Philosophy of religion in the broadest sense of the word means rather dissenting, but within the limits of rational discourse, judgments about religion, including a meaningful consideration of the solutions of ontotheological, ethical-anthropological and soteriological problems offered by one or another religion. On this basis, the philosophy of religion may include, for example, Cicero’s The Nature of the Gods, Hume’s Dialogues of Natural Religion, or Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity. The philosophy of religion bases its vision of religion on the principles of reason and, unlike theology
, is not subjectively related to faith and revelation, but objectively – to the church as a social institution. For a philosopher engaged in religion, the starting point (“absolute”) is not “religion”, but “reason”, “science”. The rational discourse about God and his relation to man and the world without a reference to revelation and its sources was historically presented in the framework of ecclesiastical theology, appearing as a “natural theology” in this case (in contrast to the “theology of revelation”). The most typical example is Sumy by Thomas Aquinas.
In English literature, “natural theology” is still often referred to as the “philosophy of religion”. On the contrary, the rigid denial from the standpoint of ecclesiastical theology of the possibility and legitimacy of the “philosophy of religion”, of any participation of an independent mind in the discussion of the affairs of faith is represented in modern theology by C. Bart. “Natural theology” is finally constituted as an integral part of the systems of traditional metaphysics. It is an attempt to derive from the human mind a priori meaningful judgments about God and, thus, to discuss the issues that later turned into the philosophy of religion – about God and his attributes, the essence of religious faith, about man and his freedom, about the relationship between faith and reason, etc.
Philosophy of religion in a narrow and proper sense denotes an independent philosophical discipline, the subject of which is religion. For the first time the term “philosophy of religion” appeared in Germany at the end. 18 century; his orientation reveals the name of the work of Kant “Religion within the Mind-Only.” Religion is here as an object of philosophical reflection as one of the phenomena of culture along with science, law, art, etc. In the case when religion becomes the subject of philosophical analysis, criticism and evaluation from the standpoint of the methods and theories developed by science, the philosophy of religion is constituted as an integral part of the “science of religion” or religious studies, along with such disciplines as psychology, sociology and the history of religion. If the understanding of religion is not guided by scientific criteria and methods, it can act as a “private”, or “secular”, theology. But in any case, the philosophy of religion – even if it does not put philosophy, like Hegel, above religion – defends the possibility and fruitfulness of “talking about God” apart from revelation. In this respect, the philosophy of religion is the offspring of the New Age, when an autonomous critical thinker seeks to know God and religion with his mind and is not content simply with faith.
The differently defined and interpreted relationship between philosophy and religion in European culture grows from a common ground – from that paradoxical confrontation between faith and reason, in which they are inextricably linked. Historically, it begins with a meeting of Judaism and Hellenism and receives an initial expression in the teachings of Philo of Alexandria on the Logos. It was supposed to connect the dogmas of the Jewish religion with Greek philosophy and present the Jewish “Law” as the law of “nature”, which is important for all – not only Jews but also Hellenes.
The Christian teaching was formed by the efforts of the “Fathers of the Church”, who sought to reveal the universal, universally valid content of the Bible as transcending all previous pagan beliefs and ancient philosophy, but at the same time understandable and accessible to the Hellenic world. It was about expressing religion in the language of ancient philosophy; with the original, unquestionable source of truth recognized the Holy Scripture, and philosophical reflections developed as an interpretation (hermeneutics) of sacral texts. Such was the task and specificity of the emerging religious (Christian) philosophy, which was initially apologetic concerning the new religion. A great deal of work was done on the theological mastering of the basic concepts of ancient philosophy (demiurge, mind-first-engine, logos, gnosis, etc.), but it was gradually found out that the specifically Christian truth of Salvation can not be adequately expressed in the specific language of philosophy. It was the desire to combine intuitively perceived religious faith and rational philosophical knowledge, “Athens and Jerusalem, the Academy and the Church” (Tertullian), the desire to realize the synthesis of religion (theology) and philosophy, constituted a task and a collision of Christian philosophizing that had not lost its sharpness to the present day. In this case, one should take into account the dominant role of theology in the culture of the Middle Ages: it was religious faith that provided the specifics and integrity of medieval culture; Within the framework of religion, various forms of culture, including philosophy, developed.
