Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fascinating Interview with Eric Steinhart...

...at Prosblogion. I found his description of his religious experiences particularly fascinating. It's worth quoting at some length:
Much of my interest in philosophy of religion has been driven by a series of religious or mystical experiences. I have had five or six of these. Of them, three have been overpowering, ego-shattering experiences, while three have been gentler. But all have been profoundly moving. None of them have involved God. Other philosophers, such as Wittgenstein, Hick, and Plantinga have reported their own mystical experiences. So it’s worth thinking more about how such experiences inspire philosophies. 
I would not say that I really gained much new knowledge during these experiences. The content of my experiences was shaped by what I had already studied and found interesting in philosophy, theology, and mathematics. I already thought that reality was a certain way, but my thoughts were merely very abstract outlines of that way. During my mystical experiences, I saw with intense vividness that reality is this way. Much of what I have written philosophically is an effort to verbally express the content of these visions. I regard all these efforts as failures. The vision really is ineffable. 
To some, the term “vision” might suggest hallucination. But I would not say that I have hallucinated. Rather, my visions are more purely mathematical. During one, which came close to the violence of a seizure, I saw the iterative hierarchy of pure sets. I had been studying a lot of set theory; but then I saw it. Along with this vision there was an extreme flood of joy, as well as a kind of pain that comes from being cognitively broken up. Another vision involved something like the totality of recursive functions on the ordinal number line, and the recognition that these functions are the meanings which produce reality as they generate themselves. The forest dissolved into a network of computations. I had already experienced something like this while reading Josiah Royce. This vision was again extremely joyous, and I knew that death is nothing. 
On the basis of these experiences, as well as plenty of discursive reasoning, I identify myself as a religious naturalist. However, I do not take this naturalism to entail simply materialism or logical positivism.   Unfortunately, religious naturalism today is mostly intellectual, and has little in the way of social practice. So I am primarily interested in developing social practices for religious naturalism.   Rather than my practices driving my beliefs, my beliefs are driving my search for practices. And much of my search is for practices which cohere with my mystical experiences.
On a related note, if you haven't already, you should really read his fascinating paper, "On the Plurality of Gods" (Religious Studies 49 (2013), 289-312.) And of course you know about his book, Your Digital Afterlives.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Intriguing Book in PoR Forthcoming With OUP

Mulgan, Tim. Purpose in the Universe: The Moral and Metaphysical Case for Ananthropocentric Theism (OUP, forthcoming).

Here's the blurb:
  • A controversial new approach to ultimate philosophical questions
  • Brings contemporary analytic moral philosophy into dialogue with philosophy of religion
Two familiar worldviews dominate Western philosophy: materialist atheism and the benevolent God of the Abrahamic faiths. Tim Mulgan explores a third way. Ananthropocentric Purposivism claims that there is a cosmic purpose, but human beings are irrelevant to it. Purpose in the Universe develops a philosophical case for Ananthropocentric Purposivism that it is at least as strong as the case for either theism or atheism. The book borrows traditional theist arguments to defend a cosmic purpose. These include cosmological, teleological, ontological, meta-ethical, and mystical arguments. It then borrows traditional atheist arguments to reject a human-centred purpose. These include arguments based on evil, diversity, and the scale of the universe. Mulgan also highlights connections between morality and metaphysics, arguing that evaluative premises play a crucial and underappreciated role in metaphysical debates about the existence of God, and Ananthropocentric Purposivism mutually supports an austere consequentialist morality based on objective values. He concludes that, by drawing on a range of secular and religious ethical traditions, a non-human-centred cosmic purpose can ground a distinctive human morality. Our moral practices, our view of the moral universe, and our moral theory are all transformed if we shift from the familiar choice between a universe without meaning and a universe where humans matter to the less self-aggrandising thought that, while it is about something, the universe is not about us.

Although of course I'll have to read it first, I suspect that a case for this sort of view will raise a powerful challenge to classical theism.

Further details here.

