• Xtrix
    2.9k
    We often hear about the differences between religion and science, and even religion and philosophy. A fair analysis of both will include common features as well. [Edited from a different discussion.]

    What's labeled religion, philosophy, and science, all have common features. They're usually separated, sometimes strictly, but they share very basic human questions.

    From a historical point of view, these questions have predated any "religions" we think of today, ancient/modern philosophy and certainly modern science.

    Human beings have been around for roughly 200 thousand years. Around this time they developed the capacity for thought and for language. This is what has traditionally been said to separate them from other primates, and from animals in general -- "reason" and "speech" (ratio, logos).

    Thinking, language, speech, words -- all this predates writing, and so if we take history to mean written history, it is all "prehistoric."

    Taking the 200,000 number as an exact date for behaviorally modern humans' emergence (for the sake of simplicity), and then reminding ourselves that writing wasn't invented until roughly 5,000 years ago (3,200 BC), it leads to a question: what was happening during those 195 thousand years of our existence? What were we thinking?

    It's all surmise. But we know these people buried their dead, created cave art, and had complex tools. I would assume they told stories, and shared myths and legends -- perhaps especially about ancestors. They likely all had "gods," but in the sense of animism. They had rites and rituals, danced, chanted, and sang. They had ideas about themselves and about their worlds. They asked questions and gave themselves the best answers they could conjure up -- about the plants and animals, the soil, the stars, the weather, sickness and birth and death.

    This all predates anything we usually mean by "religion" or "philosophy." Yet for the majority of our time on earth, as a species, these were the phenomena that occupied our cognitive faculties -- when we weren't wandering, hunting and gathering (which is to say, pretty rarely).

    Jump forward to the ancient world of Sumer, and read the Epic of Gilgamesh. Read some of the writings out of Egypt. All deal with death, life, birth. These are human concerns and human questions.

    By the time we get to Greece, and the "love of wisdom," a new tradition is laid out. Same humans, similar questions, just formulated in a new way and in a new culture. From there we have the origin and foundations of Western thought.

    That's the context I like to think of when trying to answer these questions. To summarize:

    (1) We're human beings, and we sometimes think.
    (2) Sometimes this thinking is concerned with universal questions.
    (3) These questions are called philosophical.

    (4) So philosophy is a kind of thinking -- a kind that asks universal questions.

    What are these universal questions? What does philosophy ask? The same as many religions'.

    In my view, one core question is "Why does anything exists at all?" (or, "What is existence/being?"), and both what we call "philosophy" and what we call "religion" asks (and answers) it, tacitly or explicitly. It's unavoidable.

    When asked explicitly, many answers have been given and are well-known. In Plato, being was the Forms, ultimately the "Form of the Good" -- the permanent and eternal as opposed to mere seeming and becoming. In the Christian tradition, being is God. Modern science also has an answer: nature (translated from the Latin natura, from the Greek phusis -- which is also where we get "physics", considered the fundamental science).

    But this is all pointless talk about history, etymology, abstraction, and soaring speculation, which should be as relevant to us and our personal, everyday concerns as a mathematical theorem is -- that is, until we grasp the following fact: along with answers to the question "What is existence/what is being?" there comes an answer to the question "What is a human being?"

    "What is a human being?" What can be more relevant to us? It's often the basis for what's considered a "good" life (i.e., the question "What should I do with my life?"), and so ethics and morality; for proposals about how to organize society -- and so the basis for politics; and for claims about human nature -- and so the basis for humanity's goals and about the future of the species ("Where are we going?").

    Answers to these questions have come from both philosophy and religion. Human beings are zoon echon logon, creatures of God, the res cogitans, homo sapien sapien, etc. We're the rational animal, the primate with language, souls with God-given reason, a mind/body, and so on.

    How you characterize human beings has considerable impacts on what they do, individually and collectively. These characterizations are based on answers to basic human questions, whether philosophical or religious.

    So in the end, from a certain point of view both religion and philosophy are operating in the same dimension.
  • Gnomon
    2k
    From a historical point of view, these questions have predated any "religions" we think of today, ancient/modern philosophy and certainly modern science.Xtrix
    For me personally, I have only an archaeological interest in popular (of the common people) world religions --- including that of my own culture --- which are specific to a place & time that no longer exists. But I find a lot of commonality in the more elite philosophies of the deep thinkers in each culture. The religions retain their cultural flavor, for sampling in small doses, but even the obsolete worldviews still contain some nutritious meat for thought about perennial questions. :smile:
  • Banno
    15.7k
    So in the end, from a certain point of view both religion and philosophy are operating in the same dimension.Xtrix

    My answer to this will be much the same as for several other questions around the fora at present: philosophy concerns itself primary with conceptual clarification.

