Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

On the Logic of Religious Terms

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

On the Logic of Religious Terms

Article excerpt

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. …

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