Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry: Envisioning a Future for the Philosophy of Religion

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Argues that philosophy, as multidisciplinary comparative inquiry, is essential to the contemporary academic study of religion.

What can philosophy contribute to the study of religion? This book argues that the study of religion needs philosophy in the form of multidisciplinary comparative inquiry. Contradicting the current tendency to regard philosophical reflection and the academic study of religion as independent endeavors best kept apart, Wesley J. Wildman brings them together, offering a broader vision than that of traditional “philosophy of religion” and surmounting many of its difficulties. His newer conception of “religious philosophy” is well suited to the modern, multicultural, secular university. Through multidisciplinary comparative inquiry, religious philosophy allows for a variety of approaches—from historical and analytical work to evocative description and theoretical evaluation of truth claims—and both secular and religious thinkers participate. The tasks and varieties of religious philosophy as they arc across the world’s religions and philosophies are discussed along with religious philosophy’s modern and postmodern contexts. Wildman’s thoughtful and thought-provoking book will be essential reading for all those concerned with the study of religion, present and future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry has the potential to be a significant game changer for scholars of theology, philosophy, and religion.” — American Journal of Theology and Philosophy

“Wildman offers a bold and sweeping work that defends the relevance and necessity of the enterprise traditionally known as philosophy of religion by offering a comprehensive overhaul of its basic methods and self-understanding.” — CHOICE

“This is an immensely ambitious and wide-ranging book, advocating ‘religious philosophy’ as a multidisciplinary comparative inquiry, with an important part to play in any liberal college education. It expounds a view of rational inquiry as fallibilist, hypothetical and pragmatic. Although it is primarily an inquiry into the methodology of religious philosophy, in fact it provides a mine of information about postmodernity, comparative religion, and trends in modern philosophy of religion, among other things. The book sets a positive agenda for future work in theology, religious studies, and comparative philosophy. It is an agenda that is new, well argued, and which I hope will be very influential in higher education, and it is set to be a formative work in the field.” — Keith Ward, author of The Word of God? The Bible after Modern Scholarship

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781438432366
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 7/2/2011
  • Pages: 396
  • Sales rank: 1,423,464
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Wesley J. Wildman is Associate Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics at Boston University. His books include Fidelity with Plausibility: Modest Christologies in the Twentieth Century, also published by SUNY Press, and Science and Religious Anthropology: A Spiritually Evocative Naturalist Interpretation of Human Life.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Chapter 1 Religious Philosophy among Kindred Disciplines 1

Religious Philosophy as a Form of Philosophy 1

Religious Philosophy as a Form of Religious studies 13

Religious Studies Religious Philosophy as a Form of Theology 26

Chapter 2 Tasks, Contexts, and Traditions of Religious Philosophy 35

Tasks of Religious Philosophy 35

Contexts of Religious Philosophy 45

Traditions bf Religious Philosophy 50

Chapter 3 Religious Philosophy, Modernity, and Postmodernity 57

The Successes and Failures of Modern Epistemology 57

The Successes and Failures of Postmodern Criticism 63

Beyond Modernity and Postmodernity 72

Postmodernism and Apophasis in Religious Philosophy 79

Chapter 4 Religious Philosophy and Multidisciplinarity 85

The Importance of Multidisciplinarity in Religious Philosophy 86

Case Studies on Multidisciplinarity 95

Incommensurability as Invitation 114

Chapter 5 Religious Philosophy and Comparison 125

What is Comparison? 126

Comparing Approaches to Comparative Philosophy 134

Comparison and Religious Philosophy 156

Chapter 6 A Pragmatic Theory of Inquiry 167

Problem Solving and Inquiry 168

The Biological and Sociological Basis of Inquiry 174

Controversial Features of the Pragmatic Theory of Inquiry 196

Chapter 7 Religious Philosophy and Inquiry 207

Religious Dimensions of Inquiry 207

Religious Philosophy and the Demarcation Problem 214

Case Study: Religious Philosophy, Religion, and Secularism 237

Chapter 8 Traditions in Transformation 247

The Ontotheological Tradition 248

The Cosmotheological Tradition 255

The Physicotheological Tradition 261

The Psychotheological Tradition 273

The Axiotheological Tradition 283

The Mysticotheological Tradition 294

Status Report 304

Afterword: Religious Philosophy in the Modern University 307

Summary of the Deconstructive Case in Support of Religious Philosophy 308

Summary of the Constructive Case in Support of Religious Philosophy 311

Religious Philosophy and the Diversity of Higher Education 313

Conclusion 317

Notes 319

Bibliography 337

Index 357

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