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August 2, 2013

Essay on Modern and Contemporary Philosophy

10:02 AM
The work of Charles Darwin played a key role in developing the theory of evolution. Therefore it is necessary to look at his work with great interest on what he thought of religion.

Charles Darwin was raised in a non-conformist setting, but attended a school depending on the Anglican Church. He studied theology in the Anglican order to embrace an ecclesiastical career, before participating in the expedition of the Beagle. On his return, he developed his theory of natural selection being fully aware of the fact that his theory was going to be in extreme conflict with the theological argument of universe and its evolution.  Darwin reflected on the Christian meaning of death and came to believe that the religious instinct had evolved with society. Following the death of his daughter Annie, he lost any belief in a benevolent God and he came to believe that Christianity meant nothing.
He continued to help his local church and work for the parish, but on Sunday he used to walk while his family attended the services. Yet when he wrote The Origin of Species was still a theist, convinced of the existence of God as First Cause.

Towards the end of his life, we often questioned Darwin's religious views. Everything he said was in this sense that "Science has nothing to do with Christ, at most in the habit of scientific research makes a wise man when it comes to admit the obvious. (
Chisholm, 2004)
The agnosticism of Darwin and his theological beliefs also appeared to fluctuate during the last years of his life. In a letter of 1879 addressed to James Fordice, he wrote about his beliefs:

"The question of what could be my own religious beliefs is only my own. But as you ask, I'd say maybe my judgment changes frequently. In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God. As I get older I think that "agnostic" best fits my mood, but not always.

It is important to note that in his letter written just a few years before his death in 1882, Darwin said very explicitly that he has "never been an atheist in the sense that he never denied the existence of God. "Darwin has never embraced throughout his career an atheist or non-teleological vision of biological evolution.
This is to say that Darwin and his followers are not necessarily atheist. But it can be argued that his theory is atheistic in the sense that

Historical writings indicate clearly that Charles Darwin was never an atheist. Throughout his career, the father of the modern theory of evolution has taken seriously the religious implications of his science. For this reason, he often incorporated his belief in his theory of evolution as can be seen in his scientific notebooks, his personal correspondence and professional publications. Darwin provides particularly valuable insight and theological merit any consideration about the intelligent design found in nature, the problem of pain and God's sovereignty over the world.
First, what do we do with various references to Darwin experience of the intelligent design of nature? Should we simply consider it as the consequence of social conditioning of Darwin through the nineteenth century English religion? This very common experience corresponds to the stimulation of a group of neurons that, by chance, would give mankind an aesthetic pleasure to observe the survival of species? Was it not rather in the process of affirming the reality of a revelation that nonverbal Intelligent Spirit deeply inscribed in nature?  

Second, if the intelligent design of nature is real, that he opposed necessarily to the theory of evolution? As it can be noted that, the concept of design was always present in Darwin's thinking throughout his career and, so far, this has not prevented him from giving to science an excellent explanation of biological origins. Regrettably, the chief critic of intelligent design comes today of the Movement of the Intelligent Design (ID) which supports a vision of the origins clearly anti-évolutive. Could it be that the "Theory
Intelligent Design "is so named simply a modern version of William Paley's premise has long been discredited? It is clear that the understanding of intelligent design that Darwin was embarrassed and frustrated by the interpretation of design. Is this also the case today with the model called "scientific" intelligent design that seeps quickly through society and the evangelical community? More incisive, the Theory of Intelligent Design Is not a stumbling block in the full sense that the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:2-3 gives, among evolutionary biologists and competent God created life through an evolutionary process that reflects intelligent design?

AJ Ayer and Ludwig Wittgenstein
Born in 1910, Professor of Logic at Oxford, A. J. Ayer was first in the Anglo-Saxon, the best architect of this extreme form of empiricism that is the logical positivism. His first book Language, Truth and Logic (1936), programmatic and immediately classic, offers a strong statement with a rare combination of lucidity and ardor. As his work is in one piece, the orchestration of ideas will be sustained over time, their expression more cautious, but the essential arguments will never be invalidated.
Much contemporary philosophy of religion focuses on issues surrounding the use of language referring to God. Following Hume, contemporary philosophers such as AJ Ayer and Flew AGN have raised critical questions about religious language. In particular, they argued that talk of God is also cognitive meaning gibberish just because he is incapable of verifiability or falsifiability. Also of interest on the forehead contemporary logical consistency of the doctrine of God as traditionally understood in Judeo - Christian thought.
In modern times, most statements about religious language have taken place in response to logical positivism and the last work of Wittgenstein (1889-1951). This and the following section will focus on these two most recent movements.

