Skip to Gallatin Navigation Skip to Gallatin Main Content

Philosophy of Religion

Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number IDSEM-UG1617
Section 001
Instructor Jeffrey Morris
Days TR
Time 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



Is there such thing as religion—definable and singular? If there is no agreement, how can we have a philosophy of it? Departing from this predicament, this course will first examine how “religion” has been construed over time and in a variety of contexts. After touching upon various Western medieval endeavors to “prove” God’s existence, we’ll attend to the nineteenth century and Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals . We will consider the ways in which Nietzsche employs Hegel’s master/slave dialectic to identify the psychological state of ressentiment as a key factor in the birth and character of Jewish/Christian morality. Also, William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience will be read as a groundbreaking study in the psychological states of religious consciousness. We will also draw Western notions of the ineffability of God—especially as appearing in the Pseudo-Dionysian tradition of the via negativa—into conversation with the second century (CE) Buddhist philosophy of Nagarjuna and his influences on the Zen/Ch’an tradition. Finally, we’ll explore recent reimaginings of religion in light of postmodern themes such as nihilism and the death of God. Readings include: Anselm of Canterbury, Friedrich Nietzsche, William James, Teresa of Avila, Mircea Eliade, Rene Girard, Gianni Vattimo, Pseudo-Dionysius, Nagarjuna, and Shunyru Suzuki.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)