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Forum Philosophicum

Volume 25
Philosophical Turn Towards Religion

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articles
1. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Daniel H. Spencer Evolution, Middle Knowledge, and Theodicy: A Philosophical Reflection
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In this paper, I investigate the relationship between a nonlapsarian, evolutionary account of the origin of sin and the potential ramifications this might have for theodicy. I begin by reviving an early twentieth century evolutionary model of the origin of sin before discussing the most prominent objection which it elicits, namely, that if sin is merely the misuse of natural animal passions and habits, then God is ultimately answerable for the existence of sin in the human sphere (the “Responsibility Argument”). Though I suggest that this argument likely misfires, my main concern lies elsewhere. For the proponent of the Responsibility Argument will customarily reject an evolutionary account of sin’s origin and instead endorse something like the traditional Fall account—the doctrine of Origi­nal Sin. I argue, however, that the Fall theory is also clearly subject to a parallel Responsibility Argument, so long as we take God to possess (minimally) Molina’s scientia media. While I will not pretend to have solved every issue in my discus­sion of Molinism, still the desired conclusion should emerge unscathed: if the Responsibility Argument is a problem for an evolutionary account of the origin of sin, then it is a problem for the Fall doctrine, too.
2. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Alex R. Gillham Threats, Coercion, and Willingness to Damn: Three More Objections against the Unpopulated Hell View
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In this paper, I develop and evaluate three new objections to the Un­populated Hell View (UHV). First, I consider whether UHV is false because it presupposes that God makes threats, which a perfect being would not do. Second, I evaluate the argument that UHV is false because it entails that God coerces us and therefore limits our freedom to an objectionable degree. Third, I consider whether UHV is false because it implies that God is willing to damn some individuals to Hell. I conclude that none of these objections defeats UHV. First, even if God’s creation or allowance of Hell constitutes a threat, a perfect God might choose to threaten us when doing so is in our best interest. Second, God’s creation or allowance of Hell is not coercive and does not limit our freedom to an objectionable degree. Third, although damnation in Hell is possible, God is unwilling to actualize it. In light of these findings, I stand by the conclusion from my initial article: UHV merits further consideration as a solution to the Problem of Hell.
3. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Marcus William Hunt Exorcism and Justified Belief in Demons
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The paper offers a three-premise argument that a person with first-hand experience of possession and exorcism, such as an exorcist, can have a justified belief in the existence of demons. (1) “Exorcism involves a process by which the exorcist comes to believe that testimony is offered by a demon.” Cited for (1) are the Gospels, the Roman Ritual, some modern cases of exorcism, and exorcism practices in non-Christian contexts. (2) “If defeaters are absent, the exorcist may treat as reliable the process by which he comes to believe that testimony is offered by a demon.” For (2) a case is offered that we have a reliable ability to identify when testimony is being offered and when it is being offered by particular types of agents, what is termed testifier-identification. (3) “In many cases of exorcism, defeaters are absent.” An inductive case is given for (3) by responding to possible defeaters, including several suggested recently by David Kyle Johnson. Therefore, in many cases of exorcism the exorcist may treat as reliable the processes by which he comes to believe that testimony is offered by a demon, and so can have a justified belief in the existence of demons.
4. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Anna Bogatyńska-Kucharska The Doctrine of Double Effect: A Comparison of the Version of Thomas Aquinas and Contemporary Accounts as Formulated by Joseph Mangan and Joseph Boyle
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The aim of the article is to present some of the differences and similari­ties in various versions of the double effect principle (DDE or PDE). The following formulations will be analyzed: that of Thomas Aquinas and two contemporary ap­proaches, namely those of Mangan and Boyle. It will be shown that the presented modern versions vary significantly and the distinction between their intended and only predicted effects is far from clear. As a result, the different contemporary formulations of DDE lead to contradictory conclusions, with some justifying what others condemn. Moreover, it will be demonstrated that, unlike Aquinas, contem­porary authors mostly concentrate on unintentionality condition while neglecting the proportionality requirement. So, unlike Aquinas, they only take into account a narrow scope of cases, where the evil effect occurs with certainty, which leads to a complicated and intricate hypothetical intention test like Donagan’s. It will be shown that, besides its theoretical indistinctness, DDE lead to serious pragmatic risks. It can be quite easily misused as a kind of psychological mechanism to protect self-esteem from a sense of guilt since wrong-doing is treated as merely a predicted unintended effect.
5. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Richard Taye Oyelakin Can Scientists Help Philosophers Regarding the Nature of Phenomenal Experience?
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In response to Putnam’s computational hypothesis on the question of the nature of the mind, Searle and Churchland argue that the nature of mental states essentially consists of neurophysiological processes in an organic brain. However, this seems to imply that mental states are products of the brain and thus, contra Putnam, that an adequate account of mental states which excludes an implementing organic structure is impossible. To this extent, an attempt is made in the paper to structure a biological-organic program. By this structure, it is identified that mental state is a process of the whole organism which necessarily produces phenomenal experience. However, if phenomenal experience is a product of mental states, which consists in neural firings in the brain, then it appears the problem is reducible to a question of how; i.e. how does the brain do it? In turn, this may direct our attention to neuroscientists. However, the paper argues that even perceptual internalism, which is the theoretical basis of contemporary neuroscience, may not really be of help in this case. It is argued that the experimentation and observation which foreground scientific enquiry may not be able to sufficiently account for the how question without leaving some other questions unanswered. As a result, a seemingly implied otherworldly reality or principle is explored. It is submitted that our natural tendency and apparatus (what else do we have) do not appear to lead us forward. Again, withdrawing back to our natural system, our deficient human nature requires us to tread with caution but hopefully, perhaps, we may eventually make progress in this regard.
6. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Per Bjørnar Grande Girard’s Optimism
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This article contains a discussion on René Girard’s understanding of the positive sides of imitation—despite the ambivalent nature of desire. Historically speaking, the discovery of the scapegoat mechanism made a great contribution towards limiting violence. The decomposition of the scapegoat mechanism, and its power to find non-violent alternatives, has paved the way for a culture with numerous opportunities. Even if humans constantly rival one another, one must understand and define the close relationship between competition, cooperation, and rivalry. To be able to see the positive sides of mimesis, one needs to have a robust understanding of human nature as competitive and, thereby, see friendship and competition as closely related. Learning and creativity can actually become optimal when there is a high degree of competition. Fierce competition today is allowed because of the taboo against violence. The decomposition of myth has destroyed archaic societies but, at the same time, created problems of an apocalyptic kind. Increasingly, cultures are now de­veloping without the shelter that sacrificial society previously provided. Positive human development, as is evident in the demystifying of violent myths and the increased concern for victims, cannot stem the power of global terror. Despite greater pessimism in his later works, Girard’s hope is that, through the model of Christ, people will finally learn to love their neighbours as themselves. A change of heart is to a certain degree capable to lead people towards the same kind of non-differentiated love as God.
7. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Cezary Zalewski From “catharsis in the text” to “catharsis of the text.”: “A Marginal Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics” by Roman Ingarden in the (critical) light of mimetic theory
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Roman Ingarden (1893–1970) was a prominent Polish philosopher, phenomenologist, and student of Edmund Husserl. A characteristic feature of his works was the almost complete absence of analyzes from the history of philosophy. That is why it is so surprising that right after the end of World War II, the first text analyzed when Ingarden started working at the Jagiellonian University was Aristotle’s “Poetics.” Ingarden published the results of his research in Polish in 1948 in “Kwartalnik Filozoficzny” and in the early 1960s his essay was translated and published in the renowned American magazine “The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism” as “A Marginal Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics.” As far as I know today, this text does not arouse much interest among the many commentators and followers of Ingarden’s philosophy. Perhaps this state of affairs is justified: Ingarden’s own ideas are only repeated here, and their usefulness in the meaning of “Poetics” remains far from obvious. However, I think that this relative obscurity is worth considering now, because it shows how modern reason tries to control ancient concepts. The main purpose of this article is therefore to recon­struct the strategy by which philosophy tames the text of “Poetics,” especially its concepts such as catharsis and mimesis. The discovery and presentation of these treatments would not have been possible were it not for the mimetic theory of René Girad, which provides anthropological foundations for a critique of philosophical discourse.
