Religion and Radical Empiricism

Religion and Radical Empiricism

Religion and Radical Empiricism

Religion and Radical Empiricism

Synopsis

Rarely in modern times has religion been associated with empiricism except to its own peril. This book represents a comprehensive and systematic effort to retrieve and develop the tradition of American religious empiricism for religious inquiry.

Religion and Radical Empiricism offers a challenging account of how and why reflection on religious truth-claims must seek justification of those claims finally in terms of empirical criteria. Ranging through many of the major questions in philosophy of religion, the author weaves together a study of the varieties of empiricism in all its historical forms from Hume to Quine. She finds in James and Dewey; in Wieman, Meland, and Loomer of the Chicago School; in Whitehead; and in Abhidharma Buddhism constructive elements of a radically empirical approach to the controversial topic of religious experience. This work provides a strong counter-argument to critics of revisionary theism, to caricatures of philosophy as conversation, and to any collapse of the category of experience into its linguistic forms."

Excerpt

For some time now, the decisive question facing contemporary philosophy of religion has been, in one form or another, the general question of the justifiability of religious belief. How are religious truth-claims justified? What evidence could count for or against such claims? If no empirical data could conceivably falsify religious truth‐ claims, how can such claims be meaningful? a whole generation of philosophers of religion has foundered again and again on these questions, and with good reason. They have no simple answers.

I have come to think that what are now the most widely discussed approaches to these questions are fundamentally untenable. More recently, I have come to see that the discipline of philosophy of religion itself can no longer be undertaken exclusively within the context informed by Anglo-American philosophical interests and Western religious practices. in proposing a new approach to the question of the justifiability of religious belief, I am concerned less with the content of traditional religious belief than with the empirical dimension of religous, particularly theistic, belief. Although my argument, like all work in the philosophy of religion, consists of rational reflection on certain data, the mode of justification I am contending for is, in the last analysis, an empirical one rather than a strictly rational or logical one. in sum, I am attempting to offer a rational account of how and why reflection on religious truth-claims must seek justification of those claims finally in terms of empirical criteria.

The selection of what is to count as empirical criteria is, of course, never philosophically neutral. Empiricism has always stood for the justificatory need to ground all knowledge in experience. But as such it is a thesis in search of an adequate theory of experience. "Experience" is not an easy word to introduce into today's intellectual climate, however. It is so slippery and overworked, at the same time. It is one of those words that, as Humpty Dumpty noted, ought to be paid overtime because it does so much work.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.