✎✎✎ Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith
Secular culture provides numerous media, such as poetry, drama, and novels, in which these questions are engendered. Not Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith scientific discoveries were used Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith invoke greater skepticism about the validity of religious claims, however. Moreover, Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith was not a matter simply Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith observation, it Pulmonary Oedema Case Study involved measurement, quantification, and formulization of the Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith of the objects observed. When I reassuringly suggest that Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith accident has made him Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith sensitive to all these experiences and Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith there may be some good in allowing the process to unfold, he gratefully accepts this idea. Interpreters of Wittgenstein, like Norman Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith, claimed that although this entails that religious beliefs are essentially groundless, so are countless The Little Big Things Summary everyday beliefs, such as in the permanence Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith our objects of Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith, in the uniformity of nature, and even Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith our knowledge of our own intentions.
Existential Philosophy and Psychotherapy - Emmy van Deurzen
They did speak of the gods as living in a blissful state in intermundial regions, without any interest in the affairs of humans. There is no relation between the evils of human life and a divine guidance of the universe. At death all human perception ceases. The orders of the world soul and nature follow after Nous in a linear procession. Humans contain the potentialities of these creative principles, and can choose to make their lives an ascent towards and then a union with the intuitive intelligence. The One is not a being, but infinite being. It is the cause of beings. Thus Christian and Jewish philosophers who held to a creator God could affirm such a conception.
Plotinus might have been the first negative theologian, arguing that God, as simple, is know more from what he is not, than from what he is. Christianity, emerging from Judaism, imposed a set of revealed truths and practices on its adherents. Many of these beliefs and practices differed significantly from what the Greek religions and Judaism had held. For example, Christians held that God created the world ex nihilo , that God is three persons, and that Jesus Christ was the ultimate revelation of God.
Nonetheless, from the earliest of times, Christians held to a significant degree of compatibility between faith and reason. The writings attributed to St. Paul in the Christian Scriptures provide diverse interpretations of the relation between faith and reason. Here he champions the unity of the Christian God as the creator of all. It reflects a sympathy with pagan customs, handles the subject of idol worship gently, and appeals for a new examination of divinity not from the standpoint of creation, but from practical engagement with the world. However, he claims that this same God will one day come to judge all mankind. But in his famous passage from Romans , Paul is less obliging to non-Christians.
Here he champions a natural theology against those pagans who would claim that, even on Christian grounds, their previous lack of access to the Christian God would absolve them from guilt for their nonbelief. Thus this strong compatibilist interpretation entailed a reduced tolerance for atheists and agnostics. Yet in 1 Corinthians , Paul suggests a kind of incompatibilism, claiming that Christian revelation is folly the Gentiles meaning Greeks. He points out that the world did not come to know God through wisdom; God chose to reveal Himself fully to those of simple faith. These diverse Pauline interpretations of the relation between faith and reason were to continue to manifest themselves in various ways through the centuries that followed.
The early apologists were both compatibilists and incompatibilists. Tertullian took up the ideas of Paul in 1 Corinthians, proclaiming that Christianity is not merely incompatible with but offensive to natural reason. Jerusalem has nothing to do with Athens. He claims that religious faith is both against and above reason. On the other hand, Justin Martyr converted to Christianity, but continued to hold Greek philosophy in high esteem.
But he maintained that Greek philosophy is unnecessary for a defense of the faith, though it helps to disarm sophistry. He also worked to demonstrate in a rational way what is found in faith. This set Christianity on firmer intellectual foundations. Clement also worked to clarify the early creeds of Christianity, using philosophical notions of substance, being, and person, in order to combat heresies.
Augustine emerged in the late fourth century as a rigorous defender of the Christian faith. But he was, for the most part, a strong compatibilist. He felt that intellectual inquiry into the faith was to be understood as faith seeking understanding fides quaerens intellectum. It is an act of the intellect determined not by the reason, but by the will. In On Christian Doctrine Augustine makes it clear that Christian teachers not only may, but ought, to use pagan thinking when interpreting Scripture. He points out that if a pagan science studies what is eternal and unchanging, it can be used to clarify and illuminate the Christian faith. Thus logic, history, and the natural sciences are extremely helpful in matters of interpreting ambiguous or unknown symbols in the Scriptures.
