Forces by Which We Live : Religion and Religious Experience from the Perspective of a Pragmatic Philosophical Anthropology

University dissertation from Stockholm : Almqvist & Wiksell International

Abstract: This study argues that a pragmatic conception of religion would enable philosophers to make important contributions to our ability to handle concrete problems involving religion. The term 'philosophical anthropology', referring to different interpretative frameworks, which philosophers draw on to develop conceptions of human phenomena, is introduced. It is argued that the classical pragmatists embraced a philosophical anthropology significantly different from that embraced by most philosophers of religion; accordingly, pragmatism offers an alternative conception of religion. It is suggested that a conception of religion is superior to another if it makes more promising contributions to our ability to handle extra-philosophical problems of religion.A pragmatic philosophical anthropology urges us to view human practices as responses to shared experienced needs. Religious practices develop to resolve tensions in our views of life. The pictures of human flourishing they persent reconstruct our views of life, thereby allowing more significant interaction with the environment, and a more significant life.A modified version of reflective equilibrium is developed to show how we, on a pragmatic conception of religion, are able to supply resources for criticism and reform of religious practices, so the extra-philosophical problems of religion can be handled. Mainstream philosophy of religion attempts to offer such resources by presenting analogy-arguments from religious experience. Those arguments are, however, unconvincing. A comparison of the two conceptions of religion thus results in a recommendation to reconstruct philosophy of religion.

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