Philosophy as religion

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Philosophy as religion a study in critical devotion
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Philosophy -- Moral and ethical aspects   ( lcsh )
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1985.
Bibliography:
Bibliography: leaves 241-251.
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by Michael Eldridge.
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Typescript.
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Vita.

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Full Text














PHILOSOPHY AS RELIGION
A STUDY IN CRITICAL DEVOTION











By

MICHAEL ELDRIDGE


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTTAI FHITT MAFNIT (1F TiM: DPFf; IIDO IF MTC















KNOWLEDGMENTS


Of the many people who have been helpful I would like to thank my disser-


station supervisor above all.


Ellen Haring not only assisted in the formulation of


this study


but also read the


various drafts sympathetically,


carefully


and criti-


cally.


Her willingness to subordinate her


own


philosophical interests to mine is


deeply appreciated.

D'Amico and Robert


Both of the other two members of my


Sherman,


committee, Robert


were selected, in part, because I expected them to


resist some aspects of my approach.


They played their roles well.


They were also


chosen


because


knew


they


would


supportive


spite


intellectual


disagreements that might arise.


They have not disappointed me.


R.M.


Hare has


read portions, correcting misunderstandings of his views that were contained in an


earlier draft and commenting on other matters that caught his eye.


Gene Thursby


has often been a captive but attentive, intelligent audience.


Harold


Stahmer has


been encouraging as a teaching supervisor, loaner of books and counselor.


Austin


Creel


not only


made


Religion


Department's


facilities--above


a word


processor which


Vasudha Narayanan and he know as Hanuman,


the helpful Hindu


monkey-god,


and I


as Leviathan


monster upon


which


life depended but


which was capable of destroying my work and me at any moment-available to me,


library


and his counsel.


Barry


Mesch


was


a tough


critic


interDretation of Sninoza.


Mv wife.


SIIPe. and danclhtsrq_ Rmrhhal anH Amana= hnu,
















PREFACE


Socrates,


Spinoza


Dewey


each


thought


that


through


philosophy


could


practiced


problem


life-guiding


philosophy


of justifying


beliefs


different


their


could


ways


beliefs and


withstand


developed


commitments,


criticism.


various


they


Although


solutions


three


they


to the


positioned


themselves more or


less in the middle between the uncritical traditionalists and


thorough-going sceptics of their times.


They refused, each in his own way,


to be


irrational believers or complete sceptics.


They were able to avoid the supposed


dilemma


faith


reason,


because


they


saw


philosophy


as a life-guiding


activity.


In critical, comprehensive thought they were able to escape the hard


choices presented by their cultures.

Socrates steered a course between the poets and the sophists; Spinoza was

sceptical of revealed religions but not rationality; and Dewey rejected organized


religion but reconstructed philosophy to deal


with human problems.


In chapters


devoted to each I will examine the culturally-presented dilemmas each one faced


and show how he dealt with them.


But before doing


so it is necessary to raise in


an introductory chapter the question of the relation of philosophy and religion.


strategy


to clarify


understanding


these


concepts--


philosophy


and religion,


then,


using a


working definition of religion,


to establish


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first chapter I will explore the differences between philosophy and religion, argue

against reducing philosophy to religion and offer a definition of religion that builds


on past efforts to define religion.


Then I consider each philosopher as an example


philosophy-as-religion


return


chapter


matter


conceptual


elucidation.


concerned


both


to establish


merit


understanding


religion


religiosity


these


three


philosophers


philosophers.


The latter


is my primary


concern, but I


cannot focus on it alone


without begging the question of what religion is. It is also helpful to sort out our

intuitions with regard to both philosophy and religion to see the significance of my

thesis--Socrates, Spinoza and Dewey were religious in their practice of philosophy.


There is one stylistic convention


that I


do not follow and should mention


here.


Because of my concern to cite accurately the texts I am using, I am careful


not to include


punctuation


within


quotation


marks.


Thus


one finds


punctuation mark within quotations, then one may infer that the punctuation is in

the source.













TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS........ ii


PREFACE. ...... . . . . *

ABSTRACT ........ . . . .


CHAPTERS


RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY ....... .. ........ 1

An Unlikely Suggestion ... . .. . .. .. ... 3
... But Not Inconceivable. . .. . . . 21
Some Criteria for the Identification of Religion ............ 36
The Plan of The Study.. .. .. . . . . . .43


SOCRATIC PIETY


Preliminary Critical Matters . .
Euthyphro, Socrates and Athenian Religion..
Socrates' Critical Religion .............
Conclusion .... .. . .


. . . .

. . *
. . . .
. .. .. .. .. .. .


. 46
S. .. 48
* 67
. 80


III SPINOZA'S RATIONAL RELIGION............ ........... 82

Spinoza and Religion. . . . . . * 84


Spinozan Religion . .. . . *
Conclusion . . . . * *


* *..**** *
* S * *


IV DEWEY'S PHILOSOPHICAL QUEST FOR WHOLENESS ........ 132

Literature and Problems ... ...... ...133
The Development of Dewey's Religious Philosophy ...... . 162
a aA


Dewey's Religious Philosophy


. . . .. "


THE CONCEPT OF PHILOSOPHY-AS-RELIGION ............ 215


Hermeneutical and Conceptual Conclusions
Religion as the Acknowledgement


of a Pervasive Authority


. . . S S S S S


Conclusion . . . . .. . . . -. 238













Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the


Requirements for the Degree


of Doctor of Philosophy


PHILOSOPHY AS RELIGION
A STUDY IN CRITICAL DEVOTION

By

Michael Eldridge


May 1985


Chairperson:


Ellen


Haring


Major Department: Philosophy


Working


with a


definition


of religion


as the acknowledgement of


a per-


vasive, authoritative reality through a self-constituting practice, I establish that

Socrates, Spinoza and Dewey were religious in their practice of philosophy.

In the first chapter I elucidate our intuition that philosophy and religion are


conceptually distinct.


I also specify a working definition of religion.


In the cen-


tral three chapters I set forth


the philosophies of Socrates, Spinoza and Dewey,


showing in


what way they were religious.


Socrates served his


good god through


dialectic.


In this way he assisted the gods in their efforts to preserve the city-


state of Athens.


Spinoza's religion was a rational pantheism which was required


by his understanding of Deus


sive


Natura.


John Dewey's holistic philosophy was a


quest for wholeness that shaped his life and thought.


In the final chapter I identi-


fy the concept of philosophy-as-religion, devoting special attention to Dewey, who


is the most problematic of


three.


I also return to my working definition of


















CHAPTER ONE

RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY


We do not ordinarily think of philosophy as being a religious activity, at

least not in the radical sense that I shall suggest. To be sure there have been


philosophers


have


been


religious


have


explored


philosophical


dimension


their


faith.


Thomas


Aquinas,


instance,


engaged


both


philosophy and religion but


as distinct enterprises.


My thesis is more radical.


shall argue that although philosophy and religion are conceptually distinct,


there


are some philosophers who were religious in their practice of philosophy.


Accordingly


shall


initially


attention


to the


differences


between


philosophy


and religion.


In so doing I


shall be explicating and


justifying what I


take to be our usual intuition in this regard.


This approach has the added virtue of


preventing a too easy identification of philosophy and religion.


careful not to draw the distinction too sharply.


But one must be


For if they are radically distinct,


then there could be no practice that is equally describable as either philosophy or


religion.


By arguing that only some were religious I shall be arguing against those


who would say either that all human beings have a faith or that all philosophers


have a faith in rationality.


If either of these latter views were correct, then my


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ultimately authoritative.


That they used theistic language does not resolve the


question of their religiosity, for their god-talk, some have argued, was not, in the


case


Spinoza,


sincere,


case


Dewey,


either


necessary


or even


appropriate. -


we are to regard


them


as religious


in some


strong


sense of


"religious"


, I must be able to show that their theistic language was sincere and


appropriate.


be religious,


shall


argue,


to conform


some


ultimate


reality


through a self-constituting practice.


Through worship of a god or contemplation


of some transcendent reality the practitioner becomes who and what he or she is.


Religion


an intense


concern


with


that


which


ultimate


in life.


This


concern finds expression in a practice and over time shapes the adherent.


To put


traditional


religious


language,


one is saved


through


obedience


to God,


purified through rituals pleasing to the gods or liberated through contemplation of


think Spinoza


was sincere and


will so argue.


But the matter


is not so


simple with regard to Dewey. He himself did not think one had to use the term
"God" to refer to his defining reality, and a Dewey interpreted along Rortyan lines


would invoke neither the


term nor the reality.


There is a tension in Dewey, as


Richard


Rorty


points


"Dewey's Metaphysics",


Minnesota Press,
and xlii-iv. The
we resolve this
understanding of


1982),


ut, between the pragmatic and the metaphysical. See
Consequences of Pragmatism (Minneapolis: University of
DD. 72-89. See also the introduction, esDeciallv DD. xiv


' a ^ a


decision to regard Dewey as a religio-philosopher will turn on how


tension.
religion


If he
taken


is only a pragmatist,


in this


study,


then his religiosity, on


is disingenuous.


One cannot be


deeply


loyal


to one's


self-conscious


construct,


otherwise


is not just


one's


creation. Thus Dewey provides us with a possible limiting case of philosophy-as-
religion. He falls just inside the religious circle or just outside, depending on how
we read him.


2Compare Paul Tillich,


"Religion as a Dimension in Man's Spiritual Life",


Theology of Culture, edited by Robert C. Kimball (New
Press- 1959-! "Rplioinn." in the larpest anrd mnst hasi


York: Oxford University


ir


sense


nf the wnrd.


U.S.


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that


which


ultimately


real.


engage


in philosophy,


however,


is to think


critically,


to put enough


distance between


oneself and the object of inquiry to


investigate it thoroughly with a self-critical, precise method.


The object of one's


attention is a matter of concern, but its existential import, if any, is secondary to

its intellectual character and significance to one as a philosopher.


My claim then is a radical one.


It is


philosophers that these three were


religious.


recognize


that


am making


a claim


that


goes


beyond


Socrates,


pmoza


Dewey's


own


understanding


their


efforts.


They


would


have


acknowledged


their


religiosity,


each of


them


was loyal


to some deity.


none of


them


apparently


asked


the question I


am asking.


None of them dealt


explicitly with the possibility that they were religious in their philosophizing.


radicalness of my thesis, however, does not consist in my transcending their own


views of their work.


It consists rather in the attempt to


see their philosophy as


being religious without trying to reduce either philosophy or religion to the other.



An Unlikely Suggestion


It runs against our usual


view to suggest that some practice can be both


philosophical


religious.


Philosophy


rational


criticism


at best


indirectly relevant to life; religion is profound and ultimately uncritical devotion


and, although other-worldly in orientation, is life-informing.


I shall suggest that


philosophy


can be


more


than


negativity


and religion


does not


have


to be blind


loyalty.


Also philosophy is not necessarily impractical and religion is not neces-


sarily


other-worldly.


these


ways I


lessen


the tension between


the two.


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critics.


This is not seen as some sideshow but as the game itself.


Religion on the


other hand habitually sets aside some experience or reality as beyond scrutiny:


place, a person, an event, a ritual or whatever is regarded


those who would examine it or question it.


as sacred, off-bounds to


It does not appear likely that some-


thing can be both philosophical and religious at the same time.

Thus one could argue that it is a logical error to regard the two as equally


descriptive


one practice.


Religion


is an activity


characterized


awe,


reverence or devotion; inquiry may occur but is limited.

hand is unrestricted, no-holds-barred inquiry. Awe and

not actually obstacles to inquiry. One must be constantly


values and presuppositions do not blind him or her to the truth.


Philosophy on the other


loyalty are potentially if


.y on guard that his or her


Counter-intuitive


though it may be, I shall eventually argue that the same practice may be appro-

priately regarded as both religious and philosophical.



The Paradoxical Character of Conventional Religion


traditionally understood, religion is a


of life that is dedicated to


hence


in a sense shaped by some out-of-the-ordinary reality.


participates in the really real.


In ritual one


Implicit if not explicit is a set of beliefs.


Often


these beliefs shape not only


one's rituals-prayer, sacrifice, chanting, affirming,


meditating-but also one's


daily


One's


can be


organized around daily


prayer, meditation or weekly worship services, or one's whole life can be informed


by certain beliefs.


If one believes in a judgment day or a loving god,


conduct may well be affected.


Thus, paradoxically, one's belief


then one's


in some super-


nntQi *ral anti+t ru hn n mannI cdan nnno rav ;tnr Tnaa ia h+n


InAaA, I ++-i tha retf n rrli^Mi


I









religion is often pushed


as a unifying factor.


cans can expect certain blessings.


As a nation "under God" we Ameri-


Indeed, it is urged,


it is because we have taken


God out of the schools that we are plagued with problems there.


We must turn to


and he will turn


to us.


Religion,


then,


in spite of its other-worldliness, is


often surprisingly practical.


There


is a second


in which


religion


paradoxical.


That


which


sacred


is beyond


understanding.


instance,


the Apostle Paul speaks of "the


peace of God which surpasses all thought" (Philippians 4:7).


Tertullian speaks of


believing


because


is absurd.


Mystics


are only


the extreme example of


religious tendency to glory in the ineffable.


Although Bernard Williams speaks of


Christianity generally and Tertullian specifically, in his essay,


"Tertullian's


Para-


dox",3


one could extend his analysis.


Williams argues that there is a "sort of in-


herent and necessary


incomprehensibility" that is "a feature of Christian belief"


187).


He thus accepts


Tertullian's opinion about the impossible character of


Christian beliefs without sharing his valuation of them.


"Inherent and necessary


incomprehensibility"


moreover


is not


limited


to Christianity.


Religions every-


where exhibit this irrationality.


Religion is thus


seemingly paradoxical both in its


effect and


its object of


devotion.


The devotional


object, being


other-worldly,


cannot


completely


understood,


one's


concern


with


extra-mundane


reality has a this-worldly impact.



Criticism and the Vulnerabilities of Religion and Philosophy


But in our secular age the psychic and


social efficacy of religion is often


questioned


Suspicious


rlaimc


nabu i


othor


trtnrlI C


divine


ni terventions


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6

many are reluctant to turn to a deity or put God back in the school or trust in a


personal mantra.


As we lose confidence in some extra-mundane reality its hold is


lessened,


broken.


Thus


religion's


alleged


virtue--life-guidance--is


undermined


scepticism


with


regard


which


animates


particular


religion.


In a secular, sceptical age, then, many are left without direction.


Sensing this threat, contemporary religion often employs one of two strate-


gies.


The fideists resist any use of reason that would undermine their basic be-


liefs.


For them


, to cite an example from Christianity, Jesus rose from the dead.


This resurrection


taken


literally


spite


evidence


or reasons


to the con-


trary.


They are unshakable in their faith.


Liberals, on the other hand, re-think


their basic beliefs, accommodating them to attractive cultural forces.


If science


says resurrection is impossible, then the liberal Christian finds a way to talk about


is compatible with his or her


scientific world view.


He or she remains


Christian,


holding


on to the resurrection


story


somehow,


but finding


a way


understand it


that is compatible with his or her other beliefs.


Both fideists and


liberals seek to remain faithful in the face of attacks on the religion's defining


reality


but the one insulates the defining event and the other re-interprets it.


To the extent that philosophy is understood as criticism it is often seen as


the antithesis of religion.


of religion,

of prayer


It is that which often confronts the animating realities


Assertions about gods, unseen forces, invisible realities, the efficacy


.


or meditation and visions of heaven and hell are unmercifully scruti-


nized.


Nothing is apparently


sacred


to philosophy.


Nor are secular notions im-


mune to criticism.


Philosophers have been sceptical of other minds, the Freudian


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rCriti-ricm rci, Khath m aivc Khntu aor


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El r M.I *I.' El UT


1









Philosophy's Alleged Irrelevance


Philosophy struggles to be relevant to everyday life.


It is only with great


difficulty that it relates to


the world.


To be sure there have been philosophers


have


been


men


of affairs--Bacon


, Hobbes,


Locke,


Leibnitz,


Berkeley


Hume come


to mind.


But for the most part philosophers are viewed-and view


themselves--as spectators, analysts or interpreters.


only an indirect influence.


At best their reflections have


A recent, bald statement of philosophy's non-utility is


that of 3ay Rosenberg:


Practicing


philosophers


are thus


very


model


theore-


ticians and, since the objects of their theorizing are at one remove


from the facts, the very opposite of practical folk,


Philosophi-


cal inquiry is not instrumental.


It is not a tool.


It aims at clarity,


not as a means to


facilitate


goals, but simply for the sake


action or to further independent life-
of clarity.4


This is an extreme version of the analytic clarity-project, but it does give support


to the oft-expressed criticism of philosophy


namely,


that philosophy is irrelevant


to life.


Rosenberg,


in describing philosophy


as a theoretic activity one step re-


moved from


the world of action, as much as concedes that it is not a practical


activity.


Sensitive


to the criticisms of this narrow understanding of philosophy,


the editors of a collection of


essays


on the nature of philosophy write:


. philosophy


severely


today,


perhaps


more


than


other


discipline,


criticized on the grounds that it is not relevant to human


problems;


that


philosophers


have


fragmented


their


subject


series of technical problems which are unrelated to the human crisis


problems of
each other.


and which are, apparently


even unrelated to


complaint


about


philosophy's


irrelevance


come


to the


with


triumph of analytic philosophy in the twentieth century, but the complaint is an







8

ancient one, as the story about Thales as re-told by Aristotle (Politics 1259a6-10)

indicates.

Thales supposedly used his knowledge of the stars to make a lot of money.


Having been "reproached for his poverty,


ophy was of no use",


which was supposed to show that philos-


Thales calculated that there would be a large olive crop, put


deposits on the olive-presses in Chios and Miletus and then was able to get high


prices for their use when a large crop came in.


Although Aristotle argues that it


was


not a philosophical


skill,


one


universal


application",


that


enabled


Thales to speculate


successfully,


the anecdote


does


illustrate


the centuries-old


complaint


against


philosophy's


usefulness.


Aristotle's


analysis,


moreover,


reinforces the point:

Thus he showed the world that philosophers can easily be rich if they


like, but that their ambition is of another sort.


He is supposed to


have given a striking proof of his wisdom, but, as I was saying, his
device for getting wealth is of universal application, and is nothing
but the creation of a monopoly.

Aristotle thinks it was not as a philosopher that Thales made his money but as a


speculator.


Philosophers could use


their knowledge for


practical purposes, but


"their ambition is of another sort" and practical applications of philosophic know-


ledge are not in themselves philosophy.


philosopher's aim is not, according to


Aristotle and many if not most philosophers since,


to be practical.


He or she is


engaged in a theoretical endeavor.


This theoretical activity may well have prac-


tical implications, but one can--and philosophers usually do-engage in the theore-

tical activity without also engagin in the implied practice.


Few


within


philosophy


have


been


more


critical


of the


theory-practice


distinction than Karl Marx and John Dewev.