However, Augustine is equally interested to avoid any pagan learning, such as that of crafts and superstition that is not targeted at unchangeable knowledge. Augustine believed that Platonists were the best of philosophers, since they concentrated not merely on the causes of things and the method of acquiring knowledge, but also on the cause of the organized universe as such. One does not, then, have to be a Christian to have a conception of God. Yet, only a Christian can attain to this kind of knowledge without having to have recourse to philosophy.
Augustine argued further that the final authority for the determination of the use of reason in faith lies not with the individual, but with the Church itself. His battle with the Manichean heresy prompted him to realize that the Church is indeed the final arbiter of what cannot be demonstrated—or can be demonstrated but cannot be understood by all believers. Yet despite this appeal to ecclesiastical authority, he believe that one cannot genuinely understand God until one loves Him. Pseudo Dionysius was heavily influenced by neo-Platonism. His analysis gave rise to the unique form negative theology. It entailed a severe restriction in our access to and understanding of the nature of God.
Much of the importance of this period stems from its retrieval of Greek thinking, particularly that of Aristotle. At the beginning of the period Arab translators set to work translating and distributing many works of Greek philosophy, making them available to Jewish, Islamic, and Christian philosophers and theologians alike. For the most part, medieval theologians adopted an epistemological distinction the Greeks had developed: between scienta episteme , propositions established on the basis of principles, and opinio , propositions established on the basis of appeals to authority. Yet despite this possibility of scientia in matters of faith, medieval philosophers and theologians believed that it could be realized only in a limited sense.
They were all too aware of St. Like Augustine, Anselm held that one must love God in order to have knowledge of Him. Anselm is most noted, however, for his ontological argument, presented in his Proslogion. He claimed that it is possible for reason to affirm that God exists from inferences made from what the understanding can conceive within its own confines. As such he was a gifted natural theologian. Like Augustine, Anselm held that the natural theologian seeks not to understand in order to believe, but to believe in order to understand. This is the basis for his principle intellectus fidei. Under this conception, reason is not asked to pass judgment on the content of faith, but to find its meaning and to discover explanations that enable others to understand its content.
Lombard was an important precursor to Aquinas. Following Augustine, he argued that pagans can know about much about truths of the one God simply by their possession of reason e. But in addition, pagans can affirm basic truths about the Trinity from these same affirmations, inasmuch as all things mirror three attributes associated with the Trinity: unity the Father , form or beauty the Son , and a position or order the Holy Spirit.
Islamic philosophers in the tenth and eleventh centuries were also heavily influenced by the reintroduction of Aristotle into their intellectual culture. Avicenna Ibn Sina held that as long as religion is properly construed it comprises an area of truth no different than that of philosophy. He built this theory of strong compatibilism on the basis of his philosophical study of Aristotle and Plotinus and his theological study of his native Islam.
He held that philosophy reveals that Islam is the highest form of life. He defended the Islamic belief in the immortality of individual souls on the grounds that, although as Aristotle taught the agent intellect was one in all persons, the unique potential intellect of each person, illuminated by the agent intellect, survives death. For example, he developed a form of natural theology in which the task of proving the existence of God is possible. He held, however, that it could be proven only from the physical fact of motion.
Nonetheless Averroes did not think that philosophy could prove all Islamic beliefs, such as that of individual immortality. Following Aristotle in De Anima , Averroes argued for a separation between the active and passive intellects, even though they enter into a temporary connection with individual humans. This position entails the conclusion that no individuated intellect survives death.
Yet Averroes held firmly to the contrary opinion by faith alone. Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher, allowed for a significant role of reason in critically interpreting the Scriptures. But he is probably best known for his development of negative theology. God does not possess anything superadded to his essence, and his essence includes all his perfections. The attributes we do have are derived from the Pentateuch and the Prophets. Yet even these positive attributes, such as wisdom and power, would imply defects in God if applied to Him in the same sense they are applied to us.