Logical positivism promoted a principle of the empiricist meaning deemed as fatal to religious beliefs. The following is representative empiricist principle: for a statement (declaration) is propositional meaning they must either involve the formal relations between two empty ideas such as those on mathematics and the analytical definitions ("A is A", "the triangles have three sides "), or there must be a perceptual experience that provides evidence of the truth or falsity of the assertion. (The strictest version of positivism is that the assertions about the world must be verifiable at least in principle). The weak version (more on the open reference to evidence) as well as the strong version (requiring a confirmation in principle) delimits the meaningful discourse on the world. Ostensibly factual assertions that have no bearing on our empirical experience are empty of content. In line with this form of positivism, AJ Ayer (1910-1989) with some others said that religious beliefs are nonsense. How can we empirically confirm that God is omnipresent, or love, or that Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu? In an important debate during the years 1950 and 1960, the philosophical arguments about God were compared with debates about the existence and habits of an invisible gardener (based on a parable by John Wisdom, 1944-1945). The idea of
​​a gardener who is not only invisible but which can not be detected by any sensory faculty seemed absurd. It seemed like a nonsense, because they said there was no perceptible difference between a gardener and no gardener at all. Using the analogy of the garden and others of the same type, Antony Flew (see his essay in Mitchell, 1971) argued that religious claims cannot pass the test of empirical meaning. The field of philosophy of religion during the years 1950 and 1960 was largely an intellectual battlefield on which debates were focused on the question of whether religious beliefs were either meaningful or conceptually absurd.

The empirical verificationism is far from dead. Some critics of the belief in an incorporeal God continue to advance the same criticism of Flew and Ayer, albeit with some refinements. Michael Martin and Kai Nielson are representatives of this approach. But despite all these efforts, the empiricist challenge to the meaning of religious beliefs is now considered to be far less impressive than it once was.

In the history of the debate, the charge against the most radical positivism was that it refutes itself. The empiricist criterion of meaning itself seems to be neither a statement that expresses a formal relationship of ideas, nor empirically verifiable. How could we verify empirically the principle? At best, the verification principle seems to be a recommendation on how to describe these statements that the positivists are willing to accept them as significant. But then, how a debate on which other languages
​​are meaningful it could not be established arbitrarily? For believers, who put "Brahman" or "God" in the center of meaningful discourse, the use of the principle of empirical verification appear to be arbitrary and a petition of principle. If the positivist principle is too closed, it seems to threaten the various proposals that appeared at least highly respectable, such as scientific claims about the physical processes and events that are not publicly observable. For example, we are to think of states of the universe prior to any observation of physical layers of the cosmos that cannot be directly or indirectly observed but only inferred as part of a scientific theory paramount? Or what about the mental states of others, which are usually considered reliable, but which some believe are under-determined by the outside public viewing? Subjective states of a person - how does she feel - may be deeply elusive for external observers and even the person himself. Can you empirically observe the feeling of happiness of another person? Arguably, consciousness, subjective states of individuals resistant airtight verification and proof of such statements is not compliant positivists (van Cleve, 1999, Taliaferro, 1994). Equally disturbing is the overwhelming rejection by the positivists of ethics as an approach to cognitive, normative practice. The rejection of non-cognitive ethics had some force to ad hominem embarrassing as an empiricist Ayer, who considered the ethical claims as lacking any truth value, and yet at the same time, he interpreted the empirical knowledge in terms of have the right to certain beliefs. An ethics of belief can be preserved if one excludes the normativity of ethics?

The strictly empirical explanation of the meaning was also accused of being meaningless, because he is no consistency, clarity, and basic level of experience with which to test the propositional statements. The "given" experimental design is simply too malleable (what is called the "myth of the given"), often reflecting the prejudices and conceptual, since we appreciate the polysemic nature of the experiment, it can be said that virtually no experience can verify or provide evidence for anything. A mystical experience could very well claim union with a timeless and omnipresent. Ayer conceded that in principle a mystical experience can give meaning to religious terms. Those who conceded that seemed to be on a slippery slope leading from empirical verificationism verificationism mystical. A growing number of philosophers in the years 1960 and 1970 were led to conclude that the empiricist challenge was not decisive. A critical assessment of positivism can be found in the works, among others, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and John Foster.

If Hempel reason the project should be initiated by Ayer conditioning, taking into account the broader theoretical frameworks. Religious claims could not be excluded from the outset, but should benefit from any hearing with competing visions of cognitive meaning. Ronald Hepburn summarizes a widely held belief that complements Hempel's position: "We can reduce the philosophy of religion beyond the scrutiny and review problems in the entire field ... No verification test decisive Statutory Declaration of no insignificance, can relieve us of our work "(Hepburn, 1963, p.50). Ayer himself later conceded that the positivist explanation on the meaning was unsatisfactory (Ayer, 1973).