Marx's eleventh thesis on Feuerbach









point is,


to change


it."7


Marx, as Shlomo Avineri makes clear, did not abandon


philosophy for politics. Rather his epigram called for and his work exemplified

the practical use of theory.8 Dewey chided philosophy for its failure to deal with


"the


problems of men"


. Philosophy,


he thought,


would recover


itself only as it


ceased to be about "the problems of philosophers" and began to be concerned with


the human condition.9


Although not every criticism made by a philosopher is to


taken at face


value,


Marx and Dewey


were sufficiently on


target that their


criticisms have become classic and warning texts for philosophers.


Nevertheless


, because of its critical nature, its concern for generalization,


love of


abstraction


and its valuing


of precision, philosophy tends to remove


itself


from


everyday


wholly


antithetical


ordinary


experience.


Criticism can be used to correct practice.


Generalizations are as


much


a part of


common


sense


as of disciplined thought.


Abstract and precise


thought are, however, remote from everyday thinking.


It is with difficulty that


philosophy manages to be clear, comprehensive,


critical and to


the point.


It is


much easier to react to other philosophers than to lived experience.

Thus it is not surprising that one might think that philosophy is normally


impractical.


Although philosophy has had its practical turns,10 it seems to gyrate


7Theses on Feuerbach (1845); translated and edited by Lloyd D. Easton and
Kurt H. Guddat, Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy Society (Garden City,
N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1967), p. 402.


8The Social and Political
University Press, 1968). See e,


Thought of


specially


Karl


the section:


Marx (Cambridge:


"The


unity


Cambridge
theory and


praxis: from interpreting the world to changing it", pp. 134-149.


9,rThk


MoNA


a Recovery


Philosoobvn


(Q1917


reorinted


Irhn


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m










toward the impractical.


But it is not enough to suggest that philosophy is seldom


practical


to show


distinctiveness


philosophy-as-religion.


claim


stronger:


philosophy can be not only lif


e-informing but also religious.


The Philosophy-Religion Distinction


That


philosophy


and religion could coincide


seems even


more


implausible


than that philosophy could be practical.


sense that philosophy and religion are


different in kind from one another.


But the division does not


seem to be along the


theory-practice line.


A religion often has explanations that are integral to itself


and philosophy's


theories occasionally find uses in "real life"


Philosophy itself,


title


Rosenberg's


book--The


Practice


Philosophy--indicates


(thus


ironically cutting against his theoretic orientation), can be considered a practice.


what


is the


difference


Several


proposals


have


been


forward.


consider


them


three groups:


finding and seeking, non-rational versus rational


and dependence versus independence.

The finding-seeking distinction


Even John Smith, who thinks of philosophy and religion as necessarily bound


up with one another, nevertheless regards them as distinct enterprises.


Religion,


him,


is "the


proclaiming


the meaning and importance of a


truth already


found".

pattern,


But "philosophy


.. is born from wonder and the quest of reason to find a


a wisdom in things which is still to be disclosed"


Religion "sets out from


certainties"; philosophy "seeks to arrive at them"


. Each "has its own distinctive


nradracts


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tn tnms nrartiral n rhle.m


t+n hi ffsrtivs.


wo plLk


n


Wll E I* I| i ]llll 1 *









and dominant character"


, but each also has the other'


leading characteristic as a


"recessive element"


At its best


religion
certaintic
discovers
rational


discovers
es which


that
quest


that


exclude


its Ii
itself


fe


doubt


exclusively


rational


is not exclusively


a search,


matter


philosophy


because


truths taken for granted and never fully


justified in


the course of


any inquiry. Philosophy, moreover, comes to its own certainties
when it comes to express its constructive results.

The foregoing account not only shows the distinctiveness of the two enterprises,


but it also indicates


something of the nature of the distinction.


For Smith religion


starts from a finding while philosophy is a seeking.


Even if philosophy also has its


finding


quality


religion


its seeking


one


, they


spite of


this overlap,


logically distinct enterprises.


But the difference is a matter of proportion.


Martin


Heidegger,


in his essay,


"Phenomenology


and Theology"


, drew the


more


sharply


than


Smith,


contrasting


(Christian)


theology


as faith


with


philosophy as radical questioning.12


He regarded faith and philosophy as "mortal


enemies"


declared "Christian


philosophy"


to be "an absolute


square


circle'" (p.


For the reasons offered by Smith I


think Heidegger's view is too


Philosophy does have its findings and faith is as often characterized as a


search for understanding as it is a life based on certainties.

then Smith's degree-of-emphasis approach will not do. F<


But if this is the case,


or if faith is as often a


quest


as a life


based


on certainty,


then


not usefully


distinguished


from


philosophy as a questing activity also.


1 Reason and Godz


Encounters of Philosonhv with Religion (New Haven and


quest;


must be carried out against a background of


extreme.









A matter of rationality


Another


set of contrasts has to do


with


the rationality of philosophy and


the failure of religion to be ultimately intelligible.


Some have drawn the contrast


between


mystery


and clarity,


between


myth and


discursive


thought.


Although


Michael Foster in his little book, Mystery and Philosophy,13 would have us believe

that the clarity sought by British analytic philosophy is something peculiar to it,

he does mention Descartes' doctrine of "clear and distinct perception" and British


empiricism's


concerned


quest


to protect


perspicuous


is the


ideas


irreducibly


n. 3).


mysterious


What


character


actually


religion.


thinks


science


would


solve


problems by


curing


our lack


of knowledge and


analytical


philosophy would figure out puzzles by curing us of unclear thinking.


Yet for the Christian


theologian there must remain some mysteries which, even


when understood, exceed our comprehension (p. 19f).


Mysteries of course are not


complete unknowns.


Rather they are partially known, partially unknown.


Because


they


cannot be completely


comprehended,


we resort to


myth,


to non-discursive


language, to cope with them.


From a different perspective


Stephen David Ross argues that "philosophy is


essentially and fundamentally mysterious"


, because "mystery


is inherent in both


the nature of things and


the nature of


delight in paradox, philosophy,


asR


rationality".1


But where religion takes


admits, attempts to overcome it:


"Mystery


calls not for


veneration and


awe


but for


a full and complex activity of


mind,


broaching


all established conditions in its pursuit of answers" (p. 3).


Philosophy


cannot allow


significant


mysteries to remain.


It attempts to pierce through,


hvnast- ths mvthic lanuaiaas tn rie nl with the mvetArv. maklinu it knnwn.









contrast


between


mysterious-mythic


religion


clear,


rational


philosophy is allowed to stand, my project is doomed to failure.


For if religion has


to do necessarily with mystery and myth and philosophy can not abide them, then


religion and philosophy


cannot coincide.


Fortunately for my thesis mystery and


myth are


derivative


phenomena.


What gives


rise


to them


is the other-worldly


gods,


spirits


whatever


which


occasionally


intervene


world.


activities of


these beings are mysterious and, as long as one retains a belief in


them,


must


accounted


in non-discursive


language.


They


are not fully


intelligible and so one


must resort


to myth.


The necessity then of mystery and


myth


religion


are dependent


on a notion


religion


as necessarily


other-


worldly.


It is not the case,


however,


that


religion necessarily has to do with the


other-worldly


or supernatural,


there


religions


that


are this-worldly.


Leaving aside the naturalistic religions that are examined in this dissertation, one


can point to the Olympian gods.


Ninian


mart,


who makes much of the role of


transcendence in religion, nevertheless notes that not all religions have an explicit


idea of


transcendence:


'"The Greek gods, it may be recalled, lived on Olympus.


And Olympus,


though unseen, high up, absent from the immediate environment of


the pious, was yet part somehow of the world."l5


Religion may usually involve the other-worldly


but if there is or even can


a non-other-worldly


religion,


then


we should


be careful


about


drawing


distinction between religion and philosophy along the mystery-rationality line. If

in fact religion can be this-worldly, then the degree to which mystery would occur









and myth


would be necessary would be


much less than otherwise.


Mystery and


myth do not flourish in a naturalistic setting.

Dependence and criticism


There


is still


another


contrast,


one that


points


to religion's orientation


toward God,


sacred or whatever and philosophy's


critical character.


It would


not seem likely that one could be both totally committed to something and yet be


able


to stand


over


against


the detached


manner that philosophy seems to


require. It is the contrast, in its extreme form, between blind faith and complete

scepticism. Obviously if this polarity is allowed to stand, my project cannot even

get started. I will not draw the contrast this sharply, yet I think there is merit in


viewing the difference as one of dependency versus criticism.


Religion as dependence.


This final contrast of dependence-independence is


brought to our attention by William James.


In his classic study of religious exper-


ience, James initially


defined religion as one's


"total reaction upon life".16


then


modified


this experiential


definition


to indicate


that the


religious person


"feels impelled to respond" to the divine (p. 56), thus qualifying the experience as


a forced response to the divine.


But James's


"divine" is not as substantive as the


term might ordinarily suggest.


He specifies that for his purposes the divine is "a


primal


reality"


that


"the


individual


feels


impelled


to respond


to solemnly


gravely,


neither


a curse


jest"


contrast


submissiveness James suggests there is a certain critical and detached attitude,


philosophic in character,


that enables one to be free of the divine or at least to


submit reluctantly out of necessity (pp.


and 56).


I have already noted this









characteristic of philosophy and shall return to it shortly.


First I want to dwell a


bit more on the dependent character of religion.


James, according


to William


Christian,


stands


a long line of religious


theorists that runs from Kant through Schleiermacher, Rudolf Otto and Gerardus


van der Leeuw to Paul Tillich.17


these theories.


There are, to be sure, important differences in


Kant's theory of religion as obedience to God, for instance, is only


implicit


religious


proposal--"the


recognition


duties


divine


commands" (p. 142).


Schleiermacher, in focusing on "radical dependence"


, empha-


sizes


the subjective, experiential side of religion, but, as even a cursory exami-


nation of The


Christian Faith will reveal, he does not neglect the objective side.


Moreover he says explicitly that "being in relation with God" is "the same thing"


as "the consciousness of being absolutely dependent" (p. 1


italics removed).


Also


Otto, Leeuw and Tillich build into their notions of religion a relationship between


subject


object:


whether


is a response


to "the


holy"


(Otto)


or "Power"


(Leeuw) or


a concern


with what is ultimate (Tillich).


Christian does not discuss


Mircea Eliade, but the latter places himself in relationship to Otto by noting the


value


Otto's


work


his own


effort


overcome


limitations of Otto's


focus on the "irrational" by considering the "sacred in its entirety".18


1964), 1


17Meaning and Truth in Religion (Princeton: Pr
,. 56. Christian's references are to the following:


minceton


University


Press,


Immanuel Kant, Religion


within the Limits of Reason Alone, t
T.M. Greene and H.H. Hudson (New


Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith,
edition of 1830 by H.R. Mackintosh and 3.S.


translation of the second edition of 1794 by
York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1960);


translation of the second German


Stewart (Edinburgh:


T Clark,


1928); Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy, translation of Das Heilige, 1917, by 3.W.
Harvey (London: Oxford University Press, 1926); Gerardus van der Leeuw, Religion


in Essence Man if


station.


volumes.


translation


Phaenomenoloeie


nCL


UJ


LWU









I note these classic critical treatments of religion in order to observe that

all of them take religion to involve a subject-object relationship, even though they

disagree about the character of the relationship and the nature of the object. But


their


disagreement is not all


that wide and there


is the common assumption of


religion as a subject-object relationship, wit

the object. Otto thinks that the religionist's


kind from other feelings of dependency (p.


h the subject being oriented toward

response to the holy is different in


10) and that the holy itself is "wholly


other" (p.


Eliade


thinks


that Otto overstressed the irrational, but he also


talks of an orientation toward the sacred.


Leeuw observes that Power arouses an


awe which manifests itself in both fear and attraction.


One is "seized with dread"


and yet one


wants to be


with


this dread (1.48f).


With


Tillich there is a similar


emphasis on other-directedness.


Although he leaves the content of one's


concern


open, he stresses the orientation toward what one regards as ultimate.


He thus


provides a criterion-ultimacy-for the object of concern.


Joseph


Bettis captures quite nicely


the distinctively


religious aim in his


contrast


sacred


profane


orientations.


statements


occur


introduction to a selection from Eliade's

of view is sufficiently general to be wortt


work, but his contrast of the two points

I citing. "The profane world," he writes,


"is a


world of objects which


we can control and manipulate.


The sacred world,


however, cannot be so controlled.


Whereas the purpose of man in relation to the


profane world is to shape it according to his needs, his purpose in relation to the


sacred world is to bring himself into conformity with it."19


Eliade himself says









that


"homo


religious


always


believes


there


an absolute


reality


sacred", and that he or she becomes fully human as he or she "is religious", that is,

"participates in reality" (Sacred and Profane, p. 202).

I am aware that I have not argued for a theory of religion, but I have shown

that to the extent that James's suggested contrast between religion and philosophy


relies


on an understanding


other-directedness,


even


submissiveness,


religious experience


there


is some


support


view


within


tradition of


critical study


of religion.


If we can take religion to be a response, be it one of


awe, submissiveness or concern, emotional or total,


to some defining reality


then


we will have a useful criterion for determining the religious character of Socrates,


Spinoza, and Dewey's


philosophies.


We will have a way to test their god-talk to


see if it is appropriate, even necessary.


Philosophy


criticism.


Philosophy is sometimes


seen in quite diverse ways


as one's


life policy, a theory of ultimate reality or critical inquiry.


An inclusive,


convenient


definition


is Frederick


Ferre's:


"Philosophy


is one's


of thinking


most comprehensively and critically."20


This focuses on the activity rather than


the object of inquiry or the product, but it does not foreclose the possibility of


philosophy


as a


theory of ultimate reality.


It does not even rule out the usage


found


phrase,


"one's


philosophy


life"


definition


convenient


because of its brevity, yet it captures what Richard M.


fuller statement about the


Blackstone expresses in a


activity of philosophy:


Philosophical


activity


involves


clarifying


ideas,


inquiring


adequacy of views, giving reasons for holding those views and justi-


tying those reasons themselves,


challenging assumptions with refer-


ence to coherence, consistency, fruitfulness, etc., laying bare pre-
suooositions. pettine back to what is taken as ultimate and then









it to rational examination--and all


with "no


This seems to summarize well the activity of philosophers and gives some speci-

ficity to the suggestion that philosophy is a comprehensive, critical activity.


Philosophy


more


than comprehensive criticism, but it is at least


this.


At a minimum in the west philosophers are expected to argue and explain


not merely


assert.


Whatever


they


do offer


in the


of reasons, proofs,


accounts and refutations are themselves open to criticism.


Their justified beliefs


and theories may be about what there is or proposals for conduct, but they are at


least


justified,


that


set forth


with


reasons.


they


may not even be


admitted to the arena of rational discussion.


Moreover the theories and proposals


are often set forth with considerable awareness of what other philosophers have


is of relevance.


Philosophy


is not just thinking,


it is thinking that is


critical and comprehensive.

Of course philosophical thinking can become overly inclusive and critical.


There is an all


too real account of a celebrated philosopher,


who in spite of his


critical acumen and vast learning, not to mention his decency as a human being,


was capable


what


might be called


hyper-philosophy.


This account


is worth


repeating because it shows what can happen


characteristic of philosophy.


when


In the Festschrift for


there is too much of what is

Sidney Morgenbesser there is


this description of his teaching style:


Morgenbesser will sit at the end of a


seminar table, his glasses posed


on the middle of his nose, his hair awry, his hands clutching the sides


of his chair,


his demeanor


alert and restless.


A traditional philo-


sophical question will be stated, but, he will ask, is it really a pro-


blem in the first place?


Why? for whom


At Morgenbesser's hands,


nhilncnnhiral nrnhlems raniIv


to re rtemble the hnxvd-nff. tidv


raa c


attempting tq subject
holds barred".









intricate ways.


Answers to them are shown to be limited and con-


strained by exceptions, counterexamples, complexities.


many tne
witnessing


complications.


general


effect


building


Morgenbesser


an elaborate


Indeed,


class


structure


of doubts


A question concerning the nature of physical objects


will be introduced with the aid of common sense illustrations; he will


then bring
subjectivist


to bear a number of traditional views:


9


while.


complicate,
criticized
science, b
interpreted


realist, idealist,


critical Realist, and so on, comparing and contrasting


discussion,


though


fascinating,


can


a Lockean doctrine of substance, let us say,


as seeming


then


so that


to conflict


Morgenbesser
it does not.


with
will


some
argue


Kantian,


finding
that i1


become
will be
modern


might


show,


would


argue thesis A in response to the classical doctrine, and a 3amesian
or Bergsonian thesis B; these two views are incompatible, but some
pragmatists have a modest thesis C--which may or may not conflict
with A--but which is certainly incompatible with the view D, which


Professor


in the current Journal of Philosophy, does not


only one interpretation that can be assigned to A.


see is


After a couple of


hours of this, one may no longer know what one believes or believe


what one knows.


frequently


Knots are untied by Morgenbesser,


remaining bits of


before the class is over.


rope


are retied


to be sure, but


into a


new knot


No one generates uncertainty about what


one believes more skillfully than Morgenbesser:


he is a toxic for the


arrogant,


intellectual
skeptical.


godsend


constitutionally


As one who has sat through many such seminars both fascinated and bewildered by


the man, I can report that this account is only slightly over-drawn.


Its merit is


that it provides us with a


vivid instance of philosophy


gone overboard.


It is to


philosophy


what


an expression


extreme


religious


devotion,


self-


immolation by fire of a Buddhist monk during the Vietnam War or even the elabo-


rate,


mysterious,


liturgical


performance


an Eastern


Orthodox


priest,


religion.


Submission


versus


criticism.


In general the religionist is less likely than the


philosopher to question-in the strong sense of interrogate-that upon which he or


is dependent.


Admittedly


the believer


be fascinated by the object of









devotion and


want to know all about it.


But he or she could not remain an


adherent if he or she were to reject the devotion-object's reality or worth.


philosopher, however, retains his or her standing as a philosopher in scrutinizing


object


his or


attention,


regardless of his


or her


final assessment of


object's


reality


worth.


believer's


primary


activity


is adoration


contemplation


or sacrifice


and expects blessedness or


liberation or forgiveness.


philosopher,


however,


is interested


knowledge.


or she


wants


understand that which is puzzling or fascinating.


as build up.


This knowledge may destroy as


In short the religious person commits him or herself to something


that is beyond, greater or more enduring than the self and expects certain psychic


or social benefits.


The philosopher criticizes some object or situation and expects


epistemic results which may or may not be useful in some other way.


Religion,


transcendent.


then,


Philosophy,


a reliance


on the other


something


hand,


that


is not necessarily


pervasive


defined by the


object of its inquiry.23


It is often constituted only by its critical, comprehensive


activity.


Philosophy


then


is somewhat


more self-sufficient.


I say "somewhat"


because


a critical activity


does require


something


to criticize.


Ordinarily the


object of criticism would be something significant to the philosopher.


would he or she bother with it?


Otherwise


But the philosopher's well-being does not


necessarily depend on the nature or status of the object.


Whereas the religionist's


well-being is dependent upon the nature and value of the object to which he or

is oriented.







21

... But Not Inconceivable


My thesis is that although philosophy and religion are conceptually distinct,


they can occasionally coincide in practice.


In particular individuals, I am arguing,


one's philosophy and religion can be one in activity, but formally distinct.


the practice can be viewed either way.