The inevitability of the confrontation of religion (theology) and philosophy was due to their profound typological differences. The historical religion (for Europe, first of all, Christianity) and its theoretical (theological) expression developed in a rigid channel, outlined by the Bible and Sacred Tradition, tradition, the symbolism of worship. Any knowledge was recognized and accepted only to the extent that it corresponded to the canon of the church and strengthened the piety prescribed by it. As for philosophy, its attitudes are opposite by definition: a critical analysis of all forms of culture from the standpoint of reason, reliance on experimental knowledge, free research, not subordinate to recognized authorities and readiness to review fundamental provisions, etc. The priority subject of philosophical reflection is what can be called the metaphysical foundations of the doctrinal system: the ultimate nature and source of the universe, the destiny of man, the relation to reason and rationality, the sources of morality, and so on. This is followed by a natural tendency for philosophy to go beyond the boundaries of one religion and develop its typology as a specific form of culture.
The philosophy of religion of modern times in its most important manifestations resolutely dissociated itself from the “religious philosophy”, seeing the danger of losing its true tasks and appointing in the performance of philosophy the official function about religion. Philosophy came into competition with religion exactly where it most deeply defined its vocation (the most vivid examples are Spinoza and Hegel). Philosophical criticism of religion was dictated not by a negative attitude towards religion as such, but acted as an inalienable moment of the very philosophical way of thinking and the philosophical concept of religion.
If theology sought to conceptually comprehend and express the real practice of mass religious consciousness – the everyday experience of people who tried to realize Christian values, the formation of philosophical criticism fixed and generalized, first and foremost, the achievements of science in the cognition of the world, the improvement of its theoretical tools, the strengthening of the role of reliable knowledge in the development of society i.e. changes in the entire socio-cultural environment in the process of the formation of anthropogenic civilization with its emphasis on personal development, pluralism, free competition, etc., are factors that ultimately determined the secularization of European society.
As the primacy of knowledge over faith is affirmed in modern times, the “theology of religion” yields to the leading positions in the comprehension of the religious phenomenon of the “philosophy of religion”. With all the critical attitude to religion, and especially to church orthodoxy, the philosophy of religion retains a certain continuity with the rationalistic accents and pathos of “natural theology”, with its notion of comparability, even the isomorphism of the divine and human mind.
The philosophy of religion as an independent discipline is formed in the era of the Enlightenment (17-18 centuries). Her immediate predecessors – J. Bruno and the English deists (Cherbury, Toland, Tyndall, Collins), its founders – Spinoza and Descartes; Hobbes, Locke, Hume in England, French enlighteners and encyclopedists (Beyle, Voltaire, Rousseau, Holbach, Diderot), in Germany – Lessing, Kant, Schleiermacher and Hegel. Philosophers defended the right to independently judge the problems of religion, based on the criteria of rational knowledge and science data. This idea was expressed already by Descartes in “Metaphysical Reflections” (1641). “Two issues,” he writes, “about God and the soul, have always been considered by me to be the most important among those that should be proved more by arguments of philosophy than theology”. A bright stage in the formation of the philosophy of religion was the work of Spinoza. Developing the traditions of rationalism and pantheism, he asserted the identity of God and nature, which he understood as a single, eternal and infinite substance, as the cause of himself (causa sui). He also laid the foundations of a critical-scientific reading of the Bible. The starting point of the modern philosophy of religion was Hume’s development of the concept of “natural religion”: opposed to “positive” or “historical religion.” It opened the possibility of a philosophical analysis of religion as a speculative construction, as well as research empirically given religions. At the same time, the entire preceding interpretation of religion was rejected as relating to metaphysics and dogmatics.
