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2015-01-21
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
First of all:
I dont think anybody doubts about the vital importance of spirituality for mankind (of course if you doubt, put your reasons under discussion ) .
So we must examine this concept and know its exact meaning and nature.
I think that one of the most important questions is whether we can imagine spirituality without religion? or at least without considering a personal agent as God?
I think no. We can not...then we will have no concrete foundation


2015-01-22
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
The obvious objection is: what about Buddhism? I gather that in its purest form it is not a religion in any conventional sense of the word. And it doesn't have "a personal agent as God".


2015-01-26
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Buddhism is surely religion as the folk understand religion, viz. as (1) a package of beliefs concerning supernatural beings, states of affairs or phenomena (2) expressed in ceremonies typically involving special equipment and performed in purpose-built facilities (3) organized by an institution. If an anthropologist discovered a tribe engaged in a practice that met these conditions he would surely characterize it as a religion. If a practice meets two of the conditions it’s a borderline case of religion, e.g. State communism as in North Korea meets (2) and (3), freelance New Agism satisfies (1) and (2). Maybe the practice of Westerners whose ‘Buddhism’ consists in platitudes about how to keep calm and live a good life doesn’t count as religion. But surely the cultural Buddhist folk, the paradigmatic Buddhists, even if they don’t believe in a God or gods, hold beliefs about supernatural phenomena and participate in public, organized religious rituals. What ‘spirituality’ is I don’t know.

2015-01-26
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
The problem is that the word "God" has a vast number of different meanings to different people.  Consider these questions:  Does God intervene in the universe?  Does God judge the universe?  There are four possible sets of answers and the authors of America's Four Gods show that tens of millions of Americans believe that each of these four sets are true. 

2015-01-26
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
One question, I suppose, is why God must be viewed as a personal agent in order to satisfy the demands of spirituality. What are those demands? What motivates spirituality? It seems to me that until we answer this question we can't answer the others. 

2015-01-26
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
What is 'spirituality'??? When I read blogs where the Folk post, etc. it seems to be (1) self-reflection rather than blind, mindless rule following, (2) ethical concern, (3) aesthetic sensitivity, to art and natural beauty, or (4) sentimentality and fuzzy-mindedness. All those things are possible without belief in a personal God, or in supernatural beings or states of affairs. Any reason to think otherwise? Argument please.

2015-01-26
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber

I'm not sure who "the folk" are, but my understanding is that there have been debates for a long time about whether Buddhism is a religion or not. And of course it's complicated by the fact that there have been - and still are – different forms of Buddhism.

Confucianism is another, not dissimilar, case. Was it (is it) a philosophy or a religion? People continue to debate that.

Definitions, of course, plague this whole field, as all the replies to Abootaleb Safdar seem to imply. What does he mean by spirituality, I wonder? Perhaps he might care to explain?

 DA


2015-01-27
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
I gave a plausible definition that covers what most folk, when they're being descriptive rather than idealizing or being prescriptive, would characterize as 'religion'. I don't understand what's being debated.  In textbooks Buddhism is always listed as one of the 'Great World Religions' and 'Buddhist' is accepted without question in filling in forms that ask for 'religious preference'. What more do you want? Do you have any counterexamples?

Individuating religions is another thing. In any religious tradition there will be some adherents who don't believe in any supernatural beings or states of affairs. My bet is that in my Christian denomination at least 10% of the laity and almost half of clergy are atheists, but we still count them as practicing the same religion as their theistic counterparts because they make the same noises, engage in the same ritual practices, and use the facilities maintained by an institution that has theism on the books.

I'd also like to understand what 'spirituality' is supposed to be.

2015-01-27
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber

Again I’m not sure who “the folk” are. It’s a term I encounter from time to time (as in “folk psychology”) but it always strikes me as odd. Perhaps it makes more sense in the US?

And while I can’t give you chapter and verse (this is not my field of study), I have certainly seen debates from time about whether Buddhism is or is not a religion. Indeed, I thought that was a well-known feature of discussions about Buddhism.

Certainly, over time, it has become more and more like a religion for many people. But whether the Buddha’s original “Enlightenment” was a religious experience is another matter. Certainly it doesn’t seem to have been associated with any god or gods. I think the word “spiritual” would probably be more appropriate, if only because it’s vaguer.

As for listings in official forms and books on “Great World Religions”, those are really just matters of everyday convenience, don’t you think? Not really it a basis for a careful analysis of the matter.  Ditto for varying beliefs among members of the same religion.

DA


2015-01-27
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Everyday convenience is exactly what matters--otherwise what exactly is the 'careful analysis' supposed to be an analysis of? That's not a wholly rhetorical question.

I get the sense that debates about what religion is, and what, if anything 'spirituality' is go off the rails because there's an assumption that religion is good or, less often, that it's bad, but that it is in any case important. Why make that assumption? Why not treat the question of what religion is, and whether Buddhism counts as a religion like, e.g. the question of what baroque is and whether St. Paul's is an example of it.


2015-01-27
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber

If I were wanting to answer the question of whether Buddhism is a religion or not I would look not only at current practices in countries where Buddhism is dominant or important, but at the history of Buddhism over – what is it? – some two and a half millennia now. I would go back as far as I could, look at all the relevant texts, see how it has developed and changed over the centuries and in different places, look at the views of a wide range of authorities, and in short gather as much relevant material and opinion as I could. I would not just look at what “the folk” do today (assuming I knew who or what the “folk” were) and, certainly, I would pay very little attention to what happens to be printed on official forms for bureaucratic convenience.

I might well conclude that Buddhism as practised over the centuries has at times resembled a religion and at times not – and that even today it varies from one place to another. (Though much would depend, presumably, on how one defined a religion – and I have never seen any watertight definition.) 

Changing the perspective a little, if one were forming an opinion about the nature of Christianity and its beliefs, would you be happy if they relied on “folk” information – e.g. what’s on official forms – or would you hope that they might do a careful study of the kind I suggest above?

Re your second para, I really don’t see why regarding religion/spirituality as important questions should cause them to go “off the rails”. What would be the causal link there, do you think?

DA


2015-01-27
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
This isn’t addressing the fundamental question: what makes a practice count as religion? I recognize that Buddhism in different times and places is different. So maybe instead of asking whether Buddhism is a religion one should ask about the character of different Buddhist practices over time. The question though is what would count towards or against any of these practices being characterized as religion.

As for the derailment issue…Because lots of people regard religion in general, and their religion in particular as a good thing they’re inclined, out of charity, to redefine religion in such a way that all decent people will count as religious. E.g. ‘Real Christianity is just following the Golden Rule'. And because of the assumption that religion is important, that it addresses some deep, universal human need, people come up with unintelligible, highfalutin, useless definitions, like ‘the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern’ (Tillich). Since metaphysics is inconsequential and ceremony is trivial they resist the obvious understanding of religion as institutionally organized metaphysics + ritual.

As for a watertight definition of religion, what’s wrong with my three conditions? Do you have any counterexamples? More over, these conditions not only capture what paradigmatic religions are, it also explains why some practices are borderline cases.


2015-01-27
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber

RE: “This isn’t addressing the fundamental question: what makes a practice count as religion.”

Well, you suggested that entries on bureaucratic forms are a good basis for determining if something “counts” as a religion. I’m suggesting that one is perhaps more likely to reach an informed opinion about any putative religion by studying it carefully and in depth. One might then be in a position to categorise it – though it may well turn out that neither term – “religion” or “spirituality” – really suits well. After all, those are Western terms.

Re: “And because of the assumption that religion is important, that it addresses some deep, universal human need, people come up with unintelligible, highfalutin, useless definitions, like ‘the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern’ (Tillich).”

So you don’t think religion addresses some deep human need?

You call religion ”institutionally organized metaphysics + ritual”. First, this sounds extremely dry and slightly unreal. (How exactly does one “organize metaphysics institutionally” And will any old ritual do?) Second, what is metaphysics for you? I presume you rule out the kind of thing Tillich seems to have in mind?

DA


2015-01-28
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Well let's drop the definition of religion. I'm justt doing an ordinary language number here.

I do not think religion addresses any deep human need. For most people most of the time what they and others understand as religion has been a pseudo-technology aimed at making the corn grow, getting babies and curing diseases. The Greeks understood the rationale for sacrifice to the gods as 'I give that you might give'. Ceremonies in addition marked life events--birth, marriage, death--and civic events.

As far as deep human needs--the 'meaning of life' or 'worldview' or whatever, to the extent I understand these issues, which is not much, I don't find them interesting. But even if these issues are of interest, why call engagement with them religion? why the linguistic revision? Most people at most times who have practiced what they and others called religion have not regarded it as this sort of inquiry. Why not call it 'Existentialism' or 'wisdom literature' or 'philosophy of life'--all of which seen closer to common usage when it comes to describing this sort of engagement.

As far as the institutional organization of metaphysics--admittedly not a felicitious turn of phrase--I mean selecting and promulgating a canon, meeting in councils to hash out theological questions (e.g. the doctrine of the Trinity), adopting creeds, etc. I know this is specifically Christian. I don't know that much about other religions.

Metaphysics for me is the usual stuff you see in the journals: for me in particular, identity puzzles like the statue-and-the-clay, the Ship of Theseus--and the doctrine of the Trinity.

2015-01-28
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber

Well, H.E. Baber, I confess you greatly surprise me. I’ve known a number of people who don’t have – or anyway don’t seem to have – any interest in questions about the meaning of life – people who seem to just cruise innocently and unquestioningly from day to day until they drop unthinkingly into their graves; but I notice your areas of specialization include the Philosophy of Religion and Metaphysics. I really have no idea how one could study those subjects and yet say that they don’t find questions about the meaning of life interesting or related to a deep human need (or important, I think you said) .

Words, I confess, fail me. I really don’t know where to start. Do you really believe that religions through the ages have been nothing but “a pseudo-technology aimed at making the corn grow, getting babies and curing diseases”? So, all the great writings on religion – the Bible, the Upanishads, the Buddhist writings, and much more – all that is just empty words, the strange delusions of men and women who let their imaginations get the better of them?    

I am not religious, I should hasten to add. I’ve been an agnostic since my early teens and am likely to remain so; but I have never for one moment doubted the importance of the questions religions address. (I mean the major questions, not those related to doctrinal niceties). Of course, it’s not only religions that address those questions; I’m not suggesting that. Many writers have done so – and some still do (not usually philosophers though: they now seem determined to confine themselves to trivial issues). But questions about the meaning of life are at the very heart of religion. Without them it would simply have no point.

DA


2015-01-28
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Perhaps in Australia you have been protected from the careerist motivation of many American "philosophers."

2015-01-28
can we imagine spirituality without religion?

I suspect universities are much the same everywhere. But either way I'm curious about H. E. Baber’s thinking.

