On the Logic of Religious Terms

By Biris, Ioan | Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

On the Logic of Religious Terms


Biris, Ioan, Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies


The present study starts from the question if there can be any logic of religion. The answer is affirmative for logic in a wide sense. The attempts from the logic of beliefs account for this. However, the study focuses on the specific of the logic of religious terms, a less approached domain by logicians and philosophers. In this line issues like those of the logic of analogy, of the distinctions between the specific, general and total content of terms, between logical distributive and collective conjunctions, etc are brought into discussion. In the end, dogmatic concepts are analyzed, as the core of religious concepts.

Key Words:

Logic of beliefs; religious terms; analogical concepts; specific content; general content; total content; logical distributive conjunctions; logical collective conjunctions; dogmatic concepts.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Is there any logic of religion? This is a simple question, but the answer is not simple at all. J. M. Bochenski wrote a book just with this title: The Logic of Religion1. Still he specifies that it concern only a logic applied to the religious language, not to the religious states. In other words, understood in this manner, the logic of religion studies just those aspects of the religious phenomena that are accessible to logic. Thus, we remain within the framework of Kantian program: religion within the bounds of reason.

Yet an entire choir of voices is rising against this program, emphasizing that one cannot reduce religion to reason, that the essential ground of religiousness is to be found in the irrational, in the mystique. For the direction imposed by Rudolf Otto2, religion must be separated from reason, which means that "the logic of religion" remains without object since there is no room for logic where one encounters mystical experience.

Nevertheless, such an extremely rigid separation of reason from religion is not productive at all. It is not necessarily either to reduce logic to reason. The Mediaeval Catholics too were themselves very good logicians, the scholastic philosophy often identifying itself with theology. After all, as Hegel thinks, "belief is itself knowledge, but a direct knowledge"3. Actually, things are quite shaded in Kant as well, because the intellect connects with sensibility, thing confirmed by J. Piaget's genetic psychology, which speaks of "pre-rational intellect", of "verbal intelligence". Therefore, on the one hand, the intellect is extending his activity towards sub-rational, and on the other hand, reason, in its speculative dimension, as Hegel conceives it, is able to embrace even the mystique. This is the reason why one should accept any "logic of religion" as one important scientific research on this field, alongside with the sociology of religion, psychology of religion or religious anthropology4.

The logic of beliefs

Referring to religious experience, Leszek Kolakowski emphasizes that we have no concept to define such phenomena in a precise manner. Still he compels attention that the term "religion" is neither better nor worse than the concepts of "society", "culture", "art", "politics", etc5. In addition, the term "philosophy of religion" has at least two meanings. In the Anglo-Saxon tradition, the task of the philosophy of religion is that of testing the aspirations for truth for religious beliefs, whereas in the "continental" tradition, the philosophy of religion has the task of inferring the meanings of religion in different historical contexts. If in the first case religion is thought as a set of sentences regarding God and other subjects of the same kind, in the second case, the historiosophical meditation is better in emphasizing the cultural relativity of the religious concepts. As Kolakowski thinks, it would be ideal to combine the two kinds of analysis6.

Concerning the interpretation of religious beliefs, there have been outlined several directions, such as7:

a) The cognitive view, within the framework of this direction it is considered that different religious beliefs bear some sort of knowledge;

b) The affective view, which dwells on the fear of death and grief, on the desire to keep some order in the chaos around;

c) The social view, in which the stress is set on the social value of the religious beliefs, on the social cohesion;

d) The cognitive-intellectualist view, a sort of relapse into the former direction, yet with a stress on the idea that the religious beliefs are unveiling a hidden structure, some mental, intellectual tools, which are not consciously perceived by the believers, helping them out to organize and explain different natural and social laws.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

On the Logic of Religious Terms
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.