If we have philosophy, do we still need religion?

Philosopher's reply

Dear Mumirah,

What’s the difference, between philosophy and religion? By this I do not mean to suggest that there is no difference. My frustration with philosophical discussions of morality – which led me to work on these questions – is that philosophers now seem shy of asking metaphysical questions, about what the good is, and how to be good. Philosophers keep asking questions about how to know the good instead. This fear of metaphysics is absent from religion: sometimes for the worse, of course, but also as a reminder. Even an inspiration to us (who may not be believers in the usual sense) to reach further than our armchairs in our meeting with quetsions about the good. Perhaps we do not need religion with its heavens and hells and ghosts, but we do need that intuition that there is something – the Good, True, Beautiful – beyond mere opinions. And the need safeguards against idolatry still, the gods – nation, ethnicity, money – that we worship now instead.


Philosopher's profile

Jonathan Jong

University of Oxford, UK

Having been taught philosophical in a very metaphysically austere environment--most of my teachers were nominalists and Humeans, while also being straightforward scientific realists--I found Murdoch's approach deeply refreshing. On one hand, she took the world seriously, and not just our observations and experiences of it. On the other hand, she took our experiences seriously, and not just scientists' mechanistic explanations of it.

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