Perhaps it's quite possible to live without any deep metaphysical questionings. In fact, judging by modern philosophy in general, this seems to be the way things are tending. Analytic philosophy seems to be happy with a kind of one-dimensional scientism (often science fiction-ism) and continental philosophy can’t seem to detach itself from armchair politics.

Maybe in a hundred years, Pascal’s “image of the human condition” (for example) will have become completely unintelligible. (Thank God I won’t be around to see it!)

DA


2015-02-02
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Richard Rorty argued that we have to get to the point where we no longer worship anything.  He seemed to think that 'worship' is a problematic attitude and he also seemed to throw some cold water on philosophy viewing itself as having terrific significance or being somehow in touch with Being. Perhaps we can consider Rorty's project part of the core philosophical practice of skepticism.  Skepticism takes aim at religious traditions (and what counts as a religious tradition), at spirituality (and whether this concept is too vague to be much help -- a friend of mine defines spirituality as 'what's left when a religious person leaves his church'), and even at philosophy itself (and whether philosophy or anything else we do gets us a little closer to Being, or to asking fundamental questions, or to our ultimate concerns).  Interesting discussion.  

2015-02-03
can we imagine spirituality without religion?

Yes. I am by no means a Rorty expect but this fits with my general impression of his work.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with worship as such – if it’s an expression of a deeply felt belief. (It’s interesting, I think, too, to notice the different forms worship can take – some, for example, placing much more importance on self-abnegation than others.) But I think it must be very difficult in the modern world to experience genuine religious or spiritual feelings because our thinking has become so thoroughly empiricist and pragmatic.  Religion, or the spiritual, is like a door that's closed – though many of us keep battering on it in the hope of breaking it down.

(It looks as if H. E. Baber is not going to satisfy my curiosity about her apparently unusual attitude towards religion. C’est la vie.)

DA


2015-02-03
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Now, now, let’s leave aside my ‘unusual attitude’ and address the issue on the table. There are two questions:

(1) Are concerns about the Meaning of Life etc. intelligible? Are they of general interest? Should they be?

(2) Does religion essentially involve engagement with these questions?

Bracket (1) Let’s consider (2). And avoid begging the question by defining religion to be an enterprise that deals with these concerns. If you adopt a non-idealizing, non-prescriptive, non-question-begging account of religion, it seems clear that these concerns are neither necessary nor sufficient (or anywhere close) for religion.

Not necessary Engagement with these Big Questions is characteristic of the "Great World Religions’"and there only as understood by elites and professional theologians. Historically and globally most of what would be recognized as religious practice—animism, Shinto, Greco-Roman paganism, Mediterranean Folk Catholicism, etc. is primarily concerned with rituals intended to secure benefits in this world or the next, many of which are public ceremonies that participants enjoy for their own sake, which mark life events and community celebrations. It’s a little bit elitist and ethnocentric to regard these beliefs and practices as defective or second-rate.

Not sufficient Many people who are not in any ordinary, non-question-begging sense religious, who don’t participate in such ceremonies or believe in the supernatural, are concerned about Meaning and engage with the Big Questions. And most, I suspect, would not want to be called ‘religious’ or even ‘spiritual’.

What is the point of adopting a revisionary account of "religion"?

2015-02-03
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber
There seem to be three problems with your formulation of the significance of religion.

First, you neglect the moral dimension.  While religion may not be the source of morality there can be no doubt that it is a powerful shaper of moral convictions, not only for theologians but, perhaps even more so, for "ordinary people." 

Second, if we think about the meaning of life in terms of the question --  "Is it all worth it?" -- there can be little doubt that religion plays a huge role here as well.  Viktor Frankl, whose life made him an authority on the meaning of life, certainly thought so, and again I think that most religious people would agree.  

Finally, the argument that people need not be "religious" to concern themselves with these questions ignores the enormous breadth of the concept of "religion."  Even if we were to associate religion exclusively with belief in God -- which I would not -- the vast range of understandings of God that currently exist, not just among theologians but among many hundreds of millions of people, means that very few of us are not in some sense religious.  For example, a very large number of "ordinary people" believe in a God who, in some sense, created the world, but neither intervenes within the world nor judges us (or it) at the end of time.  And then there are Spinozans who believe that the universe is God.  So the number of people who both deny God altogether and seriously grapple with the problem of meaning (for example) may be nowhere as large as you imagine. 


2015-02-03
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
I think we’re addressing different questions. I’m just asking a an ordinary language question: what, if anything, do those practices that would generally be understand as religions have in common?

(1) Much of what we would ordinarily understand as religious practice doesn’t have any moral dimension. Think of Greco-Roman paganism, and certainly much folk religious practice. Religion shapes of moral conviction, but does is the family, popular culture generally, and institutions like Boy Scouts.

(2) Religion may play a big role in dealing with questions about ‘Meaning’  for some people as Frankel suggests, but it is just a plain empirical fact that many religious people don’t engage with such questions and that many who do aren’t in any non-revisionary sense religious.

(3) My real question is: why revise the notion of religion to include, e.g. Spinozans, etc. and others who wouldn't ordinary be regarded as religious? The issue is not belief in God—of course people who don’t believe in God can count as religious, insofar as they may believe in gods, or spirits, or impersonal supernatural phenomena and engage in various rituals. And it seems pretty clear that a great many people are religious in the ordinary unrevised sense—they believe that there is some supernatural or other and, most importantly, engage in various ritual practices, aren’t engaged with these questions. Think of members of some primitive tribe with fetishes and ceremonies, or most ordinary churchgoers who just go through the motions and have some idea that it will help keep their kids in line and help their football team win.

Why the revision? I suspect it's because religion as ordinarily understood isn't important or particularly edifying.

2015-02-04
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber

My apologies. My “unusual attitude” comment was not intended to cast aspersions. I really do find your thinking unusual for someone who studies religion. (But maybe I’m wrong there.)

On your first point (“Not necessary”), I think you are oversimplifying.  It is doubtless true that many people who attend Christian churches (to take that as our example) do so for quite simple motives. Some no doubt do it almost from habit or because they think it’s the “right thing" to do. But my occasional contacts with churchgoers suggest that many are indeed conscious of what you term the “big questions”.  They may not be able to articulate them as well as a theologian (though not all theologians are paragons of clarity…) but they consider them important just the same. I get the feeling – correct me if I am wrong – that you very much want to reduce religions to observable practices in an almost behaviourist sense of that phrase. But is that reasonable? Can we talk seriously about religion without paying attention to the kinds of beliefs that motivate believers (even if they vary in depth and clarity from one worshipper to another)? Would we think it sufficient to talk about a political party (for example) in that way?

Second point (“Not sufficient"): I fully agree that one can concern oneself with the “big questions” without being religious – or even perhaps spiritual (an elusive word) . I am such a case myself: my agnosticism is a result of concerning myself with said questions not of ignoring them; and I’m sure there must be countless other people like me in that respect.

I do think, on the other hand, that religions themselves are virtually inconceivable without a concern for these questions. Of course, as I say, those who follow a particular religion may have a range of attitudes – from the very shallow to the very deep;  but I’m talking here about the very nature of religion – its point and purpose. At the base of every religion (apart from silly, crackpot ones), I would argue, is a response to the “big questions”. Can you think of any that aren’t?

DA


2015-02-04
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
I’ve spent a good deal of time with churchgoers and my educated guess it that most aren’t concerned with the Big Questions. They aren’t dumb. It isn’t that they can’t articulate their concerns: they just aren’t interested. They aren’t motivated to do good by their religious beliefs so much as they want to do good for extra-religious reasons and get involved in church because, like a number of other civic institutions, it organizes do-good programs. Maybe there’s a cultural disconnect here. In the US, church is still relatively mainstream: people still affiliate to get ‘community’, programs for their kids, opportunities for volunteer work and support for their political agendas. And in some cases what I think of as ‘metaphysical thrills’: the music and art, the mysticism, the experience of liturgy.

As for ‘religions themselves’ I take your earlier point that it may be misleading to talk about ‘religions’ rather than individual and group religious practices and, in any case, I don’t think this distinction between ‘deep’ and ‘superficial’ religion is helpful. Forget about ‘serious’ religions vis-a-vis ‘silly’ ones. If you look at the religious commitments and practices of most people (including me) they’re what you’d characterize as ‘shallow’. As far as religions that aren’t engaged with the Big Questions, what about, once again, Greco-Roman paganism (if you wanted big questions you went to a philosopher, not to the local temple)? Or Shinto? Or practices that get lumped together as animism or shamanism? Or Haitian Voodoo? These aren’t ‘crackpot’ faux-religions like Scientology, made up by charlatans.

2015-02-04
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan

Jaspers’ concept of the ‘Axial Age’ may be helpful here.  If there was a time before which religion did not have any moral import, then at a later stage -- the ‘Axial Age’ -- this change took place.  This is what Karen Anderson calls ‘the Great Transformation.’  Spiritual traditions turn earthward and teach justice.

Some conclusions: religion and moral teaching are separable; religion is older 

Our conversation confirms that as individuals we sense a yearning that sometimes expresses itself in ‘religious’ ideas -- meaning: ideas that have a ‘magical’ significance -- nonetheless as philosophers we are examining religion and applying a critical method.  

"At the base of every religion (apart from silly, crackpot ones) …" -- (this distinction may not work out after facing some scrutiny ..)

A rain dance is a response … but perhaps not to the big questions.  It may be from a time before language.  Doctrine and disputes about questions are later phenomena


2015-02-05
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber

You continue to surprise me H. E. Baber. I gather from what you say that you are a Christian and a churchgoer. Am I right, or have I misunderstood you? If I’m right, are you really, honestly indifferent to the “big questions” (as we are, probably inadequately, calling them)?  I can’t really imagine that the sermons preached in the churches you go to are indifferent to them: how could one talk about the biblical messages without in some way dealing with the big questions? My puzzlement increases…

I must say I am also a little perplexed by your phrase “metaphysical thrills’. You make it sound as if metaphysical question are an optional extra in religion.

As for the ‘serious’ vs ‘silly’ distinction, I realize it’s very hard to draw a sharp dividing line. But that’s true for many areas (e.g. art) and we still know that there’s a big difference between genuine Christianity and, say, bogus things like scientology. (As there is between say a Titian and a cartoon on the “funny pages’)

DA


2015-02-05
can we imagine spirituality without religion?

Hi Steve

Re: Religion and moral teaching are separable; religion is older.

I’m not sure about this.  It seems to me that most religions are systems of belief about the universe and man’s place in it. That seems to me usually to include beliefs about what people should and should not do. Whether we call that moral teaching in every case is, I guess, partly dependent on how we define “moral”. But it does seem to me that religions usually go hand in hand with certain expectations and taboos.