Since God is simple, it is impossible that we should know one part, or predication, of Him and not another. He argues that when one proves the negation of a thing believed to exist in God, one becomes more perfect and closer to knowledge of God. Those who do otherwise commit profanity and blasphemy. Unlike Augustine, who made little distinction between explaining the meaning of a theological proposition and giving an argument for it, Aquinas worked out a highly articulated theory of theological reasoning.
Bonaventure, an immediate precursor to Aquinas, had argued that no one could attain to truth unless he philosophizes in the light of faith. Thomas held that our faith in eternal salvation shows that we have theological truths that exceed human reason. But he also claimed that one could attain truths about religious claims without faith, though such truths are incomplete.
However, something can be true for faith and false or inconclusive in philosophy, though not the other way around. This entails that a non-believer can attain to truth, though not to the higher truths of faith. A puzzling question naturally arises: why are two truths needed? Moreover, if God were indeed the object of rational inquiry in this supernatural way, why would faith be required at all? In De Veritate 14,9 Thomas responds to this question by claiming that one cannot believe by faith and know by rational demonstration the very same truth since this would make one or the other kind of knowledge superfluous.
On the basis of this two-fold theory of truth, Aquinas thus distinguished between revealed dogmatic theology and rational philosophical theology. The former is a genuine science, even though it is not based on natural experience and reason. Revealed theology is a single speculative science concerned with knowledge of God. Because of its greater certitude and higher dignity of subject matter, it is nobler than any other science. Philosophical theology, though, can make demonstrations using the articles of faith as its principles. Moreover, it can apologetically refute objections raised against the faith even if no articles of faith are presupposed.
But unlike revealed theology, it can err. Aquinas claimed that the act of faith consists essentially in knowledge. Faith is an intellectual act whose object is truth. Thus it has both a subjective and objective aspect. Moreover, faith can be a virtue, since it is a good habit, productive of good works. However, when we assent to truth in faith, we do so on the accepted testimony of another. Faith alone can grasp, on the other hand, the article of faith that the world was created in time Summa Theologiae I, q. Aquinas argued that the world considered in itself offers no grounds for demonstrating that it was once all new.
Of course this would extend to any argument about origination of the first of any species in a chain of efficient causes. Here Thomas sounds a lot like Kant will in his antinomies. Yet by faith we believe the world had a beginning. However, one rational consideration that suggests, though not definitively, a beginning to the world is that the passage from one term to another includes only a limited number of intermediate points between them. Though he agrees with Augustine that no created intellect can comprehend God as an object, the intellect can grasp his existence indirectly.
The more a cause is grasped, the more of its effects can be seen in it; and since God is the ultimate cause of all other reality, the more perfectly an intellect understands God, the greater will be its knowledge of the things God does or can do. So although we cannot know the divine essence as an object, we can know whether He exists and on the basis of analogical knowledge what must necessarily belong to Him.
Aquinas maintains, however, that some objects of faith, such as the Trinity or the Incarnation, lie entirely beyond our capacity to understand them in this life. Aquinas also elucidates the relationship between faith and reason on the basis of a distinction between higher and lower orders of creation. Yet, from reason itself we know that every ordered pattern of nature has two factors that concur in its full development: one on the basis of its own operation; the other, on the basis of the operation of a higher nature. The example is water: in a lower pattern, it naturally flows toward the centre, but in virtue of a higher pattern, such as the pull of the moon, it flows around the center.
In the realm of our concrete knowledge of things, a lower pattern grasps only particulars, while a higher pattern grasps universals. Given this distinction of orders, Thomas shows how the lower can indeed point to the higher. The first of his famous five ways is the argument from motion. Borrowing from Aristotle, Aquinas holds to the claim that, since every physical mover is a moved mover, the experience of any physical motion indicates a first unmoved mover. Otherwise one would have to affirm an infinite chain of movers, which he shows is not rationally possible. Aquinas then proceeds to arguments from the lower orders of efficient causation, contingency, imperfection, and teleology to affirm the existence of a unitary all-powerful being.
He concludes that these conclusions compel belief in the Judeo-Christian God. Conversely, it is also possible to move from the higher to the lower orders. The final good considered by the theologian differs from that considered by the philosopher: the former is the bonum ultimum grasped only with the assistance of revelation; the latter is the beatific vision graspable in its possibility by reason. Both forms of the ultimate good have important ramifications, since they ground not only the moral distinction between natural and supernatural virtues, but also the political distinction between ecclesial and secular power. Aquinas concludes that we come to know completely the truths of faith only through the virtue of wisdom sapientia. Moreover, faith and charity are prerequisites for the achievement of this wisdom.
