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PHIL101: Introduction to Philosophy

Unit 5: Philosophy of Religion   Some of the most fascinating philosophical questions fall under the rubric of the philosophy of religion. In many different time periods, cultures, and religious traditions people have asked questions that we now associate with the sub-field of philosophy known as philosophy of religion. This area of philosophy tackles such topics as: What happens to us after we die? Do we possess an immortal soul? Does God exist? If God exists, how does He affect human life and the rest of the world? Nearly always, the issue is the question of the respective roles of faith and reason - whether they are fundamentally complimentary or opposed. Although many philosophers of religion are themselves believers in one faith or another, being religious is not a prerequisite for engaging in philosophical inquiry about religion. Many westerners raised in the Judeo-Christian context have particular ideas about the soul and about God. In eastern religions, there may be no concept of an immortal soul, and the notion of God may be multifaceted or may refer to consciousness acting as one with all being, all existence. 
 
In this unit, we will be surveying a number of influential approaches to religious topics. We will begin with a look at Plato’s arguments for the immortality of the soul. We will then address the question of God’s existence, considering arguments from Saint Anselm, René Descartes, and Blaise Pascal. We will also confront Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous and provocative assertion that “God is dead.” Finally, we will introduce an Eastern point of comparison by looking at some Buddhist teachings about the self and the possibility of achieving enlightenment. 

Unit 5 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 33 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 5.1: 12.75 hours ☐    Subunit 5.1.1: 1.25 hours

☐    Subunit 5.1.2: 8 hours

☐    Subunit 5.1.3: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2: 6.75 hours ☐    Subunit 5.2.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 5.2.3: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2.4: 1.25 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2.5: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 5.2.6: 2 hours

☐    Assessment #7: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 5.3: 2.75 hours

☐    Subunit 5.4: 4 hours ☐    Subunit 5.4.1: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 5.4.2: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 5.5: 2.75 hours ☐    Assessment #8: 2 hours

Unit5 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Describe the concept of the immortal soul and the concept of God as found in Western traditions, and contrast these concepts with Eastern traditions.
  - Explain arguments for and against the belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing, and benevolent God.
  - Compare and contrast ontological and causal arguments for the existence of God. 
  - Describe the philosophical underpinnings and sociocultural context for Pascal’s religious pragmatism and Nietzsche’s nihilism.
  - Compare and contrast Buddhist notions of “self” with the Western philosophical tradition’s notion of “self” as propounded by Plato.  

5.1 Plato and the Immortality of the Soul   - Lecture: Yale University: Dr. Shelly Kagan: “Introduction to Plato’s Phaedo; Arguments for the Existence of the Soul, Part II” and “Plato Part II: Arguments for the Immortality of the Soul” Links: Yale University: Dr. Shelly Kagan: “Introduction to Plato’s Phaedo; Arguments for the Existence of the Soul, Part II” (YouTube) and “Plato Part II: Arguments for the Immortality of the Soul” (YouTube)

 The First Lecture is Also Available In:  
 [Adobe Flash, QuickTime, or
mp3](http://oyc.yale.edu/philosophy/phil-176/lecture-3)  

[PDF](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/PHIL101KaganTranscript1.pdf)
(Transcript of Lecture)  

 The Second Lecture is Also Available In:  
 [Adobe Flash, QuickTime, or
mp3](http://oyc.yale.edu/philosophy/phil-176/lecture-4)  

[PDF](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/PHIL101KaganTranscript2.pdf)
(Transcript of Lecture)  

 Instructions: Click on the links above and listen to the first 8
minutes of the first lecture and the second lecture (approximately
47 minutes). These lectures outline the historical context of
Plato’s dialogue and explain its dramatic structure. They also
provide some essential conceptual background, such as why it is
important to argue for the existence of a soul in the first place.
 You may also read the transcript instead.  
    
 Watching these lectures and taking notes should take approximately
1 hour and 15 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: The resource is released under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License
3.0](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/). It is
attributed to Yale University and the original version can be found
[here](http://oyc.yale.edu/philosophy/death/content/transcripts/transcript-4-introduction-to-platos-phaedo).

5.1.2 Plato’s Phaedo   - Reading: Plato: “Phaedo” Link: Plato’s “Phaedo” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the passage. Phaedo was written as an account of Socrates’s last moments before his execution, as related by his friends. Socrates’s impending death lends drama to his arguments for the immortality of the soul. Take note of how these arguments depend on the metaphysics (the theory of forms) Plato develops in The Republic.
 