Re; ‘Our conversation confirms that as individuals we sense a yearning that sometimes expresses itself in ‘religious’ ideas -- meaning: ideas that have a ‘magical’ significance -- nonetheless as philosophers we are examining religion and applying a critical method.

Now I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that genuine religious feeling is probably beyond the reach of philosophy – at least to a large degree.  

Re: "At the base of every religion (apart from silly, crackpot ones) …" -- (this distinction may not work out after facing some scrutiny ..)”

I understand the point but I would reply to this as I have to H.E.B.

Re; ‘A rain dance is a response … but perhaps not to the big questions”

I’ll stick my neck out again and say it might well be.

DA


2015-02-05
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber
I thought you were asking your question no. 2 above:  Does religion connect to big questions.  It certainly connects to morality and I would call that a big question.  In fact, for most religious people it determines what they believe to be moral.  And it certainly connects to the meaning of life if by that you mean, "Why go on?" or "Is it all worth it?"  E.O. Wilson and others suggest that the main biological benefit of religion is that it gives humans the ability to respond to these questions successfully.  There are answers to both of these questions outside of religion, but my point no. 3 was just to suggest that most answers people give are from a religious framework, though in some cases that framework may not fit with the official doctrine of the Abrahamic religions, or most of them.   

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Kia ora Abootaleb Safdari
I think that yes,we can have spirituality without religion.  But this depends on our definitions of both concepts. 

We may regard spirituality as our interactions with the divine/metaphysical/spiritual world that may surround us.  

We can regard religion as the codified and coherent explanation of what exists in the spiritual realm.

The two ideas are not the same thing.  

We can interact with the spiritual world without having a codified and coherent view of that world ... And when I look at people who claim to have a religion, I believe that we can have religion without spirituality ... i.e., we can have a coherent picture of the divine world, but we need not interact with that world. 

And I certainly think that we can have religion without a personal agent as God.  Many indigenous religions (including that of my own people) does not include a personal agent as God.  It may include spiritual beings who are personal agents but these are not Gods.   Then we have the multi-theistic religions, such as Hinduism ... 

But I am not sure that I want to reach you conclusion that we have no concrete foundation.   No concrete foundation for what?  If your answer is that we have no concrete foundation for a personal and active God, then yes, I agree  In my weltanschauung there is no God of any kind. 

However, I think you ask the question and make that statement in a different context.  Can you please explain. 


2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
What do you mean by the word " religion" ?
I think religion is a set or body of orders and beliefs concern about (at least) the deepest questions of men.  These questions are not about terrestrial life.
With this definition Buddhism is a kind of religion.

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
In a sense, yes.  However there is a wide range of Buddhist belief, some of which certainly place Buddhas as personal agents (such as Pure Land Buddhism). I am sure that Pure Land followers would regard it as the purest form. 

Other beliefs, such as Zen, (which, as a follower, I might argue is its purest form) deny any form of divine being with personal agency. 


2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
This question seems to identify "religion" as "theism".  Why do this?  Why not assume that even an atheist could be spiritual?  Perhaps I don't understand, but disqualifying Buddhism as "religion" seems very unhelpfully ethnocentric to me.  Why assume that in order to be identified as "religion" a spiritual tradition must be theistic? 

Religious postmodernists, Abrahamic, Taoist, Buddhist, and Hindu have engaged these topics for several decades.  They can be helpful in this discussion.  Is the question actually, "Can we imagine spirituality without Theism?"  What is the objective of this question?  Thanks, Nick   

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Two of my papers directly address the theme of spirituality without religion?

I develop a Trans-Species definition of religion (and spirituality) and then demonstrate existence of Chimpanzee Religion (without reference to beliefs about a deity), published in the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture.  https://originsnet.academia.edu/JamesHarrod

In the Trans-Species definition paper  'spirituality' is a component of the definition of religion. 

My proposed definition of religion, which deletes 'beliefs' since in primatology they cannot be determined, is close to aspects of the definition of the holy (Rudolf Otto).  In a sense, of all religions it is closest to the Islamic notion of a deity so other and transcendent and awe-inspiring that no image can capture it.

While hundreds of papers are being published in the evolutionary and neurocognitive study of religion focusing on pro-social cooperative social behavior, I would argue that at its creative heart, human religious behavior (which adds to the trans-species definition the domains of sacrifice and the sacred/profane dialectic) from its beginning during the Oldowan (Homo habilis), 2 million years ago, was a response of 'culture-creators' over-against the social collective and its power-structure.  Here I define 'culture' not simply as toolmaking or language, the dogma of current palaeoanthropology, but as 'art, healing, yoga, religion/spirituality', that is, high culture (of which postmodernism seems hysterically afraid).

James Harrod
originsnet.org
academia.edu

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber
Yes, good, Baber.  I think your comments help to open the field.  Indeed, what does the questioner mean having used the word "spiritualuality"?  One of my points is that we establish our meanings, anthropologists function just as you have noted, all of which seems quite arbitrary to me.  That is as it must be, because we do not enjoy a god's-eye view.  I appreciate that we are anthropocentric, ethnocentric, even egocentric, and believe is helpful for us to recognize that these are aspects of our finitute as we engage any question.

As to the term "spiritualuality," if the word is used, a definition seems helpful.  That is not an easy task, as we recognize.  Schleiermacher and Otto have helped, right?  Durkheim and Eliade also, all of whom have theistic as well as non-theistic possibilities. 

Perhaps there is no good or helpful or even pragmatic reason to seek a broadest definition of spirituality, in the interesting inclusion and pluralism?  Thanks, Nick

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
This is a question I have been interested in for some time, although considered a traditional C of E person.  I have explored philosophy and religion over the past few years and my current leaning is towards the idea of consciousness being the base of spirituality- either as an emergent property and or linked to quantum mechanics.

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber
Spirituality in its broadest meaning is to believe in something beyond material.Something that we can not reduce it to material, we can not explain it just by materialistic means.
I think it is very important, because the next step is about ethics..It seems very hard to make a  consistent ethical system without spirituality , and if we could  not consider spirituality without religion , the conclusion will be  very simple : It is hard to imagine a consistent ethical system without religious beliefs.

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
As a born Asian Buddhist and as a college-level academic, I do entirely concur with H.E.Baber about Buddhism being a religion. In fact, it is a religion, a philosophy and a way of life all at once. These are not mutually exclusive categories.
As long as any spiritual tradition has concepts of sacred space (temples and monasteries), sacred time (uposatha and Vesak), clergy (monks and nuns), sets of organized chantings, rites, images etc. it is a religion.

Even Confucianism is a religion and philosophy. There are Confucian temples, sacrifices (ox, sheep and pig), rites of passage (Confucian liturgical weddings conducted in Korea).

Both in the religions of India and China, philosophy provides the theory, and religion the practice.

BTW, the most consistent form of non-theistic religion is Jainism.

Even my religio-philosophical tradition of Buddhism has a "backdoor theism" in Mahayana Buddhism, but not Jainism. It has consistently rejected the notion of a Supreme Being throughout its 3000 year history. 

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber
Kia ora
Religion as  "institutionally organized metaphysics + ritual"?

I do like it in some respects - however my own brand of Buddhism denies any metaphysics - "what you see here and now is all there is".

Does the denial of any metaphysics count? 

(Sorry, my posts here take so long to get accepted that the discussion moves on ...)  

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Yes, we can imagine spirituality without religion. The answer depends on the definition of the word spirituality.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, spirituality is a derivative of spiritual: the quality or state of being spiritual. Spiritual is defined thus: 
Definition of Spiritual: 
    1 Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things:
    2 Relating to religion or religious belief:

The above definitions clearly indicate the spirituality can be defined without religion,


2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
The mixture is some discussion Here are:
1) Is it possible spirituality without religion?
2) Buddhism, a religion? Or spiritual movement?
3) Our image of God.
 4) responses are not reasonable or not supported by powerful argument. (rationality).
5) benchmark and benchmark for us to judge / Value judgment must correct argument (rationality) is.
I will elucidate first claim:
A) Religion:
World Religions, two major features are: 1) institutional, and 2) history.
World Religions relationship between man and God in the five realm of psychological change:
1) beliefs, doxastic, cognitive, 2) emotions, emotive, affective, 3) voluntary/conative (These three realm are subjective), 4) speech, and 5) act (the tworealm are objective).
For example, when we say: I believe in God (first realm), I believe in God (second realm), worship GOD (third realm), invocation God (the fourth realm), and prayer and fasting (fifth realm).
But the main problem of institutionalized religion is?
Institutionalized religion, incompatible with rationality.
What is rationality?
1) independent investigation of truth, 2) full commitment to reasoning.
In the event that, institutionalized religion, to "speak", "claim" and so on, a particular person (eg religion) is committed not to correct argument.
In other words, institutionalized religion, its owner knows the truth, and rationality, seeking the truth.
Moreover, institutional and historical religions, rituals and rites, and certain truths, which does not gather with rationality. Institutional and historical dimensions of religious ritual, represents collective aspects of religions. In other words, religionists, finally, with a series of rites and rituals, collective, the owner of truth (the suspects themselves) are.
From prehistoric times to the present, religion has been a central part of human experience and culture. Religions are thought to have existed in all times and societies.Traditionally the term religion was used to refer to all aspects of the human relationship to the Divine or transcendent — that which is greater than us, “the source and goal of all human life and value”.More recently, scholars have started to understand religion as activities and a way of life: “the fashioning of distinctive emotions; of distinctive habits, practices, or virtues; of distinctive purposes, desires, passions, and commitments; and of distinctive beliefs and ways of thinking,” along with “a distinctive way of living together” and a language for discussing “what they are doing and why”.
What is spirituality?
Apparently, unlike religion, spirituality, institutional and not a historical.
Although the five realm of spirituality also creates a psychological transformation, but primarily personal (individual) and not collective, the second rationality is retractable. That could be a correct argument for the independent investigation of truth, speak of spirituality and defense (where possible rational defense).
Over the last several decades the term spirituality has entered the common language as an alternate way to describe our search for the transcendent. In its original English meaning, “spiritual” was a term used to contrast church life with “worldly” or materialistic ways of being . In the 19th century, “spirituality” was not a commonly used term and “Spiritualism” referred to contact with spirits and other psychic phenomena. In contemporary usage, the term has a number of common meanings , and definitions in the scholarly literature also vary. These differences reflect the fact that spirituality is a broad term encompassing multiple domains of meaning that may differ among various cultural, national, and religious groups . Today the term is often used to denote the experiential and personal side of our relationship to the transcendent or sacred . Those who use the term in this way typically contrast it with religion, which they define narrowly as the organizational structures, practices, and beliefs of a religious group . Theologians and religious practitioners, on the other hand, tend to prefer definitions that draw less of a strict division between religion and spirituality. In their eyes, spirituality is the living reality of religion as experienced by an adherent of the tradition.
 argues that spirituality encompasses 4 themes: (1) a source of values and ultimate meaning or purpose beyond the self, including a sense of mystery and self-transcendence; (2) a way of understanding; (3) inner awareness; and (4) personal integration.
The last characteristic is particularly important. Spirituality has
an integrative and harmonizing function that involves (a) our inner unity and (b)
our relationship and connectedness with others and to a broader reality that powers
our ability to be transcendent .
Apparently, the fourth component, can be greatly with "mental health" familiarize one.