But it can be argued that after his time what was intended as a mutual autonomy soon became an expanding separation. While the Dominicans tended to affirm the possibility of rational demonstrability of certain preambles of faith, the Franciscans tended more toward a more restricted theological science, based solely on empirical and logical analysis of beliefs. In fact he is wary of the attempts of natural theology to prove anything about higher orders from lower orders. He admits that lower beings move and as such they require a first mover; but he maintains that one cannot prove something definitive about higher beings from even the most noble of lower beings.
Instead, Scotus thinks that reason can be employed only to elucidate a concept. In the realm of theology, the key concept to elucidate is that of infinite being. In moving towards this restricted form of conceptualist analysis, he thus gives renewed emphasis to negative theology. He claimed that the Greek metaphysics of the 13 th century, holding to the necessity of causal connections, contaminated the purity of the Christian faith. He argued instead that we cannot know God as a deduction from necessary principles. In fact, he rejected the possibility that any science can verify any necessity, since nothing in the world is necessary: if A and B are distinct, God could cause one to exist without the other.
So science can demonstrate only the implications of terms, premises, and definitions. It keeps within the purely conceptual sphere. Like Scotus he argued held that any necessity in an empirical proposition comes from the divine order. He concluded that we know the existence of God, his attributes, the immortality of the soul, and freedom only by faith. His desire to preserve divine freedom and omnipotence thus led in the direction of a voluntaristic form of fideism. But with this increased autonomy came also a growing incompatibility between the claims of science and those of religious authorities. Thus the tension between faith and reason now became set squarely for the first time in the conflict between science and religion.
This influx of scientific thinking undermined the hitherto reign of Scholasticism. By the seventeenth century, what had begun as a criticism of the authority of the Church evolved into a full-blown skepticism regarding the possibility of any rational defense of fundamental Christian beliefs. The Protestant Reformers shifted their emphasis from the medieval conception of faith as a fides belief that to fiducia faith in.
Thus attitude and commitment of the believer took on more importance. The Renaissance also witnessed the development of a renewed emphasis on Greek humanism. In the early part of this period, Nicholas of Cusa and others took a renewed interest in Platonism. Moreover, experimentation was not a matter simply of observation, it also involved measurement, quantification, and formulization of the properties of the objects observed. Though he was not the first to do attempt this systematization — Archimedes had done the same centuries before — Galileo developed it to such an extent that he overthrew the foundations of Aristotelian physics.
In fact it was possible to have more than one force operating on the same body at the same time. Galileo used a telescope he had designed to confirm the hypothesis of the heliocentric system. He also hypothesized that the universe might be indefinitely large. The officials of the Catholic Church — with some exceptions — strongly resisted these conclusions and continued to champion a pre-Copernican conception of the cosmos.
First, the Church tended to hold to a rather literal interpretation of Scripture, particularly of the account of creation in the book of Genesis. Such interpretations did not square with the new scientific views of the cosmos such as the claim that the universe is infinitely large. Third, these scientific findings upset much of the hitherto view of the cosmos that had undergirded the socio-political order the Church endorsed. Moreover, the new scientific views supported Calvinist views of determinism against the Catholic notion of free will.
It took centuries before the Church officially rescinded its condemnation of Galileo. Inspired by Greek humanism, Desiderius Erasmus placed a strong emphasis on the autonomy of human reason and the importance of moral precepts. As a Christian, he distinguished among three forms of law: laws of nature, thoroughly engraved in the minds of all men as St. Paul had argued, laws of works, and laws of faith. He was convinced that philosophers, who study laws of nature, could also produce moral precepts akin to those in Christianity. But Christian justification still comes ultimately only from the grace that can reveal and give a person the ability to follow the law of faith.