Review of Cottingham's Philosophy of Religion: Towards a New Approach

Graham Oppy reviews the book for NDPR.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Paper Uses Street's Darwinian Dilemma Against Plantinga's

Crow, Daniel. "A Plantingian Pickle for a Darwinian Dilemma: Evolutionary Arguments Against Atheism and Normative Realism", Ratio (Article first published online: 10 MAR 2015
DOI: 10.1111/rati.12092). 
Here's the abstract:
Two of the most prominent evolutionary debunking arguments are Sharon Street's Darwinian Dilemma for Normative Realism and Alvin Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument against Atheism. In the former, Street appeals to evolutionary considerations to debunk normative realism. In the latter, Plantinga appeals to similar considerations to debunk atheism. By a careful comparison of these two arguments, I develop a new strategy to help normative realists resist Street's debunking attempt. In her Darwinian Dilemma, Street makes epistemological commitments that ultimately support Plantinga's structurally similar argument. If Street succeeds in debunking normative realism, I argue, then she also succeeds in debunking atheism. But atheism is a suppressed premise of the Darwinian Dilemma as well as a commitment of almost all normative anti-realists. If Street's argument entails theism, then the Darwinian Dilemma is internally incoherent and should be abandoned by almost everyone.
And if a copy should find its way into my inbox...
Update: Thanks!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Argument from Love Against Traditional Christian Theism


Hassoun, Nicole. Eternally Separated Lovers: The Argument from Love, Australasian Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming). 


Here's the abstract:
A message scribbled irreverently on the mediaeval walls of the Nonberg cloister says this: ‘Neither of us can go to heaven unless the other gets in.’ It suggests an argument against the view that those who love people who suffer in hell can be perfectly happy, or even free from all suffering, in heaven. This paper considers the challenge posed by this thought to the coherence of the traditional Christian doctrine on which there are some people in hell who are suffering and others in heaven who are not suffering. More precisely, it defends the following argument:
1. No one who loves another can be perfectly happy or free from suffering if they know that their beloved is suffering.

2. Anyone in hell suffers (at least as long as they are in hell).
3. Anyone in heaven is perfectly happy or at least free from suffering.
4. There can be no one in heaven who is aware of the fact that his or her beloved is in hell. (1, 2, and 3)

The paper argues that the first premise is eminently plausible and that those who accept the traditional Christian doctrine should endorse the claim that some of those in heaven love people whom they know to be suffering in hell. So, it concludes that there is reason to reject the traditional Christian doctrine.
And if a copy should find it's way to my email, I wouldn't mind it in the least. Update: Thanks!
Although I haven't yet read the article, I've read a persuasive variation on the argument from Thomas Talbott in his book, The Inescapable Love of God. Links to a bunch of his papers and books can be found here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion...

... is due to come out next month. Graham Oppy is the editor. Here's the table of contents.
Introduction Part 1: Theoretical Orientations 1. Feminist Approaches to Religion Beverley Clack 2. Phenomenological Approaches to Religion John Manoussakis 3. Postmodern Approaches to Religion Nick Trakakis 4. New Atheist Approaches to Religion Trent Dougherty and Logan Paul Gage 5. Wittgensteinian Approaches to Religion Genia Schönbaumsfeld 6. Fundamentalist Approaches to Religion Harriet Harris Part 2: Conceptions of Divinity 7. Chinese Conceptions of Divinity Karen Lai 8. Islamic Conceptions of Divinity Imran Aijaz 9. Hindu Conceptions of Divinity Monima Chadha 10. Christian Conceptions of Divinity John Bishop Part 3: Epistemology of Religious Belief 11. Religious Experience Jerome Gellman 12. Religious Faith Mark Wynn 13. Religious Disagreement Bryan Frances 14. Religion and Superstition Ed Feser Part 4: Metaphysics and Religious Language 15. Realism and Anti-Realism Michael Scott 16. Analogy, Metaphor and Literal Language Roger M. White 17. Scientific Interpretation of Religious Texts David Bartholomew 18. Metaphysics and Religion Kevin Hart Part 5: Religion and Politics 19. Religious Pluralism Victoria Harrison 20. Religion in the Public Square Marci Hamilton 21. Religious Tolerance Mehdi Aminrazavi 22. Religious Violence Daniel McKaughan Part 6: Religion and Ethics 23. Religion and Metaethics Michael Smith 24. Religion and Normative Ethics David Oderberg 25. Religion and the Meaning of Life Neil Levy 26. Religion and Suffering Michael Levine 27. Religion and Flourishing Christopher Toner Part 7: Religion and Scientific Scrutiny 28. Religion and Reason Rob Koons 29. Religion and Cognitive Science Todd Tremlin 30. Religion and Science Sahotra Sarkar 31. Religion and Metaphysical Naturalism Neil Manson. Index
Further details here.