Edexcel Unit 4 Implications - Philosophy of Religion - Donovan Watch

GaryCarter
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Right, let's get this giant of an extract cut down into smaller chunks. I haven't finished reading it yet, but could someone who has attempt to simplify the wording and perhaps make a brief summary of it? If not, I'll give it a try when I've read more.
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Limey.
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OK, does this lack of response mean nobody knows what to do for Donovan?? :s
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GaryCarter
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Hm, I too am puzzled by the silence. I'm sure someone has done Donovan well, though I know there are quite a few of us who have yet to finish reading it.

Oh, won't somebody save us???
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Galatea
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To be honest there are so many different threads on this anthology that people are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all... or perhaps that's just me...
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GaryCarter
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Sorry, didn't mean to cause any problems. I think there are tons of threads because, well, people are pretty afraid of this paper. I know I am, at any rate. We're just trying to create a bit of order by splitting up the philosophy section into 2 threads. The ethics people should do the same, tbh.
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abigibl
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Hello, sorry have been busy, i don't know enough to summarise it, as everything seems to overlap.

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
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abigibl
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point of though: at one point Donovon talks specifically about all the opposition to the use of intuition (as well as pretty much the whole of teh article). Which philosophers specifically object to teh use of intuition, do we have any names and details? =)
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rampant4russell
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ooh i've never done this before.
(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.
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rampant4russell
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ooops wrong thread. apologies for that one. but actually i think what i said still stands in terms of 'what is knowledge?!', kind of.
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abigibl
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oh how we love rampant russell <3 And shhhhhhh. Yes we've jointly come to the conclusion that as long as we keep writing all will be okay =) and we just have to bring in anything form the developments unit. I shall look into Donovan tomorrow, and hopefully it shall all fall into place *optimism*.
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StandingOnAir
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I tried doing a paragraph-by-paragraph summary of the Donovan (as quite a few people have done for the Ayer), but the result is a "summary" pretty much as long as the original essay.

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.
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Waterish
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Ok, here's my breakdown of it in terms of what you can reference. It's not a summary of what he actually says though. Each sub-heading is one of the themes he talks about, followed by things that you can reference.

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)

  • Intuitionism
  • Naturalism
  • Emotivism
  • 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
  • Intuitionism


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
  • Mysticism
  • 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
  • Naturalism
  • Intuitionism
  • Emotivism
  • 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
  • Wittgenstein


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 :eek: 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*
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GaryCarter
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Oh my goodness, I think a star must have fallen to earth and now lives among us. Waterish, I wish I could pat you on the back right now. Guess you'll just have to do with a couple of smileys. :p:
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Amzzzz
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Oh my lordy...talk about bringing faith!
My morning is starting to look a litle brighter Thank you Waterish...thank you!
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GaryCarter
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Now all it takes is someone to explain each of the points to me in simple words. :p:

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.
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Limey.
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Thanks Waterish

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!
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GaryCarter
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Ditto to the above. It sounds like an ethics thing, which I never did.
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Amzzzz
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All il say is that this paper is synoptic for the course you have done...so if you havent studied ethics (like me) you wont be expected to include it! Learn by all means...but dont worry if you dont know about it coz you're not supposed to
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GaryCarter
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Meh, I still think we're all going to prepare really well for this. I'm sure most people won't be going into all this detail. I mean, like Amzzzz says, considering we aren't meant to know anything beyond AS and A2 philosophy we can't be expected to have read up all around the subject. As far as I can see, basic philosophical criticisms like Hume against teleological will do.
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abigibl
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I can't remember all the AS stuff like who criticised who =( Does anyone want to do a brief description of Intuitionism, Naturalism, Emotivism in terms of how they might relate to the passage, for us non-ethics-ers. Read a bit in a textbook, but tbh that just made me more confused.

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. =(
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