    So one might do philosophy by clarifying the concepts used in religious talk. But that is very far from being the whole of philosophy. There is far more than needs clarification.

    Hence it is only one small part of philosophy that "operates in the same dimensions" as religion.

    And religion is not particularly adept at conceptual clarification.
  • Pantagruel
    1.9k
    Taking the 200,000 number as an exact date for behaviorally modern humans' emergence (for the sake of simplicity), and then reminding ourselves that writing wasn't invented until roughly 5,000 years ago (3,200 BC), it leads to a question: what was happening during those 195 thousand years of our existence? What were we thinking?Xtrix

    I would extend that even further. Chalmers leans towards defining consciousness as a fundamental property of reality. He says "It would be odd for a fundamental property to be instantiated for the first time only relatively late in the history of the universe." I agree. If consciousness "is" at all, it has been around for a very long time....
  • I like sushi
    3.1k
    Taking the 200,000 number as an exact date for behaviorally modern humans' emergence (for the sake of simplicity), and then reminding ourselves that writing wasn't invented until roughly 5,000 years ago (3,200 BC), it leads to a question: what was happening during those 195 thousand years of our existence? What were we thinking?Xtrix

    It's all surmise. But we know these people buried their dead, created cave art, and had complex tools.Xtrix

    More like 70,000 years. From the hard evidence we currently have. Maybe 200,000 but we don't know for sure if they were 'the same'.

    All humans have a cosmological stance. We have a 'foundation' upon which we build. A devout religious person cannot simply 'give up' believing in what they believe in regardless of the evidence put before them no more than a scientist would disregard scientific evidence.

    Note: NO to arguments that 'science' trumps 'belief' in this respect. To 'disregard' your cosmological perspective would mean for your entire sense of reality to collapse.

    The commonality is the requirement for a sense of world (weltanschauung), axis mundi or, simply put, an anchor by which we can feel grounded. No anchor, no reality and no sense of life.

    The very terms 'religion,' 'science' and 'philosophy' are expressions of our understanding that there are different means to approach different explorations. The confusion comes when we use one to explore the other as if it has priority over it. We do not tend to pray for answers to questions about physics nor do we calculate the 'meaning' of life in a physics-based formula. When we ask about the best course of action for a moral issue we don't hold purely to cold logic or measure the weight of good vs bad like a scientist.

    The common feature of all of these is that they necessarily operate within a community of humans and therefore seem to express something about what humans are/do.

    The heart of the religious questioning (in my mind) is that of ontology. Religion is more about reinforcing the foundations of our cosmological view, science is more about exploring it and philosophy is about questioning it. All approaches are void without the others.
  • Xtrix
    2.9k
    My answer to this will be much the same as for several other questions around the fora at present: philosophy concerns itself primary with conceptual clarification.Banno

    It can be, if we want to define it as primarily concerned with conceptual clarification. Then we can go on from there. But that pretty much ignores how I think of it, and everything I wrote -- which I think is a better way of looking at philosophy.

    Taking the 200,000 number as an exact date for behaviorally modern humans' emergence (for the sake of simplicity), and then reminding ourselves that writing wasn't invented until roughly 5,000 years ago (3,200 BC), it leads to a question: what was happening during those 195 thousand years of our existence? What were we thinking?
    — Xtrix

    I would extend that even further. Chalmers leans towards defining consciousness as a fundamental property of reality. He says "It would be odd for a fundamental property to be instantiated for the first time only relatively late in the history of the universe." I agree. If consciousness "is" at all, it has been around for a very long time....
    Pantagruel

    But I didn't mention consciousness, I mentioned thinking -- and here especially language. We don't really know anything about consciousness, but we know something about language -- and there's no reason I see to believe language has been around for a "very long time" before behaviorally modern humans emerged. You can double the numbers if you like, it makes little difference -- it's still a blip in history.

    I take your comment however, and consciousness is something that's otherwise worth speculating about.

    More like 70,000 years. From the hard evidence we currently have. Maybe 200,000 but we don't know for sure if they were 'the same'.I like sushi

    Yeah, there's debate about the exact dates, of course. It varies from a low range of 50 to 100 thousand years to 100/200 thousand years. I'm talking there about behavioral modernity, especially language -- which is a species property.

    The commonality is the requirement for a sense of world (weltanschauung), axis mundi or, simply put, an anchor by which we can feel grounded. No anchor, no reality and no sense of life.I like sushi

    Exactly. And so no philosophy and no science. I think you've stated it better than me.

    The common feature of all of these is that they necessarily operate within a community of humans and therefore seem to express something about what humans are/do.I like sushi

    Indeed.

