Virtual Colloquium: Amber Griffioen, “With or Without You”
May 12, 2017 — 6:00

Author: Kenny Pearce  Category: Concept of God Religion and Life  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   Comments: 4

This week’s Virtual Colloquium paper is “With or Without You: ‘Post-Metaphysical’ Religion and the Religious Imagination” by Amber Griffioen. Dr. Griffioen received her PhD from the University of Iowa in 2010 and is currently Margarete von Wrangell Research Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Her papers on self-deception, superstition, and religion have appeared in journals such as Religious Studies, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, and European Journal for Philosophy of Religion.

With or Without You: “Post-Metaphysical” Religion and the Religious Imagination

Amber Griffioen

This paper represents the (still very rough) skeleton of a paper, adapted from a recent conference talk at UNISA on The Resurgence of Metaphysics in Science, Philosophy, and Theology. I am currently working to expand my thoughts from this talk into a full-length article. The paper begins with a sort of overview of one of the gulfs that seems to separate analytic and continental philosophers of religion (at least in my experience), namely the insistence of the former on continuing to focus on religious epistemology and the metaphysics of classical theism and the resistance of the latter to engaging in any sort of metaphysical or “ontotheological” enterprise. I do not mean this introduction to cover the entire spectrum of analytic or continental philosophy of religion; I merely want to gesture at a point of contention that often arises when I (as a participant in the more analytic tradition) engage in dialogue with continental philosophers of religion. The paper itself is (ideally) supposed to use the instruments from my more analytic conceptual toolkit to suggest a way in which the analytic desire for a deeply “metaphysical” religion can be made commensurate with the continental demand that we go “beyond” metaphysics.

The middle part of the paper draws on some other work I’ve done (published in German) on demarcating the realism/anti-realism debate and the cognitivism/non-cognitivism debate, which are sometimes run together in what I think are unhelpful ways. On the assumption a) that many continental philosophers of religion are anti-realists about the God of classical theism and b) that many analytic philosophers of religion want to hold on to some cognitivist understanding of religious language, I move on to talk about the promise that fictionalism might hold for the development of a “post-metaphysical” theological semantics. At the same time, I think fictionalism is limited in at least two ways: a) it generally assumes a kind of anti-realism about the objects of discourse, and b) it usually represents an instrumentalist approach to the arena of discourse in question. I thus think the development of an alternative semantics is warranted—one which is cognitivist, expressivist, and non-error theoretic, and which moves us past the somewhat stagnant realist/antirealist debates. It also allows that religion, like sports or music, may be an autotelic (not mere instrumental) enterprise, one engaged in for its own sake. This is a view I am calling “religious imaginativism”. It claims that the cognitive attitudes expressed by religious language are not, strictly speaking, beliefs but rather imaginings, combined with the more volitional attitude of acceptance. I argue that religious concepts require the implementation of the imagination, such that believers, agnostics, and non-believers alike must employ the imagination to get these concepts off the ground in the first place. The view is thus supposed to allow that—even if antirealism about God turns out to be true—it might still be legitimate to employ the term ‘God’ and to engage in “metaphysical” debate about the appropriate way to talk about God and God’s nature from within the imaginativist framework. At the same time, so long as we’re operating within a particular religious “model”, religious realists and religious antirealists who care about the model itself should be able to successfully communicate about God. That is, religiously committed believers, agnostics, and even atheists can successfully employ religious language without necessarily talking past each other.

I am treating this online colloquium like I would a live colloquium presentation. The text is thus still quite short and not fully fleshed-out. It is intended more to elicit questions, discussion, and constructive suggestions (for further reading, directions to take this in, ways to address objections, etc.). I haven’t laid out the entire view here. In fact, I’m still working the kinks out of it. I also have not inserted references to the relevant literature yet, so what you see are really my developing thoughts on a complex issue. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it, and I look forward to your comments!

The complete paper is available here. Comments welcome below!

Philosophers and their religious practices part 17: Islamic philosophy and the individuality of religious experience
January 4, 2016 — 16:17

Author: Helen De Cruz  Category: Religion and Life  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Comments: 0

This is the seventeenth installment of a series of interviews I am conducting with academic philosophers about their religious practices. In this series of interviews, I ask philosophers about their religious practices and the influence on their philosophical work. Follow the links for parts. Follow the links for parts 1, 2,3,45678910, 1112131415 and 16. The contributors are in various stages of their career, tenured and untenured. Interviews were conducted through e-mail and responses are not edited.

This interview is with Hossein Dabbagh, research associate at Universität Luzern, Switzerland, and adjunct lecturer at Institute for Cognitive Science Studies, Iran.

Can you tell me something about your current academic position and work?

I’m a Muslim trainee-philosopher born in Iran. I studied BSc in Business and Economics and MA in Islamic and Western philosophy at the University of Tehran and Shahid Beheshti University, Iran. I spent my doctoral journey in moral philosophy at the University of Reading and Oxford under the supervision of Prof. Stratton-Lake, Prof. Hooker and Dr. Rini. My thesis was on “Mind, Epistemology and Neuroethics: A Defence of Epistemological Intuitionism”. Currently, I’m doing research on “Ethics of Migration” and “Compassion in Islamic and Christian Theology” for the department of Theological Ethics and Christian Social Ethics at Universität Luzern. I’m also an associate researcher and adjunct lecture on “Metaphor and Cognition” and “Neuroethics” at Institute for Cognitive Science Studies.

The areas that I’m working on are mostly normative ethics, applied ethics, moral epistemology (esp. intuitionism), moral psychology, neuroethics, metaphor, philosophy of religion, Islamic mysticism and philosophy of Persian music. In 2015, I established “School of Rumi” as an online charity institute for teaching ethics, mysticism and religion. In 2014, my book, Metaphor and Science, has been published in Persian. I have also published a Persian translation of James Brown’s The Laboratory of the Mind. My recent publications in English are, among others, “Success of Public Knowledge Management in the Light of Rossian Ethics” (2013), “Medical Ethics in Qiṣāṣ Punishment” (2015), “Ontological Nominalism and Analytic Philosophy” (2015) and “Playing with the “Playing God”” (forthcoming).