Edexcel Unit 4 Implications - Philosophy of Religion - Donovan Watch
Oh, won't somebody save us???
Some basic themes you can bring in is a 'properly basic belief' from reformed epistemology, erm perhaps william james' ideas of RE being positive, having a noetic quality, and being ineffiable, and either being 'real' (coresponding to a physical relaity - but perhaps that's more Ayer and his yellow), or 'unreal', um, oh, eek, erm, yeah.
I haven't actually read my notes yet, there might be some gems of wisdom in there, but i'm not so sure about that... =S
(yes, abigibl, it is i.
the one who knows what it was that you were doing this past hour that kept you from the forum...talking to me)
well i've eaten 2 jaffa cakes and the answer seems to be: just rant about whatever comes into our heads on the day. there's always the sceptic route, that is, 'can we talk about ANYTHING meaningfully? is this paper/whole subject a load of nonsense? is your job pointless, examiner? are we living in the matrix?!?!?' blah blah etc.
btw what is all this about ayer and morals having meaning/emotivism? our teacher skated over it somewhat and now i'm all of a twitter.
I really don't know how to condense this one. Donovan seems to say so much, and yet so little. The basic gist of everything seems to be "religious experience doesn't give us any objective knowledge about God, but it's fine if it's not what you're resting your belief in God on". And my response to that is not much more than "meh, alright".
But anyway, in terms of what we can talk about, I think there's a lot of overlap with the Ayer. Which is handy.
Also, you can discuss methods of obtaining knowledge, principly Intuitionism, in most paragraphs. It's also a good idea to show that there are two sides to the argument. Don't say which is stronger, just inform the examiner that you know that it's not a one-sided argument.
How do we know things? (Page 113, paragraph 2)
- Empiricism - Verification Principle (influenced by Hume)
- Religion - revelation, scripture
Examples of intuition (Page 113, paragraph 3)
These points are probably better to list in part b). The examples given are not great:
- Hands - can be empirically verified
- Starving child - an ethical statement
- Maths - mathematical statement (duh)
Know God through indirect experience (Page 113, paragraph 5)
- Design Argument = indirect experience
- A direct experience - thunder = "God is angry" (link to what Ayer said about this)
- Design Argument = God's work, not directly controlled by God. Link to the Anthropic Principle
- Kant - God is external, so can't be experienced (criticism of the Design Argument)
Direct experience of God (Page 113, paragraph 6)
- Swinburne - personal religious experience, eg personal revelations
How we experience God (again) (Page 114, paragraphs 2 & 3)
- Design Argument
- Religious experience
Expressing this intuition (Page 114, paragraph 4)
- Link to Ayer - naming the divine being 'God' gives the concept meaning
- Religious language - how do we know we are talking about God? Link to problems with symbolism, etc
Through experience of God comes the way people interpret God (Page 114, paragraph 6)
- Other reasons - independent thought
The sense of God's reality (Page 114, paragraph 9)
- 'Religious experience is not the founding of faith, but the product' - contrast with Schleiermacher
- Religious symbolism
Faith (Page 115, paragraph 1 & 2)
- Kierkegaard - not a matter of whether God's will is right or wrong, it is simply God's will. Faith is the highest virtue
What is 'right'? (Page 115 paragraph 5)
- Kant - duties
- Aquinas - precepts
- All these try to tell us what 'right' is
Bertrand Russell (Page 115 paragraph 10)
- Discuss why he thinks intuition is weak - link to Ayer & empricism
Not intuition alone (Page 116 paragraph 2)
- Need empirical evidence to back up intuition - Ayer would say need empirical evidence alone
- Analogy - particularly Aquinas
Problems with religious intuition (Page 116 paragraph 3)
- We have to trust; link to Kierkegaard - faith = highest virtue
- Self-deception: Russell - man who eats little and sees God
- Religious diversity - link to criticism of religious experience - if experience proves God's existence, are all relgions proved true? Do they not clash? Hume says yes
Palm-reading (Page 116 paragraph 4)
- Analogy - "John is good" is not the same as "God is good" - allows us to get close to God without claiming to be completely correct
- Falsification Principle - "Death of a thousand qualifications - even though we cannot know whether intuition gives us knowledge, people will still claim it does
Paragraph 5 (couldn't think of a title :P)
- Link the end of the paragraph to religious language - interpretation of God
Anti-Realism (Page 116 paragraph 7) I think this paragraph could very well come up
- Great place to reference Anti-Realism - "I know he lives - he lives within my heart"
- Dawkins - such 'faith claims' hinder scientific investigation - why bother proving God's existence if you just know God exists in your heart?