With the decline of positivism in the 1970s, philosophers of religion have reintroduced the concept of God, sacred to competing views, and so on, which were supported by arguments that did not require scientific confirmation, but broad considerations on consistency, on the extent of the explanation, simplicity, religious experience, and other factors. But before tackling this material, it is important to consider a debate in the philosophy of religion that was largely inspired by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Conventionalism is a doctrine stating a fundamental separation between the data of intuition and senses, and intellectual constructs on which to base scientific theories.  According to this doctrine epistemological attitude to words and speeches of a scientific theory are neither necessary a priori (Kant) nor empirical necessities (empiricism), but conventions convenient for the description of phenomena. A physical theory is not the exact reflection of reality but simply a way of representing the phenomena, a convenient language to express them. Different theories are then to have different points of view, and the choice between them is not. It considers that science has a descriptive virtue and can abandon any approach to the metaphysical explanation.  The basic idea of conventionalism is that language has no essence and there is no intrinsic connection between the words and symbols. But the viewpoint of conventionalist school of thought is flawed in the sense that had there been no connection there would have been no universal meaning and significance of the words. It would have become impossible to express and translate the universal truth through language. For example, the statement “the sun revolves around the earth” would no longer exist because the language was not a thing to be trusted. The argument that language has no relationship with the symbols and its usage would have made language a useless commodity.(Jacques, 2003)

William James
Master of psychological analysis, insightful observer who has opened a new path to introspection Williams James was an analyst of religious beliefs. He is considered as one of the great figures of pragmatism, which continues to diversify.
William James said that truth is relative to procedures for experimental verification, the community of an era, in a theoretical context, etc..

The truth for him is not the inherent property of an utterance: it is an event that is to say an affirmation temporarily and partially accurate and reliable.

The pragmatism of William James is summarized by his famous formula: "The truth is simply what is good for the mind."

William James and Carl Lange in 1884 developing the theory of emotion: James-Lange theory. For them, the emotion reflects a physiological response to amendments. "We feel sad because we cry, angry because we strike someone and afraid because we tremble."
The truth is that religion has a different order from scientific truth, but it is not necessary unless our membership. Belief in the possibility of miracles is well accepted by James as a prudent reserve in respect of universal determinism which science attributes the production of phenomena. Consciousness, with its aspirations, plans, beliefs, is not a simple epiphenomenon, but a means of action that plays a role in the course of events.

                James points out, without regret, the multiplicity of sects, creeds, different types of religion, which should give everyone a satisfactory solution to its own difficulties because "everyone, from his point of view, sees a set of realities more or less compelling and can adapt as an original attitude. " Ultimately, the reality is composed exclusively of 'individual experiences. "


Truth and Opinion

        One of the criticisms most often addressed to James is that it confuses the truth with any illusion purely subjective. However, in his last two works, the Idea of
​​Truth and A Pluralistic Universe, published in 1909, James is working to overcome the opposition between the plurality of experiences and the unity of truth, as he tried to beyond the usual religious perspective, which raises one hand and God on the other, men, distinct and different. The philosopher rejects the opposition between subjectivism and realism his claim that human beliefs are not false because they refer to realities that cannot be known if we did not. Having exhibited in a pluralistic universe essentially religious conception of the metaphysical structure of the Universe, James finally defines truth as "an ideal series of formulas to which we can expect to see during the experiment, to converge long all opinions. "

        This hope of ultimate convergence, beyond the irreducibly singular character of any experience, gives the pragmatism of James's great originality; he was also far more successful than the original theory of Charles S. Peirce. But in the 30s, pragmatism is divided into several rival schools, so that one could identify thirteen different meanings of this term and that the label "pragmatism" has fallen into relative disrepute.

        After referring once a certain style of thought, which are associated with Henri Bergson and Alfred North Whitehead, the name of William James is now back in philosophical debates, because even multiple perspectives opened by his work. Indeed, whether the origin of concepts, issues of truth, reality or appropriateness of language, his thought is at the heart of the discussions that oppose the main representatives of American philosophy (Willard Quine, Hilary Putnam and Richard Rorty), opponents and supporters of the pragmatism of James, Peirce and Dewey.
John Dewy
John Dewy was an American philosopher specializing in applied psychology and pedagogy. His philosophical system is related to the current developed by pragmatists Charles S. Peirce and William James. Dewey is mainly influenced by Hegel, which is anything but a pragmatist. It also owes much to Charles Darwin. His political and social ideas are close to socialism. He defines morality or ethics as the search for a "balance" between social and individual.