I argue


There are some who agree that a practice


can be both philosophical and religious,


but they


see the matter as a reduction of


philosophy to religion.


The most extreme instance of this is the homo religious


view,


which


sees


everyone as being religious, philosophers


included.


As we shall


it is difficult to maintain this


strong version.


Weaker versions argue that all


academics or all philosophers are religious.


Both the strong and weak conceptions


would


trivialize my claim


that Socrates,


pinoza and Dewey were religious qua


philosophers.


My position is that only rarely


can we say that a philospher as a


philosopher is religious.


reasons:


It is worthwhile to examine these other views for three


first, it enables me to distinguish my view from them, secondly, it shows


that my interpretation is not as inconceivable as might first appear, and, thirdly,

it reveals the problems that can arise when one is working with a vague notion of


what religion is.


This third reason will not come as a revelation to many.


before we get to the central chapters, it is helpful to


see first hand in a limited


context the problems that can arise when one


is working with a


vague concept


that is crucial to one's investigation.



Homo Religiosus


A strong version of the view that philosophy and religion are identical has


been nut forward hv Will Herhercr.


whn rlaimq


that svwrvnna it raliainlc 214


.. B-









Protestant theology


language,


has become essentially atheistic while retaining its theistic


Herberg counters that although one may or may not be a speculative


atheist, everyone is by nature an existential theist.


"Every man," he asserts,


virtue of being human, is homo religious; every man has his religion and his god"


Later,


citing


Luther


, he


qualifies


assertion


adding


worships either God or an idol (p. 57).

theologians of atheism for there are n'


Thus Maclntyre cannot rightly accuse some


o existential atheists.


If Herberg is right,


then


one may


think


there


can be


little


point


arguing that some philosophers are religious.


For if a philosopher devotes himself


or herself to his or her work, then of course he or


she is religious.


I do not think


Herberg is correct and will show why in a bit, but first let me grant him his point


and still


show


significance


thesis.


seriousness


were sufficient to


make us religious then


most philosophers would be


The three philosophers I


shall investigate, however,


were religious not just in this weak sense of religious


but were so in a stronger sense as well.


They not only went about philosophy in


"an intensive, comprehensive way",26 but they also were dependent on something

that was outside of or greater than themselves that transformed them, defining


they


were.


Moreover


they


were


willing,


unlike


many


philosophers,


to use


theistic language in speaking of their objects of devotion.


Herberg


wrong


in his homo


religious thesis.


Herberg's argument


consists


of three


citations


of authorities,


rejection


of an alleged


counter-


mple


and the use of


an unexpected


confirming example.


Let me deal with


these


order.


First


authorities,


Robert


Calhoun,


Martin


Luther


one


exa









Dostoevsky.


Calhoun, a


Yale theologian, had said, according to Herberg,


"Religion


is man's life insofar as it is defined by his supreme loyalty and devotion" (p. 56).


But Herberg misuses Calhoun's


definition, for Calhoun makes no claim about the


universality


religion.


could


accept


definition


of religion,


without


having to


acce


pt the homo religious claim.


It is possible, even on this broad view


of religion, for one not to be religious.


One could lack a "supreme loyalty and


devotion"


. One could have multiple interests, none of which is overriding.


More-


over the notorious "amoralist"


, the bane of contemporary moral philosophy, would


seem to be irreligious as well.


Herberg also misuses Luther.


He quotes Luther to


the effect that whatever one trusts and believes in with all one's heart is either


God or an idol (p. 56f).


But Luther does not say that everyone is religious; he is


only saying that that upon which one relies


God or an idol.


Only Herberg's


third


authority


is a homo religious advocate.


Dostoevsky


is quoted as saying that if


one "does not worship God, he will worship an idol made of wood, or of gold, or of


ideas" (p. 57).


Dostoevsky then is putting forth a homo religious point of view.


Still, the objection can be put to Dostoevsky and Herberg:


there are those who do


not worship anything.


Herberg next considers the


case


of Feuerbach and the young Marx, arguing


that they were not atheists as is usually alleged but deifiers of "Man"


As for the


later Marx and the Marxists, their "ultimate reliance" was and is on "the Dialectic


of History" (p.


This is a loose, but perhaps not incorrect, understanding of


religion and Herberg's claim may be cor

those who deny that they are religious.


rect. But it is odd to rope into religiosity

Even if they were religious, we would only


have confirming instances.









by nature religious.


The homo religious proposition is a very strong claim.


As a


universal statement it can be refuted by a single counter-example.


Thus it can be


countered


citing


the proverbial


amoralist


mentioned


above


or possibly


severely


depressed


person


no interests.


While such a


person


may be


mentally


ill and


than


fully


human,


he or she is nevertheless a human


being.


Herberg's


attempt


fails,


because


there are irreligious people.


It may be


that some are religious and do not know it, such as the Marxists or nationalists.


Or it may be also that some are latently religious.


Eliade cites the modern non-


religious


person


is superstitious


or who


"celebrates"


the New


Year


(The


Sacred and the Profane


, p. 204f).


But Eliade also acknowledges that there are


some


are profane.


Non-religious people


have existed in


the past, he


observes, but "it is only in the modern societies of the West that nonreligious man


developed


fully"


Continuing,


describes


non-religious


humanity,


description


that is worth quoting not only for what it says about non-religiosity


its connection


with


what I


have said


already


about the


nature of


religion.


In Eliade's analysis we


see the reverse of the religious as radical other-


directedness:


Modern
regards


nonreligious


himself


solely


man


assumes


a new


existential


situation;


as the subject and agent of history, and he


refuses all appeals to transcendence.


In other words, he accepts no


model for humanity outside the human condition as it can be seen in


the various historical situa
makes himself completely


and the world.


tions. Man makes himself, and he only
in proportion as he desacralizes himself


The sacred is the prime obstacle to his freedom.


will become himself only when he is totally de ysticized.
not be truly free until he has killed the last god.


He will









Autonomous, modern humanity has desacralized itself and its world.


participates in the reality of the sacred.


It no longer


The homo religious thesis is untenable


in the face of modernity.



Rationality as Faith


There may be however a way to save the pervasive religiosity thesis.


everyone is religious, perhaps there is a class of people who are.


If not


William Cantwell


Smith,


comparative


historian


religions,


suggests


that


scientists


philosophers,


in their


commitment


to rationality,


are persons


faith.


With


regard to philosophy


as faith he at first demurs, asserting,


"We cannot formulate


that faith, any more


than one can formulate any religious faith, since as in the


other instances it precedes and transcends and pervades and eludes all its formu-


lations."


But then he "makes a pass at it"


, saying that the philosopher's


faith has traditionally been a commitment that the life of the mind


is worthwhile


intelligible


reliable,


or at least that


that


the universe


the striving


is (at


to render


least in


part)


it intelligible


valid or obligatory or rewarding or humanly proper-or, more etxmo-
logically, by suggesting that his or her faith is a love of wisdom.


Looking at philosophy from the outside this student of religion


sees


philosophers as


being animated and shaped by their commitment to rationality and wisdom.


Smith


thinks that "standard


man"


"man


of faith" (p.


135),


thus


subscribing to the homo religious view (see p. 129).29


But the particular way that


a philosopher expresses his faith is by being rational.


Thus the strong (everyone is


religious) and weak (every member of a certain class is religious) versions of the


pervasive


religiosity


position


are compatible


held


same


narcnn_


Rut thsv ars nsvsrthaIst Inoicrallv distinct and may be detached.


^-sI 1









could


hold


everyone


a human


being)


religious,


every


scientist


or philosopher


is religious


virtue


or her adherence


to the


scientific method or rationality.

I argued above against the homo religious view by suggesting that there


are those who are non-religious.


Similarly


one could point to counter-examples


that


would


refute


view


philosophers


are committed


to rationality.


Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend and Richard Rorty are prominent philosophers who


would resist being classified as rationalist or intellectualist philosophers.30


Kuhn,


a historian


science,


has played


a major


philosophical


discussions of


science with his interpretation of paradigmatic science.


His characterization of


scientist


as one who


must


operate


within


an intellectual


framework


that


cannot be justified except in terms of the paradigm itself has contributed to the


historicist


understanding


recent


philosophy


science and


philosophy


itself.


philosopher


science


Feyerabend,


employing


historicist program, has


argued


against


scientific


method.


Both


have


attacked


science's


alleged


strength-its progressivity.


Kuhn limits progress to progress within a paradigm,


and Feyerabend downplays science's


role in achieving results.


Rorty extrapolates


from


these and other


discussions to call for the abandonment of philosophy as a


knowing.


would


replace


philosophy's


traditional


concern


with


knowledge and truth with a more limited one of finding "interesting" things to say


about a variety of topics.


kibitzer"


The philosopher as truth-seeker would become "a useful


, just one more voice in "the conversation of mankind" (Mirror of Nature,


pp. 389-94).


This is hardly the stuff of a rational faith.












Relativism and Religion


There


would


seem


to be


then


philosophers


would


dissent


from


traditional practice of philosophy,


thus providing a counter-example to Cantwell


Smith's view that all philosophers as philosophers are persons of faith in virtue of


their


commitment to rationality.


But ironically my philosopher counter-examples


provide


instantiations of


a similar


generalization.


In breaking the


tie between


science


or philosophy


truth-objectivity-rationality


Kuhn,


Feyerabend


Rorty


stress


commitment.


They


think


we cannot


escape


some


arbitrariness and subjectivity.


Could it be that my invocation of the historicists


has allowed the homo religious view to return in a different form?

Homo religious re-born as the arbitrarily-committed person


It is because of their lack of confidence in objectivity that the historicists,


Rorty in particular,


would search for a way for philosophy to continue free of its


traditional


objectivist


self-conception.


Rorty,


for example, declares that what


ties Dewey, Foucault, James and Nietzsche


together


is "the sense that there is


nothing deep down inside us except what we have put there ourselves, no criterion


we have


not created


course


creating


a practice,


no rigorous


argumentation


obedience


our conventions"


(Consequences


Pragmatism,


p. xlii).


Their embrace of relativism gives support to the view that


intellectual


efforts


share


with


other


practices


an arbitrariness, a subjectivity.


Thus science and philosophy like art and religion are, to use Wittgenstein's phrase,


"forms


of life,"


and have


no claim


to objectivity.


a scientist


or a


nhilosonher


iC to


annr lraT


in an arhitraril*v-Uhns*n


rnmmitmrnnt


UI I JIUIUU IC. *. LU l-B I C1f t


...... .....


I. I .









famous


University


discussion31


Hare


argued


that each


of us


has a blik


empirically untestable and logically irrefutable,

the world how we relate to the world. Thus a bl


yet makes all the difference in


ik is very much like David Hume's


"natural


belief'


which


according


to Keith


Yandell,


"a belief


which


we can


neither escape having nor rationally justify".32


Hare also accuses the professedly


non-religious, suc

having a religion.


h as his f

He goes


ellow participant


so far


discussion, Antony Flew, of


as to say that one "could not live without" a


religion.


Thus he seems to be adopting the homo religious view.33


Moreover in


The Language of Morals he argues that "ultimate choices" are grounded in "ways


life",


which,


turn,


are most completely specified in "the great religions"


Since


these


decisions


are so grounded,


they


are neither


"arbitrary"


nor "un-


founded"


But as


for the


ways of


Hare


does


not, in Language of Morals,


discuss whether they


can be


justified.34


Elsewhere he is clear that one cannot


settle


this issue on empirical grounds,35 but whether one can settle it on other


grounds is not a matter with which he de




31Originally published in 1950-51


Also not clear is whether a blik is a


this discussion has been reprinted in Flew


and Maclntyre, New


Essays


in Philosophical Theology, pp. 99-105.


32"Hume on Religious Belief", in Donald W
(editors), Hume: A Re-evaluation (New York: Ford
110. Hare himself says, "It was Hume who taugi


Livingston and James T. King


lham University Press, 1976), p.


It us that our whole commerce


with the world depends upon our blik about the world; and that differences
between bliks about the world cannot be settled by observation of what happens in
the world"(Flew and Maclntyre, p. 101).


33If this is the


example.
consistent


case,


then he


too is vulnerable


Indeed Hare admits, some thirty years later,


whole-hogging


amoralism"


(Mo,


Point (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1981). D.


ral TI
186).


hi


to the amoralist counter-
"the logical possibility of


inking: Its
but thinks


Levels, Method, and
that such amoralism


_









Humean natural belief or a


way of life.


If the former


, then it is something one


must have to be sane;


if the latter


, then a sane person could have one of various


alternative bliks.


does


equate


religion


with


a seemingly


arbitrarily-chosen


basic


commitment


is Cyril Richardson,


the church historian.


Sensitive


to the charge


religionists


exempt


some


parts


their


commitments


from


criticism,


Richardson once replied in kind to the sceptics.


Responding to Brand Blandshard,


who had charged Karl Barth with irrationality, Richardson declared:

I think it is clear that everybody entertains myths of one kind


or another.
sceptic, an


They are saving myths in the sense that whether one is a


atheist,


a rationalis


outlook upon life which involves


;t or a Christian, one has a certain
some mythological structure.


Richardson was one of some fifty philosophers and theologians participating in a


two-day conference at Princeton


Theological Seminary in 1962.


He was defending


the Christian's use of analogicall categories" by accusing the sceptics of having


their


own


"mythological


structures"


reminding


them


they


enjoy


"privileged position"


In effect he was saying that the sceptic is no different from


the believer, for he or she also has a belief system.


Richardson


acknowledges


that


reason


can purify


myth (p.


228)


that


analogical discourse should operate


in accordance with applicable logical canons


229).


then


argues


religious conviction,


other


fundamental


beliefs, is untouchable by reason:


. every
embraces.
the matter.


some


more


mne


adduces


reasons


saving


myths


which


But these reasons never really reach to the heart of


If one loses an argument one goes


reasons;


similarly


if one's


home and thinks up


opponent


loses


argument he does precisely the same thing.


This ought to lead us


to recognize that the erasoine of religious truth does not occur on









the plane


pure


rationality.


much deeper level of consciousne


Religiougconviction occurs at a
SS .


So we all have basic commitments that are beyond reason.


This, I take it, is the


claim that would find support in the work of the historicizers.


calling


attention


to the


value-ladenness of our "rational" enterprises,


the historicizers have unwittingly


lent support to Richardson's claim.


Whatever


our pretensions of objectivity and rationality we are at bottom like the fanatic,


including the religious fanatic, in that we are victims of our myths.


values and principles are arbitrarily chosen.


to be made.


Our beliefs,


There are two observations that need


One, the historicizers would be uncomfortable being used in this way


and, two, the understanding of religion being


employed is a thin one indeed.


The historicizers, philosophy and religion


Kuhn explicitly denies that the choice of a theory is a thoroughly irrational

affair, asserting:


is emphatically


view that "adoption of a new scientific


theory is an intuitive or mystical affair, a matter for psychological
description rather than logical or methodological codification.'0


On the co


ntrary,


the chapter


Scientific


Revolutions


from


which the preceding quotation was abstracted explicitly denies "that
new paradigms triumph ultimately through some mystical aesthetic,"


and the pages which precede that denial contain
codification of good reasons for theory choice.


a preliminary


Kuhn,


in asserting that there is an "element of arbritrariness"


the beliefs of


scientists, did not wish to deny that there are also the physical phenomena to be


explained and a role for logic.


There would be no science without observation and


37"The Sceptics' Myths", p. 229.









method,


they


alone


which


Kuhn's


point,


are not determinative


Structure of


Scientific Revolutions, p. 4).


Apparently in calling attention to that


which


been


neglected


been


taken


an "irrationalist"


Kuhn's


description of scientific practice, however, arbitrariness is only one element. The

others are nature itself and logical method.40

Feyerabend, the puckster of philosophy of science, leads us to think that he


is an anti-rationalist, but John G. McEvoy argues that Feyerabend is a persistent

rationalist in his radically critical philosophy.41 Given Feyerabend's penchant for


lobbing explosives into the rationalist's camp, all the while claiming not to be one,


one should be reluctant to characterize


as "a persistent rationalist"


. He is


nevertheless relentless in his criticism and he did once say that "full rationality

can be obtained by extending criticism to the stable parts" of science and common


sense.


Whether or not what he does would be consistently owned by him as "full

y", it is true that he extends criticism to the stable parts of science and


common


sense.


Thus,


Kuhn,


that


is something


than a


thorough-going anti-rationalist.


Moreover Feyerabend associates religion with dogmatism,


the antithesis of


own


epistemological


anarchism.


sums


third chapter


Against


40See Roger Trigg, Reason and Commitment (Cambridge: At the University


Press,


1973),


who observes


that


Kuhn


is "trying


to elucidate what we mean by


rationality


rather


than


irrationality" (p. 113).


argue


that


Also lan Hacking,


there


such


thing


to defend


"Five Parables", in Richard Rorty, 3.B.


Schneewind


Quentin Skinner


(editors),


Philosophy


in History: Essays on the


Historiography of
116: "Kuhn was .


History.


(Cambridge:


Cambridge


University


Press,


. no irrationalist .. and I think the rumour of a


198


'rationality


crisis' provoked by Kuhn was exaeeerated."


rationalit}









Method with a plea for diversity, part of which reads:


"Unanimity of opinion may


fitting


a church,


frightened


or greedy


victims of


some (ancient


modern) myth, or for the weak and willing followers of some tyrant.

opinion is necessary for objective knowledge" (p. 46; italics removed).


Variety of

He is more


than


willing


to lump


science


myth


together


chapter


of Against


Method), but cautions us against viewing what he has written in Against Method as


expressing any "deep convictions" of his own (p. 32).


"Religion" for him is a pejor-


ative term and he would be unlikely to apply it to his own views and activities.


Also unlikely to


see himself as religious is Rorty


dogmatic enterprises, disavowing


modern philosophy's


who reacts negatively to


search for epistemological


foundations.


Rorty


is self-consciously


historicist (see


Mirror


Nature, p.


"The moral of this book is


... historicist


") in his approach and thus, one would


expect, anti-religious, if we understand religion to be at all transcendent.


Rorty


praises


those


philosophers


"have


kept


alive


historicist sense


that this


century


's 'superstition' was the last century's


triumph of reason"


. This is hardly


the language of a religionist.


Indeed he closes


the paragraph with an affirmation


"the relativist sense that the latest vocabulary"


may "be


just another of the


potential infinity of vocabularies in which the world can be described" (Mirror of

Nature, p. 367).


even


more


point


than


their


possible


rationalism


anti-


rationalism)


their non-religious self-understanding


the notion of


religion


underlies


claim


everyone


arbitrarily-formed


basic


commitments.


It may well be that everyone is religious, if we understand religion


to be nothing more than non-rational basic beliefs, or beliefs that are rationally









does not amount to very much. It is perhaps trivially true that everyone has some

non-rational basic beliefs and commitments. But even this is open to challenge.


An irreligious philosopher


I argued earlier that there were counter-examples to Herberg's and


homo religious claims, but


Smith's


just now I observed that the claim could possibly be


weakened


to the


extent


that


there


could


no counter-examples.


It makes a


difference


obviously


what


sense


we give


"homo


religious"


could


that


religion is nothing more than an arbitrary-held, basic commitment.


