A Spectrum of Worldviews: An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion in a Pluralistic World

A Spectrum of Worldviews: An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion in a Pluralistic World

A Spectrum of Worldviews: An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion in a Pluralistic World

A Spectrum of Worldviews: An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion in a Pluralistic World

Synopsis

This book is an introduction to philosophy of religion from the perspective of a religiously pluralistic culture. It deals with introductory questions such as whether we can we understand, compare, and judge the insights of others and the ways in which people can speak and think about God. It introduces the classical themes of philosophy of religion - immanent and transcendent ideas of God and (im)personality; transcendence, good, and evil; religion, morality and society - using a distinction between cosmic, acosmic and theistic ideas of the divine. This introduction helps us discover differences and commonalities and thus helps further an emphatic and critical dialogue. This book explores how comparative theology and philosophy of religion can move beyond the dead-end roads of relativism and exclusivism.

Excerpt

Religious pluralism has quickly become one of the central issues of philosophy of religion. This introduction to the philosophy of religion(s) is written with the pluralistic world in mind: while covering the traditional topics of introductions to this field, it takes not only the Western perspective on these issues into account but other perspectives as well. My intention is not to offer a final conclusion as to which tradition is the true one but simply to clarify the nature of religions, their different approaches to life, and the processes of exchange and convergence.

The first chapter deals with the concepts of religion, worldview, and philosophy. the next four chapters introduce questions of method and philosophical prolegomena. the second chapter discusses the nature of comparisons. in this chapter I distinguish among six "functions" of the divine, which I use in the comparison of ideas of transcendence. With respect to these issues treated in its prolegomena, an introduction to philosophy of religion from a pluralistic perspective has much in common with comparative theology or, as other scholars prefer, intercultural theology, which also compares religious beliefs about transcendence, humanity and the world. the difference between intercultural theology and philosophy of religion is that the first has a confessional stance whereas philosophy does not—which, however, does not mean that philosophical views can claim neutrality, as I discuss in the third section of the last chapter. the third chapter takes up the hermeneutical question of whether we can truly understand people of other cultures. Next comes the question as to truth: not ideas about the concept of truth, which I discussed in an earlier publication, Religions and the Truth (1989) but the question of whether we can make any judgment about the beliefs of others and the validity of the criteria that we apply. the fifth chapter deals with the religious use of language, symbols, stories and metaphors. It is very important that we not simply take over philosophical insights on . . .

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