Science, Humanism, and Religion: The Quest for Orientation

Springer Verlag (2019)
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Abstract

In the human quest for orientation vis-à-vis personal life and comprehensive reality the worldviews of religionists and humanists offer different answers, and science also plays a crucial role. Yet it is the ordinary, embodied experience of meaningful engagement with reality in which all these cultural activities are rooted. Human beings have to relate themselves to the entirety of their lives to achieve orientation. This relation involves a non-methodical, meaningful experience that exhibits the crucial features for understanding worldviews: it comprises cognition, volition, and emotion, is embodied, action-oriented, and expressive. From this starting-point, religious and secular worldviews articulate what is experienced as ultimately meaningful. Yet the plurality and one-sidedness of these life stances necessitates critical engagement for which philosophy provides indispensable means. In the end, some worldviews can be ruled out, but we are still left with a plurality of genuine options for orientation.

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Chapters

Coda: Blocked Roads and Genuine Options

Scientism and religious fundamentalism are, for different reasons, totally inadequate answers to the quest for orientation. But even after these are ruled out as deficient, a plurality of comprehensive worldviews will remain. In modern, pluralistic societies they coexist and at the same time compete... see more

Worldviews and the Limits of Philosophy

Philosophy is the best cultural practice of criticism we have. It cannot construct worldviews from scratch but, especially in its pragmatist versions, it provides us with the means for internal critique and helps us to discover which varieties of pluralism with regard to religions and worldviews are... see more

The Unavoidability of Worldviews

Meanings always refer to the relations our individual lives bear to something bigger, they have a part-whole structure. In so-called existential feelings, we are connected with our being-in-the-world as such, and these feelings play a vital role for the emergence of religions and worldviews. It is o... see more

Rediscovering the Importance of Ordinary Experience

The quest for orientation emerges out of our ordinary, non-methodic experience of having to consciously lead a life. Ordinary experience is holistic, has a qualitative character, is deeply embodied, and at the same time, able to transcend local situations. It is embedded in action and primarily inte... see more

Varieties of Naturalism and Humanism

Methodological naturalism is the appropriate starting point both for science and for understanding ordinary experience. But it has to be distinguished carefully from metaphysical naturalism. Furthermore, the relation between a naturalistic, scientific stance and humanistic attitudes needs further el... see more

Science versus Scientism: Is There Such a Thing as the Scientific Worldview?

Science is a life-function, too. It developed out of ordinary inquiries but, in the course of its development, acquired a relative autonomy from it. Science is the most powerful tool for explaining and understanding the nature we have, but contrary to what is often believed, it is characterized by c... see more

Introduction: Orientation as a Life-Function

Like all other organisms, human beings need to orient themselves in life. Yet we are special in having a consciousness open not only to our local environment but to the world. And even if a complete scientific account of reality would be possible, it would still leave out its meaning as appreciated ... see more

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