Martin Luther restricted the power of reason to illuminate faith. Like many reformers, he considered the human being alone unable to free itself from sin. In The Bondage of the Will , he makes a strict separation between what man has dominion over his dealings with the lower creatures and what God has dominion over the affairs of His kingdom and thus of salvation. Reason is often very foolish: it immediately jumps to conclusions when it sees a thing happen once or twice. But by its reflections on the nature of words and our use of language, it can help us to grasp our own spiritual impotence.
Luther thus rejected the doctrine of analogy, developed by Aquinas and others, as an example of the false power of reason. Luther thus stresses the gratuitousness of salvation. In a traditional sense, Roman Catholics generally held that faith is meritorious, and thus that salvation involves good works. Protestant reformers like Luther, on the other hand, held that indeed faith is pure gift. He thus tended to make the hitherto Catholic emphasis on works look voluntaristic. Like Luther, John Calvin appealed to the radical necessity of grace for salvation.
This was embodied in his doctrine of election. But unlike Luther, Calvin gave a more measured response to the power of human reason to illuminate faith. Even idolatry can contain as aspect of this. So religion is not merely arbitrary superstition. And yet, the law of creation makes necessary that we direct every thought and action to this goal of knowing God.
Despite this fundamental divine orientation, Calvin denied that a believer could build up a firm faith in Scripture through argument and disputation. He appealed instead to the testimony of Spirit embodied gained through a life of religious piety. Calvin is thus an incompatibilist of the transrational type: faith is not against, but is beyond human reason. But he expanded the power of reason to grasp firmly the preambles of faith. In his Meditations , he claimed to have provided what amounted to be the most certain proofs of God possible.
God becomes explicated by means of the foundation of subjective self-certainty. His proofs hinged upon his conviction that God cannot be a deceiver. Little room is left for faith. Leibniz first argued that all truths are reducible to identities. From this it follows that a complete or perfect concept of an individual substance involves all its predicates, whether past, present, or future. From this he constructed his principle of sufficient reason: there is no event without a reason and no effect without a cause. In his Theodicy Leibniz responded to Pierre Bayle, a French philosophe , who gave a skeptical critique of rationalism and support of fideism. First, Leibniz held that all truths are complementary, and cannot be mutually inconsistent.
He argued that there are two general types of truth: those that are altogether necessary, since their opposite implies contradiction, and those that are consequences of the laws of nature. God can dispense only with the latter laws, such as the law of our mortality. A doctrine of faith can never violate something of the first type; but it can be in tension with truths of the second sort. Thus though no article of faith can be self-contradictory, reason may not be able to fully comprehend it. We must weigh these decisions by taking into account the existence and nature of God and the universal harmony by which the world is providentially created and ordered.
Leibniz insisted that one must respect the differences among the three distinct functions of reason: to comprehend, to prove, and to answer objections. However, one sees vestiges of the first two as well, since an inquiry into truths of faith employs proofs of the infinite whose strength or weakness the reasoner can comprehend. Baruch Spinoza , a Dutch philosopher, brought a distinctly Jewish perspective to his rigorously rationalistic analysis of faith.
Noticing that religious persons showed no particular penchant to virtuous life, he decided to read the Scriptures afresh without any presuppositions. He found that Old Testament prophecy, for example, concerned not speculative but primarily practical matters. Obedience to God was one. He took this to entail that whatever remains effective in religion applies only to moral matters. He then claimed that the Scriptures do not conflict with natural reason, leaving it free reign. No revelation is needed for morality. Moreover, he was led to claim that though the various religions have very different doctrines, they are very similar to one another in their moral pronouncements.
Instead he focused on the way that we should act given this ambiguity. As such, Pascal introduced an original form of rational voluntarism into the analysis of faith. John Locke lived at a time when the traditional medieval view of a unified body of articulate wisdom no longer seemed plausible. Yet unlike Aquinas, he argued that faith is not a state between knowledge and opinion, but a form of opinion doxa. But he developed a kind of apology for Christianity: an appeal to revelation, without an appeal to enthusiasm or inspiration.
Faith cannot convince us of what contradicts, or is contrary, to our knowledge. We cannot assent to a revealed proposition if it be contradictory to our clear intuitive knowledge. The truth of original revelation cannot be contrary to reason. But traditional revelation is even more dependent on reason, since if an original revelation is to be communicated, it cannot be understood unless those who receive it have already received a correlate idea through sensation or reflection and understood the empirical signs through which it is communicated.