    The heart of the religious questioning (in my mind) is that of ontology.I like sushi

    I would argue the heart of questioning is ontological.

    Religion is more about reinforcing the foundations of our cosmological view, science is more about exploring it and philosophy is about questioning it. All approaches are void without the others.I like sushi

    I see where you're going here, in terms of emphasis, but again I think at the heart of this is being -- the human being -- and that means thinking/language, perception, and questioning. Which all presupposes existence.
  • Hanover
    7.5k
    And religion is not particularly adept at conceptual clarificationBanno

    The heart of the religious questioning (in my mind) is that of ontologyI like sushi

    You guys use the term "religion" as if describes this single monolithic entity, as if Talmudic analysis is at all like Taoism. The same can be said of "philosophy," as if all it seeks the same thing.


    If you're interested, you can find religious texts that endlessly describe distinctions and clarifications and that speak nothing of ontology, but just set forth commandments or that offer moral guidance.

    Some theologies accept atheism and some philosophies are schools that offer best manners of living.

    What I suspect you mean is that modern Western stereotypical forms of Protestantism don't offer specificity of terms and they treat questions of being as primary, thus making them distinct from modern analytic philosophy.

    That I agree with, but there's more to religion and philosophy than just that.
  • I like sushi
    3.1k
    You guys use the term "religion" as if describes this single monolithic entity, as if Talmudic analysis is at all like Taoism. The same can be said of "philosophy," as if all it seeks the same thing.Hanover

    Trust me I don’t.
  • Hanover
    7.5k
    Trust me I don’t.I like sushi

    It's not a trust issue. I was referencing your use in your post.
  • Banno
    15.7k
    You guys use the term "religion" as if describes this single monolithic entity, as if Talmudic analysis is at all like Taoism. The same can be said of "philosophy," as if all it seeks the same thing.Hanover

    Fair point.
  • I like sushi
    3.1k
    I wasn’t referring to any particular institution. I was stating that ‘religions’ are about reinforcing our sense of existence - meaning ‘weltanschauung’ or ‘axis mundi’.

    In such a sense we’re all religious.
  • Hanover
    7.5k
    In such a sense we’re all religious.I like sushi

    That's only because you've defined religion as a worldview and we all have worldviews. I don't see the terms as synonymous. To say someone is deeply religious doesn't refer to someone who is deeply scientific.
  • Varde
    152
    Religion is about 'faith', whereas philosophy is about 'wisdom', practical or non-practical. Philosopher's try to answer questions, Theists believe in certain accounts and refer to those accounts where science is conducted against them.

    The two are nowhere-near alike.

    Faith is a sort of spiritual courage where fate is concerned.' I have faith to get through the day'.

    I can exchange the day for a book, say I'm getting through what the book considers life to be.

    If anything, God is a philosopher.
  • 180 Proof
    7k
    Philosophy and religion:
    This is a distinction of aporetics (i.e. thinking unanswerable questions) and dogmatics (i.e. believing unquestionable answers), respectively, where the latter is the object – target – of the former and which the former strives to overcome.180 Proof
    I.e. free inquiry (iconoclasty) =/= ritual worship (idolatry).
  • I like sushi
    3.1k
    I didn't exactly attempt to define religion and that isn't what I meant either way.

    In simple, and short, terms I just meant that 'religion' (as in that part of us sometimes referred to as 'religiosity') is more concerned with the 'world grounding' of our existence than science. Science is not concerned so much with what 'feels' right but rather how items operate.

    As the OP isn't directly about science/religion I was more or less cutting away the 'science' part to make clearer what distinctions there are between philosophy and religion ... I do not view 'religion' as merely the modern presentation of some social institution though.

    Philosophy deals with 'questions' (broadly speaking) and 'religions' deal with orientation (sense of place and world at large).

    I would argue strongly against any of these rough adumbrations being anything clearly defined bounds, meaning I see 'religion' in 'science' and 'science' in 'philosophy,' and 'philosophy' in 'religion' and round and round we go. I would add a forth aspect but that is not what this OP is about.
  • I like sushi
    3.1k
    Yes, and the 'weltanschauung' is not readily questioned because it is the foundation upon which our conscious appreciation exists.
  • Varde
    152
    I like reading your posts, you're clearly very intellectual. I agree with your association.
  • Xtrix
    2.9k
    Religion is about 'faith', whereas philosophy is about 'wisdom',Varde

    Says who?

    Religion far predates philosophy. What both have in common is that they deal with basic human questions. The beings asking the questions are human beings. Human beings think and speak and, importantly, exist. Every answer comes out of a particular human being in a particular culture, and is a kind of interpretation. Some answers we now categorize as "religion," some as "philosophical," some as "scientific," etc.
  • I like sushi
    3.1k
    @Xtrix I'd highly recommend reading The Sacred and The Profane by Eliade. Unlike other works of his (like Shamanism) it isn't a dry piece of scholarship and he actually attempts to frame some of his thoughts rather than just give a scholarly record.