I do not think


so, as I indicated in the first part of this chapter, but, for the sake of argument, I

will grant that to be religious is to have some non-rational commitment, that is,


an enduring loyalty that cannot be rationally justified or revised.


this, however, we can


see


Even granting


that there is a counter-example--Paul Feyerabend.


As we have seen Feyerabend may be a rationalist, at least in


so far as he


employs


rationalism"


a persistent


in a sense


critical


strong


method,


enough


is certainly


to displace


not "committed


him as a counter-example to


Cantwell


Smith's homo religious claim.


I am not re-opening that issue.


What I


am employing him for now is as a counter to a revised claim that to be religious is


to be arbitrarily committed.


Given his historicist credentials,


there may be some


warrant for thinking he would be an example of this sort of religiosity.


As it turns out, Feyerabend is a utilitarian.


seems that he values free-


as a means


to human


welfare.


next sentence


after the


ones quoted


earlier from


the summary paragraph of chapter


three of Against


Method reads:


"And a method that encourages variety is also the only method that is compatible


with a humanitarian n, lrt Lnnl (n_ l&f. ital-c- ramrnnuor


Fl IcolnHorn H0 ,-Ianlfnlro +kkl+









overly


surprising


then


to find


praising


Mill's


On Liberty


as "magnificent"


(Against Method, p. 53) and "immortal" (Science in a Free Society,


p. 86).


Once


again, as we saw with regard to rationalism, his behavior supports a eudaimonistic


utilitarian


interpretation


philosophy.


says he


has no deep con-


victions. Wh<

we should go


at are we to believe


with those


His actions or his words?


Once again, I think


words which are congruent with his practice,


which is


small "r" rational and small "u" utilitarian.


Rationalist Society


We would not expect him to join the


or the Utilitarian Sub-section of the Philosophers of Science


Association, but his actions and some of his writing suggest that he is rational and

utilitarian for now.


It may be


that Feyerabend's


loyalty to criticism, liberty and happiness is


unexamined on his part and are thus mythic-like.


it be accepted at face value.


It is in the nature of myth that


One does not look a mythic horse in the mouth.


it is highly unlikely, given his acute critical ability,


that his positions are com-


pletely unreflective.


pay attention


Rather than


to what he says.


view his behavior as happenstance,


Once again


we should


we find language that is consistent


with his behavior.


Feyerabend is a self-professed epistemological anarchist, which


he takes


to be


someone


who "has


no everlasting


loyalty to, and no everlasting


aversion


against,


institution


or any


ideology"'


(Against


Method,


189).


Significantly,


begins


paragraph


from


which


just-quoted


words


were


taken with this sentence:


"Epistemological anarchism differs from both scepticism


and from


political


(religious)


anarchism."


a free-spirited


epistemological


anarchist


values


the principle


"anything goes" when it suits him,


he is the


antithesis of the reliionist.


He may share the lack of concern. on occasion. for







35

I have spent some time on Feyerabend not only because of the possible use


a homo religious advocate


might make of his views but also because he is the


exemplar


of the


irreligious


philosopher


has kind


words for


myths (see


remarks on Genesis, Against


Method, p. 30, and his discussion of Robin Horton's


comparison of African


traditional


thought and


western science, pp.


296ff).


these kind words are kind only in comparison to what he has to say about science.


could


misled


thinking


that Feyerabend


revels


in arbitrariness and


reduces science to religion.


It is rather the


case


that he criticizes modern, big,


western science for being dogmatic like religion.


And he thinks some myths and


some "primitive" practices are superior to science as currently practiced.

Unlike the religious philosophers who are the subjects of this dissertation,


Feyerabend


is not


loyal


to anything


over the long run.


There is nothing in his


philosophy that would prevent Feyerabend from changing his current practice and


loyalties


on a whim!


one


were


to succeed


identifying


his characteristic


practice and values, there is nothing to prevent him from blithely renouncing them


in whole or in part, forever or for awhile.


This is not religion, it is caprice.


Conclusion


foregoing


discussion


of the historicizers


homo


religiosus


advocates I


have shown


that philosophy


is not necessarily


religious.


The issue


which this dissertation addresses is still open. I hav

practice can be equally philosophical and religious.

has shown that there is a real issue here. Even if


'e yet to establish that a single

But the foregoing discussion


the homo religious advocates


have over-reached themselves, their clumsy generalizations indicate that it is not









concept of religion was never clearly in sight.


Given a clear specification of what


religion is, we could have more readily dispatched the homo religious claim.


were unable to be precise, however, because of the disparity within this cluster of


views.


But this


is now behind us.


Now that we have canvassed some of these


positions, we can focus more sharply on what religion is taken to be in this study.

One additional benefit from this discussion is that it gave us an opportunity


to consider the views of the historicizers.


Since they will play an important role


in the last two chapters, it is well that they have been introduced already.


As will


become clear, Dewey's philosophy can be read in a historicizing manner (and has


been so


interpreted by Rorty).


If Dewey


is a historicist,


then it seems unlikely


that he is a religious philosopher


. Once again, we need to be straight about what


counts and does not count


as "religious".


Some Criteria for the Identification of Religion


I do not propose to put forth a universal definition of religion.


Entering


this fray would involve me not only in an extended critical discussion but also in a


mass


primary


data


province


of the


History


of Religions.


propose


instead to indicate some of the marks of religion that have been identified that

seem most useful for my purposes, organizing them in a definition for this disser-


station.


This statement of a pragmatic program should not be taken however as an


indication that I plan to make Socrates, Spinoza and Dewey religious by definition,


for I


will specify two features--an ultimate reality and reliance on that reality--


that will make it more difficult to declare Dewey an


exe


mplar of philosophy-as-


rsliainnn


A fianrtinnal drifinitinin


that i. a deifinina nf rslioinn hv what it dnsie.









would rule out Spinoza and Dewey in advance.


I have tried to find a middle ground


meets


criteria:


features


identified


are among


those


would


receive wide acceptance, and they leave open the question of the religiosity of at

least one of the three philosophers.



Definitions of Religion


In pointing


earlier


to the other-directedness of


the religionist--a radical


orientation


toward something that transcends the individual-as the illuminating


characteristic of


religion,


was


taking


a position


that focuses on attitudes (or


more


generally,


experiences)


or she has.


experience


experience


something.


Thus definers of


religion have criticized experiential


views as being incomplete.


One needs,


they argue,


to focus instead on what the


experience is an experience of-God, higher beings or other supernatural entities.


Hence


substantive


definitions


have


been


developed.


advantage


approach is that it provides the investigator with a way to differentiate clearly


between


religion


non-religion.


Either


phenomenon


is or


experience


superior


beings.


But,


as is well-known,


this approach eliminates


some non-theistic ways of life that are usually considered to be religious, such


Theravada Buddhism.


There are other options open to the religious theorist.


or she can interpret religion functionally or reductively.


Sociologists and


44R.3.


Werblowsky,


Beyond


Tradition


Modernity:


Changing


Religions in a Chaneine World (London: The Athlone Press. 1976). observes: "Some









anthropologists


often


take


the former


approach;


Marx


Freud


are notable


exponents of the latter.

Substantive versus functional


That religion is experiential is not at issue.


The real questions are:


What


kind of experience?

involved in religion?


and Does an experiential theory sufficiently capture what is

Schleiermacher and James, as we saw earlier, identified the


religious experience as one of feeling or attitudes of dependence.


I have already


argued for


necessity


of understanding


religion


in terms


dependency


against seeing the sufficiency of a focus on the experience alone.


An experiential


view needs to be supplemented by the inclusion of an experience-object within the


theory


itself and perhaps also by the incorporation of the experience's uses and


characteristic forms.


discussion


of religious


definition


in recent


decades


has often


been


posed as a choice between substantive and functional definitions.


According to


Peter


Berger


former


pick


out "transcendent


entities"


such


as "God,


gods,


supernatural beings and worlds, or such metaempirical entities as, say, the ma'at


of the ancient Egyptians or the Hindu law of karma"


. The latter


identify in ad-


edition such


phenomena as "nationalism,


or revolutionary faiths, or the


mobility


ethos, or any number


of new


'life-styles'


The problem with substantive


definitions is that they may be too narrow, as I have already noted.


A problem


with functional ones is that they may be too broad.









The classic


refutation


of the overly-broad functional


definition


is Morris


Cohen's near-parody,


"Baseball


as a National Religion".l6


Cohen maintained,


canons


our modern


books


on comparative


religion,


baseball


religion, and the only one that is not sectarian but national."


In the next para-


graph


cited


these


"modern


canons":


'The


essence


religious


experience, so


we are


told,


is the


'redemption from the limitations of our petty


individual lives and the mystic unity with a larger life of which we are a part'" (p.


334f).


then


proceeded


to make his


case.


This was not difficult, given the


definition


with


which he


was working.


This letting go of the divine object has


permitted


twentieth-century


students


religion


to count


almost


serious


pursuit as religious and to include almost everyone within the religious circle.


A second


problem


with


functional


definitions


is that


investigator's


concern for how the phenomenon functions may be projected onto the religionist,


ascribing


instrumental


intention


to him


Thus


religion


becomes


necessarily


a means to


some


No doubt many religious practices--prayers,


sacrifices,


meditations-are


often


means


an end,


may


that


religious


person


does


what


he or she does under compulsion


without thought of


consequences.


Thus


one's


theory


should


permit


require


a functional


dimension.

Ultimate concern


One of the most influential proposals in this century for defining religion


has been Paul Tillich's suggestion that religion is ultimate concern.


He thinks that


this is an "abstract translation" of the great


commandment found in Mark 1


2:29


(Revised S


standard Version). which he auotes:


"The Lord. our God. the Lord is one:







40

and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and


with all your mind, and with all your strength."'47


In an essay written a few years


later he wrote:


If we abstract the concept of religion from the great commandment,
we can say that religion is being ultimately concerned about that which is
and should be our ultimate concern. This means that faith is the state of
being grasped by an ultimate concern, and God is the name of the content


of the concern.


Such a concept of religion has little in common with the


description
called God,
belief.


religion


as the


belief


theoretical


in the existence of


practical


consequer


a highest being
nces of such a


The phrase "ultimate concern" is systematically ambiguous.


The first sense has to


do with one's intense preoccupation with something; the second with the character


of that with which one is concerned.


Both senses are found in the statement:


. religion is being ultimately concerned about that which is and should be our


ultimate


concern"


first "ultimate


concern"


faith;


second


God.


explicit contrast to those definitions of religion that would reduce


in God,


faith to belief


Tillich fastens on religious experience itself, analyzing it as an over-riding


concern with God.


The latter


moreover he refuses to specify beyond calling it


"God" (or "the ground of being" or "being-itself") and providing a criterion--"ulti-


macy"--for recognizing it.


In his Systematic


Theology he asserts:


'Theologians


must make explicit what is implicit in religious thought and expression; and,


order to do this,


they must begin with the most abstract and completely unsym-


bolic statement which is possible, namely,


that God is being-itself


or the abso-


lute."


Every additional statement is symbolic.


Beyond saying that "God is being-


itself


or the absolute",


"nothing


else can be said about God as God which is not


symbolic" (1.239).









Tillich


does not


go of


divinity;


only


refuses


to say that God


being.


Thus his is a substantive definition.


It is a relatively open one, but it is


nevertheless a definition that relies on a certain kind of object for one's concern.


This obj


ect is not a being, but whatever it is that it is characterized by ultimacy.


Thus


Tillich's


definition of religion does not run functionalism's risk of "anything


goes"


This


approach


an ingenious


solution


to the problem


definition.


Religion


as "ultimate


concern"


focuses


first on


the over-riding


experience


eventually


on that which is ultimate for the experience.


The words chosen to


express the concept are less than fortunate because of the systematic ambiguity.


For an adequate verbal formula


we must break out these


two senses.


We must


also allow


possibility


the ultimate


reality's effect on


the ultimately


concerned person.


Perhaps this functional proviso is contained in the experience,


but it is well


to spell it out.


Thus I


see a double dialectic from the observer's


vantage point.


He or she


sees


an experience that is intensely concerned with some


pervasive or transcendent reality (first movement) and the effect of this relation-

ship on the religious person (second movement).


I cannot accept


Streng's formal definition of religion as "a means to ulti-


mate transformation", because of its instrumentalist focus and the ambiguity it


shares with the


Tillichian definition with regard to "ultimate"


. But Streng, in his


summarization of the discussion of his definition, brings out the doubly dialectical


character


of religion:


'In summary,


religion as


we discuss it in this book is a


process


whereby people reach beyond


themselves


to connect with


the true and


ultimate


reality


that


save


them


from


destructive


forces


of everyday


(iJndPrstan i


Rsliiairuts


T tfa


Hs idAntififs


Trh nrnrstc rtr


, l l f -. i Ij


existence"


I ^


I I









The Marks of the Religious


Religion nevertheless is a


multi-faceted phenomenon


that cannot be cap-


tured in a simple, universal statement.


A review of the literature indicates the


tendency


religious


theorists,


particularly


social


scientists,


to formulate


definitions


with


many


qualifications.49


With good


reason


they


encumber their


definitions with these qualifying phrases and clauses.


The religions of the world


resist definition.


Werblowsky however suggests a way out.


He declined "to make


a fool of himself


added:


in public by suggesting yet another inadequate definition," but


"Some definitions have proved extremely helpful, especially when they did


pretend


to be


exhaustive,


alone


prescriptive,


merely


served


operational purpose, or as indicators of the general direction to which a particular


study or investigation was oriented" (p. 2).


With this in mind I will identify some


criteria for the identification of


religion


that can be put in a sentence for the


purposes of this dissertation.


This is not a definition for all time, but it will do for


now.


"Religion" in this study will be used to refer to the conforming of someone


through a self-constituting practice to that which he or she regards as ultimate.


not intend


to taken


as a formal


definition.


sometimes use


alternative formulations, such as, religion is the acknowledgement of a pervasive


authority


through


some


self-constituting


practice.


Now


me unpack


understanding.

By "conforming" I mean a relationship with that which the religionist takes


to be ultimate.


ntr +h ;+


He or she is attracted to it, seeking to be like it or become one


Allnrkh udill hann an mrn hInca nIh lt clhn that thacn thrs nhr ilnnbhorc









relationship to


it as religious.


I have said enough about the ultimate for now, let


me go on to "self-constituting practice".


In spite of


what I said about functional definitions above,


they do have a


place.


From


religionist's


point


view


practices


which


or she


engages may or may not be instrumental.


But from the observer's perspective the


religious person's activities result in a transformation or definition of the person.

He or she becomes who and what he or she is through conformance to that which


is ultimate.


Because of the implication of conversion I do not use Streng's


term,


"transformation"


self-definition


not be sudden


at all,


but a gradual


making of the self through its allegiance to the ultimate.


Hence the choice of the


phrase "self-constituting".


"Practice"


is left


deliberately


open.


not specify


prayers,


rituals,


meditation or any thing else that we in the west usually associate with religion.


is impossible to


identify some distinctively religious practices without revealing


one's parochial perspective.


Almost every human activity at one time or another


has been a religious activity.


study),


To list but a few:


having sex (temple prostitutes),


eating (Passover), reading (Bible


public speaking (preaching), riddles (Zen


koans), building maintenance (church building committees), dancing (rain dances),


athletic


events


ancient


Olympics),


television


variety


shows


(mass


media


ministries),


discussion (the Rabbinic tradition),


political action (protest marches


and demonstrations),


singing


(hymns),


silence (some monastic traditions), killing


(sacrifices


holy


wars)


drinking


ceremonies).


There


characteristic religious practices; almost everything has been religious.









position


to investigate


some


cases.


ocrates,


Spinoza


Dewey


have


been


singled out by various authors--whom I will cite below as I come to the subjects of


their studies--as being religious.


They seemed to me, upon an initial investigation,


to fall into a class of philosophers who were religious in their practice of philoso-

phy. Whereas other people related to the gods in various ways, these three related


to their


gods


through


philosophy.


(Socrates also


worshipped


the gods in


ways


similar to his fellow Athenians.)


In addition to their being members of a class by


virtue of some common characteristics, they also exhibited significant differences

from one another both in their differing philosophical practices and the kinds of


gods to which they were loyal.


I will devote a chapter to each one of these three


philosophers, reviewing the relevant critical literature and developing the case for

their inclusion in the philosophy-as-religion class.


final


chapter


shall


have


face


crucial


question


redundancy.


It is one thing to show, given a plausible definition of religion, that


some philosophers have been religious in their practice of philosophy.

another to demonstrate the necessity of the alternative language. If c


It is quite


ne practice


is equally


describable under


two different languages,


why not employ Ockham's


razor to eliminate one of them?

I will have argued is religious. 1


Rorty would let go of the kind of philosophy that


But even if it were granted that a philosophy that


is oriented toward some ultimate reality were feasible,


then there would still be


the question of the necessity of invoking religious language to describe it.


argue that such language is not only useful, but indispensable.


employed it in interpreting the philosophies of


I will


For if we had not


Socrates, Spinoza and Dewey, then


we wOlld have fa ilsr tn maindsrttnnd thKm















CHAPTER TWO

SOCRATIC PIETY


There can


little doubt


that Socrates


was religious.


He prayed, kept


home altars, described his work as a divine service and even had an uncanny voice


that occasionally warned him.


By anyone's definition he was religious.


There are,


however,


possible


objections:


given


our sources


we know


historical Socrates and


, two, given


many instances of Socratic irony can we


take his behavior and speech seriously


But if we are able to rely on the early


Platonic dialogues,


the so-called "Socratic" ones, and, if


we can


see clearly the


Socrates presented there, then we will find that he--the historical and/or literary


one--was religious.


These, however,


are not the central questions.


What concerns


us here is the nature of Socrates' religiosity.


Was it


philosopher that he was


religious?


The answer I shall offer is a qualified yes, for Socrates in many ways


shared


contemporaries' religion.


He engaged


traditional


religious


(albeit sometimes in an unconventional manner).


But-and this is why I devote a


chapter to him-Socrates was also religious in his practice of philosophy.


It is not


just that he says he engaged


in philosophy


in response to


the Oracle at Delphi.


Socrates the


philosopher


was religious in


that the Socratic way-his dialectical


practice-was


itself


a form


piety


that


, a practice


that


fulfills


one's


nhlioatinn tn rfivinitiv









observe


various


proposed


answers


to this


question, and Socrates


is engaged


criticism of these definitions.


But we also are led by Plato to believe that we


Socrates


thereby


engaged


in a religious


practice.


Accordingly,


shall


focus


primarily on the Euthyphro.



Preliminary Critical Matters


The only comprehensive study of Socrates' religiosity of which I am aware


one by


James Beckman,


Religious Dimension of Socrates' Thought.1


This is a


well-researched and provocative book.


But the use of Thought rather


than Philosophy in the title is significant, for his study is as much concerned with

the religious basis for Socrates' thought, his idiosyncratic religiosity and his dis-


tinctive personality, as with his philosophizing.


Although I will consider and make


significant use of the religion that was constituted by Socrates' home altar, divine


response


to the


Delphic


oracle


focus


on the


religiosity


philosophic


activity


argue


that


practice


philosophy-viewed


separately


from


his orthopraxic religious behavior--was itself religious and thus


constituted another aspect of Socratic religion.


