Rhetoric of Religious Discourse
105T | CCN: 77902
Modern Philosophy and the Question of Religion
Instructor: Alex Dubilet
Date / Time: MW 4-530P, 88 DWINELLE
This class will trace the complex relationship between modern philosophy and religion. It will do so by exploring the writings of four major modern thinkers, the 17th century Dutch-Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza, the 19th century Danish religious writer Soren Kierkegaard, the 19th century German philosopher and anthropologist Ludwig Feuerbach, and the 20th century Jewish phenomenologist Emmanuel Levinas. We will ask how the relationship between philosophy and religion is configured in each instance: Is philosophy an activity that necessarily remakes religion in its own image? Or, does religion denote a realm of activity and a mode of being that necessarily escapes the grasp of philosophy? Does philosophy necessarily have to be critical of religion, or can it approach it more affirmatively and speculatively? In other words, do philosophy and religion necessarily have to be polemically opposed? And if not, how does one conceptualize their convergence? How might terms like ‘transcendence’ and ‘immanence’ help us rethink the divide between philosophy and religion? In reading key texts by Spinoza, Kierkegaard, Feuerbach, and Levinas we will not only encounter contrastive answers to these questions, but we will see how their divergences illuminate the complexity of the problem at hand.