Conclusion:
Perhaps to be clear here which Buddhism is a religion,
Religions can not be compatible with rationality. (Especially which themselves owner knows the truth).
Spirituality, personal / individual. Spiritual man "seeking the truth". And with more rationality retractable.

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
The mixture is some discussion Here are:
1) Is it possible spirituality without religion?
2) Buddhism, a religion? Or spiritual movement?
3) Our image of God.
 4) responses are not reasonable or not supported by powerful argument. (rationality).
5) benchmark and benchmark for us to judge / Value judgment must correct argument (rationality) is.
I will elucidate first claim:
A) Religion:
World Religions, two major features are: 1) institutional, and 2) history.
World Religions relationship between man and God in the five realm of psychological change:
1) beliefs, doxastic, cognitive, 2) emotions, emotive, affective, 3) voluntary/conative (These three realm are subjective), 4) speech, and 5) act (the tworealm are objective).
For example, when we say: I believe in God (first realm), I believe in God (second realm), worship GOD (third realm), invocation God (the fourth realm), and prayer and fasting (fifth realm).
But the main problem of institutionalized religion is?
Institutionalized religion, incompatible with rationality.
What is rationality?
1) independent investigation of truth, 2) full commitment to reasoning.
In the event that, institutionalized religion, to "speak", "claim" and so on, a particular person (eg religion) is committed not to correct argument.
In other words, institutionalized religion, its owner knows the truth, and rationality, seeking the truth.
Moreover, institutional and historical religions, rituals and rites, and certain truths, which does not gather with rationality. Institutional and historical dimensions of religious ritual, represents collective aspects of religions. In other words, religionists, finally, with a series of rites and rituals, collective, the owner of truth (the suspects themselves) are.
From prehistoric times to the present, religion has been a central part of human experience and culture. Religions are thought to have existed in all times and societies.Traditionally the term religion was used to refer to all aspects of the human relationship to the Divine or transcendent — that which is greater than us, “the source and goal of all human life and value”.More recently, scholars have started to understand religion as activities and a way of life: “the fashioning of distinctive emotions; of distinctive habits, practices, or virtues; of distinctive purposes, desires, passions, and commitments; and of distinctive beliefs and ways of thinking,” along with “a distinctive way of living together” and a language for discussing “what they are doing and why”.
What is spirituality?
Apparently, unlike religion, spirituality, institutional and not a historical.
Although the five realm of spirituality also creates a psychological transformation, but primarily personal (individual) and not collective, the second rationality is retractable. That could be a correct argument for the independent investigation of truth, speak of spirituality and defense (where possible rational defense).
Over the last several decades the term spirituality has entered the common language as an alternate way to describe our search for the transcendent. In its original English meaning, “spiritual” was a term used to contrast church life with “worldly” or materialistic ways of being . In the 19th century, “spirituality” was not a commonly used term and “Spiritualism” referred to contact with spirits and other psychic phenomena. In contemporary usage, the term has a number of common meanings , and definitions in the scholarly literature also vary. These differences reflect the fact that spirituality is a broad term encompassing multiple domains of meaning that may differ among various cultural, national, and religious groups . Today the term is often used to denote the experiential and personal side of our relationship to the transcendent or sacred . Those who use the term in this way typically contrast it with religion, which they define narrowly as the organizational structures, practices, and beliefs of a religious group . Theologians and religious practitioners, on the other hand, tend to prefer definitions that draw less of a strict division between religion and spirituality. In their eyes, spirituality is the living reality of religion as experienced by an adherent of the tradition.
 argues that spirituality encompasses 4 themes: (1) a source of values and ultimate meaning or purpose beyond the self, including a sense of mystery and self-transcendence; (2) a way of understanding; (3) inner awareness; and (4) personal integration.
The last characteristic is particularly important. Spirituality has
an integrative and harmonizing function that involves (a) our inner unity and (b)
our relationship and connectedness with others and to a broader reality that powers
our ability to be transcendent .
Apparently, the fourth component, can be greatly with "mental health" familiarize one.

Conclusion:
Perhaps to be clear here which Buddhism is a religion,
Religions can not be compatible with rationality. (Especially which themselves owner knows the truth).
Spirituality, personal / individual. Spiritual man "seeking the truth". And with more rationality retractable.

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
After my post on defining a trans-species definition of religion and spirituality, I see that posts go on and on without referencing it.  I now suppose that this is due to the fact that the entire field of philosophy of religion still uses a set of basic conceptual categories from basically the Eurocentric and logocentric (Derrida's term) 18th century theology of deism.  These categories are considered elements in propositional logic (which by the way is only one of 16 basic types of logic) attributes ascribed to a hypothetical god (never a goddess by the way).  Attributes include such things as omniscience, omnipotence, beneficence, etc. etc. 

The basic failure of this approach is that these attributes, beginning with omniscience and omnipotence are completely refuted by Einstein's special theory of relativity, including its discovery of the absolute interval, non-immediacy and non-simultaneity in real space-time, etc..  No deist god can exist in physical reality.  Alfred North Whitehead was aware of this problem and sought to get around it by developing his philosophy of 'process theology'.  But In my view this didn't solve the very problem he so brilliantly clarified when he invented the term 'absolute interval'. 

The same applies to much of so-called cognitive science of religion.

Therefore we have to begin again, without such a notion of god/goddess or any human imagined deity abstraction.. 

My papers on a trans-species definition of religion and chimpanzee religion are my contribution to the future.  Chimpanzees engage in behaviors that express the components of an expanded concept of the Holy, as first proposed by Rudolf Otto, one of the founders of the field of religious studies. Whether or not they have something called 'beliefs' is irrelevant, and furthermore, primatologists do not speculate about 'beliefs' in primates; they argue such subjectivity is not available for scientific observation.  (On the question of subjectivity separate from 'belief' they err, but in a post I cannot go into detail on this.) 

In sum, I suggest all students in the field of philosophy of religion (a) try to get a grasp on the Special Theory of Relativity, as it pertains to their conceptualizing of reality; and (b) read my papers on how to approach definitions of spirituality and of religion that are applicable to humans as well as other primates.

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber
As an amateur contributor my post will be moderated and arrive very late if at all - but I wanted to respond to this comment by HE Barber.  ..

"Buddhism is surely religion as the folk understand religion, viz. as (1) a package of beliefs concerning supernatural beings, states of affairs or phenomena (2) expressed in ceremonies typically involving special equipment and performed in purpose-built facilities (3) organized by an institution. If an anthropologist discovered a tribe engaged in a practice that met these conditions he would surely characterize it as a religion. If a practice meets two of the conditions it’s a borderline case of religion, e.g. State communism as in North Korea meets (2) and (3), freelance New Agism satisfies (1) and (2). Maybe the practice of Westerners whose ‘Buddhism’ consists in platitudes about how to keep calm and live a good life doesn’t count as religion. But surely the cultural Buddhist folk, the paradigmatic Buddhists, even if they don’t believe in a God or gods, hold beliefs about supernatural phenomena and participate in public, organized religious rituals. What ‘spirituality’ is I don’t know."

It is extremely depressing and in my view actually scandalous that someone with a university address can know so little about this topic. There is plenty of literature. Lay Buddhist may believe any old thing, but the doctrine is clear. The term 'supramundane' is regularly encountered and it does not mean supernatural. 'Supernatural' is a word that doesn't really compute in Buddhism. How could anything not be natural? Buddhism is about discovering what it true, not making stuff up and believing in it. One would think that everybody would know this by now.  

Perhaps it would be best to address the lack of understanding betrayed by the final sentence before forming views about subtle and complex cosmological doctrines. 

I'd call Buddhism a religion but really what does it matter? It works as a formal philosophy, a soteriological methodology, a religion and a science of mind. We could call it any of these things.

 

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
"Richard Rorty argued that we have to get to the point where we no longer worship anything. He seemed to think that 'worship' is a problematic attitude ..." (Steve G)

Yes. The Prophet Mohammed remarks, 'An hour's contemplation is worth a year's worship'. This would be a common view in religion. Worship would be a useful practice but if we are worshiping some objective phenomenon then we will need to stop doing that at some point in out progress. So I expect many religious people would agree with Rorty on this issue. But sometimes when we are learners we use practices which will later become redundant, so maybe we shouldn't actually make worship illegal.      


2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?

Spirituality is too broad a term to be useful, as it has been applied to such an enormous range of phenomena that I find myself becoming irritated by the lack of coherence of the literature on religious experience and its implicit religious referents.


I suspect that it is easy to be looking for the wrong thing – but ultimately, much of what is important in terms of religious experience is subjective or phenomenological.  Thus, we can only experience it for ourselves. There are some clues to how to do this in the etymology of spirituality, which draws it roots from breath or inspiration.  In that sense, perhaps it is what takes our breath away!


Still that definition of the term also encompasses many things, but if nothing has impressed us in our lives enough to take our breath away, then I suggest one may be alienated from life itself. To get back to life often requires some sort of specific practices, of which many religious ones are designed specifically to achieve such a connection. They usually require some actions which to get us out of our heads and develop our awareness, such that we encounter the world in a different way - one that we might regard as spiritual.  The essential aspect of any religion (despite the supernatural) is our encounter with this life, in Buddhism, seeing into this reveals that our experience of an individual self is a cognitive error – and if there is no separate self, then what is left?  Ontologically, its like snow falling on cedars – breath takingly beautiful – and cold!


2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber
If you want a non-academic and ordinary language definition of spirituality and religion, feel free to read my paper on a trans-species definition of religion.  Most of the paper defines religion based on dictionary definitions of religion, which is about as non-academic and ordinary language is you can get. That paper and other educational materials are at my site https://originsnet.academia.edu/JamesHarrod

You might also consider that there is an academic field of religious studies has been publishing on the topic of religion and moral rules for well over a hundred years.  In all the posts I've received no reference is ever made to any academic study, not even to any religious documents.  So the discussion overall seems rather nebulous.

James Harrod

2015-02-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
I wonder if it is appropriate to start with the desire to know the exact meaning and nature of spirituality.  Isn't it better to explore the various manifestations of what we are induced to call 'the spiritual' and to work through undergoing experiences of them and developing understandings of them in themselves and in relation to one another?   And regarding the possibility of spirituality without God, don't we have to give an ear to the possibility of spiritual life in Buddhism, for example, in some of its a-theistic forms, etc.?  Thank you.