Studying this resource should take approximately 8 hours.
 
Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

5.1.3 Understanding Plato’s Phaedo   - Reading: Hartwick College: Dr. Dale E. Burrington’s Guides to the Socratic Dialogues: “Plato’s Phaedo Link: Hartwick College: Dr. Dale E. Burrington’s Guides to the Socratic Dialogues: “Plato’s Phaedo (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this webpage. Click “Next” at the bottom of the
page to read all nine pages. Dr. Burrington provides a narrative
outline of Plato’s dialogue, touching on each of the arguments he
provides for the immortality of the soul.  
    
 Studying this reading should take approximately 1 hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: University of Notre Dame: Dr. Jeff Speaks’ “Platonic Arguments for the Immortality of the Soul” Link: University of Notre Dame: Dr. Jeff Speaks’ “Platonic Arguments for the Immortality of the Soul” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage, which offers a brief outline of the structure of Plato’s arguments. In contrast to the reading from Dr. Burrington above, Dr. Speaks provides an analytical outline of Plato’s arguments, making it easier to see how his conclusion that the soul is immortal depends on a series of premises. Speaks’s method also highlights Plato’s development of several parallel arguments rather than a single line of thought.
     
    Studying this reading should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: Yale University: Dr. Shelly Kagan: “Introduction to Plato’s Phaedo; Arguments for the Existence of the Soul, Part II” and “Arguments for the Existence of the Soul, Part IV; Plato, Part I” Link: Yale University: Dr. Shelly Kagan’s “Introduction to Plato’s Phaedo; Arguments for the Existence of the Soul, Part II” (YouTube) and “Arguments for the Existence of the Soul, Part IV; Plato, Part I” (YouTube)

    The first lecture is also available in:
    Adobe Flash, QuickTime, or Mp3

    PDF

    The second lecture is also available in:
    Adobe Flash, QuickTime, or Mp3

    PDF

    Instructions: Click on the links above and view these lectures on Plato’s Phaedo and Dr. Kagan’s exegesis of the Platonic notion of the soul in this work. In Subunit 5.1.1, you watched the first 8 minutes the first lecture as an introduction. Now that you have read Phaedo in Subunit 5.1.2, you should now watch this entire lecture.
     
    Watching these lectures and taking notes should take approximately 2 hours.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License 3.0. It is attributed to Yale University and the original version can be found here.

5.2 Medieval and Enlightenment Arguments for the Existence of God   5.2.1 Saint Anselm of Canterbury and the Ontological Argument   - Reading: Virginia Tech: Dr. David Burr’s Saint Anselm: “Proslogion Link: Virginia Tech: Dr. David Burr’s Saint Anselm: “Proslogion” (PDF)
 
Also available in:
HTML
 
Instructions: Click on the link above to download the PDF file and read Dr. Burr’s introductory comments and then read Saint Anselm’s Proslogion. Anselm devised the first version of the widely influential ontological argument for the existence of God. Take note of the translator’s commentary, especially in regard to Saint Anselm’s belief that it is possible to provide rational demonstrations of articles of faith.
 
Studying this reading should take approximately 2 hours.
 
Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

5.2.2 Understanding and Evaluating Anselm’s Ontological Argument   - Reading: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Kenneth Einar Himma’s “Ontological Argument” Link: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Kenneth Einar Himma’s ”Ontological Argument” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above and read Section 1 and Section 2. Dr. Himma provides an analytical breakdown of Saint Anselm’s argument and outlines various objections raised to it by Gaunilo of Marmoutier, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Immanuel Kant.
 
Studying this reading should take approximately 1 hour.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.2.3 Descartes’s Causal Argument   - Reading: René Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy: “Meditation III” Link: René Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy: “Meditation III” (PDF)

 Also available in:  
 [HTML](http://www.wright.edu/cola/descartes/meditation3.html)  

 Instructions: Read this text. This meditation picks up where we
left off with Descartes in Unit 1. You may wish to review the first
two meditations before moving forward. Recall that in the first two
meditations, Descartes established that he knows one thing for
certain: that he is thinking, and because he is thinking, he must
exist. In this meditation, he proceeds from this single idea to his
proof that God exists. For Descartes, demonstrating God’s existence
is important not only because it justifies Christian religion but
also because if he can show that God exists and that God is not by
nature deceptive, then he can place the basic premises of his
rational philosophy on a firm foundation.  
    
 Studying this reading should take approximately 2 hours.  
    
 Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

5.2.4 Understanding Descartes’s Causal Argument   - Reading: Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare: Dr. Rae Langton: “A Study Guide to Descartes’ Meditations Link: Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare: Dr. Rae Langton: “A Study Guide to Descartes’ Meditations” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Click the PDF link and then read pages 30 - 35 for a brief summary of the argument from Descartes’s third mediation. Dr. Langton’s cleverly dubs Descartes’s causal argument for the existence of God the “trademark argument” because Descartes’s reasoning is, in simplified terms, that God must exist because God is the only viable cause that could have produced the idea of God. Our innate idea of God, then, is like a trademark that God stamps into the rational beings that are his creations. Pay close attention to the distinction between “objective” and “formal” reality, as Descartes’s usage of these terms is not the conventional one.
 
Terms of Use: The article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike License 3.0. It is attributed to Dr. Rae Langton and the original version can be found here.

  • Reading: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Justin Skirry’s “René Descartes (1596 - 1650): Overview” Link: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Justin Skirry’s “René Descartes (1596 - 1650): Overview” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above and read Section 5. This reading offers an alternative analysis of Descartes’s causal argument for God’s existence. Section 5b briefly presents Descartes’s other, far simpler argument for the existence of God, which appears later on in the meditations.
     
    Studying this reading should take approximately 20 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.2.5 Pascal’s Wager: Believing in God for Pragmatic Reasons   - Reading: Blaise Pascal: “A Selection from Pensées Link: Blaise Pascal’s “A Selection from Pensées (PDF)
 
Also available in:

[HTML](http://www.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/Pascal_Wager.htm)  
    
 Instructions: Click on the link above to download the PDF and read
it. Pascal was a French polymath who lived during the mid-17th
century. His posthumously published *Pensées* (or *Thoughts*)
depicts a thinker opposed to the rigid rationalism of Descartes and
his followers, who insisted that faith and reason were wholly
incommensurable. The famous “wager” argument he presents for the
existence of God is intended as an alternative to the deductive
arguments popular at the time. Some scholars believe that Pascal
made the suggestion facetiously in order to ridicule the
rationalists.  
    
 Studying this reading should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

5.2.6 Understanding Pascal’s Wager   - Reading: Dr. Peter Kreeft: “The Argument from Pascal’s Wager” Link: Dr. Peter Kreeft’s “The Argument from Pascal’s Wager” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage about Pascal’s wager argument. Dr. Kreeft provides essential historical context and presents a largely sympathetic reading of the argument.
 
Studying this reading should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Alan Hájek’s “Pascal’s Wager Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Alan Hájek’s “Pascal’s Wager (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this webpage. Dr. Hájek presents a critical analysis of Pascal’s argument and presents some of the standard objections raised against it.
     
    Studying this reading should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Assessment #7" Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Assessment #7” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above to download the PDF. Follow the instructions to complete the assessment. This assessment will test your comprehension of the three arguments for God’s existence presented in this section and will ask you to evaluate them. Check your responses against the Saylor Foundation’s “Answer Key.”
     
    Completing this assessment should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.3 Friedrich Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Religion   5.3.1 Nietzsche’s Revaluation of Traditional Scientific and Religious Values   - Reading: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Dale Wilkerson’s “Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)” Link: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Dale Wilkerson’s “Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)” (HTML)

 Instructions: Click on the link above and read Section 4 for a
sense of Nietzsche’s philosophical project and its rather stark
contrast with traditional philosophy. Nietzsche’s approach to the
question of God’s existence should be understood as one part of this
project.   

 Studying this reading should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Alan Pratt’s “Nihilism” Link: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Alan Pratt’s “Nihilism” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above and read Section 1 and Section 2 for a definition of nihilism and its relation to Nietzsche’s philosophy.
     
    Studying this reading should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.3.2 Nietzsche’s Parable of the Madman (and Other Aphorisms)   - Reading: Friedrich Nietzsche’s *The Joyful Wisdom* Link: Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Joyful Wisdom (PDF)
 
Also available in:

[HTML](http://www.archive.org/stream/completenietasch10nietuoft/completenietasch10nietuoft_djvu.txt)  
    
 Instructions: Click on the link above to download the PDF. Read
sections 115 through 125.  Nietzsche’s style is designed to
frustrate the casual reader. The full meaning of any of his
assertions does not give itself up on a single reading but requires
a great deal of interpretation. His take on the question of God’s
existence is found in Section 125.  
    