Special merit in the development of the philosophy of religion as a new discipline belongs to the German thinkers. They offered an understanding of religion, oriented to different areas of consciousness – will (Kant), sense (Schleiermacher) and reason (Hegel). With the work of Kant, the term “Religionsphilosophie” itself is linked: this is how he originally intended to name his work “Religion within the Mind Only” (1793). The main task of the “Enlightenment”, according to Kant, is not simply the liberation from any political or religious dogmas, myths, all limitations to thought, but the universal triumph of a free mind. Hence, the program motto: “Have the courage to use your mind!” Religion, Kant believes, which without hesitation declares war on reason, will not be able to stand against it for long.
Unlike enlightening atheism, Kant denies not the existence of God, but the traditional ways of proving its existence and certain ideas expressed in them about God. So, for him, the idea of ??God as the cause of processes occurring in nature is unacceptable: their scientific explanation is quite sufficient (“methodological atheism,” as K. Barth put it). Together with scholastic metaphysics and theology, Kant destroyed the picture of the world that he created, in which the Creator and his creation were described using a single system of cosmological concepts. Kant introduces God as a postulate of practical reason, stemming from a person’s understanding of himself as a morally responsible being (“moral evidence”). In all church life, for Kant, only moral service to God, in which Jesus appears not as a son of God, but as an ideal person, retains value; historical scenes and moments in the Bible are of no significant importance for Christianity, and all kinds of church ceremonies are nothing more than prejudices. Kant categorically asserted the priority of moral consciousness over the religious consciousness: “Religion is based on morality, and not morality on religion.”
The philosophy of religion inherits this attitude of Kant, treating religion as an independent area (along with morality or art) of culture, seeks to understand the essence, truth and meaning of religion, developing for this purpose a “theory of religion”. The most important starting point was the concept of “religious experience”, through which the essence of religion was to be revealed. In this case, the phenomenon of religion could be viewed regarding both the internal experience of the individual and the experience of the historical. In both cases, the role of special religious and creative personalities, the great homini religiosi, the founders of individual historical religions, was recorded. Thus, it was possible to judge the “alien” religious life, based on their religious experience, as well as vice versa – the religious experiences of others could contribute to understanding their faith. However, to create a theory of religion, it was necessary to express this experience in specific categories of philosophical knowledge.
The Hegelian philosophy of religion, in which religious feelings and representations are regarded as a form of expression of absolute truth, can be considered a classic example of the realization of such a plan. The identical in their content, philosophy and religion comprehend God in various ways, the first in representations, the second in concepts. Religion in the Hegelian system takes an honorable place: together with philosophy it crowns the grandiose building of human knowledge, but still, the last word belongs to philosophy as a higher form of knowledge of the absolute spirit. Hegel argues with Schleiermacher, who limited religion to the sphere of feeling: religious experience is a necessary but inadequate condition for faith, because the feeling is casual, subjective, and God must be known in its universality. The form of universality is reason, therefore “God essentially exists in thinking”. The change of religions in history, according to Hegel, is a single logical process, the sequence of necessary steps of ever deeper comprehension of God. In the process, the image of God becomes more and more humanized. The ideal of religion is not in the past but the future. Nevertheless, Christianity appears in Hegel as an absolute religion, which can no longer be surpassed: in Christianity, there has been a reconciliation of God and man, religion has reached self-consciousness. However, we do not mean historical “positive Christianity” as any random form of finding the truth (according to Hegel, Catholicism, for example, was a false form of Christianity). And the Bible is “positive” (“the devil also quotes the Bible”), the miracles described in it do not exist for a reason: from the standpoint of reason, it is impossible to confirm spirituality by external manifestations. It does not follow, Hegel insists, to take every word of the Holy Scripture on faith, or to indispensably justify any Christian rite. True religion is a religion that meets reasonable criteria. The philosophical view of religion is independent, it is not bound by preconditions, and in this sense is critical of religion. Thus, it is because of the independence of the philosophical view of religion that the philosophy of religion, in its various variants, offers different answers to the question of the essence of religion: the knowledge of our duties as divine commandments in Kant, contemplation and the sense of the infinite in Schleiermacher, the phenomenon of the abstract spirit that represents the knowledge of the divine spirit about oneself through mediating the finite, human spirit – in Hegel.