The merit of my investigation is


that it firmly isolates Socrates' religio-philosophy, disentangling it from the rest


of his religious life.


But by asserting my intention to disentangle it, I do not mean


to suggest that we can wall off this part of Socrates' religious life from the rest.


For even his


isolated religio-philosophy


will have connections to his orthopraxic


religious behavior.

I shall evade the question of the historicity of Plato's Socrates because its


answer is not decisive for my inouirv.


This is not to sav that "the~ Snratir nrn-


see









historicity


Socrates.2


Even


if the Socrates of


the Platonic dialogues


were


regarded as fictional, this "literary character" has played an important role in the


history


philosophy


western


thought.


It is sufficient for my purposes to


establish that the possibility of philosophy-as-religion was suggested in the char-


acter of Socrates.


Nevertheless, as I shall argue, it is important to distinguish the


Socrates of the early dialogues from the views of Plato in the later dialogues.


even if we are only talking here about the earlier and later views of Plato, there is


a distinction


to be noted and observed.


I assume


that the Socrates of the early


dialogues3 more or less represents the


Socrates of history, but I will not argue for


this view.


Rather I shall follow A.R. Lacey's


ad hoc principle as expressed in the


concluding paragraph of his article on our knowledge of Socrates:

There is no royal road to a knowledge of Socrates, any more than
there is justification for throwing up our hands and treating him


as a myth.


The early Plato is rightly regarded as our main source,


but no source can be assumed to be equally reliable throughout.


simply


have


to go about


available evidence ad hoc for
happen to be concerned with.


it the


hard


the particular


and examine


problem


(November


.3. de Vogel,
1955), 26-35


"The Present


State of the


ocratic Problem", Phronesis,


Laszlo Versenyi, Socratic Humanism (New Haven and


London:


Yale University Press, 1963):


"Appendix: The Socratic Problem"


, pp. 177-


84; Gilbert Ryle, Plato's Progress (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1966),
pp. 119-23); W.K.C. Gutherie, Socrates (Cambridge: At the University P


1971),


Chapter


"Problems


Knowledge of Socrates", in Gregory


and Sources", pp.
Vlastos (editor), 1


A.R.


Lacey,


ress,
"Our


rhe Philosophy of Socrates


(Garden


ity, N.Y


Dimension


.: Anchor Books, 1971), pp.


Socrates'


Thought,


Platonic Dialogues", pp. 231-45.

3There is no uniform list
cinles that are venerallv used:


"Appendix IV


-49; and Beckman, The Religious


Socrates and Plato in


the Early


the early dialogues, but there are two prin-


eristic form and relative bhrvitv.


But the early.


1









I shall evade also the issue of Socratic irony,5 for two reasons:


point with regard to

to his religious view.


One, it has more


ocrates' claims of ignorance and thus his epistemology than

(But of course all of Socrates' theses are related and so one


cannot escape the issue completely.)


Two, I may be excused from dealing with the


general


issue


of Socratic


irony,


because


issue


in connection


with


religious


views


extent


which


we credit


religious


actions


references to the gods as genuine.


Is he sincere


in his practices and talk of the


gods?


With these questions I will deal.


But ultimately, since I am willing to use


literary


Socrates,


can


on the portrait


drawn


in the


Euthyphro


Apology.


Euthyphro, Socrate


and Athenian Religion


In spite


Euthyphro's


failure-on


surface--to


an adequate


definition of piety, we may,


by reading it in connection with the obviously-related


Apology, discern what piety was for Plato's Socrates.


Accordingly, I shall use the


dialogues


to develop


view


of Socrates'


particular


form


philosophic


piety.


This approach will enable me to deal with the issues of Socrates' attitude


toward


conventional


religion,


nature


of his


philosophical


practice


religious character of his philosophy.

Clearly Plato meant to contrast Euthyphro and Socrates, but the contrast is


not that of pious versus impious.


Rather, as Carl G. Vaught shows, we have in the


Euthyphro


two different forms of piety.6


The importance of this point, and its


nuances, must be dealt with at some length.


To do


so will involve us


in a study of









the Euthyphro against its background and in relation to the Apology.


I begin with


a brief characterization of the dialogue.



The Euthyphro--An Overview


portrait of Socrates in


this dialogue represents--from everything we


know of him from various sources-the sorts of questions and intellectual moves


philosopher


Socrates


would


make.


Euthyphro


we encounter


here and


possibly in the


Cratylus.7


He is an oddly scrupulous man in religious matters and


his existence


might be doubted, or at least his behavior as described in the dia-


logue might be questioned.


Euthyphro himself realized that his prosecution of his


father for manslaughter in order to rid himself of the pollution of his father's guilt


was


increasing


reputation


"craziness"


(4al;


Tredennick).8


plausible that there be a Euthyphro


would be as extreme as he was repre-


sented


to be in


his observance of


religious


tradition


as that


there


would be a


Socrates


would


as extreme


as he


was portrayed


Plato


to be


in his


innovative pursuit of human excellence by cross-examination.


Commentators,


for the


most part, regard


the Euthyphro as an early dia-


logue.9


But this


not to say


that


we have a


journalist's report


of an actual


event.


Rather I


take


it that the dialogue


is a dramatization of the sort of en-


counter that Socrates should have had with someone


who was of the character,


interests and


training


of Euthyphro.


Like


much


good


drama it


is an enhanced


7See A.E. Taylor, Plato: The Man and His Work, seventh edition (London:
Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1926, 1960), pp. 77, n. 1, for doubts on this identification.


For an argument for the idcentifiratinn seae lnhn Rllmrnt Pla+tn' Fut


hvnhrn









version of what could have transpired.


Few actual persons, if any,


could sustain


level


of discussion


we find


dialogue.


is the product


much


refinement.

But if the conversation did not take place as recorded, it should have.


have


this dialogue a


piety.


model


fine example


definition-search


Socratic search for


we identify


an account of


as the Socratic


. In spite of its apparent failure to find a satisfactory definition, our under-


standing of piety is increased.



Euthyphro and Athenian Piety


To speak of "a Greek religion" is misleading.


A.W.H. Adkins declares


that


"'Greek


religion'


refers


to no simple


phenomenon


whose essence


can be briefly


characterized,


to the


totality


religious beliefs and


practices observable


among the Greeks during the period


the battle of Chaerona in 338 B.


. from the Mycenean period down to


" which "marked the end of the" political "im-


portance


Greek


city-state,


Just as the city-states


were


autonomous so too were their religious practices.


Homer played an important role


in Greek religion, but "local variants both of myth and of attributes of the deities


persisted alongside the versions of Homer" (1.378).


In addition to the various civic


versions and


independent religious centers,


such as Dephi,


there


were also


ecstatic cults and mystery religions.


Finally there were the domestic religions.


Each household had its own sacred fire and veneration of its ancestors.


. of










Athenian piety


Fortunately we do not have to deal with Greece as a whole, only Athens in


the late fifth and fourth centuries.


This background to the Euthyphro and Apology


has been described by


Jon D.


Mikalson as having "a remarkable homogeneity and


consensus of religious beliefs".11


dology.


But there is a problem with Mikalson's metho-


Relying on the orators, inscriptions and the historian Xenophon, he largely


ignores the poets and philosophers, because he thinks they are too idiosyncratic (p.

9). Since his aim is to find expressions of widely-accepted beliefs, he is suspicious


personal statements.


One consequence


we find


little of the


ecstatic and mystery religons.


Apparently Mikalson's public sources


either did not


wish


or were


not permitted


to be identified


with


more


exotic


religions.


Mikalson is aware of the limitations of his study, acknowledging that his public


religion is only


one component of the Athenian religious milieu.


But given this


important


reservation


Plato's


Euthyphro


accurately


depicts Athenian


public re-


ligion.


Although Euthyphro may have been an exaggeration, his views and actions


were an exaggeration of what existed in Athens at the time of both the writing of

the dialogue and the dramatic conversation itself.

Piety/impiety, according to Mikalson in his chapter on this subject (pp. 91-

105), are those acts which supported or challenged the legal, traditional and divine


basis


civic


personal


well-being.


catalogues


these


acts


under


three


admittedly somewhat arbitrary headings:


the legal system,


tradition and public


consensus (p. 91).


Under the first he lists several acts, but what stands out for the


reader of the Euthyphro are deeds of


two types, introduction of a new god and


*Ig *r-#rt In


Q-)-\


- 1 -


* inhar thn cl r'nn rrl 4i ln*in-err


I |IIIIIr 11 | =| I -- 7 |I


TrrF- r


r~~;~la~ ^I Cr\Fit^^A^ f~~hirnr^& ^ j


1 I 1" I r"r*









consensus of opinion, he puts keeping of oaths,


"respect for the rights of asylum


and hospitality"


, patriotism


and care for one's living parents (p.


103).


He con-


cludes:


general


terms


Athenians believed


that


piety


was a necessary


though not sufficient, cause of national and personal prosperity" (p.


104).


This


catalogue of


pious and


impious acts


indicates


that although piety was directed


toward the gods or the ancestrial spirits or one's home and country, it was itself a

practice or, better, a set of practices.

Euthyphro's piety


The Euthyphro


is not an


attempt


to define


what is sacred or holy.


nature


the gods


or what


makes


them


divine


is not considered.


Rather


dialogue attempts to define to hosion,


"the scrupulous" or "the religious", that is,


one's attitudes and the behavior which is owed the gods.


What is at issue here is


correct religious attitudes and practice.


C.C.


Taylor rightly observes that "the


subject of the dialogue is hosiot&s


as an attribute of persons and their actions",l


and hosiot


is "observance of the divine law"


, "piety"


. Given this subject-matter


and the Athenian background,


then,


the definitions offered by Euthyphro are not


as off-target as we might first think.


Admittedly they were either not in the form


that Socrates wanted or not an answer that could


withstand criticism, but they


reflected Athenian practice.


Euthyphro's


first answer to


the question,


"What is piety?"


was not in the


form that Socrates wanted.


Socrates had asked for the defining characteristic of


piety and Euthyphro had replied by pointing to his own action of prosecuting his


father (5d).


Socrates then helped Euthyphro


see that an ostensive definition is


inarldnsiats. hsrnat. in nnintina nr hit nwn Rrtinn_ hu had nnkt santuvrsdc ti-t initial









(6d).


Euthyphro then gave a formally correct answer, piety is that which is loved


by the gods (Ge).


This Socrates found philosophically unacceptable, however,


the gods disagree among themselves about what is desirable.


Thus "what is god-


beloved" will pick out some actions that are also god-hated (7b-8b).


Our identi-


fiction with Socrates' criticisms, however, should not blind us to the representa-

tiveness of Euthyphro's answers to actual Athenian beliefs and practices.


Daniel


what


Anderson


doing')


observes,


simply


"Euthyphro's


funny


initial


anyone


definition


with


of piety ('doing


philosophical


background."13


One could also poke fun at the attempt to define piety as that


which the gods love, or even its reformulation,


"loved by all the gods" (8b).


there can be no question that his various formulations reflected the conventional


Athenian view of religion.14


His own religious practices may have been shocking,


but his formulations of Athenian piety were fairly representative.


The point of


Athenians'


various


public and


private


prayers, sacrifices and rituals was to


please the gods.


If Euthyphro and his contemporaries did not regard what they so


scrupulously practiced as dear to the gods, then they would have discontinued the

practices.

Moreover, Socrates in spite of his, or at least Plato's, recognition of the


need for the reform of Athenian piety


was still influenced by it.


shall


13"Socrates'
(January 1967), p.


suggestive footnote:


Concept


of Piety"


, Journal of the


History


Philosophy, 5


At the end of the just quoted sentence Anderson appends this
"The butt of this joke, however, may be the reader himself;


for, as will be suggested in the pages that follow, it is at least possible that in a


different


way,


on a different


level,


true definition


will be doing, not what


Fllvthvnhrn it dnina_ hIIt uuh+t Snrratc i rfnina"T 1


Ma it /rnrrart- thna PtaIA hnI/c un


see










below that Socrates observed the conventional religion.


But before I deal with


that


directly,


should


provide


some


necessary


background


with


regard


to the


Greek gods.


This is important not only for supplementing and confirming what has


already been said, but even more so for my argument that Socrates worshipped a

good god, and this good god required Socrates to serve him through criticism.

Less than perfect gods


Given


the anthropomorphic character


of the Greek deities,


it should not


surprise us to find that they behaved like human beings who neither had to work


for their


living nor who died.'5


Toil and death were not their lot, but in other


respects they seem like the royal household of some marauding chieftain.


Gilbert


Murray writes vividly of the Olympians:


And when they have conquered their kingdoms, what do they


they


culture?


attend


to the


Do they practise


government?


trades and industries


they promote agri-
s? Not a bit of it.


Why should they do any honest work?


They find it easier to live on


revenues


blast


with


thunderbolts


people


pay. They are conquering chieftains, royal buccaneers. They fight,
and feast, and play, and make music; they drink deep, and roar with


laughter


at the


lame


smith


waits


on them.


They


are never


afraid, except of their own king.
and war.


Murray realizes this is overdrawn,


They never tell lies, except in love


noting that Hephaistos was a craftsman.


the picture of Homeric gods as immortal royalty has not only a certain charm but


was a p
Co., 19


15Although the gods were generally considered immortal, apparently death
possibility Both H.3. Rose, Gods Heroes of the Greeks (London: Methuen &
p57), p. 59, and M.P. Nilsson, A History of Greek Religion, translated from


the S


wedish


Fielden,


(Oxford:


Clarendon


attribute divine immortality to the food of the gods.


Press,


1925),


For a discussion of this


Harry L. Levy,


"Homer's Gods: A Comment on their Immortality"


I~n*A l+wn a C, j Aae 2A (A Ie A '- ..i.r-'n,


1 fl-7fl\ s 1


- .. 1 -- T


, Greek, Roman
'a +hnka 0a ann


^r^^


_


iI" I | I i | x t'l njri-^m | l m F









more than a little truth


as well.


For a more judicious statement we have Adkins'


observation:


The Olympians


are anthropomorphic, and have


the Homeric heroes.


the same standards of behaviour as


Their organization is roughly equivalent to that


of a small agglomeration of noble households in Ho1er, meeting in
assembly to discuss questions which affect them all.


Nilsson agrees,


suggesting:


"Life goes on much as in some royal house in which


there is constant entertaining."18


Guthrie says quite succinctly of the Olympian


deities:


'They are the 'easy livers' (rheia


ontes) who never know death."l9


Whatever the source of the immortality of the gods, says Nilsson, it "drew


a clear


line of demarcation


which


man could not pass"


. But then he adds:


other respects no such line exists.


The gods are


stronger,


wiser, more powerful


than


men,


but this is a mere question of


degree" (p.


157).


This is in line with


Ulrich


von


W ilamowitz-Moellendorf's


view.


According


Michel


Despland,


Wilamowitz-Moellendor f


thought "the divine


is that which is stronger (kreittan)


than us".20


This is born out by the use of the word "easily" (rheia) which, says


Nielsson,


"constantly


save or carry


recurs


off a person 'easily,


in passages about the gods"


as a god does';


. He continues:


they live 'easily',


"They


without the


sorrows and tribulations which are the lot of man.


Their life and demeanour are


such that it has been said that Homer's descriptions of the divine world are a





17"Greek Religion", p. 393.

18A History of Greek Religion, p. 147.


19The Greeks and their Gods (Boston:
drininrl flrca~l nhhraes wnc ct rantlitsttsd 1w ins.-


Beacon Press,


1950), p.









caricature of the life of the aristocratic circles of the age,


.. ." (p. 157).


It is not


that the gods were supernatural entities.


Rather they were superhuman.


But life for royalty or gods is not one continuous banquet.


There are ap-


peals


from


their


subjects


or worshippers that


must be considered.


The picture


that


emerges


from


rather


restrained


account


Mikalson


that


Athenians' religious practice, broadly speaking, consisted of tending to the gods in


order


they


would


heed


appeals


them


either


for beneficial


action


advice.21


public


areas


divine


intervention


were


primarily


war


agriculture;


the private ones


Euthyphro's


statements


included health,


reflects


safety, honor,


Athenian


justice and


view:


wealth.


a man


understands how to say and do,


in prayer and sacrifice,


what is pleasing to


gods,


is piety; and it is the


sort of observance that preserves both private


households


public


states"


(14b;


Tredennick).


This


view


of the


Athenian's


expectations of the gods is well expressed also in the speech Xenophon


provides Ischomachus:

"I begin by giving service to the gods and I attempt to act in such a
way that it may be right for me, as I pray, to find health, strength of
body, honor in the city, goodwill among friend honorable safety in
war, and wealth which is increased honorably."


What is missing in the above is divination.


The pious Athenian also wished to turn


to the gods for advice at crucial


times.


The life


then of the gods was not all


feasting and fun.


point of


They had to attend to those who attended to them.


the prayers, sacrifices, festivals and dedications.


This was the


The pious gave that


they might receive.









The gods' function was a governing one.


They ruled.


But their kingdom was


not a modem welfare state with its full range of services and hordes of bureau-


crats.


Theirs was a minimalist state that required only occasional intervention on


part


rulers.


They


resembled


our modern


executives


than


judges.


(But of course


they were not similarly bound by precedents and rules.)


Usually they were stirred to act when a matter was brought to their attention.

They responded to prayers and inquiries.


This being the case,


we can


see that their lack of omnipotence and om-


niscience23


would not present a problem.


They


did not have to be everywhere,


taking care of things, all


time.


They


only had,


upon request,


to be able to


respond to a specific problem


or question.


They were only required to be more


able and wiser than human beings; they were not required to be perfect.

Socrates and Athenian piety


In the Euthyphro Socrates says he recoils from the stories about the gods

(6a), and he argues for a distinction between god-loved and piety (lOa-llb), which


some


take


as a challenge


gods'


authority


in religion


ethics.24


addition to these indications there is the attitude of Socrates toward the poets, as


expressed


in the


poets,


from


Homer


Hesiod


on had


long


been


associated with Greek religion and education.


Beckman points out,


"The poetic


tradition


was


looked


upon


as a compendium


intellectual


moral


cultivaton a


youth needed" (p. 85).


But Socratic philosophy-with its claim that


arete


"human


excellence"


, was


knowledge


came


through


exercise


23
Arikins:


.a*no ts


% 1.. t .a ... .- A


. i +


11( i:,,


ti h


t4 g*mA


fI I K










dialectic--stood as "a deep and comprehensive criticism of the poetic tradition"

(p. 86).


There


was, as is well known, a certain amount of religious scepticism


Athens and


elsewhere during the fifth and fourth centuries.


It would not be


surprising, especially for an enlightened, secular philosopher, to find that Socrates


shared this scepticism.


But if he was sceptical, he was not irreligious-not even in


regard to the more or less conventional forms of piety.


From


various dialogues we learn


that Socrates prayed, kept home altars,


interpreted


dreams


oracles


as divine


commands and


his own spirit or


voice.


The prayers and altars represent a more or less conventional religiosity and


others an


increasingly unconventional


form.


