. Durkheim – anomie and the cult of the individual

2. G. Simmel – rationalization

3. M. Weber – disenchantment

4. Three characteristics of modernity

                 religion

marginalization of religion

 

C. Modernity as a new “sensibility” or new consciousness: nature as random and our

            need for control.

 


840:222 ISSUES IN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

Dr. James W. Jones

 

                                       Existentialism and Modern Atheism

 

                                       Part One: Philosophical Background

 

A. G. F. Hegel (1770-1831)

1. Descartes’ idea of objectivity and the “self” as the common ground beneath the

              subject-object split

2. The self as model for the cosmos; the world “Geist.”

3. Three crucial concepts:

             know itself; the dialectic of history: thesis – antithesis – synthesis

 

B. L. Feuerbach (1804-1872)

                           understand ourselves

                                  between the Universal and the particular in Hegel’s philosophy –

                                  God as a threat to human autonomy and freedom

C. F. Nietzsche (1844-1900)

1. The Death of God
2. The “Ubermensch” or “higher man”
3. The survival of the fittest and the end of Christianity
4. Nietzsche and the history of modern atheism
5. Nietzsche as a prophet of modernity or why the century’s greatest atheist mourned
        the death of God

 

                              Part Two: The Philosophy of John Paul Sartre (b. 1905)

 

  1. “The self as project” – the primacy of freedom: radical freedom and total responsibility
  2. “there is no reality except in action” – human nature, the human condition,   existence before essence, the “for-self” and the “in-self”.
  3. Anguish, abandonment, despair, anxiety and atheism, the absurdity of freedom and authentic existence.

 

840:222 ISSUES IN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

Dr. James W. Jones

 

John Paul Sartre (b. 1905)

 

Sartre’s definition of existentialism —“existence before essence”

“There is no a prioi

The distinction of the “for-self” and the “in-self”

“The self as project” – the primacy of freedom: radical freedom and total

responsibility

“Condemned to be free” —Anguish, abandonment, despair, anxiety and atheism, and

authentic existence.

 

                                          Soren Kierkegaard  (1813-1855)

 

“The poor, lonely existing individual” – existentialism as the antithesis of Hegel

The writer’s tasks

“A spy for God”
“Anonymous authorship”

The pilgrimage of consciousness, “stages on life’s way,”

    1. The aesthetic – the search for pleasure, repetition and boredom “The Seducer’s Diary”
    2. The ethical – the search for meaning and the loss of self
    3. The Religious: “Fear and Trembling” and the binding of Isaac

The Great Transition – the failure of the ethical

The self —“A relation that relates to itself” — and God — “that power that grounds

the self”

 

 


840:222 ISSUES IN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

Dr. James W. Jones

 

                                             Paul Tillich  (1886-1965)

 

  1. Existentialism and the meaning of existence
  2. The life of tension
  1. Existence and God
  1. Speaking of God – nature of religious language
  1. Faith as “ultimate concern”

                        entire self

  1. A typology of religions – conflict between ultimacy and concern, universal and

                      Particular

  1. The existential virtue of courage and the “God beyond God”
  2. Tillich’s appeal: theology as translation

 


840:222 ISSUES IN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

Dr. James W. Jones

 

                                         Martin Buber

 

  1. Biographical background: A man without ideology
  2.  “All life is meeting”

           I-you (thou)

           I-it

  1. The Eternal You

            “All lines of relationship meet in the eternal you”

            “God is the subject who can never become an object”

            “The eclipse of God” and human responsibility

  1. The primary pattern: rejection and reunion

 



840:222 ISSUES IN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

Dr. James W. Jones

 

                            KOWLEDGE (IN RELIGION AND SCIENCE)

 

           perceive is to interpret

 

B. Theories in science (and religion)

 

C.. Second thesis: Knowledge begins with theory

 

D. Personal knowledge: Passions. Skills, discoveries (M. Polanyi, Personal Knowledge)

 

E. Proof: must we prove everything we say?

Augustine: "I believe in order to understand"

        1. proving something true

         2. Faith and the basis of knowledge as axioms and convictions

   3 .Faith and the basis of  knowledge as paradigms (Kuhn, The Structure of  

                 Scientific Revolutions)

   4.Faith and the foundations of knowledge as primary  perceptions

 

F. Verification: how do we validate the claims we make?

 

G. .Knowledge in Religion and Science

.

H. Summary: Religion & Science: similarities and differences

 


840:222 ISSUES IN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

Dr. James W. Jones

 

                                       RELATIVISM AND PLURALISM

Part One: The Philosophical Problem of Relativism A. Review: the nature of knowledge

B. The inevitability of relativism and the problem of pluralism

C. Traditional answers

D. Is there a middle way?

Part Two: The Sociological Problem of Pluralism or how St. Paul never met a Buddhist and the Buddha never met a Jew

A. Pluralism and modern culture: a genuinely new situation for religion

B. Possible philosophical responses

          parochial universalism: all religions are really forms of my religion

 

C. Possible practical responses

D. Relativism, pluralism, and the future of religion


840:222 ISSUES IN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

Dr. James W. Jones

 

                                       RELATIVISM AND PLURALISM

Part One: The Philosophical Problem of Relativism A. Review: the nature of knowledge

B. The inevitability of relativism and the problem of pluralism

C. Traditional answers

D. Is there a middle way?

Part Two: The Sociological Problem of Pluralism or how St. Paul never met a Buddhist and the Buddha never met a Jew

A. Pluralism and modern culture: a genuinely new situation for religion

B. Critical Relativism and the Problem of Religious Pluralism

C. Relativism, pluralism, and the future of religion

D. Toward a new approach to understanding religion

E. Other Possible philosophical responses

 

F.  Possible practical responses

Dialogue and discussion