The question of the essence of religion is connected with the question of its truth. Thus, for Kant, the truth of religion is embodied in morality: “Everything except a good way of life, a person proposes to do in order to be pleasing to God, is only a religious illusion and a deceitfulness to God”. Hegel does not agree with this, for “morality, according to Kant,” is, from Hegel, the enslavement of the individual to the universal, and what a person depends on can not have the form of truth. According to Hegel, a still felt truth is revealed in religion (which in science already appears as knowledge) in the form of a statement about what the spirit is: religion should be understood as one’s own inner self-conscious life, as “reconciliation of self-consciousness with consciousness.”
The philosophy of religion is the offspring of the New Age and especially of the Enlightenment even in the sense that critical philosophical thought sought to decipher the notion of God and explain religion with the help of reason, thereby acquiring a universally valid foundation of culture and social life: if faith separates people by faith, mind is their common heritage. Therefore, the philosophy of religion advocates the possibility of speaking about God in addition to revelation: the concepts of “God” and “religion” can be abstracted from the diversity of specific historical forms of “positive” religions in order to reveal the “essence” of religion. On this basis, various directions of criticizing religion in its historical forms that distort the true “essence of religion” is being developed, replacing the faith with superstition. The degree of radicality of this criticism was different: from the point of view of philosophical rationalism and positivism, religion must be cleared of “senseless dogmas and superstitions” in order to respond to sound human reasoning, or discarded altogether as the embodiment of “unreason”, the fruit of deception and ignorance. The superficiality of such an understanding of religion was demonstrated by German philosophers, beginning with Kant and ending with Feuerbach, who advanced the concept of “alienation,” a materialistic version of which was subsequently elaborated in detail by Marx and still forms the basis of rationalistic criticism of religion (for example, Russell).
With 19th century a new era is the coming-an age of bourgeois progress, the triumph of positivism. The premises on which the way of thinking of the classical philosophy of religion rested was destroyed. Then she went in different ways: from open criticism of religious consciousness to his theological apologetics, or “private theology”, developed by thinkers who were not connected with church discipline. But in any case, the philosophy of religion increasingly lost its former claim to the role of the spiritual dominant, to justify a morally binding morality, as Kant tried to do. Contradictions of the development of scientific and technological civilization and the triumph of the spirit of positivism forced to turn critical thought on the very “faith in Reason” and pushed the entire Enlightenment era with its “reasonable religion” into the past.
So, Comte and Spencer are developing a sociological approach to religion as one of the elements of society, laying the foundations of a scientistic-positivist approach, destructive for traditional theology. By evolutionary theory, various forms of interpretation of religion arise; this is the time of flourishing of T. Huxley’s agnosticism, E. Haeckel’s monism, various forms of natural scientific materialism and atheism. The result brings Nietzsche: “God is dead!” If the former philosophical criticism of religion, first of all, sought to prove the falsity of the classical doctrine of theism, then in the beginning 20 century there are concepts (especially neopositivistic ones) that claim that religious statements – like any metaphysical statements – are meaningless and that the criterion of truth to them is not applicable.
Modern philosophy nevertheless, beginning with neo-Kantianism, retains the intention of the classical philosophy of religion, namely, the appeal to religion as an important subject of philosophical reflection, but now it no longer “corrects” and instructs religion on the true path with the help of reason, as it tries to understand the attitude between philosophy and religion as independent values, one way or another connected with each other. Not only the mind constantly invades and participates in the affairs of faith, so without this fact, religion can not be adequately explained, but on the contrary – religion actively manifests itself as a cultural factor in the field of philosophy itself, in science and art. At the same time, the relationship between philosophy and religion inevitably involves more or less tension. The constituting religion is the existence of a rationally incomprehensible (at least partially) revelation. In this initial basis, religion remains fundamentally different from philosophy, despite all attempts to overcome both the “imaginary” irreducibility of the “essence” of religion to such definitions as would be understood by philosophical reason. “Between God the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob there has always been not only difference but also a conflict”.
