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"Religion" as a philosophical problem: historical and conceptual dilemmas in contemporary pluralistic philosophy of religion


Amesbury, Richard (2014). "Religion" as a philosophical problem: historical and conceptual dilemmas in contemporary pluralistic philosophy of religion. Sophia, 54(4):479-496.

Abstract

In the late nineteenth century, European philosophical theologians concerned about the perceived threat of secularity played a crucial role in the construction of the category of ‘religion,’ conceived as a transcultural universal, the genus of which the so-called ‘world religions’ are species. By reading the work of the late John Hick (1922–2012), the most influential contemporary philosophical advocate of religious pluralism, through an historically informed hermeneutic of suspicion, this paper argues that orientalist-derived understandings of religion continue to play a significant (though often unacknowledged) role within the philosophy of religion today. Though couched in the language of pluralism, Hick’s later work in the philosophy of religion functions apologetically to maintain a version of the religious–secular distinction that, while theologically and politically loaded, is, I show, philosophically arbitrary. Moving the philosophy of religion beyond Eurocentrism, I argue, will require freeing it from the logic of the modern understanding of religion.

Abstract

In the late nineteenth century, European philosophical theologians concerned about the perceived threat of secularity played a crucial role in the construction of the category of ‘religion,’ conceived as a transcultural universal, the genus of which the so-called ‘world religions’ are species. By reading the work of the late John Hick (1922–2012), the most influential contemporary philosophical advocate of religious pluralism, through an historically informed hermeneutic of suspicion, this paper argues that orientalist-derived understandings of religion continue to play a significant (though often unacknowledged) role within the philosophy of religion today. Though couched in the language of pluralism, Hick’s later work in the philosophy of religion functions apologetically to maintain a version of the religious–secular distinction that, while theologically and politically loaded, is, I show, philosophically arbitrary. Moving the philosophy of religion beyond Eurocentrism, I argue, will require freeing it from the logic of the modern understanding of religion.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology > Center for Ethics
01 Faculty of Theology > Institute of Theology
Dewey Decimal Classification:230 Christianity & Christian theology
170 Ethics
Language:English
Date:December 2014
Deposited On:16 Jan 2015 12:25
Last Modified:14 Feb 2018 22:46
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0038-1527
Additional Information:The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11841-013-0394-9
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11841-013-0394-9
Related URLs:http://link.springer.com/journal/11841/53/4

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