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Philosophy of Religion

Philosophy of Religion

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Published by: Ransel Fernandez Villaruel on Oct 11, 2009
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Shien Ransel F. Villaruel: Christian Methodical Camaraderie (C. M. C.)Pangasinan State University
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_PageFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Branches of philosophy
The following branches are the main areas of study:
investigates the nature of being and the world. Traditional branches arecosmology andontology.
is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge, and whether knowledge is possible. Among its central concerns has been the challenge posed byskepticismand therelationships betweentruth,belief , and justification.
, or 'moral philosophy', is concerned with questions of how persons ought to act or if suchquestions are answerable. The main branches of ethics aremeta-ethics,normative ethics, and applied ethics.Meta-ethicsconcerns the nature of ethical thought, comparison of various ethical systems, whether there are absolute ethical truths, and how such truths could be known. Ethics isalso associated with the idea of morality.Plato's early dialogues include a search for definitions of  virtue.
is the study of government and the relationship of individuals andcommunities to the state. It includes questions about justice, the good, law, property, and the rightsand obligations of the citizen.
deals with beauty, art, enjoyment, sensory-emotional values, perception, and matters of taste and sentiment.
deals with patterns of thinking that lead from true premises to true conclusions, originallydeveloped in Ancient Greece. Beginning in the late 19th century,mathematicianssuch asFrege  focused on a mathematical treatment of logic, and today the subject of logic has two broaddivisions:mathematical logic(formal symbolic logic) and what is now called philosophical logic.
deals with the nature of the mind and its relationship to the body, and istypified by disputes betweendualismandmaterialism.In recent years there have been increasing similarities, between this branch of philosophy andcognitive science.
is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language.
is a branch of philosophy that asks questions about religion.Most academic subjects have a philosophy, for example the philosophy of science, the philosophy of  mathematics,the philosophy of logic,the philosophy of law, and thephilosophy of history.In addition, a range of academic subjects have emerged to deal with areas which would have historically been the subjectof philosophy. These include psychology, anthropologyandscience.  ________________________________________________________________________________ 
is the study of general and fundamental problemsconcerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind,and language.
Philosophy is distinguished from otherways of addressing these questions (suchasmysticismormythology) by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance onreasoned  argument.
Philosophy comes from theGreekφιλοσοφία [philosophia],which literally translates to "love of wisdom".
* Philosophy of religion
is a branch of philosophythat asks questions aboutreligion. As with all philosophies, the topicsat hand are generated by those whoparticipate. In the philosophy of religion,these may include but are not limited to thenature and existence of God, religiouslanguage, miracles,prayer, the problem of  evil, and how religion and other value- systemssuch asethicsinterrelate. Religious philosophy, onthe other hand, is thephilosophicalthinking that is inspired and directed by religion, such asChristianphilosophyandIslamic philosophy. As an alternative, philosophy of religion is thephilosophical thinking
religion. It isdesined such that it can be carried out
Philosophy of religion as a part of metaphysics
Philosophy of religion has classically been regarded as a part of metaphysics. InAristotle's
, he described
 first causes
as one of the subjects of hisinvestigation. For Aristotle,
first cause was theunmoved mover,which has been readas God, particularly when Aristotle's work became prevalent again in the Medieval West.This first PO cause argument later came to be callednatural theologybyrationalist   philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In
, Aristotle also states that the wordthat comes closest to describing the meaning of the word God is 'Understanding.'
Today, philosophers have adopted the term
 philosophy of religion
for the subject, and typically it is regarded as aseparate field of specialization, though it is also still treated by some, particularlyCatholic  philosophers, as a part of metaphysics.To understand the historical relationship between metaphysics and philosophy of religion, remember thatthe traditional objects of religious discussion have been very special sorts of entities (such as gods, angels,supernatural forces, and the like) and events, abilities, or processes (the creation of the universe, the abilityto do or know anything, interaction between humans and gods, and so forth). Metaphysicians (andontologistsin particular) are characteristically interested in understanding what it is for something to
