Introducing the philosophy of religion
Introducing the philosophy of religion

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Introducing the philosophy of religion

Philosophical and non-philosophical questions

Activity 3

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The moral is that there are some questions which you can approach either philosophically, or in other ways. (You can also approach them in both ways.) As you will see, philosophy does have its own distinctive means and methods. One of its characteristic methods is careful, logical argument – but, of course, that happens in other subjects as well as philosophy. Another is the close examination of ideas or concepts – ‘conceptual analysis’, as it is often called. But there is more than this to philosophy. Philosophy is not just about concepts of things, but about the things themselves as well. Moreover, philosophy (fortunately!) does not exist in isolation from every other kind of inquiry. Often it is so closely connected with other kinds of inquiry that it is an open question whether what you are doing counts as philosophy or not. As I said above, there is quite a lot of overlap between philosophy and adjacent subjects such as psychology, sociology, politics, science and theology.

This is a good thing, not a bad thing. It is something to bear in mind as you work through this course. It’s not a reason for thinking that the non-philosophical or less philosophical questions that we might raise about religion are uninteresting, or less interesting than the philosophical questions. But it is a reason – in a course about the philosophy of religion – for focusing on the philosophical questions about religion and God.

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