    His use of 'Heirophant' is something I carry around with me every day now
  • Xtrix
    2.9k
    His use of 'Heirophant' is something I carry around with me every day nowI like sushi

    What is a heirophant?
  • I like sushi
    3.1k

    More precisely 'Heirophany'

    To quote:

    Man becomes aware of the sacred because it manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane. To designate the act of manifestation of the sacred, we use the heirophany. It is a fitting term, because it does not imply anything further; it expresses no more than is implicit in its etymological context, i.e., that something sacred shows itself to us.

    - Introduction to The Sacred and The Profane, by Mirea Eliade
  • Varde
    152
    I think that philosophy and religion are at two ends, there are theories(in philosophy), and people who have faith in those theories(in religion). I'm not calling it a match made in heaven - just a match. Religion isn't philosophy's opposite.

    Psychology and Science - I believe these are opposite.
    Philosophy and Art - I believe these are opposite, and an evolution of the former.

    Are Theists an art-form?(Haha.. seriously.)
  • Xtrix
    2.9k
    Psychology and Science - I believe these are opposite.
    Philosophy and Art - I believe these are opposite, and an evolution of the former.
    Varde

    I think your entire post is baseless and confused.

    Put aside the labels for a minute and think about what’s going on when you’re “doing” what we call philosophy. What are we paying attention to? What questions are we asking?
  • Varde
    152
    Anatomy, survey of mind, and Humanities.
    Psychology, study of mind, and the Sciences.
    Philosophy, prospect of mind, and the Arts.

    It seems to have evolved in this order, that's what I'm saying. I don't see how it's wrong - survey to study to prospect. Philosophy is opposite to Art because it's a mind inwards outwards whereas Art is body outwards inwards. The same round about logic applies to the others. Psychology is outwards to inwards, and anatomy is inwards. You'll find that science is inwards to outwards(what you can do inside with what's outside of the mind), and finally humanities is outwards.

    Perhaps looks like gibberish but on deep analysis and inspection you'll maybe find meaning.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.2k
    But this is all pointless talk about history, etymology, abstraction, and soaring speculation, which should be as relevant to us and our personal, everyday concerns as a mathematical theorem is -- that is, until we grasp the following fact: along with answers to the question "What is existence/what is being?" there comes an answer to the question "What is a human being?"

    "What is a human being?" What can be more relevant to us? It's often the basis for what's considered a "good" life (i.e., the question "What should I do with my life?"), and so ethics and morality; for proposals about how to organize society -- and so the basis for politics; and for claims about human nature -- and so the basis for humanity's goals and about the future of the species ("Where are we going?")
    Xtrix

    We've always known what we are, I think. We merely find that to be unsatisfying, or in any case insufficient in some way. So, we contrive a definition of "human being" that's more agreeable to our conceit, and from that definition we "build haunted heaven" to use the words of Wallace Stevens. We ask ourselves: Why does that "human being" exist? What should that "human being" do?
  • Ciceronianus
    2.2k
    What is a heirophant?Xtrix

    A very hairy elephant, I believe, though not a mammoth.
  • 180 Proof
    7k
    We've always known what we are, I think. We merely find that to be unsatisfying, or in any case insufficient in some way. So, we contrive a definition of "human being" that's more agreeable to our conceit, and from that definition we "build haunted heaven" to use the words of Wallace Stevens. We ask ourselves: Why does that "human being" exist? What should that "human being" do?Ciceronianus
    :100: :up:
  • Xtrix
    2.9k
    We've always known what we are, I think.Ciceronianus

    Have we? And what’s that?
  • Ciceronianus
    2.2k
    Have we? And what’s that?Xtrix

    Essentially and in short, a living organism in an environment, trying to survive as well as as possible given the characteristics we have and the resources available to us or which we can acquire. Much like any other living organism. All else is nuance, dependent largely on circumstances and matters at hand.
  • Xtrix
    2.9k
    Essentially and in short, a living organism in an environment, trying to survive as well as as possibleCiceronianus

    So a biological interpretation is what we’ve always known?

    That’s not how I live, nor how anyone I know lives. We can think it and say it, but an “organism trying to survive” isn’t my experience. First and foremost I’m engaged with someone or something, I’m moving towards something, I’m caring about or interested in something. I have a world, not an environment.

    I highly doubt prehistorical people thought of themselves this way or spoke of themselves this way.

    If this is what leaps to mind as a kind of “default” interpretation of human being, I think it’s just a mistake.
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