Lest


there


be any doubt that


Socrates-like


contemporaries-actively


participated


usual


religious


practices, I will begin with the prayers and altars.

Orthopraxy


Only


one or possibly


Socrates'


prayers


Platonic dialogues


come from an early dialogue.


The other eight are from the middle dialogues.


even


Darrell Jackson


who has written


the only study


of Socratic prayers of


which I am aware, admits, the fact that most of them come from later dialogues


"may


weaken


their claim to historical accuracy".26


The two claimants then for


our attention are the ones found at Euthydemus


5d and, if one were to follow


25Nilsson, Greek Piety, translated from the Swedish by H.3.
Clarendon Press, 1948), pp. 72-78; Mikalson, ch. 14: "S(


Considerations",


110-18;


G.B.


Kerfi


(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981),


1t1 177


A lth+krih


iA Ll acrn


Adicnitif


Rose (Oxford:


>me


Historical


erd, The Sophistic Movement
ch. 13: "Religion and the Gods",


Nilsson
'
s


vie I


nnnular


religious


. .. .. .. ... .


At the


1









Gilbert


Ryle's


Thrasymachus


hypothesis,


Republic


1.327bc.27


Unfortunately


neither passage gives us the actual prayer;


they only refer to them.


Moreover


they


prayer


appear


that


to be primarily


"provides


literary


dramatic


in function.


opening"


Jackson says of the Republic


the dialogue


dialogue opens with Socrates narrating:


"I went down yesterday to


the Piraeus


with Glaucon, son of Ariston.


upon closer


I wanted to say a prayer to the goddess


inspection it appears that Socrates attended the festival in honor of


Bendis as much for the spectacle as anything.


His narrative continues:


. .. also


see what they would make of the festival, as this was the first time they were


holding it.


I must say that I thought that the local contribution to the procession


was


splendid,


though


Thracian


contingent


seemed


to show


as well"


(327a;


Lee).


This has been said, as Jackson indicated,


to set the stage for the


events that then transpired, for


ocrates continues


, "We had said our prayers and


seen the show and were on our way back to town when


S. ."; then he proceeds to


introduce


some


the characters


dialogue


place


where


extended conversation, which is the dialogue,


occurs.


The Euthydemus prayer is offered to the "Muses and Memory herself" for


aid in recalling an argument.


This, Jackson notes, is a poetic convention and was


used to mark a transition in the narrative (pp. 19 and 22).


Jackson has, no doubt


because his was a narrow study of the prayers only, overlooked the better text in


Euthydemus


an instance


Socratic piety.


At 302bd we find Socrates


2
stylistic
bookss"


7In Plato's
grounds


Progress Ryle suggests that Book I of the Republic "


to have


been


composed


a good


deal


Its argument, moreover, is eristic in character


earlier


than


seems on


other


Finally "Thrasvmachus is


.









being asked by Dionysodorus, an eristic practitioner who is trying to trap Socrates


in an argument, if he has a family


Zeus.


(Later he will try to force Socrates to


that he can


treat his god as an animal,


302e, since he has,


that is,


"owns"


one.)


Socrates, no stranger to this sort of crude debating style, suspects a trap,


but he nevertheless answers truthfully that he does not have a family Zeus.


Dionysodorus


accuses


being "a


wretched


man


and no


Athenian,


in that


neither


family


gods nor sacrifices nor


anything else good and beautiful are


anything to you" (302c).


is worth quoting


here a statement by Nilsson,


who,


without reference to this passage, writes:

It is important to notice, as showing the significance of the domestic


cult, t
citizen


when


proved


evidence


CIVIC


Herkeios, to Apollo Patr5


citizenship


rights
os (i.e.


was


referring


wanted
to his


an Athenian


altar


Zeus


inherited from his fathers), and his


ancestrial graves. Religion formed a part2f everyday life in way
which is far from easy for us to understand.


Dionysodorus'


charge


then,


correct,


would challenge Socrates' standing as an


Athenian.


But Socrates is able to counter that for him also "there are altars and


household sacrifices and family (religion) and all the other things, just as for other


Athenians"


(302c).


then


did he


no family


Zeus?


Because his


family worshipped not Zeus Patroos (Family


Zeus), but Zeus Herkeios (Courtyard


Zeus).30


turns


out then


ocrates


worships


Apollo


Patroos


and Athena


Phratria


(Clan


Athena)


well


as Zeus


Herkeios.


was


good,


conventional Athenian


practice.


Moreover


was


sufficient


proof


Athenian


citizenship.


But then Socrates gives this orthopraxy a characteristic


ocratic twist by


refusing


to acknowledge Apollo


Patr


Zeus


Herkeios and


Athena Phratia









gods, at least not straight out. When asked if they are his gods, he replied that

they are "ancestors and masters". But perhaps one should not make too much of


this, because ancestors


were regarded


as sacred.


Still, given Socrates' philosophic


religion and the need for an Athenian to observe the conventional religion, at least


in form


, it may not be too far-fetched to wonder if Socrates was hesitant to call


his fellow Athenians' gods "gods"


. (Of course in the Apology he displays no reluc-


tance to engage in god-talk.)

Jackson correctly concludes that "Socrates is pious but not always in the


customary way" (p. 34), but who does so from a historically-suspect base.


It it


better to arrive at this conclusion as I have done by a consideration of the family


altars


passage


from


Euthydemus,


even


more


so by


a consideration of


ocrates' oracle, his daimonion, and,


best of all, his philosophizing.


I also question Jackson's


asse


rtion that "Plato never has a character pray in


connection with a sacrifice" (p. 34).


Even if one discounts the instruction to Crito


in the later Phaedo (118a) to offer a cock to Asclepius, because it was a short


time after his prayer (in connection with his drinking the hemlock,


117c), and if


one assumes Socrates did not sacrifice but only prayed and watched the spectacle


at the


Bendis


festival


(Republic I,


327a),


then one still has a problem


with


Euthydemus home altars passage.


Jackson is concerned to disassociate Socrates


and Plato from the barter-type piety of Euthyphro.


Socratic sacrifices to do this.


But he does not need to deny


Socrates could have participated in conventional


practices and not understood


them in the same way as Euthyphro.


Indeed it is


highly


unlikely


that Socrates


and Euthyphro would have had similar beliefs and


nttitndils ahnlit verv many thino<-


ThP FEnthvnhrn drenends fnr its dramatic cnalitv







62

Jackson also wonders if Plato could be showing Socrates at prayer in order


to counter


charge


impiety


shall show


below


that Plato


was


concerned to defend Socrates from this charge, but he did so above all by showing

him to be pious in a way different from his contemporaries, namely, his practice


of dialectic as a divine service.


Before doing so, however, I shall consider the less


conventional forms of Socrates' piety.

Beyond orthopraxy


There


are other


manifestations


of Socrates'


religiosity--his


dreams,


personal daimonion and his response


to the Delphic oracle.


The first two could


have been within the range of customary behavior, but Socrates' response to the


daimonion


particularly


to the


oracle


must have


raised questions about his


conventionality.


will argue


that the response


to the oracle,


while cast in the


form of conventional behavior, actually


In the


shattered it.


Crito there is Socrates' dream of a beautiful woman dressed in white


robes-white clothes were often worn in religious ceremonies31


--who tells him, in


an allusion to the Iliad (9.363),


that he will be in Phthia in three days (44ab).


Also


he says


Apology that he has obeyed the god's commands that have been


given


"in oracles and


dreams"


There can be no question


that Plato's Socrates


interpreted some if not all dreams as divine messages.


In this he would not have


differed from some of his contemporaries (see Mikalson,


ch. 6,


"Divination," pp.


Religion, L


in 1873 (Gar


"White


was


cacchichts


Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient City: A Study on the
s and Institutions of Greece and Rome, translated by Willard Small
den City, N.Y.: Doubleday Anchor Books, n.d.), p. 45, who writes:


the color of the vestments in all


the religious acts."


(Manenchens


Ranhkenka


l rt | l |II E' Er" *E| *rrr E ur I EIf E' *u uL| I t IVl*ItJr E1Lt *flI El lts *I U1[J I at..* *I-


Also Nilsson,
Verlagsbuch-


aw


ir sr Crinchinchen


Ratiminn










39-49).


peculiar


response


dreams,


as with


oracles,


was


unconventional.


(I shall


make


this point clear


discussion of


the Delphic


oracle below.)


Socrates'


daimonion


personal


spirit,


is also a link


with


his contem-


poraries' religious experience.32


The classic text in this regard is Apology


31cd,


where, in explaining why he had busied himself in others' private affairs but never


ventured into public service, he says:


'"The reason for this is what you have often


heard


me say,


there


has come


to me something


divine or spiritual, like a


voice,


It began in my childhood, a sort of voice, which, when it occurs, always


turns me away from that which I intend to do, never towards."33


Given Socrates'


use of the verb gignomai,


"occurs"


or "happens"


, and his use of theion,


"divine",


and daimonion,


"spiritual" ("daimonic" has the wrong connotation in English), I do


not agree with Beckman, who says,


"This 'divine action' is nothing 'supernatural' in


the sense that its


meaning is hidden


to natural thought processes" (p. 77).


This


misses


the point.


es, the sign's meaning is clear, but, no, its origin and timing


are without natural explanation.


Socrates clearly says it just happens and it is


divine


or spiritual.


If it is not supernatural,


it is surely extraordinary, perhaps


even


extra-natural.


Beckman


wrong


that


is not a part of


Socrates' philosophy.


Admittedly it is not a source of positive knowledge-either


in his philosophizing or his personal life.


But the divine sign did prevent him from


leaving a place where he subsequently engaged in an eristic exercise (Euthydemus


272e).


Nor did it oppose him, which he notes, in his appearance before the court,


L --


,L- ---


3. Irsa EuE~~5..r rn r* nr I m n ma~ *'~ 1nr -n+~ rrt an r I rf, t+ ais e f n dn


,A ... |. -- -


I! J -_ ... -I


* *


. *


1 *


* rl n i u if- r 'n nn r n "r F









either


in his


appearing


or in what


(Apology


4 ab).


Socrates'


daimonion is inseparable from the man and the philosopher.

the divine sign that would have troubled his contemporaries.


cepted that.


As such it was not


They could have


What bothered the Athenians were the troublesome things the dai-


monion permitted him to do.


Equally


interesting


as an extraordinary


or supernatural


phenomenon


even


more


significant


philosophy


was


response


Delphic


oracle.34


oracle


was


manifestly


religious


unexceptional


phenomenon in Socrates' day.


What was remarkable, however, was his response to


His interpretation of the oracle and his actions in conforming to it were not


only


idiosyncratic but unusual.


the oracle


served


Socrates eventually


god by practicing philosopf


claimed that in response to

Ih. It would not have been


unknown for an Athenian to have claimed divine authority or to have served a god,


was


without


precedent


one


claimed


to do


so by


engagmg


relentlessly rational activity-dialectic.


There


are several passages in the Apology where Socrates claims that his


characteristic activity


of cross-examining people in public on the nature of the


various excellences--courage,


justice,


piety


wisdom, moderation,


truth, beauty,


love-was his way of serving his god (20e-23b,


9b-31c, 35cd and 37e-38b).


I will


defer discussion of the manner of his divine service, focusing now on his religious


understanding


of his


Two passages will suffice


to show Socrates'


understanding that his practice of philosophy was divine service:

Gentlemen, I am your very grateful and devoted servant, but I owe a
greater obedience to God than to you, and so long as I draw breath
and have my faculties. I shall never stnn nrartirinr. nhilncnnhv and







65


In response to the hypothetical possibility that he mind his own business, ceasing

to engage in public philosophy, he replied that "it would be disobedience to God"

to say that he would "mind his own business" and they would not believe he was

serious.


If on


the other hand I tell you that to let no day pass without dis-


cussing goodness and all the other subjects about which you hear me
talking and examining both myself and others is really the very best
thing that a man can do, and that life without this sort of exami-


nati~p
me.-


is not worth living,


you will be even less inclined to believe


There can be no question that on the basis of the evidence in the Apology Socrates


understood


his characteristic conduct


to be divinely-commissioned.


There can


also be no question, given his fate, that many if not most Athenians regarded his


piety as unacceptable.


Whatever the orthopraxic elements of his piety were, they


were overshadowed by his philosophic religion.


His critical religiosity was ulti-


mately too much for his contemporaries to endure.

Socrates' theism


Socrates does not name his god.


In the Apology, however, he calls as his


witness, the god at Delphi (20c).


This would be


Apollo, but Socrates does not utter


his name here or elsewhere in the Apology.


As we have seen in the Euthydemus


passage (302d) Apollo Patrbos, Zeus Herkeios and Athena Phratia are mentioned


(but perhaps not owned as gods).


Originally separate,


Apollo Patroos and Apollo


Pythios,


the god at Delphi,


were gradually assimilated, because "it was assumed


that because of having begotten Ion the Pythian Apollo was in a special sense the


paternal god


the Athenians" (Parke and Wormell,


1.262).


Socrates expressly


savs in Euthvdemus 302cd:


"ours is Anollo Patr5os because of Ion's narentape."









we shall


there


are those


would


regard Socrates'


god as the


forms or nous, "mind" or "soul", but they must do so in the face of these counter-

vailing passages. There are additional reasons not to discount Socrates' anthropo-


morphism and even polytheism.


To be sure in the Apology he speaks of one god,


which he usually leaves undesignated.


But reference to a single god in polytheistic


Athens would have not ruled out belief in and worship of other gods.


happens that it was Apollo who commissioned him, and


It just so


so it is this god he talks


about.


Henry


Teloh,


an unpublished


undated


paper


, "Psychagogia in


Euthyphro",


which


on the basis of


internal


dating


was written not prior to


1981, argues that Socrates tries in the Euthyphro to lead his conversation partner


suggestion


other


indirect


means


a more


elevated


view


divinity,


namely


that, contrary to Euthyphro's


Homeric-Hesiodic view,


the gods are good


(p. 16).


If he is correct, then Socrates retained the anthropomorphic polytheism of


his contemporaries.

troubled Socrates,


was not


it was their


the ontological status of Euthyphro's


moral inadequacies.


gods that


This would square with the


Euthydemus text and would not contradict the Apology.


Indeed


Apology


require


anthropomorphic


polytheism,


Socrates speaks of his god as a personal being.


For instance, he says that he has


been appointed by his god as a gadfly to the great horse Athens, and if his fellow

citizens dispense with him, this god will send another to take his place (30e-31a).


Also


argues


that one cannot believe


spiritual


the divine without


believing in "spirits, gods and heroes" (27e-28a).


Socrates, as we have seen, be-


lived in a spiritual. uncanny nav-savine voice as an occasional message from his









and so,


without good reason to the contrary, I think we should construe "gods" as


meaning


"beings"


also.


According


standard


lexicon


should


necessarily understand daimonas,


which I have translated "spirits"


, as beings, for


daimbn sometimes


means "divine power"


as distinguished from theos as a god in


person.36


Thus a better translation might be "divine powers, gods and heroes"


Even so the understanding of gods and heroes in this passage


as more than human


beings, the former completely so, the latter partially so, would still hold.

Thus the evidence in the Euthyphro and Apology clearly points to Socrates


as having anthropomorphic and polytheistic beliefs.


It is a mistake then


to re-


construct his theism along impersonal and naturalistic lines, recasting his god as


nous or the soul or the forms or even taking his god to be the only deity.


his theology was supernaturalistic is unclear, for


question.


Whether


this is to ask an anachronistic


His deities do not seem to be fully a part of the natural world; yet they


are not entirely removed from this world either.


Thus I have fudged the issue by


speaking of his divine sign as extraordinary


or extra-natural.


I now extend this


fudging


judgment to his theology generally.


Socrates' Critical Religion


Having positioned Socrates


in his


religious


milieu


, I now want (1) to say


something more about his philosophy and (2) to say precisely in what way it was


religious.


I can do so by returning to the Euthyphro, reading it in relation to the


Apology.


Since the Euthyphro is in Cohen's


words,


"a clear example of a Socratic


definitional


dialogue"


(Vlastos,


can accomplish


my first objective by


examining the Euthvohro.


But. in returning to the Euthvnhro.


I can also fulfill (2)


158),







68

by following the Euthyphro's internal evidence as to Socratic piety and its leads to


the Apology.


By reading these two together we can


see Socrates' critical religion


clearly.



What Is Piety?


I have already sketched Euthyphro's initial responses to Socrates' "What is


piety?" question.


Euthyphro offered an example--his prosecution of his father to


clear the family of pollution--and a formally acceptable proposal--piety is what is


loved by


the gods.


Socrates, as we have seen, criticized Euthyphro's first


attempt


as being only a pointing to some pious acts and not an identification of


piety's


defining characteristic.


Socrates then helped Euthyphro reformulate his


second attempt--piety


what


is god-loved--into


a claim


that


piety


is what


loved by all the gods, thus eliminating the self-contradictory possibility that piety


is both god-loved and god-hated.


But Socrates does not find the reformulation


acceptable either.

His intricate argument against taking piety to be what all the gods desire


has been much debated.


Hoerber, for instance,


thinks Plato/Socrates creates "a


straw man" and "an illogical argument" (p. 102ff); whereas Cohen has argued that

this "central argument" of the dialogue may be unclear, but should be taken as

supporting the conclusion that the gods are ultimately irrelevant to the defining of


piety (pp. 157


-160 and 175).


Whatever the merits of the formulation of the argument in the Euthyphro, I


think the difference in the two approaches is clear:

tho anme. ruratnc tn the ritinnalitv rif the matter


Euthyphro looks to the will of

Fnr Frthvnhrn it i the ner-









dispense with the gods altogether.


At least for Socrates (and Plato), it remained


important


to specify what piety,


that is, observance of one's duties toward the


gods,


was.


Socrates, in looking for a characteristic that would be independent of


the god's likes, nevertheless sought one that would define activities that would be

valued by them.

The difference in the two approaches becomes clearer in the latter half of


dialogue.


Socrates now


takes


lead,


suggesting


that piety


is a part of


justice (12d).


This enables Euthyphro to supply the differentia of "service to the


gods" (12e).


We now have a genus-general


justice (see Aristotle, Nicomachean


Ethics, Book 5)--and a differentia-service


to the gods.


While formally correct


definition


problems


which Socrates quickly


seizes


Since


to serve


someone is to benefit him or her


, what benefit do the gods receive


And since the


gods are self-sufficient in Euthyphro's view, our service must not be beneficial in


the sense of improvement.


mean "assistance"


Euthyphro then amends his understanding of service to


. This is a promising solution, Socrates hints (14d), but it fails in


the dialogue because no divine work can be identified.


Euthyphro slips away from


this problem, asserting the traditional answer that piety is "prayer and sacrifice"


which preserves the family and the state (14b).


The dialogue continues with talk


of giving and receiving and the disappointingly circular response of Euthyphro that


we give


the gods


what


they


want


(14c-15b).


Socrates notes


the circularity


Euthyphro's answers and suggests that they begin the inquiry again, for Socrates

will for his part never give up until he knows the answer (15cd).

So the dialogue ends in apparent failure; we still do not know what piety


RIIt rnacnv rTmmn n'antnrc hiiu n^aItoA^4 .nI,+ +-a I$l, ,.- ;a ^r alh, -,...--^.-.a+.


l'W _


tlI+









thus to engage in the just man's activity, dialectic, is to live divinely.