- Falsification Principle - Death of a thousand qualifications links in well with Dawkins' idea
Experience does not equal knowledge (Page 116 paragraph 8 onwards)
- Give examples of claims of God's existence based on direct religious experience - mysticism, Swinburne's categories of religious experience, etc
- Experience means we know 'about' you, but we do not know 'you
- Buber - I-It and I-You. Describe what these mean
Personal relationships with God (not the sexy kind) (Page 117 paragraph 3) (i'm counting those 5 lines of Buber's as 1 paragraph)
- Ways of personal contact with God - prayer, numinous, etc
Indescribe-ability (it's a word now) (Page 117 paragraph 5)
- Mysticism. Simone Weil - desciribing it in normal language would make it lose it's meaning, eg 'God is love' doesn't mean the same thing for different people
Problems (Page 117 paragraph 6)
- Vicious Circle - people see what they are brought up/conditioned to see
How do we know we are having an experience of God? (Page 117 paragraph 9) (Assuming the three criticisms are 1 paragraph)
- This is the problem of analogy - how do we know the analogy is correct?
- Kant - God is external to the world, so we can't (or Kant) know
- I'm sorry about that last pun
- Swinburne - Principles of Credulity & Testimony
Falsification (Page 118 paragraph 1 (1st paragraph that starts on this page)
- Falsification Principle (duh)
- John Wisdom's Parable Of The Gardner
Subjectivism & Non-Scientific Perspectives (Page 118 paragraphs 3 & 4)
- Subjectivism & cultural relativism
- These relations are not scientific, so counters Dawkins'/Ayer's ideas
- Melvin Tinker's criticism of Dawkins - "ontological reductionism"; that is, he tries to reduce everything to scientific terms, thinks everything has to be scientifically proven, when they are in fact, as was previously mentioned, incommensurable
Language games (Page 118 paragraph 7)
- Believers go for I-You over I-It because they feel they already know about God - they know how to talk of God due to language games
God = I-It? (Page 118 paragraph 8)
- It is hard to talk of God in terms of I-It, since God is meant to be more than that
- Kant - no way of talking of God anyway
Can we have an I-You-only relationship with God? (Page 118 paragraph 9) This one might come up
- Language games - we have to know that God = 'creator', 'judge', 'father of Chris (and indeed of humanity)', etc
- Ayer - religious language is meaningless (say why he thinks this)
- If one does have an I-It relationship with God, then it is a Vicious Circle (since our 'knowledge about' God may be based on language games)
First- and second-hand knowledge (Page 119 paragraph 1-3)
- Could be argued that first-hand knowledge provides empirical verification
- Ayer - does it always provide this? He would say religious claims do not
- Others would say miracles & Design Argument are first-hand and empirically verified
- Pregnancy (paragraph 3) - similar to how a conversion deeply affects a person (esp. Self-Surrender conversions (eg sudden conversions due to an experience))
The implications of religious experience (Page 119 paragraph 5)
- Religious experience doesn't mean you know something, just that you experienced something
- Ayer would thus say that it is meangingless - "just an insight into one's own mind"
Can't say we have knowledge of God based on experience alone (Page 119 paragraph 7)
- Ayer's attack on mysticism
- Vardy - religious experience does not stand up philosophically speaking
- Weaknesses of religious experience - how do we know it's God? Other reasons for it, eg just our brains? etc
The importance of awareness of God (Page 119 paragraph 8) This is a great place to talk about implications
- Kierkegaard - "faith is the highest virtue"
- Schleiermacher - often the foundation of belief
The "sense of knowledge" (Page 120 paragraph 3)
- Once more, how do we know this sense is right? Analogy
- Dawkins - assuming they are right hinders scientific investigation
- Kant - God is external, so such assumptions are fallacious
- Anti-Realism - if one senses God is real, then God is real for oneself
- Hume - can't reason something into existence or non-existence, so thinking God exists doesn't make it so
Who decides what we know? (Summary ideas)
- Who decides what God is like, and how do we know if this is correct? - Guess what? You can use analogy here!
- Someone's experience that this knowledge of God is based upon may in fact be a product of faith - issue of Vicious Circle
Blimey, that took me ages. 1 hour and 54 mins, 6 pages in MS Word It's probably too complicated, but if you can be arsed to read it all, i hope it helps It'd better be, i don't want to have wasted my time! :P
*Prays PC doesn't crash as soon as Submit button is pressed*
My morning is starting to look a litle brighter Thank you Waterish...thank you!
Naw just kidding, I'll try to understand them myself. What annoys me, though, is that even with all the points Waterish has there are often only about 4 points in a whole page. It's just irritating that on each page there are about 10 paragraphs that they coud give us.
Aaah. I seem to know very little about this extract :s It's probably really obvious, but can someone explain a bit about intuitionism to me, I haven't got anything on it, but it seems rather important!
Waterish, those simple words 'cultural relativism' made me v.happy, im hoping to study anthropology =) Bring on the Boas...
That is the reason why I kind of like Westphall, purely for the last section with all the structuralism, the Marx, Nietzsche, Durkheim etc. There are some aspects you can link in from Westphall, like the Schleiermacher...
Oh dear, back to Donovan. =(