Dewey considers the human mind as an instrument in constant evolution, which allows man to adapt to its environment. Through language and education, the individual is enriched life experiences of others and other times. Nevertheless, knowledge must always be rooted in experience and action of the person.(Anderson, 1998)

Nature and culture interact to influence the man. He said the man's needs relate to their biological makeup (eg, drinking, eating and walking). As he progresses, the rest is influenced by external factors such as culture, customs and social organization. These ideas will be supported by the archaeological discoveries of the time.

Dewey does not see the war as part of human nature, for the simple reason that compassion is also included.
These two natures therefore nullified. Rather he believes that war is the result of social organization, culture, etc.. It proposes to channel, if necessary, the need to fight in favor of the adventures of man.

Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. According to him, the world is a process of continuous creation, each element transforms and is transformed by the multiple interrelationships. The multitude became one, and it is increased by one.

All the real event within a process in which it acquires a "objective immortality. " The relationship between the events is a nexus (connection). Depending on their degree of complexity and interaction, events can also be designed as associations which alone guarantee period. For example, a bird in the tree is a part of any "structured" as it has a property that he would step out of this association. The world and all its elements are an organization in which returns its own meaning to each component, for itself and for all. The organization is determined by a bounding creativity.
 Whitehead himself introduces his project as the third great cosmological conception in the history of philosophy:
The history of philosophy discloses two cosmologies which at different periods have dominated European thought, Plato’s Timaeus, and the cosmology of the seventeenth century, whose chief authors were Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Locke. In attempting an enterprise of the same kind, it is wise to follow the clue that perhaps the true solution consists in a fusion of the two previous schemes, with modifications demanded by self-consistency and the advance of knowledge.

Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud introduced in the critique of religion from a scientific perspective, developing a psychoanalytic approach because religieux14. Freud shared the view of many thinkers and philosophers that religion is an illusion. But the explanation he offers the role and function of religion and other beliefs that the metaphor is different and negative. He points out the artificial nature of religion, but admits that religion gives it a positive function for soothing.
He believed that religion is merely an expression of lurking psychological neuroses and distress. At various instances he pointed out that religions serves a way to control the Oedipal complex. Religion, Freud believed, was an expression of underlying psychological neuroses and distress. At various points in his writings, he suggested that religion was an attempt to control the Oedipal complex, a means of giving structure to social groups, wish fulfillment, an infantile delusion, and an attempt to control the outside world. If we hold Freud’s view true then there will be destruction of reality and truth as psychologist Paul Vitz shows that believers do not create the Father god but that atheist kill the father. In describing the religion, Freud does not pay heed to the rational and experiential arguments for the existence of God. 

Post Modernism
Postmodern philosophy is a collection of speeches and work appeared mainly in the 1960s, particularly in France (particularly those that Americans have sorted by the name of "French Theory). This appellation, mainly inherited from the design of that era had their condition (postmodernity), and popularized in particular by the philosophers.  Its philosophy includes thoughts that develop a strong criticism of tradition and rationality specifically Western modernity, and which offer new ways to question the texts and history, particularly influenced by Marxism, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard's critique of rationality, the phenomenology of Husserl and Heidegger, the psychoanalysis of Freud and Lacan structuralism of Levi-Strauss, but also by the linguistic.
The creature died in postmodernism and there was  a rebirth of the gods in the wake of the death of God.  The work described in general postmodern break with the reign of the subject and reason, and philosophical and ideological traditions inherited from the European Enlightenment, such as the quest for a universal rational system found in the Kantian or Hegelianism. It is in this sense that Jacques Derrida had proposed to deconstruct what he calls the "logocentric," that is to say, the primacy of reason over everything that is "irrational."
Postmodern philosophies are also wary of dichotomies (binary opposition) that dominate humanisme16 Western metaphysics and, as the opposition between true and false, mind and body, society and individual freedom and determinism, the presence and absence, dominance and submission, male and feminin. These presuppositions of Western thought are attacked for setting up a thought of nuance, difference or subtlety.
Moreover, postmodern philosophers (notably Foucault and Agamben) stress the importance of power relations in shaping the discourse of an era, and customization of discourse in the construction of "truth" and opinions universally accepted.

Chisholm, Hugh, ed (2004). "Darwin, Charles Robert". Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Jacques Barzun.(2003)  A Stroll with William James  Harper and Row
Rogers, Melvin. The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality, and the Ethos of Democracy (2008). Columbia University Press
Sigmund Freud and Lou Andreas-Salome(2000); letters, Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Anderson, Perry.(1998) The origins of postmodernity. London: Verso


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