This also


eliminates piety, for there are now no gods to serve, only divine lives to be lived


through dialectical activity.


Still another thinks that piety is the apprehension of


the Platonic ideas.


Instead of no answer to Socrates'


question we now have two


claims that piety is either something else or non-existent and one claim that piety


is Platonic philosophy.


So many answers are really no answer at all.


Moreover we will not have an answer until a definition can be proposed that


meets


dialogue's


criteria,


namely


that piety


that


part of


justice


which


assists the gods and is able to specify what that assistance is.


Only then will the


Socratic-Platonic answer to the "What is piety?" question be discovered.


In the


sections


follow


review


and criticize


these


conflicting


answers


finally offer an answer of my own that will meet the conditions I have stated.


proposal


make use of the clues within


the Euthyphro and at a crucial point


to the Apology.


By reading a related passage in the latter dialogue in con-


nection with the Euthyphro's problem of specifying the gods' work, I will be able to


answer


question


thereby


construct


an appropriate


definition


piety.


Piety, as we shall


is just what Socrates was doing:


engaging in criticism of


his fellow citizen's (and his own) beliefs in order that they (and he) might assist

the gods in their efforts to promote human excellence.



A Critique of the Proposed Answers


To review the


various proposals


we do not have


to start from the begin-


ning.


AI l.Ttl


W. Gerson Rabinowitz has identified both the interpreters who have said the


rnAnst' ian ,r ;.ii kr/4 +1nn n n mafh nima c ai trn^ ;c a Anfinti n


r^lh,1









the latter.


There are those who import the Republic's idea of the good into the


dialogue and there is Rabinowitz, who thinks that the Republic's


identification of


nous with deity


is the solution


to the Euthyphro problem.


will insert another


possibility


between


these


consider


them


order.


Then


next


section


present


a fourth possibility which I


will argue


is superior


these first three.

Piety is justice or goodness


Frederick


Rosen,


Beckman


Taylor38


argue


identification


piety with


justice (Rosen and Beckman) or


justice-goodness (Taylor).


Of course


the two values are closely related in Platonic doctrine.


These commentators are


able


to eliminate piety


found


Euthyphro.


favor


Thus


justice-goodness,


they


because no divine work is


are arguing that there is an answer to


"What


negative


piety?"


one.


question-piety


answer-piety


justice


really


or goodness--but


justice


effect


or goodness-eliminates any


distinctively god-oriented activity.


One problem


with such an identification is that it does not take seriously


Socrates' anthropomorphic, polytheistic theology and his concern to assist the gods


in their work.


To reduce piety to justice is to deny or overlook that there can be


divine work in which one can engage.

reductive move would not be necessary.

also does not take seriously the Euthyl


If such work could be identified, then this

The interpretation now being considered

phro's search for a definition of piety and


implication


Socrates


pursuit


moral


definitions


pious.


Admittedly the dialogue, on the surface, ends in failure.


But the whole point in


reading


between


the I ines


tn find


an ranswpr


tn the+


en muetinn


nsedH


. .. ....









dialogue.


If one were to argue for a negative conclusion, then one would have to


also eliminate the clues within the dialogue that point to a positive answer.

The first indication of a positive outcome is the interlude (at ilbe), where


Euthyphro


accuses


Socrates of being


Daedalus in


causing


his (Euthyphro's)


statements to shift when criticized by Socrates.


this, Burnet observes,


With regard to interludes such as


"We are to understand that everything that has preceded is


merely introductory, and that the positive result of the dialogue (so far as it has


one) will be found in the second part."39


Then he comments with regard to the


Euthyphro:


"That is why Socrates now asks leading questions" (p. 50).


The inter-


lude signals us to watch for a possible positive result.


Even more to the point are


the following clues:


One,


we are given a genus, justice, and a differentia, service


of the gods.


Two,


ocrates says at one point,


"Why, you veered away then just at


the critical moment when, if you had answered me, I should have had by now all


the information that I wanted from you about piety" (14c; Tredennick).


And three,


"the critical


moment"


is the failure to say what the work of the gods is.


If we


could specify the gods' work and relate it to the suggested genus and differentia,

then we would not need to resort to the questionable interpretative procedure of

eliminating the term to be defined, particularly when Socrates and Plato have so

much invested in its definition.

Dialectic is holy


Another


piety-eliminating


move


been


forward.


consider


because


puts


focus


where


ought


to be,


on Socrates'


practice


philosophy.


However


it does not keep straight the distinction between piety


religious obsrvanr and inltimnarv ans that which animated nirt+v


It rhnnfcnc niaty







73

Daniel Anderson's interpretation of the Euthyphro elevates "dialectic itself


to the position of ultimacy"


, arguing that "by the end of the dialogue", piety has


"taken on a number of deific characteristics":

The gods submit themselves to it; religion must be submitted to it by


men; it is the only thing that is ultimate in the lives of men.


Obedi-


ence


to it brings


obedience


justice
allows


and harmony
Euthyphro to


Athenians to prosecute Socrates, states to


into human relations.


prosecute


father,


Dis-
the


war among themselves,


and even causes the ludicrous and humiliating wars among the gods.
In this sense, disobedience to the dialectic leads to the worst forms


of immortality and brings d7own
low comedy, men to tragedy.


judgments that reduce the gods to


This analysis takes the opposite tack from that of the preceding interpreters, who


eliminated


piety


category


distinct


from


justice.


Instead


Anderson's


reconstruction,


in making


philosophy


divine,


elevates


activity


person to sacredness.41


Thus it collapses the distinction in the Euthyphro and the


Apology between the gods and their service, making just conduct itself holy.


This


also has the effect of eliminating piety as a category, for now there is no service

of the divine, only activity which is divine.


Piety is philosophy,


but Platonic ideas are what is divine


Rabinowitz correctly focuses on

later Platonic notion of divine nous, th


Euthyphro.


ocratic dialectic as piety, but imports the


ie soul's ability to apprehend forms, into the


He thinks he is warranted in doing this because Socrates' use of nous


to be


answer


taken as a cryptic allusion


to the question of why


Rabinowitz replies:


to the later Platonic doctrine.


Plato did not have Socrates speak more clearly,


Had Plato "wished to declare


that god is nous and genuine


piety philosophy"


, then "he would have been forced to write not a Euthyphro, but a


fl Ans I L r : .* .. r* kL T p w 1 ^ a rl.li 1. .. 1 I 0








74

While I agree that Socratic piety is philosophy, I question the assertion that


Socrates understood his god to be nous.


This


seems to me to be an importation of


later Platonic doctrine into a Socratic dialogue.


Moreover the "cryptic" phrase at


14d will not bear the freight Rabinowitz gives it.


All the word nous,


"mind", there


means is "attention" and is so taken by Tredennick, whose translation reads:


"I am


a passionate admirer of your wisdom and keep my attention upon it, so no word of


yours falls to the ground"


Rabinowitz refers to some unnamed commentators who


read the result clause, in


Tredennick's translation,


"so no word of your falls


to the


ground"


, as meaning both "will not be rendered invalid" and "nothing


which you


(Euthyphro) say will be lost or thrown away upon me (Socrates)"


. Then he asserts


correctly that there is no warrant for the words "upon me" in the Greek, but he


argues


misleadingly


that


Socrates'


paying


attention


to Euthyphro's


words


is an


affirmation of their validity (Rabinowitz, p.


has created a false problem.


111).


Whoever has commented thus


Tredennick's translation reads,


there is no pro-


blem.


Socrates,


speaking


ironically,


is saying


that since


he has placed himself


under Euthyphro's tutelage (see 5a),

lowing any to fall to the ground. Ra


he must pay attention to his words, not al-


Lbinowitz has created a puzzle, not Plato, and


thus there is no cryptic phrase that suggests a need for the later Platonic doctrine

of divine nous to be read into the dialogue.


Nevertheless Rabinowitz has two good suggestions:


the good of the Republic,


(1) The divine is not


and (2) Socratic piety is dialectic (p. 120) or philosophy


119).


It may even be that the logic of Socrates' philosophy requires that the


divine be a rational order


, but this would imply, to use Platonic language, that the


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CA-,


- SS


nabinawitz


sm

ac theo


Cm i'C


..... ..... nm w


i:.!- a


, n, ,wme


1









Republic's good into the dialogue.


Concerned to refute them, and unaware of an


alternative, he makes a similar mistake.

Piety and philosophy


Rabinowitz suggested that piety can be identified as a distinct activity, but


his and related definitions fail to show that piety is a part of justice.


look at a view similar to Rabinowitz's

in the understanding of piety which I


I will now


because it introduces an important element

will develop below, an understanding that


will show piety to be a part of (general) justice.


Jan H.


Bilts also makes piety philosophy, an activity that also serves the


divine in the human.


But he makes the indwelling deity one's soul.


Thus piety is


"caring properly for one's soul".42


This suggestion, once we de-theologize the soul


and show the relation of soul-tendence


useful.


to the gods' work and to justice,


v


it stands, this move fails for the same reason that Rabbinowitz's


ill be

move


failed.


Just as there was no evidence that the Socrates of the Euthyphro regarded


nous as divine,


so there is no evidence that he thought the soul divine.


To be sure, if nous or the


soul's


task was the apprehension of forms and


either


was


divine,


then


we would


have


identified


a divine


task.


piety-


philosophy could assist in that task.


But neither is divine in the Euthyphro.


More-


over,


piety-philosophy


a part


justice?


Also


this theory would,


if we


retained the deity-piety language, make for an awkward relationship.


For, if the


deity is the soul's ability to apprehend the forms and piety is the soul's activity of


form-apprehension,


then we would have to understand the activity to be a service


of the ability.









A New Form of Piety


Anyone who would defend the piety-is-a-part-of justice thesis must be able


to specify the gods' work.


Otherwise justice is indivisible and piety collapses into


justice as a whole.


Piety would then be just a quaint way of speaking.


There may


gods,


could


serve


assist


them;


thus


piety


would


indistinguishable


from


other


obligations.


There


would


no distinguishing


characteristic that shows what part of general justice piety is.


What is needed is


an interpretation


that takes seriously Socrates'


distinction between


the gods and


their service and his understanding of piety as a part of justice.


We must be able


to specify


what


work


gods


we must


able


assistance in this work is a part of justice.


Although


Vaught's


analysis


times


overwrought


with


metaphysical


language


occasionally


deifies Socrates'


critical


method,


he rightly


sees


Euthyphro and


rates as exhibiting contrasting forms of piety:


Euthyphro


Socrates


disagree


in the


most radical


terms about


what is essential for a proper definition of piety and for an adequate


conception of human wholeness:


on the one hand, tradition, rite, and


ritual;


on the


other,


phi


3isophical


reflection


that is directed


marily toward the future.


If we take the suggestion that there are contrasting pieties in the Euthyphro, then


we would be


looking for


counterparts


ocrates' understanding to Euthyphro's


model of gods, their work and our service.


For him the gods were the Olympians,


their work the preservation of households and the state and the service expected


of us prayer and sacrifice.


What are the counterparts in Socrates?


The easy answers are the commissioning god of the Apology and dialectical


innli irv.


uh irh rnrrtnnnrln


tn Fnthvnhrn's


Olvmnian antis and


nravinPr-sarrificrin









as we have seen


, that it is justice.


If so, it would be similar to Euthyphro's preser-


vation


family


state.


But,


as we have


also seen,


the view that piety


assisting in the work of justice by means of dialectic tends to erase the distinction


between piety and justice. Wha

pious justice differ from justice


t is distinctively pious about dialectic?


simpliciter


How does


What we need is a precise statement


of divine work which dialectical piety can assist, one that is not to be confused

with justice.


If we look at Bilts's


suggestion that piety is caring for what is divine in the


human, that is, the soul, and his supporting reference, Apology 28b-30c, especially


29c-30b, we will find the answer.


I have rejected that part of his suggestion which


regards the soul as divine, but there is merit in his reminder that Socratic philos-

ophy is a caring for the soul.

In the Euthyphro Socrates and Euthyphro were unable to specify the assis-


tance (hyperesia,


14d) that we could render to the gods, because no divine work


could be specified.


In the Apology


we find the same word used in reference to


Socrates'


god-commissioned


dialectical


activity.


Speaking


questioning,


examining and testing of those he encountered, he assures the jury that this "is

what my God commands, and it is my belief that no greater good has ever befallen


you in this city than my service (hyperesian) to my God" (30a;


Tredennick).


dialectical activity we find displayed in the Euthyphro we find here designated as


assistance of his god.


But to what end is this service?


What divine work does it


further


The point that Socrates is trying to make is that his critical activity is


aimed at showing his fellow Athenians that their "chief concern" should not be for

"their bhnrlis nr their nnsssisnn hiut what is "hpst fnr thPir smnlus".









help in war and agriculture at the public level and for aid in the private matters of


health, safety, honor


justice and wealth.


Thus conventional religion understood


gods


to be


concerned


with,


to use Socrates'


crass


wording,


the Athenians'


"bodies and possessions"


. The gods


existed for human welfare.


Even Euthyphro's


nobler language of "household and state preservation" understands


the gods to be


concerned with human welfare.

Socrates also thinks that the work of the gods is the care of humanity, but


thinks


the conventional


materialistic


focus


misplaced.


The gods primary


concern--and


what ours should be--is the care of


our souls or human excellence


(arete).


This


connection


soul-care


arete


made


clear


the often-


mistranslated"4


accompanying statement,


which Socrates continually proclaims in


his efforts to re-direct his fellow citizens' attention.


translate the sentence in this way:


Following Burnet we should


"Not from wealth comes excellence (arete),


but it is excellence (aret_) that makes money and everything else good for men,


both privately and publicly" (30b).

we encounter in Plato's dialogues?


concern.


What could be more plausible for the Socrates

Human excellence is the gods' and his supreme


This is that in which he would assist them and would have his contem-


poraries take up as well.


arete


is not isolated.


It makes "money and every-


thing else good for men, both privately and publicly"


. Socrates shares his contem-


poraries'


understanding


what is good,


but he realizes that it is only areteic-


based


households


states


that


are good.


place


of Euthyphro's


Olympian gods,


their concern for our material welfare and our service of prayer


and sacrificing, we have Socrates' good god(s) whose concern is also for home and









state.


But for Socrates home and state must be preserved on the basis of human


excellence, which can only be achieved through a critical method.


We can now


see the relation of piety and justice.


If justice,


as we learn


most fully


Republic,


is the


harmonious


functioning


the soul's


various


parts,


then piety is a specific and crucial cultivation of this harmony.


We come to


an understanding and realization of wisdom, courage and moderation in our per-


sonalities


eventually


in our households


political


through


critical


activity.


This is a divine service for us, replacing the traditional piety of prayer,


sacrifice and divination.


If general justice is right relationships, piety is the right


relationship one has with the gods, a relationship in which one assists in the de-

velopment of a divinely-willed and morally-based society by means of philosophy.


Admittedly,


there


is potential


confusion


between


special


justice


(right


relationships of humans with one another) and piety (assisting the gods in creating


a moral


society


through


a dialectically-developed arete),


because one's morally


educative efforts occur in the context of human affairs and result in a harmonious


human society. Piety differs from special justice, however, by being its enabler,

that is, philosophy. It is of course a part of general justice, for, as the means to


special justice, it is itself just.


Perhaps this chart will make the matter clear:


EUTHYPHRO


SOCRATES


KIND OF GODS


Olympian


Snerial


reservation of


good


preservation of home
and state on the







80

Conclusion


clearly,


Socrates'


philosophical


religion


must


disentangled


from


orthopraxy.


is not at all


obvious and his


dialectical


activity can easily be seen as just philosophy.


But by viewing him


as we have we


see that he was a philosopher who was religious in his practice of philosophy.


Seen from


perspective,


clearly


Socrates


was pious,


that


religious,


as a


dialectician-philosopher.


solving


definition-problem


of the Euthyphro, I


have been able to show that the religion of Socrates in which we are interested


consisted of his effort to cultivate arete in his fellow citizens and himself.


This


piety


was


done


the service


good god (Apollo)


had commissioned


him.


Socrates assisted him in the divine task of preserving home and state on the


basis of arete.

The problem with Socrates as an example of philosophy-as-religion is that


there are extraneous, in the sense of uncriticized, elements.


various human practices, but, to our knowledge,


Socrates questioned


he never questioned the existence


and nature of


the gods.


infer


from


some of his remarks that he was


sceptical and disapproving


in some respects,


but we


never


see him


engaged


criticism of the gods.


Perhaps because of the times in which he lived or the lack


acceptable


critical


tradition


which


to build,


Socrates


was


thorough-going


critical


reconstruction


religion


as some


others


have


been.


His religion and his philosophy are largely co-terminous, but his religion is


wider than his philosophy.


purity"


I have included him in this study, in spite of this "im-


, because he is the first possible instance of a philosopher who was religious


in his critical practice.


He was this. but he was also religious in other wavs.


can


|









occasionally


attend


Christian religious services.


Even so, Spinoza is worthy


examination,


provides


us with


an example


a very


different


type of


religio-philosopher.


Where Socrates was relatively un-metaphysical, Spinoza was


a metaphysician par excellence.


Where the theism of Socrates is difficult to make


out, Spinoza's


theism, or,


more precisely, his pantheism, is carefully elaborated in


his major work.















CHAPTER THREE


SPINOZA'S RATIONAL RELIGION



Spinoza has been interpreted, as many have pointed out, in a great many,


often contradictory ways.


It is not unusual for a widely-read philosopher of great


range and subtlety to be seen as a reflection or foil of many readers.


Bringing to


their


various


interests and attitudes,


they


come away with views that


may bear little resemblance to one another.


Spinoza has been accused of atheism,


notably

man".


his early


H.A.


Wolfson


critics, and has also been described as "a God-intoxicated


portrays


as the


of the


Jewish


medieval,


Stuart Hampshire makes him more accessible to the twentieth century, presenting


as a modern European metaphysician.3


as one the


Of course he has long been regarded


three classical Rationalists, along with Descartes and Leibnitz.


Wetlesen


argues


that


was


sage-mystic.4


Spinoza


defies


easy


categorization.


INo
Mensch."


valis, the German romantic poet, wrote, "Spinotza ist ein gottrunkener
This is cited by many Spinoza interpreters and may be found in various


editions of Novalis'


Samuel


(editors),


Verlag, 1978), 2.81


works.


Novalis:


See,
Werke,


or example,
Tagebucher


Hans-Joachim


und Briefe (Munich:


Mahl and Richard


Carl Hanser


2The Philosonhv of Sninoza. two vnlumes (Cleveland-


The Wnrld Pinhlikhinu









problem


be compounded


in Spinoza's


case


nature of his


major work-its geometrical style and seeming lack of connection to his life and


times.


The owl of Minerva may fly at dusk, but Spinoza's work does not clearly


reflect his culture.


To be sure there were some-after all his work was published


in his lifetime or shortly thereafter--who appreciated his concern for reason and

tolerance, but there were many more who resisted mightily what he had to say.


Spinoza


would have us read his major work,


the Ethics,5 without reference


to his life and times.