2015-02-09
can we imagine spirituality without religion?

Hi Abootaleb Safdari

Yes I agree with your comment on Buddhism. 

I’m not sure if there is a watertight definition of religion. It’s a European word, after all, and it may not fit all non-European cases. There have been endless arguments, for example, about whether Confucianism is a religion or not. Maybe that’s really a case of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

The more interesting question, to my mind, is what sense one can make of life once all trace of anything resembling religion has gone – which is pretty much the situation for most people in Western or Western-influenced countries these days (and that means just about every country on earth).  

DA


2015-02-11
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Yes,  there  is  a  reason  behind  the  "no-soul"  (anatta/anatman)  theory  of  Buddhism.
Selflessness  is  the  major  catalyst  to  salvation  (nibbana/nirvana)  from  the  cycle  of  births  and  deaths  in  both  Hinduism  and  Buddhism.

In  the  case  of  Buddhism,  the  ethics  has  shaped  its  spiritual  psychology  and  consequently  its  soteriology.

The  question  is  how  can  one  be  truly  selfless  if  one  believes  in  a  permanent  self  (soul).

The  Hindus  argue  that  materialistic  egotism  should  be  removed,  but  a  permanent  spiritual  self  would  not  be  in  conflict  with  the  notion  of  selflessness.

Buddhists  beg  to  differ  and  point  out  that  it  would  conflict.  As  long  as  there  is  a  "soul"  one  cannot  but  be  selfish.

Hindus  point  out  that:  "if  so,  what  is  it  then  that  attains  nirvana  (if  there  is  no  soul)?"

Both  religio-philosophical  traditions  have  raised  some  very  good  points.

I  commend  them  both  for  this.

    

2015-02-11
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
The best I have come across is Ninian Smart's in Worlds Religions 2nd Ed.
Reference to transcendental and sacred in nature (God, Nivarna); paramount in reality;
reports of experience,; unified set of beliefs; doctrines, imposed set of practices (rituals).


2015-02-11
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Hi Derek Allan
I am not agree with you about your point concerning western countries... i give you just an example about the people living in USA : 77 percent of them are identifying religious(http://www.gallup.com/poll/159548/identify-christian.aspx) ...so religion still plays an important role and we should import it in our equations...
This is my these: One can not make any sense of life without religion or spiritual beliefs  in its broadest meaning : satanism or Abrahamic Religions..
If he ( or she) can, explain it please.. How can he explain to himself death, the universe ... and in one word: big questions?    

2015-02-11
can we imagine spirituality without religion?

This is with regard to various comments on Buddhism and in particular about its definition.

Oxford Dictionaries (online) defines Buddhism thus: A religion or philosophy. Encyclopaedia Britannica (online) defines Buddhism: A religion and philosophy. Intuitively, it appears that both definitions cannot be true simultaneously. I therefore did the following analysis:

Define the propositions R and P as follows:

R:        Buddhism is a religion.

P:         Buddhism is a philosophy

Then the definition of Oxford Dictionaries is the disjunction of R and P; and the definition of Encyclopaedia Britannica is the conjunction R and P. The truth table for the four possible combinations of the truth values of R and P are given below.

                        R                     P                      Conjunction    Disjunction

      Case 1             T                      T                      T                      T

      Case 2             T                      F                      F                      T                             

      Case 3             F                      T                      F                      T

      Case 4             F                      F                      F                      F

 

Case 4 implies that definitions of religion and philosophy are both false. That is (1) Buddhism is not a religion; (2) Buddhism is not a philosophy.

Horn discusses a similar problem in the article ‘Contradiction’ in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

5. LNC and the Buddhist Tetralemma

Beyond the Western canon, the brunt of the battle over LNC has been largely borne by the Buddhists, particularly in the exposition by Nāgārjuna of the catuṣkoṭi or tetralemma (c. 200 A.D.; cf. Bochenski 1961: Part VI, Raju 1954, Garfield 1995, Tillemans 1999, Garfield & Priest 2002), also known as the four-cornered or fourfold negation. [Contradiction, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

The problem, definition of Buddhism, can be converted to the following question: Is Buddhism a religion or philosophy? I haven’t come across an answer to the above problem.

I am a Sinhala speaking Sri Lankan. Our tradition is based on the advice of Lord Buddha (Pali Buddho Bhagavā). Lord Buddha’s advice does not postulate a god or any other superhuman controlling power or any other system of beliefs. We venerate Lord Buddha on account of his knowledge of the world and his purity. For us spirituality is purity in words and deeds and thoughts.

I am of the opinion that the problem of the definition of Buddhism is related the methodology adopted to study the truths pointed out by Lord Buddha [four Ariyan truths].


2015-02-11
can we imagine spirituality without religion?

Hi Abootaleb Safdari

There is a big difference between identifying oneself as religious in a Gallup poll and having a genuine religious faith.

Modern Western culture is essentially agnostic. And, with minor exceptions here and there, the same is true for most cultures around the world today, because the influence of the West has been so strong.

That doesn't stop people from asking the "big questions" of course. But at the moment it's rather like beating on a door that has closed.

DA


2015-02-12
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
(Apologies - in anticipation of the delay - but I am an inter-disciplinarian interloper and don't fit the PRO criteria of expert) Nevertheless...  
 In order to discuss any religion it is helpful to recognise the following: 
  a) religions are not unitary and contain a wide spectrum of interpretations, views, and practices. This is Dawkin's failing in that he engages with obvious weaknesses that many Christians see as unnecessary to defend. b) religions are not fixed in time. This is a kind of fundamentalist notion of religion, and has its roots in Christian orthodoxy, which has privileged a single source vis a vis the Bible. Religions change overtime - some incorporate science and see no problem in evolution, etc. Buddhist history is full of revisions and re-interpretations. No-one can be completely sure what the original Buddha said and many Zen works imply it does not matter.
c) historical analysis of religions is revealing that we are caught in a hermeneutic spiral, as making sense of what happened in the past is so easily distorted by contemporary frameworks of meaning.  In that regard, I suspect much religious philosophy was never intended to be understood in an abstract philosophical sense, but rather intended for metaphoric or phenomenological apprehension. Thus Nibhanna in Buddhist discourse seems more like a description of the experience rather than of some abstract transcendental state.
d) religions are based on organisations and become subject to power - knowledge games which Foucault has discussed at length. A change in power means a change in knowledge and vice versa.  And because power tends serve its own interests - religious organisations resist attempts to gain control over doctrine.  So, we need to look at the how 'technologies of the self' operate in a religious context to develop a critical awareness of what beliefs benefit whom. For example, monastic buddhism may be the emergent outcome because it is an evolutionarily robust organisational form and in Asia where social upheaval has been a constant, it may have simply out survived the others. Monastic organisations have pushed a certain version of Buddhism which tends to emphasise renunciation and male monastic authority.
 
Finally, my interpretation of Buddhism (and other religions) is that it is a social construction around human encounters with the mysterious nature of human/life consciousness. The idea of Nibhanna is the emptiness of self - that there is no essential self  is an argument is that this is supported by many in neuroscience see Metzinger's, Varela and Thompson, etc.  BUT I would also add my own contribution that, evolutionarily, we developed a sense of self less than a few million years ago. When we had no sense of self, we could ask who was there?  I would argue 'we' were just a part of the universe that became animated and aware and 'it' later thought that it was separate.  Moreover, it is that ontological awareness (as an experience) which lies at the source of spirituality - the rest may be a whole lot of magical thinking - and yet the Universe of contemporary physics is a very strange (magical) place.

2015-02-12
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Kia ora Abootaleb Safdari

You say:


This is my these: One can not make any sense of life without religion or spiritual beliefs  in its broadest meaning : satanism or Abrahamic Religions..
If he ( or she) can, explain it please.. How can he explain to himself death, the universe ... and in one word: big questions?


I disagree.  The need for a so-called meaning of Life, or as you say "make sense of life" seems a concept deriving from the Middle eastern Monotheistic traditions (Judaism, Islam and Christianity).  From the indigenous perspective life creates its own meanings.  Life just is - we give meaning to our life through our actions. (see, for instance, Burkhart, B. (2004). What Thales and Coyote Can Teach Us: An outline of American Indian Epistemology. In Modern American Indian Thought. A. Waters. Malden, Blackwell)  Burkhart says Life is a meaning-making activity.

Likewise Sam Keane (And I'm sorry, I can't reference this one - it's in a box in my garage) says;  "Do not ask the meaning of life - life asks the meaning of you". (I think it is in To An Unknown God)

So there are many ways to answer your "big questions" - and not just from an indigenous perspective, but also with a worldview of Naturalism and Existentialism. 

There are also a large number of Humanists who have no religious or spiritual beliefs who are very fulfilled and find much sense and meaning in their lives through their actions. 

And to a specific questions - how do you explain death?  Death is a natural part of the process of the material universe.  Rather ask:  How to you explain immortality (if it exists.)  It is immortality that is not natural. 

How do we explain the universe?  It just is and has always been (in a range of different forms).  


2015-02-12
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Dear Derek Allan

of course there is such a big difference, but we have no way to estimate or measure this " genuine religious faith ", therefore we should trust statistics.

And about some of your points:

1- "Modern Western culture is essentially agnostic.."
first of all what is this " modern western culture"  exactly? Who is responsible to define its limits and scopes? its nature?
Are these men members of this culture? :Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Kant, Boil, Max Plank, Antony Flew, Francis collins, Charles H. Townes,..... (This list can be as long as Planet Earth's radius .)

2 - "with minor exceptions here and there, the same is true for most cultures around the world today..."
Indian Culture you mean? or islamic culture ? or chinese culture? which one do you mean ? 

3-"..because the influence of the West has been so strong."
yes. it has been strong,but not its culture, its technology and economy .
Have you ever seen Arab peoples? They wear their own clothes and they speak their own language and have their own lifestyle.
How about chinese? Indians?
And why you don't talk about the vast majority of western people who are interested of yoga or other similar eastern orders and schools?

4 - ".. But at the moment it's rather like beating on a door that has closed."
exactly it is the point. and there is another point too:
This door will remain close, without religion or spirituality...


2015-02-12
can we imagine spirituality without religion?

Hi Abootaleb Safdari

RE: “we have no way to estimate or measure this " genuine religious faith ", therefore we should trust statistics.”

I think this is an example of what is usually called a non sequitur.

RE “first of all what is this "modern western culture"  exactly? Who is responsible to define its limits and scope? its nature?”

Have you travelled much Abootaleb Safdari?  If so, have you ever noticed how everywhere seems so much the same these days? Same technologies. Same shopping malls. Same products in the shops. Same hotels. Much the same (vacuous) music. Same, or very similar, movies and television. The list goes on.

RE: ‘"with minor exceptions here and there, the same is true for most cultures around the world today..." Indian Culture you mean? or islamic culture ? or chinese culture? which one do you mean ? 