book reviews
8. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Mark K. Spencer Jacek Woroniecki. The Polish Christian Philosophy in the 20th Century
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9. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Francisco E. Plaza Mieczysław Gogacz. The Polish Christian Philosophy in the 20th Century
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10. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Reviewers of Articles Submitted in 2020
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11. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Note about Forum Philosophicum
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12. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Mark Sultana Editorial Note
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articles
13. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Wojciech Szczerba The Concept of Imago Dei as a Symbol of Religious Inclusion and Human Dignity
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This article aims to examine how the concept of Imago Dei can serve as a symbol for the broadly understood idea of religious inclusion and human dignity. The article explores the concept of Imago Dei primarily from a protological perspective, analyzing its usage in biblical writings, theological tradition and modern philosophy. The substantial, relational and functional—which three usages of the concept can be found in the inclusive theology of Gregory of Nyssa—are analyzed in this article. Arguably, in the context of religious inclusion, the rela­tional angle of Imago Dei seems to be the most important. Similarly contemporary Protestant theologian, Jürgen Moltmann states in his book, God in the Creation, that the “relational” concept of Imago Dei underscores the fundamental dignity of every person. In his book, God for Secular Society, Moltmann states that properly understood human rights should include democratic relationships between people, cooperation between societies, concern for the environment in which people live, and responsibility for future generations. From these perspectives, the concept of Imago Dei can be utilized as a symbol indicating the dignity of every person and human community, but also a symbol against any types of racism, nationalism or xenophobia.
14. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Tyrone Grima To Personalise or not to Personalise: Simone Weil’s Struggle in her Understanding of God
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This paper focuses on the theology of the philosopher Simone Weil, analysing the inherent struggle between the notion of the impersonal and the personal God, strongly present in her writings. The first part of the paper focuses on Weil’s point de départ, in which she maintained that the relationship between humanity and God should not be a personal one. This premise is rooted in Weil’s apophatic spirituality. It proceeds by giving an analysis of the dynamics in the notion of the impersonal God, juxtaposing it against the mystical experiences of Simone Weil herself. Weil’s spiritual journey led her to integrating the two polarities. The second part of the paper focuses on an integrative model that can be derived from Weil’s writings through her “spirituality of contradiction.” In the face of the struggle, Weil believed in the importance of staying in the uncomfortable space of the unknown, without rejecting either polarity. The paper concludes by demonstrating the relevance of this integrative model to contemporary society as a vehicle of integrity in the path towards wholeness.
15. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Neal DeRoo Phenomenological Spirituality and its Relationship to Religion
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This paper develops a phenomenological account of spirituality that can help us think more broadly and deeply about religion and its role in our lives. It begins by explaining spirituality as a supra-subjective force that shapes a sub­ject’s intuitive engagement with the world (Section I). Then, it shows that such a spirituality is affective in (and affected by) cultural expression (Section II), by way of historically situated institutions or traditions [Stiftungen] (Section III). The last step of the paper will be to connect this account of spirituality to our understanding of religion by articulating four distinct levels of phenomenological analysis that will have emerged in the discussion of spirituality and showing that each of these levels must be accounted for in a distinct way if we want to offer a full-fledged philosophy of religion (Section IV). In so doing, we will see that this account of spirituality potentially helps us see a broader range of things that could count as “religious,” in part by helping us see that religion is a particular mode of expressing the spirituality that operates as the deepest motivating impulse driving our lives.
16. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Robert Farrugia Phenomenology of Interior Life and the Trinity: Analysing Michel Henry’s phenomenological schism between Life and World in light of the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity
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Michel Henry radicalises phenomenology by putting forward the idea of a double manifestation: the “Truth of Life” and “truth of the world.” For Henry, the world turns out to be empty of Life. To find its essence, the self must dive completely inward, away from the exterior movements of intentionality. Hence, Life, or God, for Henry, lies in non-intentional, immanent self-experience, which is felt and yet remains invisible, in an absolutist sense, as an a priori condition of all conscious experience. In Christian theology, the doctrine of the Trinity illuminates the distinction between the immanent Trinity (God’s self-relation) and the economic workings of the Trinity (God-world relation). However, the mystery of God’s inmost being and the economy of salvation are here understood as inseparable. In light of this, the paper aims to: 1) elucidate the significance of Henry’s engagement with the phenomenological tradition and his proposal of a phenomenology of Life which advocates an immanent auto-affection, radically separate from the ek-static nature of intentionality, and 2) confront the division between Life and world in Henry’s Christian phenomenology and its discordancy with the doctrine of the Trinity, as the latter attests to the harmonious unity that subsists between inner life and the world.
17. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Zuzana Svobodová Forms and Movements of Life: Existential and Metaphysical Responsibility in the Work of Jan Patočka
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Based on an analysis of the theory of the movement of existence, this paper answers the following question: Where can one see the most important connections of philosophical and religious language in the most re-thought part of Jan Patočkaʼs thinking? The third movement of life is seen as a form of the true philosophical life, but also as a form with metaphysical responsibility. The movement of breakthrough, or actual self-comprehension, is the most important, because it leads to care for the soul—and, according to Patočkaʼs analyses of inter­pretations of the Faust legend, it leads to care for the true immortality of soul. In the third movement of life, one lives an unsheltered life in openness to all which is not given and cannot be given, which is beyond all objective identification, and yet determines this world. In response to the mission in time (kairos), on the way to “asubjective” openness of the soul, in a dialogue which searches for truth and resists temptation, one can still find metaphysical responsibility and freedom.
18. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Alex R Gillham How Problematic is an Unpopulated Hell?
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The Problem of Suffering (PoS) claims that there is a tension between the existence of a perfect God and suffering. The Problem of Hell (PoH) is a version of PoS which claims that a perfect God would lack morally sufficient reasons to allow individuals to be eternally damned to Hell. A few traditional solutions have been developed to PoH, but each of them is problematic. As such, if there is a solu­tion to PoH that is resistant to these problems, then it deserves our attention. In this paper, I develop precisely such a solution. I call this the Unpopulated Hell View (UHV), which claims that Hell exists as a place where eternal damnation could take place, although it never does. First, I explain how UHV solves PoH. Next, I develop four objections against UHV and defend UHV against them. I argue that, although some of these objections do more damage to UHV than others, UHV has satisfying responses to all of them. Ultimately, I conclude that UHV merits consideration as a novel solution to PoH because it is less problematic than the traditional ones.
19. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Luca Siniscalco Antaios: A Mythical and Symbolic Hermeneutics
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The aim of my research is to define the religious hermeneutics that can be identified as the specific core of Antaios (1959–71), the German journal directed by the historian of religions Mircea Eliade and by the writer and philosopher Ernst Jünger. Drawing on their insights, we will focus on the philosophical-religious interpretation of Antaios contents: the so-called “mythical-symbolic hermeneutics” is probably the most interesting theoretical theme connected to the Weltanschauung of Antaios. This cultural journal could embody a counter-philosophical perspec­tive that is at the same time intrinsic to Western speculation. This position has repeatedly emerged in many phases of our cultural history. I refer here to mythical-symbolic thought, characterized by an analogical interpretation of the world, whose structure is considered a stratification of truth levels that are complementary ontological levels of reality. This tradition sees reality as a specific kind of totality that allows human perception to take place through the structures of myth and symbols. The theoretical unity of the project is rooted in the mythical-symbolic tradition that, starting from the religious and esoteric pre-philosophical medita­tions, spans Platonic thought, the various neoplatonisms, passes through medieval mysticism and alchemy, reappears in Romanticism and is revealed in the twentieth century by the reflections of the “thinkers of Tradition.” With this paper I would like to highlight the main topics that can be identified from this hermeneutics: speculations about symbol, myth, coincidentia oppositorum (coincidence of opposites), archetypes, and ontological pluralism. These are at the core of this paradigm.
20. Forum Philosophicum: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Andrei G. Zavaliy Religious Convictions and Moral Motivation
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Adherence to certain religious beliefs is often cited as both an efficient deterrent to immoral behavior and as an effective trigger of morally praiseworthy actions. I assume the truth of the externalist theory of motivation, emphasizing emotions as the most important non-cognitive elements that causally contribute to behavioral choices. While religious convictions may foster an array of complex emotions in a believer, three emotive states are singled out for a closer analysis: fear, guilt and gratitude. The results of recent empirical studies are examined to evaluate the relative motivational efficiency of all three emotions, as well as the likely negative psychological side-effects of these affective states, such as aggres­sion and depression. While an action motivated by fear of punishment can be seen as a merely prudential strategy, the reparatory incentive of a guilty subject and a desire to reciprocate of the one blessed by undeserved favors are more plausible candidates for the class of genuine moral reactions. The available evidence, how­ever, does not warrant a conclusion that a sense of guilt before God or as a sense of gratefulness to wards God, may produce a statistically significant increase in the frequency of prosocial actions aimed at other humans.