Forces by Which We Live

Religion & Religious Experience from the Perspective
of a Pragmatic Philosophical Anthropology

By Ulf Zackariasson
December 2002
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 91-628-5169-1
254 pages, Illustrated, 6 3/4" x 9 1/2"
$63.00 Paper Original

Religion is a problematic phenomenon. Although we acknowledge that it has an important function in many people's lives, we are also aware of the tremendous damage it has made, and continues to make. In this study, it is argued that the different problems which religion give rise to indicate that we have insufficient resources to criticize and improve religious practices when needed. The study raises the question of whether philosophy of religion can contribute to those resources. The author develops a pragmatic philosophical approach which stresses the way human beings are biological and social organisms, constituted in shared practices which develop as responses to experienced needs. Religious practices are responses to needs that arise within our views of life. They help us form views of life which we find are adequate responses to the conditions of human life, thereby making a more significant life possible. The most prominent attempts of contemporary philosophy of religion to supply the resources for criticism and reform are the analogy-arguments from religious experience defended by, among others, Richard Swinburne and William Alston. The author shows that these arguments are unconvincing. A modified version of reflective equilibrium is developed to demonstrate that if we instead were to adopt a pragmatic approach to religion, we would be able to develop urgently needed resources to criticize and improve religious traditions. As a consequence, the author recommends that we reconstruct philosophy of religion.

Religion; Anthropology
Studia Philosophiae Religionis No. 21

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