There are small pockets here and there – all getting smaller all the time. Even the indigenous people in the Australian inland, thousands of miles from big cities, have mobile phones…

RE: “Yes. [the influence of the West] has been strong, but not its culture, its technology and economy”.

It ends up being one package. It’s very hard to believe in a paradise up there in heaven when we know there is no “up there”, that “heaven” is an infinity of galaxies, gases, black holes etc, and that our planet is a microscopic speck in the endless vastness of time and space. Science killed off Christianity back in the 18th century. Other religions were insulated for longer periods so their death has been a bit delayed.

Re: They wear their own clothes and they speak their own language and have their own lifestyle.”

So…? I’m not suggesting that Western influences have made everyone speak the same language. Though it’s worth noting that small language groups continue to die out in many places around the world. Many Australian indigenous languages have disappeared forever.  

RE: “why you don't talk about the vast majority of western people who are interested of yoga or other similar eastern orders and schools?”

Really? The “vast majority”? That’s not at all what I observe. "A small minority" would be more accurate.

Re: “This door will remain close, without religion or spirituality...”

At the moment the door separates us from religion or spirituality.

(Note: I’m not necessarily saying that any of this is a good or a bad thing. I’m simply noting what I observe.)

DA


2015-02-23
can we imagine spirituality without religion?


Kia ora ano  Abootaleb Safdari

You ask: 

what is this " modern western culture"  exactly? Who is responsible to define its limits and scopes? its nature?

I prefer to talk about the European-derived cultures.  "Western" is way too ambiguous.  "European-derived cultures" at least describes (from an indigenous perspective) the origins and influences on these contemporary cultures, which include the Americas (both North and South), Australia, New Zealand-Aotearoa, South Africa, among others. It also includes all of contemporary Europe.  It is not limited to the English-speaking world, but also the influence of Spain France, Belgium, Germany, all of whom were expansionist and colonizers during the 19th and early 20th Century ...  

These Colonizers/Empire builders have had a major influence on large parts of the globe and the cultures to be found there. 

Who is responsible for defining its scope and limits?  It largely defines itself.  Culture is never static, but continually changing. Any definition or description of a culture is only a frozen snapshot and it will have already changed.   "Culture" is also usually defined in relation to "the other" ...  an area for Sociology and Social Anthropology rather than Philosophy. 

Are these men members of this culture? :Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Kant, Boil, Max Plank, Antony Flew, Francis Collins, Charles H. Townes,.....


Yes, but that's a group of scientists and philosophers working in the paradigms of the science of the European-derived cultures.  It's a limited group.   Why do you pose those names?? 

2015-02-23
can we imagine spirituality without religion?


Hi Abootaleb,
My name is Domingos Bengo

What god are you referring to?

Despite of that, it is important to say that spiritual thinking is closely related to faith. But faith is not straightly a religious phenomenon. It is above all a human phenomenon adopted by religion as religious phenomenon. Therefore, it is actually possible to think or imagine spiritually without religion.

I will tell you why: Religion comes after man. After mankind. Without a group of men who face the same experience and get almost the same meaning or just give to this experiment similar meaning there is no religion. Thus, religion is a product of human culture. Different cultures build up different religions. So, this last one is the consequence of we imagining spirituality without religion.

God bless you!!!     

2015-02-23
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to H. E. Baber
You are absolutely right! So be happy cause u in the right way. 

2015-02-23
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Logically, spirituality must be existing much before religion. Considering this fact, within the boundaries of faith and fear, without a crisp definition for spirituality, did religion achieve its objective?

2015-02-24
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Ravi Singh

Hi dear,

Can you please be more clear and specific?

2016-06-06
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Religion per se gives way to sects which are inherently decisive.  Different systems to worship the ONE Creator.  That's why Jesus (GOD) walked and established one ritual, very precise in which individuals under the ONE GOD could check their individuality at the door of the church and speak together as a flock, all different yet one family.  Terribly important in the fight against narcissism and materialistic fascist control.  
Spirituality, the spirit, is just love.  We are love when we are of GOD.  One love.


2016-06-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Tami Williams
Hi Tami

But other monotheisms such as Islam would say much the same thing.

DA

2016-06-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Would one not expect all monotheisms to say the same thing? 

The question in this thread is an odd one. It's quite common to find religion without spirituality but the other way around seems unlikely. .

2016-06-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?

Hi Peter

RE: Would one not expect all monotheisms to say the same thing? 

Well, on the question of one god, yes. Probably not on much else.

RE: The question in this thread is an odd one. It's quite common to find religion without spirituality but the other way around seems unlikely.

Problem is it’s so hard to define these terms. For example, were the ancient Egyptians ‘religious”? We tend to think so, judging by their statues, their Book of the Dead etc. Yet I was listening to an interview with an expert Egyptologist who said that our word “god” was not appropriate to what the Egyptians believed in.  So if we describe them as religious, theirs would have to be a religion without gods. Very odd.

DA


2016-06-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
The discussion so far seems totally focused on the contemporary human species (Homo sapiens sapiens).  This approach should, ethically speaking and philosophically speaking, in the global world we now live and one engaged in a massive extinction of species, be expanded to include the religion or spirituality of other species, as well as the hundreds if not thousands of religions presently in the human world (beyond the so-called Axial religions that arose in the Bronze Age, otherwise known as 'world religions' which number only a dozen or less of the many hundreds that exist).

For a brief article with a few highlights from the current literature on religion and spirituality in other non-human animal species, see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_faith

If you want more depth on the topic of a trans-species definition of religion and on evidence for chimpanzee religion see my articles on each topic at
https://originsnet.academia.edu/JamesHarrod

These papers also contain a definition of religion which includes spirituality.  I currently have in press a separate paper that derives a multicomponent definition of spirituality, and grounds it in neuroscience and the Santa Fe Institute global language database.  This definition of course only applies to Homo sapiens sapiens over the last 200,000 years. 

Somewhere between the components of chimpanzee religion and the Homo sapiens sapiens definitions of religion and spirituality, will be suggestions for reconstructing the religious or spiritual behaviors of prior hominid species over the last 2 million years.


2016-06-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Tami Williams
Re: Religion per se...
There are 'religions' that do not postulate a creator god. It is presumed that such religions are excluded.
Re. Spirituality...

Spirituality is just love amounts to a definition of spirituality. Love is a human emotion. GOD is not necessary for love. 

It is therefroe possible to define spirituality as love of all human beings.


2016-06-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
FYI: there are religious traditions in Africa, such as Uduk, Nilo-Saharan speakers, who genetically may be the earliest speakers of that language family, who have no deity, not even polytheism.  They believe in a life-force that moves in all living things. There are other northeast African tribes with similar beliefs.

Any comprehensive definition of spirituality or religion must take into account such religions.

FYI: As for Buddhism it is the case that all the major traditions declare that there are 'outer' versions of the tradition designed for those of limited capacity, 'inner' versions for people of middling capacity, and 'secret' versions for those of superior capacity.  The first group gets deities and heaven and hell, which they seem to need in order to have pro-social behavior. The middle group gets basic visualizations of deities and yogic breath practices, and 'tantric pride' (which means readbsorption of any deity visualization back into the heart-mind from which it arose).  Secret teachings are not really secret, and consist of higher level yogic, visualization and tantric pride practices.

The Buddha himself during the Three Awakenings of the Night realized that the devas (deities) live in a parallel world that corresponds to psychological dissociation.  This he discusses in one sutra; later interpreters tend to call this 'recalling his past lives', which is a commentator add-on, and misses the point. The Buddha was totally clear in many sutras that his teaching required placing one's mind in the 'middle way' between belief in deities and immortality on the one hand, and atheistic nihilism (annihilationism) on the other hand.

With respect to pro-social behavior, a neuroscience study this week demonstrated that generosity (one of the basic Buddhist virtues) is superior to fear of punishment in making people pro-social and cooperative.  In this regard, they are close to the teaching of Aristotle's ethics, which held that megalopsychia (greatness of soul), and meaning generosity, is the supreme virtue.
 


2016-06-07
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Problem is it’s so hard to define these terms. For example, were the ancient Egyptians ‘religious”? We tend to think so, judging by their statues, their Book of the Dead etc. Yet I was listening to an interview with an expert Egyptologist who said that our word “god” was not appropriate to what the Egyptians believed in.  So if we describe them as religious, theirs would have to be a religion without gods. Very odd.

Try reading the Corpus Hermeticum. The 'God' of this text is not the God of monotheism but that of the perennial philosophy, which can be said to reject both theism and atheism as extreme views.

The Corpus can be read as religion with no God, just as can Buddhism, Philosophical Taoism, Sufism, the Upanishads etc. 

This would be a more subtle view of the Ultimate than simple theism/atheism. I would agree with your Egyptologist in respect of the view expressed by this text.

It is a view that appears to be almost unknown in the Academy albeit there are prominent counter-examples. It is, after all, a competing product. The writings of Thomas MacFarlane might be a good reference.

It is not often noticed by religious sceptics that the God of monotheism is denied by a large part of religion, even though it is made perfectly clear in the literature. Religion has all the best arguments against God.  


2016-06-08
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Hi Peter

Re: "I would agree with your Egyptologist..."

Yes. So would I - or at least I would be happy to accept that he may be right. But it illustrates - does it not? - how elusive the terms religion and spirituality are.

The Egyptians, like many cultures, did not have a word denoting something called "art" either. Another case where we tend to assume that all cultures were just variations on ours.

DA

2016-06-08
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to James Harrod
RE: "chimpanzee religion"

Should we stop at chimpanzees? Why not, say, lion religion, or  donkey religion, or lizard religion, or cockroach religion, or even pond-life religion?

I wonder if, like human religions, they tend to break up into sects that hate each other?

DA


2016-06-08
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Dear Derek Allan,

It doesn't appear you read the Wikipedia on 'Animal Faith' (a title likely to be changed), nor the two articles I published in a peer-reviewed journal. 

Since we are dealing with science one may make the hypothesis that any of the species you mention may have "religious behaviors".  Then it is required you define religion and its components in a manner that might apply across species.  Then it is required you examine the behaviors of a particular species to see if it meets the criteria of your definition.

You might begin a rationale discussion by stating your definition of religion.
 


2016-06-09
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to James Harrod
Hi James

Re: “You might begin a rationale discussion by stating your definition of religion.”

Well, I would certainly hope to have a rational discussion but given that you’re the one who seems happy with the suggestion that cockroaches and even protozoa are religious – which does seem an unusual proposition to say the least – perhaps you might like to lead off with a definition of religion that might make that idea plausible?

(While typing this, it did occur to me that praying mantises might help your case…)

DA

2016-06-09
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Although your reply is sarcastic, I again suggest reading the paper I published giving a definition, a trans-species definition of religious behaviors.  It required application of the Andre-Weil-Claude-Levi-Strauss group-theoretic transformation formula, in a revised version I developed.  So it is not easy to summarize in a few words.