For Locke, reason justifies beliefs, and assigns them varying degrees of probability based on the power of the evidence. But faith requires the even less certain evidence of the testimony of others. Locke also developed a version of natural theology. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding he claims that the complex ideas we have of God are made of up ideas of reflection. David Hume , like Locke, rejected rationalism, but developed a more radical kind of empiricism than Locke had. He supported this conclusion on two grounds. First, natural theology requires certain inferences from everyday experience. The argument from design infers that we can infer a single designer from our experience of the world.
Though Hume agrees that we have experiences of the world as an artifact, he claims that we cannot make any probable inference from this fact to quality, power, or number of the artisans. Second, Hume argues that miracles are not only often unreliable grounds as evidence for belief, but in fact are apriori impossible. A miracle by definition is a transgression of a law of nature, and yet by their very nature these laws admit of no exceptions. Thus we cannot even call it a law of nature that has been violated. But rather than concluding that his stance towards religious beliefs was one of atheism or even a mere Deism, Hume argued that he was a genuine Theist.
He believed that we have a genuine natural sentiment by which we long for heaven. The one who is aware of the inability of reason to affirm these truths in fact is the person who can grasp revealed truth with the greatest avidity. To accomplish this, he steered the scope of reason away from metaphysical, natural, and religious speculation altogether. He rejected, then, the timeless and spaceless God of revelation characteristic of the Augustinian tradition as beyond human ken. This is most evident in his critique of the cosmological proof for the existence of God in The Critique of Pure Reason. This move left Kant immune from the threat of unresolvable paradoxes.
Nonetheless he did allow the concept of God as well as the ideas of immortality and the soul to become not a constitutive but a regulative ideal of reason. God functions as the sources for the summum bonum. God is cause of our moral purposes as rational beings in nature. Like Spinoza, Kant makes all theology moral theology. Since faith transcends the world of experience, it is neither doubtful nor merely probable. He provided a religion grounded without revelation or grace. It ushered in new immanentism in rational views of belief. Hegel argued that a further development of idealism shows have faith and knowledge are related and synthesized in the Absolute.
In religion this attempt to identify with God is accomplished through feeling. Feelings are, however, subject to conflict and opposition. But they are not merely subjective. The content of God enters feeling such that the feeling derives its determination from this content. Thus faith is merely an expression of a finitude comprehensible only from the rational perspective of the infinite. Faith is merely a moment in our transition to absolute knowledge. Physics and astronomy were the primary scientific concerns for theologians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the sciences of geology, sociology, psychology, and biology became more pronounced.
Sigmund Freud claimed, for example, that religious beliefs were the result of the projection of a protective father figure onto our life situations. Although such claims about projection seem immune from falsification, the Freudian could count such an attempt to falsify itself simply as rationalization: a masking of a deeper unconscious drive. It explained all human development on the basis simply of progressive adaptation or organisms to their physical environment. No reference to a mind or rational will was required to explain any human endeavor. Darwin himself once had believed in God and the immortality of the soul. But later he found that these could not count as evidence for the existence of God.
He ended up an agnostic. Not all nineteenth century scientific thinking, however, yielded skeptical conclusions. He concluded that the cultic practices of religion have the non-illusory quality of producing measurable good consequences in their adherents. Moreover, he theorized that the fundamental categories of thought, and even of science, have religious origins.
Almost all the great social institutions were born of religion. In the context of these various scientific developments, philosophical arguments about faith and reason developed in several remarkable directions in the nineteenth century. Friedrich Schleiermacher was a liberal theologian who was quite interested in problems of biblical interpretation. He claimed that religion constituted its own sphere of experience, unrelated to scientific knowledge. Thus religious meaning is independent of scientific fact. His Romantic fideism would have a profound influence on Kierkegaard.
Karl Marx is well known as an atheist who had strong criticisms of all religious practice. Much of his critique of religion had been derived from Ludwig Feuerbach, who claimed that God is merely a psychological projection meant to compensate for the suffering people feel. Rejecting wholesale the validity of such wishful thinking, Marx claimed not only that all sufferings are the result of economic class struggle but that they could be alleviated by means of a Communist revolution that would eliminate economic classes altogether.