 Studying this reading should take approximately 45 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

5.3.3 Understanding Nietzsche’s “Philosophy of the Future”   - Reading: Friedrich Nietzsche’s *Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future* Link: Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (PDF)
 
Chapter I (PDF)
Chapter II (PDF)
Chapter III (PDF)
Chapter IV (PDF)
Chapter V (PDF)
Chapter VI (PDF)
Chapter VII (PDF)
Chapter VIII (PDF)
Chapter IX (PDF)
Chapter X (PDF)
 
Also available in:

[HTML](http://nietzsche.holtof.com/Nietzsche_beyond_good_and_evil/index.htm)  
    
 Instructions: You may read as much of Nietzsche’s work as you like,
but make sure to at least read “III. The Religious Nature” and “V.
On The Natural History of Morals.”  
    
 Studying the required sections of this text should take
approximately 1 hour.  

 Optionally, you may study further chapters of Nietzsche’s work; it
may take approximately 15 hours or more to complete the full text.
If reading the full text, make sure to break up the reading over the
course of a few days.  
    
 Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

5.4 Buddha’s Philosophy of Religion   5.4.1 Outline of Buddhism   - Reading: Stanford University: Waka Takahashi Brown: “Introduction to Buddhism” Link: Stanford University: Waka Takahashi Brown: “Introduction to Buddhism” (HTML) (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage for a concise outline of the historical background and intellectual tenets of Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism is presented here as a religious doctrine. Like most religions, Buddhism is based on a foundation of philosophical principles, among which the “four noble truths” are the most important because they frame the problem of human life that Buddhist thought sets out to solve. 
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.4.2 Buddhist Principles in the Dhammapada   - Reading: University of Evansville: John Richards: “The Dhammapada-Gautama Buddha” Link: University of Evansville: John Richards: “The Dhammapada-Gautama Buddha” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage, including the selected verses from the Dhammapada on the themes of the self, thought, Buddha, and enlightenment. The Dhammapada forms part of a large body of texts passed down orally by Buddha’s disciples, who committed to writing these in print sometime after Buddha’s death around the fifth century B.C. Two major contrasts are important here. First, unlike the Enlightenment era of European philosophers’ questions about God, the existence of God or of deities is never in question. The important question is “How does one attain enlightenment?” Second, notice that the question of the soul is vastly different than in Plato. In fact, for Buddha, the illusion of the “self” presents the most difficult challenge in achieving freedom from suffering.

 Studying this reading should take approximately 2 hours.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.4.3 Buddha’s Epistemology and Metaphysics   - Reading: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Abraham Velez’s “Buddha (c.480 BCE - c.400 BCE)” Link: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Abraham Velez’s “Buddha (c.480 BCE - c.400 BCE) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the introduction as well as Section 2 and Section 3. They relate Buddha’s epistemology and metaphysics to the task of making progress on the path to enlightenment. The key to this reading is the idea that, for Buddha, human beings must tread with caution when deciding which “reality” they believe in. Unenlightened persons tend to generate “mental constructions,” which they take to be real but which prevent them from more genuine realizations. The principles Buddha outlines, along with the practice of meditation, are aimed at helping people avoid such epistemic pitfalls.
 
Studying this reading should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.5 The Teachings of Buddha Compared with the Ideas of Arthur Schopenhauer   5.5.1 The Teachings of Buddha   - Lecture: PBS Video: David Grubin: “The Buddha” Link: PBS Video: David Grubin’s “The Buddha” (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above and watch this entire video on the life and teachings of Buddha.
 
Watching this video should take approximately 2 hours.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.5.2 The Pessimism of Arthur Schopenhauer   - Lecture: YouTube: Arthur Schopenhauer: “On the Suffering of the World” Link: YouTube: Arthur Schopenhauer: “On the Suffering of the World” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Click on the link above and watch the video. It is
narrated by Nathaniel Paluga (president of the Truth and Beauty
Institute, which promotes expressions of the intellect and the
arts). This video provides a unique reading of Schopenhauer’s work
on pessimism and suffering and compareshis ideas to the teachings of
Buddha. Schopenhauer, who often focuses on the notion of suffering
as key to understanding existence, has some interesting parallels
with the teachings of Buddha.  

 Watching the video and taking notes should take approximately 45
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's: “Assessment #8” Link: The Saylor Foundation's: “Assessment #8” (PDF)

    Instructions: This assessment will ask you to explain how Plato and Buddha differ in their views of what the soul is and, given that, what the death of the body would entail for a human being.  Check your essays against the “Answer Key.”

    Completing this assessment should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.