PhilPapers doesn't appear capable of emailing attachments, but all my paleoanthropology and psychology papers can be found on academia.edu and some of them on researchgate.net. https://originsnet.academia.edu/JamesHarrod

Here's the abstract for my article 'A Trans-Species Definition of Religion'
Abstract
To advance knowledge of the evolution and prehistory of religions over
the past two million years of human evolution, it would be useful to know
whether other species, including great apes and extinct species of
Australopithecines and Homo prior to Homo sapiens sapiens, exhibit
behaviors that might be categorized as ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’. To determine
this we need a precise and robust definition of religious behavior
suitable for cross-species comparison. I develop a non-anthropocentric and
non-anthropomorphic prototype definition of human religious behavior
and then deconstruct it into a trans-species definition, which can be used to
predict and identify religious behavior in other species.

And the abstract for 'The Case for Chimpanzee Religion':
Abstract
Do chimpanzees engage in religious behaviors? To date this question
remains unanswered. I use methods from religious studies and anthropology
of religion that demonstrate an answer in the affirmative. A
comprehensive review of primatology reports reveals that chimpanzees do
perform ritualized patterns of behavior in response to birth, death,
consortship, and elemental natural phenomena. A structuralist analysis of
these patterns shows that chimpanzees deploy similar formulaic action
schemas involving recombination of syntagmatic and paradigmatic
behaviors across all four of these life-situations. In the course of these
performances, chimpanzees decontextualize and convert everyday
communicative signals to express non-ordinary emotions of wonder and
awe. The patterning of chimpanzee ritual behaviors evidences all the
components of a prototypical trans-species definition of religion. These
findings support hypotheses that propose religious behaviors for other
species, including hominins prior to Homo sapiens sapiens.

This is an exerpt, pp. 14-15 from the Chimpanzee article, "The fifth procedure asks, with respect to each identified ritualization pattern, if it expresses religious or spiritual behaviors. This requires
identifying correspondences to a definition of religion, and for this I use the polythetic (multi-component), non-anthropocentric, non-anthropomorphic, non-theistic, and non-logocentric trans-species prototype definition of religion advanced previously (Harrod 2011), which is a
building block for the present study. This trans-species definition has five dimensions:
 Reverence (showing devotion, intense love, deep respect), which may involve a hush;
 Careful observance, which may involve a calling-out announcement or remark;
 Experiencing or expressing emotion of dread (awe in its terror or astonishment aspect) before that which overwhelms the subject by its magnitude, grandeur, beneficence, or lethality; mysterium
tremendum;
 Experiencing or expressing emotion of wonder (awe in its fascination, curiosity, or desire-to-know-more aspect) with respect to a phenomenon (especially a movement) which is surprising, nonordinary, extraordinary, special, or ‘miraculous’; mysterium fascinans;
 Binding individuals together or back together in empathic intimacy or communion with respect to experiences of aliveness  and animacy, including other living beings or things that appear
to be alive, which may secondarily involve the witnessing of this by a collective social group.
This trans-species definition of religion does not overtly include beliefs as a component; thus it is subject neither to the objection of primatology that research must refrain from inferring the subjective mental states of primates nor the objection that equates beliefs with a form of language
and infers that other species cannot have religion since they do not have language."

If I googled your name correctly you appear to be a professor of art theory, with specialization on Malraux. I am also doing research on art theory, but for the 2 million year evolution of art.  You can find the full syllabus and powerpoints for that course at the Maine College of Art. One of the challenges I am currently pondering is how to conceptualize the 'art space' and 'medium' for first graphic design/markings for hominids at 2 million years ago restraining as much as possible projection of recent definitions of 'art'.  Obviously (though even that may be an oversimplified projection) they had no word for 'art' or 'religion' in the Oldowan, but they appear to have been making non-intentional markings and first evidence of numerosity. 

Best regards,
James Harrod

2016-06-10
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to James Harrod
Hi James

RE: “first graphic design/markings for hominids at 2 million years ago restraining as much as possible projection of recent definitions of 'art'. Obviously (though even that may be an oversimplified projection) they had no word for 'art' or 'religion' in the Oldowan, but they appear to have been making non-intentional markings and first evidence of numerosity. “


All kinds of problems. E.g (1) There are many “recent definitions of 'art'.” (2) why retain any of them? (3) how do “non-intentional markings” become “graphic design”.

Besides, there is a very simple way to decide if you think certain prehistoric cave paintings etc are art. Just look at them. What do you think of Lascaux? Chauvet?

Not so easy when it comes to religion...

DA

2016-06-10
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to James Harrod

This kind of thing is not likely to lead anywhere, James. There are all kinds of "behaviours" (courtship etc.) in the animal world. Bower birds are famous for it. And even bees do dances etc. We can call these behaviours “ritualised” if we like but we can hardly jump from that to the conclusion that animals are religious.

Besides, there are no doubt people today who see themselves as religious in some way but never set foot inside a church or take part in religious rituals. (I think I would be like that if I happened to be religious.) Whatever religion is – and I have no good definition – it has to be more than just ritual and various “behaviors”.

DA


2016-06-10
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

(1) Yes there are many recent definitions of art. 

(2) Why retain any of them?  Good question.  I tend to follow the International Rock Art Glossary.  We may simply say 'markings', if one desires.  If you check out my paper at academia.edu 'Palaeoart at Two Million Years Ago', I use the term introduced by Robert Bednarik, 'palaeoart'.  I also use the term 'symbolic behavior' and give a comprehensive list of types of such behavior.  I take the word 'symbolic' from the discipline of palaeoanthropology.  'Symbolic' I define simply by the list in my paper, which builds on a half dozen prior lists, all referenced.

(3) In a paper I delivered at the International Rock Art Congress in Albuquerque a few years ago there were many artists in attendance, including graphic designers.  I chose for that audience to use the phrase 'graphic design', because the non-utilitarian markings are 'graphic' and in the way the appear (to my 'eye' of course) they seem to display aspects of design. Like Kandinsky put it, they might be using point, line and plane. They appear to have made cupules, which if we could get several pieces reanalyzed again and confirmed, would be evidence for a two-million-year continuous tradition of cupule making.  (P.S. my mistake to say 'non-intentional markings' I meant 'non-utilitarian' (another archaeologist jargon term.)

(4) You and I might look at Lascaux or Chauvet and call it 'art' but that label is actually up for debate among archaeologists and other interpreters; some offer the objection that the term 'art' is recent and there was no differentiation of 'art' or 'religion' in the Upper Paleolithic, or they had no word at all for either art or religion. This can become an interminable discussion.
 
(5) When I reconstruct 'symbolic behavior' in the various paleolithic eras, I generally use 'art' and 'religion' in scare quotes to signify the terms are being used loosely and things weren't so differentiated long ago nor even in the productions of many contemporary indigenous peoples.

(6) "Not so easy when it comes to religion".  Or 'spirituality' I would add.  Precisely, that is the challenge when one considers the context of evolution and more particularly evolution of 'culture'. My papers are, I would say, the first articles to propose a rigorous definition of these terms in a way that might cover the millions of years of hominin evolution and also apply to other primate species.

Scholars in art-theory or history-of-art need to come up with precise terms for the 2 million years of markings; but art history seems to not have gotten its knowledge-base earlier than Upper Paleolithic or Middle Stone Age rock art.  In courses at major university art departments in the US prehistory of art seems to get maybe one or two classes in a semester course.  A rare exception in the US is Randall White at NYU, but he is in Anthropology.  Similarly for religious studies departments; they at least in US are almost totally focused on so-called World Religions and anything older falls into a realm of the forgotten.

2016-06-10
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

(1) "We can call these behaviours “ritualised” if we like".  In the science of ethology it is not a matter of liking or not liking. Animal ritualization involves transmuting an instinct, such as aggression or the sexual-mating instinct, into a 'higher order', instinctive behavior.  An example is the bowerbird collection of objects.

(2) "Whatever religion is...it has to be more than just ritual and various behaviors."  I agree. 

(3) The published paper The Case for Chimpanzee Religion is based on an extensive and comprehensive review of the primatology literature and it identifies primatologist suggested analogues to some human spiritual or religious behaviors.  Chimpanzee ritualizations pertain to four life-occurrences: death, birth, consortship and 'reverence for nature' (the latter including such rituals as the rain dance, water-watching, sunset-singing, etc.).  In anthropology of religion such ritualizations, after Van Gennep, are termed typical  'rites of passage'.  Each involves ritualizations of instincts, such as foraging, sexual and aggression, and with respect to emotions especially draw on the emotional frisson-experience and display behavior along with associated non-ordinary vocalizations.

In humans we are familiar with the frisson-experience in relation to powerful works of art, music, and nature. We share aspects of such frisson-experience in continuity with other primates.

(4) "and I have no good definition".  Based on a methodology and definition of religion drawing on group-theoretic mathematics, I hypothesize chimpanzee religion and then show how a structural-group with a recombinatoric logic informs all the ritual behavior complexes. In order to refute the argument, one is required (by soft or hard science or logic) to propose a better definition of religion or a better explanation that accounts for the structural group aspects of chimpanzee behaviors discussed in the article. The article specifically says that the four or five proposed components of chimpanzee 'religious behavior' do not include the more complexly organized and more numerous components of human 'religious behavior'.  Further the argument rules out two components: 'sacred/profane' and 'sacrifice', components that are integral to a polythetic definition of human religious behavior.

Unless one clings to extreme skepticism verging on intentional blindness or the Cartesian hypothesis (falsified over and over again) that animals are machines plus some sort of 'vital spirit', the humanities need to incorporate the findings of primatology and ethology into their theories, models, and hypotheses. That is, if they want their theories to survive through this or future centuries. 

(5) "people today".  What popular opinions people have today about religion or spirituality is not a question I address in my two papers; one may read about that in the newspaper or gossip column.  With respect to the discipline of philosophy, I find myself in full agreement with Hegel.  A philosophy that has no method is not a strong philosophy; rather it is, as Hegel said of the philosophy of Schelling, 'a night in which all cows are black'.

The opening question of this entire thread was: how do we conceptually distinguish 'religion' and 'spirituality'.  I have offered a precise and rigorous definition of 'religion' and a to-be-published definition of 'spirituality' as animacy, with its neural substrate in the animacy-biomotion neural network. To argue against these definitions one must generate a better definition. And further I have intensified the challenge of the opening question: a better definition must be one that can be used to evaluate whether other species have behaviors that might be categorized as 'spiritual' or 'religious'.  

2016-06-11
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to James Harrod

Hi James

Re: “I tend to follow the International Rock Art Glossary.  We may simply say 'markings', if one desires. “

On this basis, why isn’t any old marking today – say, a random paint mark on a building site an example of art?  