The prerequisite of the “philosophy of religion” in contrast to “religious philosophy” is the recognition that “philosophy has its ways of knowing and its evidence, completely different from religion”. So religion is for philosophy a subject of investigation and not a source of knowledge. Chicherin represents the traditions of European rationalism, primarily Hegelianism, in Russia. He argues with representatives of the “theological school,” who “see religion as the only source of knowledge of God, and look at philosophy as an empty game of the human mind.” For Chicherin, philosophy and religion differ in their manifestations, on the whole, however, they coincide and in the future must unite in the “higher synthesis”. But this does not negate the fact that in philosophy the mind “becomes a judge of faith”.
This rational line was not used, but the opposite: every philosophy is fundamentally religious. To know the truth – it means to transcend the limits of subjective thinking and enter into the realm of the existing unity of all that is, that is, the absolute. The facts of experience and the concepts of thinking have meaning and significance not in themselves, but only by the religious principle. Therefore, a whole cognition of reality leads to a religious worldview. The “philosophy of religion” for Vl. Solovyov is “religious philosophy” that unfolds and justifies the Christian worldview. S. Bulgakov polemicizes with Hegel and proves that philosophy and religion, despite the religious roots of philosophy, can never replace one another or be regarded as successive steps of the same process. From his point of view, “every genuine philosophy is mythical and to that extent religious, and therefore irreligious,” independent “,” pure “philosophy is impossible”. Therefore, for Bulgakov, for example, Plato is a “philosophizing theologian”. Philosophical and scientific study of religion is appropriate as an expression of a kind of “scientific piety,” as a manifestation of religious creativity, and in that case, religious philosophy has and must have a positive religious meaning and value – otherwise, it becomes “ungodliness.” Kant’s criticism: not Truth from reason, but reason from Truth. “Philosophy takes everything from the cult”, including the terminology. And as soon as philosophy begins to claim independence, to autonomy from religion, it becomes foul, distorted, and ceases to be necessary. Berdyaev sees the tragedy of philosophy in the fact that she can not and does not want to depend on religion, but, breaking away from religious experience, she inevitably becomes exhausted, moves away from being: “philosophy has always in fact nourished from a religious source”. The importance of philosophy Berdyaev sees that it can have a purifying meaning for religion, free it from splice with elements of a non-religious nature, not associated with revelation, with backward forms of knowledge. If people of religion, theologians, church hierarchs and ordinary believers do not like philosophy and philosophers, then this is because the philosopher “stands face to face with God without any middlemen and is therefore attacked by” a socialized religion.
Attempts to introduce all philosophy into the mainstream of “religious philosophy” as the only true method of philosophizing prove to be unacceptable until the end of any of the parties because they conceal the threat of the loss of true identity and religion and philosophy.
In the philosophy of religion 19-20 century conflicting tendencies were combined: along with a turn to religious philosophy under the aegis of theology, the desire to express the essence of religion in the language of philosophy develops and is presented as a cultural phenomenon (e.g., Cassirer’s “philosophy of symbolic forms”). If in the 19 century dominate the directions that arise as a reaction to speculative systems and very different in their aspirations (starting from Schopenhauer and Marx and ending with Nietzsche and Fr. Mautner), then in the 20th century, they are supplemented by a wide range of philosophical currents (psychoanalysis, Dewey’s naturalism, Whitehead’s “philosophy of the process,” phenomenological, existentialist, structuralist and other concepts) that analyze religion as a phenomenon alongside science and philosophy. The tradition of criticizing religion continues from the standpoint of secular humanism (B.Rassel, P.Kurtz).
For the philosophy of religion of the 20th century. The Whitehead concept is symptomatic. We are mastering the world, he insists, with the help of various cognitive forms that remain only partially accessible to each other, but at the same time have common features. We need a “theory of contacts” between different forms of cognition, such as, for example, scientific and religious. Although each of the specialized methods of cognition solves its delineated tasks, they complement each other. The domination of scientific paradigms in modern times over ethical, religious and aesthetic along with success has given rise to difficulties; So, we have to admit that religion plays an important role in the processes taking place in culture. The metaphysics of Whitehead is an example of going beyond classical philosophical criticism of religion.
