Jim Kanaris – An Answer to Academic Timidity of Self: Philosophy of Religious Studies

Jim Kanaris is Professor of Religious Studies at McGill University. We invited him to answer the question “Is there a future for the philosophy of religion?” as part of our “Philosophers of Religion on Philosophy of Religion” series.

In1 the invitation to write this piece on the future of philosophy of religion, several questions were posed for my consideration, the most significant for my current professional purposes was the following: What does philosophy of religion contribute to ongoing discussions of normativity in philosophy and religious studies? In what follows, I propose something of a controversial answer to this question, one which I believe offers a needed critique of, and constructive response to, the normative discourse surrounding the differential of subjectivity and objectivity, a discourse that obstructs a responsibility toward self in philosophizing religion.

One of the most challenging aspects of teaching is the bewildering spectrum of interests and experiences of students and teachers alike. It is especially challenging when one’s area of specialization is remote from the questions and concerns in that spectrum. Because educators desire, ideally, to be engaging, they aim to alleviate the dissociation students and colleagues experience when faced with their subject matter. This general, though important, circumstance has challenged me to configure a teaching strategy apropos to my field, religious studies, specifically philosophy of religion, and to clear a path for students to formalize their philosophical foundations that directly or indirectly guide their research. Continue reading

Doug Allen on “Is There A Future For The Philosophy Of Religion?”

Doug Allen is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Maine. We invited him to answer the question “Is there a future for the philosophy of religion?” as part of our “Philosophers of Religion on Philosophy of Religion” series.

The simple answer to the question of whether there is a future for the philosophy of religion is that there is. However, our answers must be dynamic, open-ended, complex, and contextually significant as we reimagine and reconceptualize our future and the role that philosophy of religion may play in relating to that future.

In simple terms, philosophy of religion has a future because philosophy and philosophical reflection on religious phenomena have a future. In many essential ways, philosophy addresses our deepest existential and normative concerns. As long as there is a future with human life, human beings identifying themselves with human cultures will experience existential crises. They will often respond with philosophical reflections, answers, ideologies, and systemic formulations that provide solutions or at least some meaning to their lives. This may be true, but such simple affirmative answers remain on the abstract, universal, essentialized, and decontextualized level. They are not sufficient for answering whether philosophy or whether any particular philosophies have a future in our contextualized relational world of 2022. Continue reading