RE: You and I might look at Lascaux or Chauvet and call it 'art' but that label is actually up for debate among archaeologists and other interpreters; some offer the objection that the term 'art' is recent and there was no differentiation of 'art' or 'religion' in the Upper Paleolithic, or they had no word at all for either art or religion.

And I would agree with said “archaeologists and other interpreters”. European civilization is the only one to have used the term art until a hundred or so years ago. Nevertheless, we don’t confuse the magnificent paintings at Lascaux and Chauvet with the various random daubings, hand outlines etc often found in prehistoric caves, do we? Any more than we confuse say Degas and Van Gogh with the pompier painters of their times (Cabanel, Bouguereau and co.)

We shall never know anything about how prehistoric man thought about his art (as we now call Lascaux etc). Nor will we ever know anything about his religious beliefs – assuming they could properly be called religious. We associate the word religion with god or the gods. Perhaps prehistoric man had not yet invented god or the gods. There seems to be no sign of them in the caves… He may have had transcendental feelings of a quite different kind, completely unknown to us. Mere speculation on my part of course. But since everything in this area is mere speculation I might as well throw in my bit.

 DA


2016-06-11
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to James Harrod

Hi James

Re: “In the science of ethology it is not a matter of liking or not liking. Animal ritualization involves transmuting an instinct, such as aggression or the sexual-mating instinct, into a 'higher order', instinctive behavior.  An example is the bowerbird collection of objects.”

The definition is question-begging ('higher order' instinctive?) but in any case, how does it apply to religion?  Are you going to claim that religion is of a kind with the bower-bird's collection of objects? I hope not.

Re: In humans we are familiar with the frisson-experience in relation to powerful works of art, music, and nature. We share aspects of such frisson-experience in continuity with other primates.

The fashionable notion of a frisson-experience strikes me as a silly trivialization of our responses to art and religion. Frisson just means something like shiver. Are art and religion just shiver generators?

DA




2016-06-13
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

I don't have time to cite and explain the International Rock Art Glossary and its hundreds of detailed definitions. That's your responsibility.

"We shall never know anything about how prehistoric man [sic] thought about art ... nor...his [sic] religious beliefs . . ."  That is an opinion you are welcome to believe in, in consequence of which you will never know anything about the topic. 

Or you might cite and debate any of the thousands of publications on the topic, such as those in the journal Rock Art Research, Archaeological Science, Human Evolution, or some of the many efforts over more than a century to refine methods to reconstruct protolanguages and proto-mythologies.  Over the last twenty-plus years the field of archaeogenetics has provided an additional database to constrain and refine such reconstructions. 

I have published a thought-experiment extrapolating correspondences between archaeogenetics, archaeology, proto-languages and a bit on mythologies covering 200,000 years of Homo sapiens sapiens history, which includes both Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods (Harrod 2014). I've also posted 200 pages of back up tables in a comprehensive literature review of archaeogenetics and my suggested language macrofamily correlations. Also published several prior papers on archaeogenetics and linguistics, which participants in this thread may find of interest.
https://originsnet.academia.edu/JamesHarrod
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James_Harrod2


2016-06-13
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

"I hope not".  Are hoping versus not hoping a criteria for falsifying a hypothesis?

"Are you going to claim that religion is of a kind with the bower-birds collections of objects?"
I hadn't thought of that claim.  At this point I make no claim that bower-bird behavior is 'religious' behavior, as it does not seem to fit the trans-species definition of religion that I have proposed.  However, one may see an interesting continuum between bower-birds collecting shiny objects as part of their mating ritual and human mating behaviors in which shiny objects are exchanged. Whether this is evolutionary convergence or something else I leave to biologists.
 
I never said that the frisson-experience is my definition of religion (or art).  The frisson-experience and associated display is only one of many aspects of chimpanzee ritualized behavior I discuss in my The Case for Chimpanzee Religion. Also there are a dozen or so neuroscience brain-imaging studies of the frisson-experience in the human response to music that are very useful for conceptualizing differentiated aspects of religious and artistic ('aesthetic') behaviors. Discussion of the concept of 'the sublime' would be enriched by considering such studies.

In the field of religious studies, reconsidering the role of affect is a cutting-edge topic, and on this I recommend: Schaefer, Donovan O. 2015. Religious affects: Animality, evolution and power. Duke University Press.

This thread began with the question on how to differentiate 'religion' and 'spirituality'. I suggest that consideration of the frisson-experience is important to this question. In the popular distinction between 'institutional religion' and 'spirituality', the latter is sometimes characterized in terms associated with a frisson experience, such as awe and wonder at the cosmos (which, as I recall, Aristotle said was the basis of philosophy, and I suppose central to the ontological order of metaphysics). 

  

 

2016-06-13
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to James Harrod
I have reviewed some of your posts and feel that your reductionism has restricted your ability to creatively assimilate new perspectives, thus possibly has resulted in the sarcasm that I also detect.  I believe that attitude springs from frustration at being stuck in one's biases.  
I am a Doctor OF Philosopy with degrees in multiple disciplines other than philoposophy including psychology (thus not an uncensored PRO here) and I feel several of my posts have been rejected because they are, I believe, relevant but spring from another disciplinary perspective.  I feel that a multidisciplinary dialogue expands horizons and enlivens the dialogue, reducing the chance that a discipline or individual becomes entrenched in "I (or we) have a hammer so everything looks like a nail."

In my view, of course, all fracally perfect, integrated created units of life (cells, organs, organisms, communities, the vine) perceive individually and collectively to detect environmental conditions either conducive and detrimental to survival, so that homeostasis may be maintained, learning can occur, and immune systems in response to assaultive factors may be developed along with coping strategies, so that life can be successfully preserved.  

I'd suggest striving for an more open attitude that is more conducive to respectful and productive discourse,  In some individual's view, I'm a bit overly-communicative and as I mentioned I'm from other disciplines academically, so this post likely won't be accepted as several of mine have been rejected, but writing this was cathartic nonetheless.


2016-06-14
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to James Harrod

Hi James

RE: I don't have time to cite and explain the International Rock Art Glossary and its hundreds of detailed definitions

Well, that’s blessing. By the way, you rather give the impression that you think the truth of a given point of view is directly proportional to the number of publications on the topic. Is that the case?

RE” The frisson-experience and associated display is only one of many aspects of chimpanzee ritualized behaviour.

So the chimpanzees reported having had the relevant shivers?

RE: “… a frisson experience, such as awe and wonder at the cosmos”. 

So that’s what the chimpanzees had?

Speaking personally, I’ve sometimes felt said awe and wonder, but, alas, never the shiver. Perhaps I should try harder.

RE: Homo (sic) sapiens sapiens history, which includes both Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods …

I think you mean prehistory…

DA


2016-06-14
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Tami Williams
I'd be interested in your pointing out which aspects of my articles on The Case for Chimpanzee Religion and A Trans-species Definition of Religion you believe are reductionistic. 

I totally agree that work in the philosophy of religion will progress by being cross-disciplinary. 

My work has been in dialogue with religions scholars, primatologists, anthropologists, neuroscientists, linguists, archaeologists, paleoanthropologists and mathematicians working on symmetry systems and octonian theory in physics and society.  I am also a practicing psychotherapist trained in Jungian oriented therapy.

If I have not included biological theory per se that is because it is not a discipline in which I have any training or expertise, professional or self-taught. So I welcome suggestions from that discipline.  I have recently read Ervin Laszlo's book on Connectivity.  He argues that there is a hierarchical series of templates from physics, biology, mind, and cosmos.  The mathematical formulas are beyond me, but the general notion of levels of integration seem plausible. 

2016-06-14
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to Derek Allan
Hi Derek--
I so heartily agree with you and attempted to say that soon after you posted this - but my response was declined (;-) you being of PRO status- non-juried/moderated, me being a mere Dr. OF Philosophy- not a Dr. IN Philosopy).  

Many faithful (learned, as it takes one organizing factor, the creator to engage in systematic, constructive learned and coordinated behavior-- which seems to be at least a predominant thread in this site) --- shot "right to the top" with tried and true rituals - Judiasm, Islam, or say farming and going to town being a kind respectful productive person who steers clear of the sketchy church, due to the factors I mentioned that attacked Jesus' one ritual after he walked given that evil seems to find that which is most promising to unite US, the majority that crave harmony, music, art, sharing....

Without getting back to the literal definition of monotheism.  I'd like to Keep It Simple and say it to me is those of us that ARE like God and the great I am share much and we relish in working together, learning from each other and have engaged in a variety of creative approaches to doing so, like finding sites like this to communicate.  
All the best, 
Tami (aka Maria)


2016-06-15
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Religion and spirituality are English words.
The words are now used to describe the behaviour of animals. This use is not warranted. We cannot speak of 'religion' of a gorilla or a cockroach, simply because it outside human knowledge.

However, the word behaviour suggest that we can use the word instead of the confusing words 'religion'. There is no agreement on the definition of religion. It comes from Latin and therefore from Christianity. It has no meaning outside these religions. 

The same is true of the word spirituality--the Holy Trinity: the Father; the Son; and the Holy spirit.

However, discussing human behaviour; gorilla behaviour or cockroach behaviour does not present any difficulties; especially because such behaviour is observable.

Many religions do not place much value on animals; whether they place any value on the lives of adherents of other religions is also debatable. 

It is generally accepted now that life on this planet started as a single living cell. So we have evolved today to become 'humans' through cockroaches and gorillas.

From where did we get the 'religion' and 'spirituality', if animals don't have them?

All the above goes to show the words 'religion' and 'spirituality' should be used in the discussion of human behaviour in an unbiased manner.


2016-06-15
can we imagine spirituality without religion?
Reply to James Harrod


A previous version of this post was rejected maybe because I replied to the incorrect contributor or "thread."  I'll try again,

Re: religion and superior animals like chimps, i.e, the non-slick species that predate humans.  I have been contemplating a study and paper on "Sects among Protozoa: Is Division Divisive??"  Naturally it is.  Sects that purport to honor God can breed not passionate love, but the opposite of health-promoting unity and harmony, rather - sex, bad drugs and heart afflicting rock and holy soul's heads roll. 

Once cell division occurs and development ensues, can cells/organisms safely unite without merger under a ritual that they share through the creator and their collective desire to give thanks for their gift of life and choice?

My feeling is "of course".   If we are whole (that is, holy) organisms that can come together without merging into a fascist agenda driven blob.  The shared protoplasm of a given ritual to honor our creator at which we temporarily check our individuality at the door of the sanctuary keeps us flowing from the doors of the mass (not mass) through the protoplasm of our unity to engage in further motivated, individual, yet collaborative constructive endeavors.  

Gratitude for the gift of life and choice nurtures our existence and gives needed thanks to GOD who is vastly under-appreciated.