The page uses Browser Access Keys to help with keyboard navigation. Click to learn moreSkip to Navigation

Different browsers use different keystrokes to activate accesskey shortcuts. Please reference the following list to use access keys on your system.

Alt and the accesskey, for Internet Explorer on Windows
Shift and Alt and the accesskey, for Firefox on Windows
Shift and Esc and the accesskey, for Windows or Mac
Ctrl and the accesskey, for the following browsers on a Mac: Internet Explorer 5.2, Safari 1.2, Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape 6+.

We use the following access keys on our gateway

n Skip to Navigation
k Accesskeys description
h Help
Swarthmore College    
College Bulletin - Course Catalog 
  Feb 21, 2018
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 introductory level PHIL course before enrolling in this course.
1 credit.
Eligible for INTP, CBL
Fall 2018. Wallace.
Catalog chapter: Philosophy  
Department website:

Check the Spring 2018 Schedule of Courses