Philosophy of Religion
College Bulletin - Course Catalog

PHIL 016. Philosophy of Religion

(Cross-listed as RELG 015B )
Is there such thing as religion–definable and singular? If there is no agreement, how can we have a philosophy of it? Departing from this predicament, this course will first examine how “religion” has been construed over time and in a variety of contexts. After touching upon various Western medieval endeavors to “prove” God’s existence, we’ll attend to the nineteenth century and Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals . We will consider the ways in which Nietzsche employs Hegel’s master/slave dialectic to identify the psychological state of ressentiment as a key factor in the birth and character of Jewish/Christian morality. Also, William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) will be read as a groundbreaking study in the psychological states of religious consciousness. We will also draw Western notions of the “ineffability”of God-especially as appearing in the Pseudo-Dionysian tradition of the via negativa-into conversation with the second century (CE) Buddhist philosophy of Nagarjuna and his influences on the Zen/Ch’an tradition. Finally, we’ll explore recent reimaginings of religion in light of postmodern themes such as nihilism and the death of God. Readings include: Anselm of Canterbury, Friedrich Nietzsche, William James, Teresa of Avila, Mircea Eliade, Rene Girard, Gianni Vattimo, Pseudo-Dionysius, Nagarjuna, and Shunyru Suzuki.
Prerequisite: First- and second-year students must complete one course in PHIL 001 -PHIL 010 , or PHIL 012A , before enrolling in this course.
1 credit.
Eligible for INTP, CBL
Fall 2018. Wallace.
Catalog chapter: Philosophy  
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