Reasons and Faiths: An Investigations of Religious Discourse. Christian and Non-Christian

Reasons and Faiths: An Investigations of Religious Discourse. Christian and Non-Christian

Reasons and Faiths: An Investigations of Religious Discourse. Christian and Non-Christian

Reasons and Faiths: An Investigations of Religious Discourse. Christian and Non-Christian

Excerpt

The general aim of this book is to describe the nature of religious doctrines and concepts. But not just those of theism (the main preoccupation of philosophers of religion in the past), but also those of important and different faiths, notably Buddhism and Hinduism. Comparisons here are not, I hope, odious, but illuminating. Conversely it may be that a philosophical inquiry into religious concepts can be of use in the comparative study of religion (which, under its more fashionable title 'the history of religions', can often issue in unrelated chains of indigestible facts). Regarding the philosophical side of this book, it will be obvious that much I have written is rather unoriginal; and I should like to acknowledge my debt here to the work of modern philosophers. In general, I have not loaded the book with references to those whose views and arguments have influenced me. As for the facts of religion, I have tried, at least where the more important theses are being propounded, to give adequate documentation. It will be seen in general, though, that I owe much (even where I differ sharply from them) to Rudolf Otto and Evelyn Underhill.

A complication in a Janus-faced book such as this is that I have had to refer to non-Western concepts, and this involves the use of, in particular, some Sanskrit and Pāli terminology. Apart from the text, the Index gives brief explanations of these expressions, so that the reader, where he has a doubt, may swiftly resolve it. The Bibliography is a list of the modern works cited in the text.

In addition to the general acknowledgements of debt expressed above, I should like to thank my mentors in these subjects, and especially Professor J. L. Austin of the University of Oxford, who supervised my postgraduate work there, and Professor Paul Tedesco, of Yale University, under whom, all too briefly, I first studied Pāli. Also I am deeply grateful to Professor H. D. Lewis, of the University of London, who read the greater part of the book in manuscript and gave me much careful and illuminating advice.

London, 21 June 1958 NINIAN SMART

I have taken advantage of the second printing of this book to make some very minor corrections.

Birmingham, 2 December 1964 N. S.

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