If Kant argued for religion within the limits of reason alone, Kierkegaard called for reason with the limits of religion alone. Faith requires a leap. It demands risk. All arguments that reason derives for a proof of God are in fact viciously circular: one can only reason about the existence of an object that one already assumes to exist. Hegel tried to claim that faith could be elevated to the status of objective certainty. Seeking such certainly, moreover, Kierkegaard considered a trap: what is needed is a radical trust. The radical trust of faith is the highest virtue one can reach. Kierkegaard claimed that all essential knowledge intrinsically relates to an existing individual.
The aesthetic is the life that seeks pleasure. The ethical is that which stresses the fulfillment of duties. Neither of these attains to the true individuality of human existence. But in the ethico-religious sphere, truth emerges in the authenticity of the relationship between a person and the object of his attention. It attains to a subjective truth, in which the sincerity and intensity of the commitment is key. Faith involves a submission of the intellect. It is not only hostile to but also completely beyond the grasp of reason. Though he never read Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche came up with remarkable parallels to his thought. Both stressed the centrality of the individual, a certain disdain for public life, and a hatred of personal weakness and anonymity.
They also both attacked certain hypocrisies in Christendom and the overstated praise for reason in Kant and Hegel. Nietzsche claimed that religion breeds hostility to life, understood broadly as will to power. In The Joyful Wisdom Nietzsche proclaims that God as a protector of the weak, though once alive, is now dead, and that we have rightly killed him. Now, instead, he claims that we instead need to grasp the will to power that is part of all things and guides them to their full development completely within the natural world.
For humans Nietzsche casts the will to power as a force of artistic and creative energy. Roman Catholics traditionally claimed that the task of reason was to make faith intelligible. In the later part of the nineteenth century, John Cardinal Newman worked to defend the power of reason against those intellectuals of his day who challenged its efficacy in matters of faith. Though maintaining the importance of reason in matters of faith, he reduces its ability to arrive at absolute certainties.
And one can do this by means of a kind of rational demonstration. And yet this demonstration is not actually reproducible by others; each of us has a unique domain of experience and expertise. Some are just given the capacity and opportunities to make this assent to what is demonstrated others are not. He claims that Locke, for example, overlooked how human nature actually works, imposing instead his own idea of how the mind is to act on the basis of deduction from evidence.
If Locke would have looked more closely at experience, he would have noticed that much of our reasoning is tacit and informal. It cannot usually be reconstructed for a set of premises. Rather it is the accumulation of probabilities, independent of each other, arising out of the circumstances of the particular case. No specific consideration usually suffices to generate the required conclusion, but taken together, they may converge upon it. This is usually what is called a moral proof for belief in a proposition. In fact, we are justified in holding the beliefs even after we have forgotten what the warrant was. This probabilistic approach to religious assent continued in the later thinking of Basil Mitchell.
William James followed in the pragmatist tradition inaugurated by Charles Sanders Peirce. Pragmatists held that all beliefs must be tested, and those that failed to garner sufficient practical value ought to be discarded. In his Will to Believe , James was a strong critic of W. Clifford, like Hume, had argued that acting on beliefs or convictions alone, unsupported by evidence, was pure folly. Clifford concluded that we have a duty to act only on well founded beliefs.
If we have no grounds for belief, we must suspend judgment. James argued, pace Clifford, that life would be severely impoverished if we acted only on completely well founded beliefs. Like Newman, James held that belief admits of a wide spectrum of commitment: from tentative to firm. The feelings that attach to a belief are significant. Thus, like Pascal, he took up a voluntarist argument for religious belief, though one not dependent solely upon a wager. There are times, admittedly few, when we must act on our beliefs passionately held but without sufficient supporting evidence. These rare situations must be both momentous, once in a lifetime opportunities, and forced, such that the situation offers the agent only two options: to act or not to act on the belief.
