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 introductory level PHIL course before enrolling in this course.
Eligible for INTP, CBL
Fall 2018. Wallace.
Catalog chapter: Philosophy
Department website: http://www.swarthmore.edu/philosophy
Check the Spring 2018 Schedule of Courses