Reflections on Israel Scheffler's Philosophy of Religion

Studies in Philosophy and Education 16 (1/2):225-240 (1997)
Abstract
The burden of this piece is to draw together into a coherent whole the somewhat diverse strands of Israel Scheffler's thought on the philosophy of religion. Extrapolating from personal discussions with Professor Scheffler, various of his books, articles, and other unpublished materials authored and kindly provided by him, I contend that he adumbrates a post-empiricist rendering of religious belief which masterfully avoids some philosophical problems, while unwittingly giving rise to others. Committed to the view that the methodology of science – in one or other of its more acceptable guises – provides the most reliable measure of the content and structure of reality. Scheffler is bound conceptually to redefine Jewish belief in such a way that the traditional conflict between religion and science never emerges. Consistent with this end, he is concerned to divest traditional Judaism of its metaphysical garb, so that what remains are simply the matters of living to which religion ought properly on his view address itself. The Bible is thus reconceptualized as a piece of rich literature, of no real difference in logical kind to any other piece of rich literature, except that it defines uniquely, along with the Torah and other relevant Jewish literature, the history of the particular community whose perception of human values and meaningfulness forms the core of what it is to be Jewish
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