--what it is for something to be an entity, event, ability, process, and so forth. Because many members of religious traditions believe in things that exist in profoundly different ways from more everyday things,objects of religious belief both raise special philosophical problems and, as extreme or limiting cases, inviteus to clarify central metaphysical concepts.However, the philosophy of religion has concerned itself with more than just metaphysical questions. Infact the subject has long involved important questions in areas such asepistemology, philosophy of  language, philosophical logic, andmoral philosophy.See alsoworld view.
Questions asked in philosophy of religion
One way to understand the tasks at hand for philosophers of religion is to contrast themwith theologians. Theologians sometimes consider the existence of God as axiomatic, or self-evident. Most theological treatises seek to justify or support religious claims by two primary epistemic means: rationalization or intuitive metaphors. A philosopher of religionexamines and critiques the epistemological, logical, aesthetic and ethical foundationsinherent in the claims of a religion. Whereas a theologian could elaborate metaphysically
on the nature of God either rationally or experientially, a philosopher of religion is more interested inasking what may be knowable and opinable with regards to religions' claims.Still, there are other questions studied in the philosophy of religion. For example: What, if anything, wouldgive us good reason to believe that a miracle has occurred? What is the relationship between faith andreason? What is the relationship between morality and religion? What is the status of religious language?Does petitionary prayer (sometimes still called
impetratory prayer 
) make sense?
What is God?
The question "What is God?" is sometimes also phrased as "What is the meaning of the word
?" Most philosophers expect some sort of definition as an answer to this question, but they are not content simply todescribe the way the word is used: they want to know the essence of what it means to be
. Western philosophers typically concern themselves with the God of monotheistic religions(seethe nature of God in Western theology), but discussions also concern themselves with other conceptions of the divine.
Indeed, before attempting a definition of a term it is essential to know what sense of the term is to bedefined. In this case, this is particularly important because there are a number of widely different senses of the word 'God.' So before we try to answer the question "What is God?" by giving a definition, first wemust get clear on which conception of God we are trying to define. Since this article is on "philosophy of religion" it is important to keep to the canon of this area of philosophy. For whatever reasons, the Western,monotheistic conception of God (discussed below) has been the primary source of investigation in philosophy of religion. (One likely reason as to why the Western conception of God is dominant in thecanon of philosophy of religion is that philosophy of religion is primarily an area of analytic philosophy,which is primarily Western.) Among those people who believe in supernatural beings, some believe there is just one God (monotheism; see alsomonotheistic religion), while others, such asHindus,believe in many different deities ( polytheism; see alsopolytheistic religion
) while maintaining that all are manifestations of one God. Hindus also have a widely followed monistic philosophy that can be said to be neither monotheistic nor polytheistic (seeAdvaita Vedanta). SinceBuddhismtends to deal less with metaphysics and more with ontological (seeOntology
) questions, Buddhists generally do not believe in the existence of a creator God similar to that of theAbrahamic religions, but direct attention to a state calledNirvana(
).Within these two broad categories (monotheism and polytheism) there is a wide variety of possible beliefs,although there are relatively few
ways of believing. For example, among the monotheists therehave been those who believe that the one God is like a watchmaker who wound up the universe and nowdoes not intervene in the universe
at all 
; this view isdeism. By contrast, the view that God continues to beactive in the universe is calledtheism. (Note that 'theism' is here used as a narrow and rather technical term,not as a broader term as it is below. For full discussion of these distinct meanings, refer to the articleTheism.)
Monotheistic definitions
Monotheismis the view that only one God exists (as opposed to multiple gods). InWestern thought, God is traditionally described as a being that possesses at least threenecessary properties:omniscience(all-knowing),omnipotence(all-powerful), and omnibenevolence(supremely good). In other words, God knows everything, has the power to do anything, and is perfectly good. Many other properties (e.g., omnipresence)have been alleged to be necessary properties of a god; however, these are the three mostuncontroversial and dominant in Christian tradition. By contrast,Monismis the view that all is of oneessentialessence,substanceor energy. Monistic theism, a variant of both monism and monotheism, views God as bothimmanentandtranscendent. Both are dominant themes inHinduism.

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