It is presented as a geometrical demonstration, complete


with


definitions,


axioms


propositions


proofs.


occasionally


prefaces,


notes and appendices


we catch a glimpse of the


intellectual


climate


against


which


work


is set and


can discern


own intentions.


Using these


portions of the Ethics and the even more directly written correspondence, we can


determine his problematic and purposes.


Then we should be able to read the book


on its own terms and in its proper context.

This reading will reveal the conflicted religious, social, political and intel-


lectual


atmosphere


which


lived


the metaphysical,


epistemological,


ethical


and religious aims of the Ethics.


Although I am particularly concerned


with the religious character of his philosophy, I will not suggest that this is the


only significant dimension.


Spinoza's concerns


were also ontological,


epistemo-


logical, psychological, ethical and political (although the last one does not receive


much treatment in the Ethics).


To the extent that he was religious, however, he


was


so through his rationalist philosophy.


The Ethics in its entirety can be read









a religious book.


This understanding of the religious character of his philosophy,


moreover, will enable us to


see why his work has been so variously interpreted.


It is my intention to provide a brief but precise, comprehensive view that


will enable us to


see his work whole.


To accomplish this perhaps impossible task I


first review


the various


interpretations of his work,


then I


move


to a


direct examination of some central religio-philosophical doctrines of the Ethics.


They are the well known ones of Deus


sive


Natural,


"God or Nature", and amor Dei


intellectuals,


scientia intuitiva,


"the intellectual love of God"


"intuitive knowledge",


as well as the less well known ones of


which Spinoza also calls "the third kind


of knowledge", and finally his unexpected understanding of "eternity"


. There is


much else in the Ethics, but the doctrines I will focus on are sufficiently central


to establish the religious character of his philosophy.


My reading will be open to


several challenges:


, the Ethics cannot be read


as an expression of Spinoza's


religiosity, because he says elsewhere that between faith and philosophy there is

neither connection nor affinity, two, the four religio-philosophical doctrines I have


identified are not central to the Ethics, and,


three, his religious language can be


eliminated.


will deal


with


these objections during


the course of the chapter.


The novelty of my interpretation lies not


so much in my contention that the Ethics


articulates


Spinoza's


personal


religion,


as well


as his


philosophy,


focusing on this claim and giving it some specificity.


pinoza and Religion


As tempting as it might be to bypass the many, diverse views of


Spinoza, I


chnll na ra en far +horn ic r mari+ in raneiAorina +harn


17 / will HA shla +n


TYY il









"enigmatic"


Spinoza.6


Ultimately


one can


describe


philosophy


careful, contextual consideration of his work.


But unless one knows the questions


to ask, one may become enmeshed in the deductive apparatus of the Ethics and


to deal


with


central


concerns.


After


considering


wildly


varying


interpretations


relevant


Without


of Spinoza's


aspects


context


religiosity


seventeenth


we shall


lack


century


a loss


thereof),


religious


to understand


shall


describe some


political


some


situation.


of Spinoza's


apprehensions, purposes, beliefs and actions.



The Varied Interpretations of Spinoza


claim


Spinoza


best


understood


as having


developed


religious rationalism.


This is not a novel position, but it is one that has not been


explored carefully.


In addition


to this religious rationalism interpretation there


are several rival views of Spinoza's relation to religion.


atheist, a philosopher with

religious philosopher. I wil


He has been seen as an


embarrassing religious views, a mystic and a medieval


.1 first note the limited critical literature that pertains


to my thesis, then survey the rival views.

The unexplored alternative


There are several


philosophical interpreters


character of Spinoza's philosophy.


Harold H.


who have noted the religious


Joachim, who wrote a major book on


Spinoza,


perceptively


obser


ves:


"Philosophy


fact,


in its highest


form,


Spinoza at the same time and essentially the noblest form of human life:


the life









religion."7


But this is the last sentence of a paragraph and amounts to little


more than a suggestion.


Similarly there is a brief characterization of Spinoza by


Etienne Gilson.


Although critical of Spinoza, he says,


"I, personally,


would not


speak lightly of Spinoza's religion.


It is a one hundred percent metaphysically pure


answer to the question how to achieve salvation by means of philosophy only."8


Lewis


White


Beck


devoted


a brief


chapter


in a short book


to Spinoza's


religion.


He like others regards the Ethics as "a metaphysical treatise on God and


man


in their


relationship


to each


other"


thinks


that


it "presents


Spinoza's philosophy as a substitute for religion based on revelation,


tradition and


institutional forms".9
institutional forms".


is not the


case


that Spinoza's philosophy


is an ersatz


religion, but rather a philosophical one,


the kind of religion


to be practiced not by the masses in churches


established by the state, but the kind to be practiced by the philos-


opher who thmis his own thought in freedom.
the wise man.


But Beck's treatment is, as he says,


It is the religion of


"an admitted oversimplification" (p. 36).


Julius


Guttmann


correctly


distinguishes


between


Spinoza's


recommenda-


tions for popular religion in the Theologico-Political Treatise and his own religion


as expressed

Guttmann ob


in the


*serves,


Ethics.

"recognize


Spinoza's

s no othei


system,

r religion


is worked


than


out in


the philosopher's


Ethics,

s intel-


lectual love of God, and admits to no other ethic than the conquest of the passions


by thought.


. Spinoza pursued the intellectualizing of the moral and religious


o. 181.


7A Study of the Ethics of Spinoza (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1901),









consciousness


to its logical


extreme.""


once


again


only


a brief


exposition of Spinoza's


religious rationalism.


The rival interpretations


Although Pierre Bayle may have been


the most influential early critic of


Spinoza,12 he was not the first to accuse him in writing of being an atheist.


That


distinction


belongs


one of


Spinoza's


acquaintances,


Lambert


Velthuysen.


This liberal medical doctor reviewed Spinoza's


Theological and Political Treatise


in a letter to Jacob Ostens.13


In this letter he accuses Spinoza of secretly intro-


during atheism (L42, p. 254).


similarly E.E.


Powell, a twentieth-century critic of


Spinoza, accuses him of atheism and insincerity.14


This poses a serious interpre-


tive problem, for if I cannot overcome the Velthuysen-Powell charges, then I will

have great difficulty in interpreting Spinoza as a religious philosopher.

One of Spinoza's most recent students, Jonathan Bennett, finds three of the


doctrines


that are central


the third level

write about.15


to a religious interpretation of Spinoza-eternal life,


of knowledge and the


intellectual love of God--embarrassing to


I have a different opinion and will have to show their significance


11Philosophies of Judaism, translated by David W.
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964), p. 285.


Silverman (New


York:


12Rosalie L.


Colie,


"Spinoza and the Early English Deists", Journal of the


History of Ideas, 20 (January 1959), 24. See also Richard H. Popkin, The History
of Scepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1979), pp. 328 and 247.


13A.
(originally


Wolf


published


(editor
I, 1928;


translator),


reprinted New


The


York:


Correspo


Russell


ndence of .
Russell, Inc.,


Letter 42, pp.
Wolf; thus L42.


239-254.


will cite letters by the symbol "L" and the number in


References to the Ethics will be by part, proposition, etc.


Thus


44,a 4F!+k^ nrnnrrff^/aen S4 64f ea,-n n+ nT.IA klnf *^A fr ern


r -- --- I -- -- I


Spinoza
1966),


" crri KF a -a 3P& i r n rI'f/.^ I lK *


1









and indeed their indispensibility for Spinoza's project.


description of Spinoza as a mystic.


There is also the recurring


If he was a mystic, then the burden will be on


me to defend


claim


was rationally religious.


Finally there is H.A.


Wolfson's


insistence that


pinoza can only be understood as standing within the


medieval Jewish philosophical tradition (l.ix).


To do so, however, is to ignore the


more pressing claims of Spinoza's own century and his claim to have broken with

the theologies of past, Jewish and Christian.


Atheism and insincerity.


Powell regards


pinoza as an atheist.


He con-


cludes that Spinoza's "Atheistic Monism


represents a world view which, in its


essential features,


very


antithesis


that


required by the religious con-


sciousness" (p. 340).


Since Powell thinks religion is based on "a belief in a higher


personal power" or powers (p. 223),


we can dismiss his judgement.


He, like many


who have accused Spinoza of atheism,


has done


so by definition:


God is personal;


Spinoza's g

decided by


od is impersonal; therefore


definition.


. .. This is not however a matter to be


One needs to take seriously Spinoza's arguments for his


understanding of God and only after considering them, determine if Spinoza's Deus


Natura


appropriately


regarded


as an object


of worship


or "intellectual


love".


More


serious


is Powell's


interpretive


strategy


secularizing


Spinoza's


religious language, thereby discovering Spinoza's real anti-religious meaning.


This


must be taken seriously because of his argument that Spinoza, moved by caution


or timidity,


intentionally


deceptive


religious


matters.


Moreover


Powell


would seem to be supported by Wolfson's


assertion that Spinoza's "'God' is merely


an anneasive term for the mntt rnmnrshsncivs nrininla nf tha umni ArcAt (I 1 771









alleged statement of the Spinozan camouflage strategy cited by Powell is from a


letter Spinoza had written to Henry Oldenburg, one of the first secretaries


of the


British Royal


Society.


Spinoza wrote that he required a preface to be published


with his exposition


some Cartesian


philosophy "in


the geometrical


manner"


because not everything presented therein was Spinoza's


own views.


The material


had been originally "dictated


. to a certain young man to whom I"'--Spinoza--


not wish


to teach


own


opinions


without


reserve"


(L13,


Wolf,


123).


Powell takes Spinoza's unwillingness to teach the youth his own views as implying


a "willingness to do so


indirectly" (p. 59).


Thus we must be careful not to take


Spinozan religious language at face value, for Spinoza may be covertly teaching us


atheism


as he


tried


to teach


young


student


his own


views


guise of


teaching


Cartesian


philosophy.


Powell


mistaken.


Ludwig Meyer,


in his


preface


to Spinoza'


published exposition of Descartes,


writes of Spinoza:


"For


when he promised to teach a pupil the philosophy of Descartes it was a matter of

principle with him not to depart in the least from his opinions or to teach anything


that did not follow from his dogmas, or was contrary to them.


Wherefore, let no


one think that he is teaching here his own opinions or only what he approves."16


Then Meyer


proceeds


to specify some of the


views that Spinoza did not share:


that the will is distinct from the understanding,


that there are limits to Extension


and "that this or that surpasses human knowledge" (p. 7f).


One purpose of the


preface then was to make clear that this book was a teaching device and was not


to be taken as an exposition of Spinoza's


own views.


There is no reason to regard


it as a covert attempt to


inculcate


Spinozism.


From Spinoza's


unwillingness to


tanr9h +he nwr t-h hki, atn wlitunc inn naaA,,' infr natlhirnC rinn /r mr thn (1 h a inn "h winr










to explain Descartes and possibly (2) he did not think the youth able to understand

or accept his (Spinoza's) own philosophy.


Powell's interpretation of Spinoza is crude.


I have discussed it, because it


raises


an important


issue.


How


sincere


was


Spinoza


use of


religious


language?


perhaps


better


was


Spinoza's


religious


language


appropriate


My own view is that Spinoza had to use religious language to convey


attitude


toward


universe


understanding


the consequences of


regarding it as divine.


The alleged incoherence of the religious doctrines.


A more sophisticated


critic


of Spinoza's


religious


doctrines


Bennett.


discussion


Spinoza's


pantheism is illuminating and I will make use of it later.


But he fails to take this


pantheism seriously,


asserting:


"From my standpoint, which is concerned not with


Spinoza's mental biography but with getting his help in discovering philosophical


truth,


would


make


no difference


saw


himself


as an atheist"


Although


Bennett


says


aims


are to expound


argue


with Spinoza's


Ethics (p. 1),


the second purpose seems


to be uppermost.


This can be seen in the


quote just cited. What is dominant is the "help" that Spinoza the teacher can give

Bennett the student. This attitude is even more explicitly stated in the chapter on


the latter three religious doctrines.


There he concludes that the final part of the


Ethics, where these three doctrines are set forth, is not "something from which we


can learn, and for me that is crucial.


The courtly deference which pretends that


Spinoza


thing;


always


is quite


or usually

another to


right,


under


look to


some

as I


rescuing


have


interpretation,


throughout


is one


this book, as a


1


* S


. C


* *


*n -~n a~r t a ~ an a n I r a na(n n C f a C-Cf f *,-I l ..t .k~ pa na n S


IYI:CL~ IAJ EICIIII IILLEIII SA*


r *









much.


that


Spinoza


a possible


instantiation


philosophy-as-


religion.


Thus it


makes a


difference


purposes whether Spinoza


was an


atheist or not and whether or not the doctrines found in the last part of the Ethics


make sense, on Spinoza's


terms.


Perhaps if Bennett had taken Spinoza's Deus


sive


Natura more seriously, he would have found the discussions of eternality, scientia


intuitiva


and amor Dei


intellectuals


more


meaningful.


Given


overriding


importance


Deus


Natura


Spinoza's


work,


have difficulty


conceiving how one could understand, much less learn from, a Spinoza who could


possibly be an atheist.


This is to


treat the Ethics as a collection of teachings,


which is what Bennett does, and not


as a systematic treatment of the one self-


sufficient


substance,


Deus sive


Natura.


Nevertheless


we can learn


from


latter-day student of Spinoza's and we will do so in due course.

George Kimball Plochmann, in his forward to James Collins's recent book


on Spinoza,17


says that studies of Spinoza in the last fifty years have either taken


him "as a successful builder of a system or else" asserted "that he failed to blend

all his opinions, borrowed or new, into a unity more than merely stylistic" (p. x).


Collins


takes


latter


approach


thus


help


in understanding


Spinoza's


religio-philosophy. 18


is not


intention,


however,


argue


Spinoza's system.


I only need to find there a sufficiently coherent philosophy that


is also thoroughly religious.





17Spinoza on Nature (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984).

18Collins. however. is not a euide uoon whom I can ultimately rely. for he









Of course Spinoza was religious; he was a


mystic.


In his influential book,


Mysticism and


Philosophy,


Stace19


argues that Spinoza's pantheism


is the


product of the logical paradox of his metaphysics:


God is both nature and distinct


from


nature.


Since


"mysticism


always


a series of


logical


paradoxes",


then


pinoza is,


"possibly against his will", a paradoxical pantheist and thus a mystic.


Stace writes of Spinoza:

If one interprets his phrase "God or Nature" to mean that God is just


another name for nature,


that in


short God is just a piece of ver-


biage, one will naturally conclude that he is nothing but an atheist.


But if
identic.


one interprets him mystically, so that God, as well as being


al


with


world,


is also


distinct


from


then


very


moving religious language acquires meaning and may well justify the


phrase "God-intoxicated man."


suggestion is that he exh


himself the living paradox of being a God-intoxicated atheist.


The dilemma


that Stace has set up is that for Spinoza either God is nothing but


nature or that God is both identical to and distinct from nature.


If the former is


the case,


then Spinoza is an atheist, that is, one who thinks there is nothing that is


divine.


If the latter,


then he is a mystical paradoxical pantheist--Stace's


"God-


intoxicated atheist"


dox?


. But what if


the latter horn of the dilemma is not a para-


What if we can render it non-paradoxically


Spinoza, it appears to some,


identified


nature


terms


have different connotations.


Since Frege many of us have been taught that two terms may differ in sense and


yet refer to the same thing.


Thus Thomas Carson Mark argues:


. the terms "God" and "nature" are not synonymous for Spinoza.
They do refer to the same thing--they have the same extension--but
from that it does not follow that they have the same meaning. The


words have different associations for Spinoza,


ordinary Latin.
intellectuals


He speaks of amorr


Naturae,"


not because


just as they have in


intellectuals Dei," not amorr


"Deus"


"Natura"









refer to the same thing (they do), bt
the religious significance of "Deus".


The burden of Spinoza's


because natural does not have


Ethics is to invest "Natura" or the totality of things with


the religious significance of "Deus", for the totality of things is divine.


to de-anthropomorphize our understanding of "Deus"


And also


for "Natura" is all there is.


Thus Stace


is wrong


whatever Spinoza


see Spinoza as


is needs


a more


"a God-intoxicated atheist"


subtle designation


Moreover,


than "God-intoxicated"


"atheist" or a paradoxical juxtapositioning of these terms.

But perhaps a weaker version of mysticism is applicable to the rationalist


Spinoza.


If, unlike


Stace, we do not insist that mysticism involves necessarily the


ineffable


or the


paradoxical,


then


perhaps


Spinoza


should


regarded


as a


mystic.


If mysticism


is an


intimate experience of God or union


with ultimate


reality, then perhaps Spinoza was a mystic.


According to 3on Wetlesen there have


been


Holland


"members


of The


Hague


School',


argued


a mystical


interpretation


of Spinoza,


"and


members


of 'The


Rijnsburg


School',


who argued


against


since


they


were


more in favour


a rationalistic


point of view"


Guido


van Suchlelen,


speaking


restored Domus Spinozana


at the


Hague,


adds,


"It then served as a centre of living Spinozist thought, inspired by Dr


Gebhardt


Dr JH Carp,


now


referred


to as


the 'Hague School',


largely


characterized by


a mystical


interpretation


philosopher's


works."23


This


controversy is unavailable


to me, but I will be able to make out a


case


for Spinoza


as a mystic.


Ultimately


however, I shall argue that he was no mystic, at least not


21Spinoza's
. f, '


.


Theory of Truth (New


York: Columbia University Press, 1972),


A









in any significant sense.


Thus I


will have to show that he was religious, but no


mystic.


The last of the medievals.


To Wolfson the Ethics is not "logical, orderly,


and coherent" and is not written "in a language which is self-explanatory" (1


Thus


feels


justified


in constructing


a context


that


make


sense of


work.


This literary background is medieval Jewish Aristotelianism.


title of Wolfson's


study,


The original


which he announced in the Chronicon Spinozanum (in each


of the four volumes in which chapters of his forthcoming book appeared), was:


Spinoza


Last


Medievals:


a study


Ethica


Ordine


Geometrico Demonstrata in the light of a hypothetically constructed
Ethica More Scholastico Rabbinicoque Demonstrata.


He abandoned this title, he says, offering the non-explanatory reason that "it did

not seem advisable to have the title begin with word 'Spinoza"' (l.ix).


Wolf son


thinks


the Ethics


authors,


an explicit one that he calls


"Benedictus"


an implicit


one that


calls


"Baruch"


(This


a play


Spinoza's changing his name when he left the Jewish community.)


"Benedictus is


the first of


the moderns; Baruch is the last of the mediaevals."


It is


Wolf son's


"contention"


that


we cannot understand Benedictus


without knowing "what


passed through the mind of Baruch" (l.vii).


o he constructs Baruch's mind for us!


ingenious,


impressive


occasionally


informative


recon-


struction is, I think it is misconceived as a presentation of Spinoza's philosophy or


even as a commentary on it (see Wolfson, l.viii).


It is at best a highly-suggestive


but one-sided historical reconstruction.


To follow it alone is to be misled.


It is


far better, I


think,


to read the Ethics against the


immediate background of the


late seventeenth century.


The emeryinu science. the witherinor thnla+ticitmn


I I .P