Religious beliefs often take on both of these characteristics. Pascal had realized the forced aspect of Christian belief, regarding salvation: God would not save the disbeliever. As a result, religion James claimed that a religious belief could be a genuine hypothesis for a person to adopt. James does, however, also give some evidential support for this choice to believe. Although it has much in common with Nihilism , Existentialism is more a reaction against traditional philosophies, such as Rationalism , Empiricism and Positivism , that seek to discover an ultimate order and universal meaning in metaphysical principles or in the structure of the observed world.
It asserts that people actually make decisions based on what has meaning to them , rather than what is rational. In the s and s, French existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre , Albert Camus - , and Simone de Beauvoir - wrote scholarly and fictional works that popularized existential themes , such as dread, boredom, alienation, the absurd, freedom, commitment and nothingness. Existence, then, is prior to essence essence is the meaning that may be ascribed to life , contrary to traditional philosophical views dating back to the ancient Greeks. As Sartre put it: "At first [Man] is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be. Kierkegaard saw rationality as a mechanism humans use to counter their existential anxiety , their fear of being in the world.
Sartre saw rationality as a form of "bad faith", an attempt by the self to impose structure on a fundamentally irrational and random world of phenomena "the other". This bad faith hinders us from finding meaning in freedom, and confines us within everyday experience. Kierkegaard also stressed that individuals must choose their own way without the aid of universal, objective standards. Friedrich Nietzsche further contended that the individual must decide which situations are to count as moral situations. Thus, most Existentialists believe that personal experience and acting on one's own convictions are essential in arriving at the truth , and that the understanding of a situation by someone involved in that situation is superior to that of a detached, objective observer similar to the concept of Subjectivism.
According to Camus, when an individual's longing for order collides with the real world's lack of order , the result is absurdity. Human beings are therefore subjects in an indifferent, ambiguous and absurd universe , in which meaning is not provided by the natural order , but rather can be created however provisionally and unstable by human actions and interpretations. Existentialism can be atheistic , theological or theistic or agnostic. Some Existentialists, like Nietzsche , proclaimed that "God is dead" and that the concept of God is obsolete.
Others, like Kierkegaard , were intensely religious, even if they did not feel able to justify it. The important factor for Existentialists is the freedom of choice to believe or not to believe. Existentialist-type themes appear in early Buddhist and Christian writings including those of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. In the 17th Century , Blaise Pascal suggested that, without a God , life would be meaningless, boring and miserable, much as later Existentialists believed, although, unlike them, Pascal saw this as a reason for the existence of a God. His near-contemporary, John Locke , advocated individual autonomy and self-determination , but in the positive pursuit of Liberalism and Individualism rather than in response to an Existentialist experience.
It can be argued that Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Arthur Schopenhauer were also important influences on the development of Existentialism, because the philosophies of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were written in response or in opposition to them. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche , like Pascal before them, were interested in people's concealment of the meaninglessness of life and their use of diversion to escape from boredom. However, unlike Pascal , they considered the role of making free choices on fundamental values and beliefs to be essential in the attempt to change the nature and identity of the chooser. In Kierkegaard 's case, this results in the "knight of faith" , who puts complete faith in himself and in God, as described in his work "Fear and Trembling".
Martin Heidegger was an important early philosopher in the movement, particularly his influential work "Being and Time" , although he himself vehemently denied being an existentialist in the Sartrean sense. His discussion of ontology is rooted in an analysis of the mode of existence of individual human beings, and his analysis of authenticity and anxiety in modern culture make him very much an Existentialist in the usual modern usage. Existentialism came of age in the midth Century , largely through the scholarly and fictional works of the French existentialists, Jean-Paul Sartre , Albert Camus - and Simone de Beauvoir -In Austria Frankl developed an existential therapy called logotherapy Frankl, Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith,which focused particularly on finding meaning. It is, Hegel tells us, only the landlady roald dahl Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith else recognizes me as a subject that I can be constituted as such. Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith held that our faith Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith eternal salvation Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith that we have theological truths that exceed human reason. The dynamic contradictions can be understood in terms of Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith versus Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith or belonging versus isolation. The approach is not about Plastic Bottles Research Paper but Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith verbalizing Existential Philosophy: Understanding Christian Faith basic impressions, ideas, intuitions and feelings a person has about life. Hick claimed that this could shed light upon the Under The Sixth Amendment: The Right To Impartial Jury fides analysis of faith.