Approaches to the religion of representatives of psychoanalysis differ significantly. Criticism of the illusory nature of religion by Z. Freud is close to the educational interpretation of religion, whereas CG Jung positively assesses the role of religious symbols in the collective unconscious. Unlike other psychoanalysts, E. Fromm, translating the Marxist theory of religious alienation into a psychoanalytic language, came to the concept of a humanistic religion of the future as an expression of the universal human essence.
In philosophical anthropology (M.Sheler, G.Plesner, A.Gelen) the problems of religion are considered in the context of the definition of the essence of man, his place in space, the meaning in culture; in this context, religion appears as a necessary component of all knowledge.
In the critical theory of the Frankfurt School (J. Habermas, M. Horkheimer, T. Adorno, etc.) the problem of the philosophy of religion is considered in connection with the phenomenon of utopia and “communicative rationality”; this analysis leads to a conclusion about the positive function of religion as a criticism of the existing. Existentialism, which goes back to Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, redefines the concept of traditional theism from various points of view. Heidegger is a critic of ontology; Jaspers has a criticism of the dogmatic “reification” of the ciphers of transcendence, which removes responsibility for accepting faith from the person himself. Sartre in the name of freedom proclaims atheism; the nightmare of being-in-itself and the emergence of events, man, can oppose only faith in his ability to create himself and, because he has freedom, to turn from “thing” into “nothing”: “meaningful creation” nothing “- noble the handwriting of freedom. ” The human claim to connect both moments – the existence of man and his essence – the union, called in religions by God, – is vain and represents an unrealizable process.
Internally heterogeneous analytical philosophy links the consideration of problems of religion to the analysis of religious experience and the language of religion as a basis for testing the consistency and criticism of religion. J. Dewey develops a pragmatic criterion for testing the consistency and criticism of religion, proposed by W. James, and exposes the destructive criticism of the concept of the supernatural: the transcendent has no reality. But this does not eliminate all religion in general, since any idea has value, being practically useful. Critical rejection of religion most clearly expressed logical positivism (B.Rassel, at a certain stage R.Carnap, L.Wittgenstein, A.Ayer). Later analytical philosophy tends toward more cautious and differentiated criticism of the language of religion (A. Flue) or to the recognition of its positive functions (late Wittgenstein, J. Wisdom, GR Harr). K. Popper in the concept of critical rationalism, first directed against positivism, then turns his theory of falsification against the claims of religion to the possession of absolute truth and, in particular, against the dogmatic justification of the ultimate goal of theology.
The philosophy of modern times has contributed to the secularization of culture, including theology and mass religiosity. Philosophical criticism of religion contributed to the development of self-criticism in the theology of the 20th century. (K. Bart, Bultmann, Nibura, Tillich, Bonhoeffer, and others). In turn, the philosophical analysis of religion in many ways stimulated development and enriched the understanding of philosophy itself, its communicative functions in culture, the ability to “read culture” and carry out interdisciplinary contacts vital in a pluralistic civilization. The question of the fate of the philosophy of religion in the postmodern era remains open. Of the many philosophical disciplines, it is most affected by topics that are characteristic of modern philosophical thought. The largest philosophers of the 20th century, as a rule, were actively engaged in the discussion of the fundamental problems of the philosophy of religion, more indicating, however, its difficulties than offering solutions. “Mysticism without God” Mautner, Wittgenstein’s “silence”, Bloch’s “transcendence without transcendence”, Heidegger’s “ontological difference” are all different attempts to open philosophies to new aspects of intellectual experience that make it possible to understand religious and even mystical as a possible and justified moment of human experience in general. Philosophy, going this way, may be able to help historically existing religions and theologies better understand and assess their claims to the possession of truth. And maybe, thanks to these efforts, a mutual understanding will be reached between the philosopher and homo religious.