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Pujya Dr. K.C. Varadachari - Volume -2



Philosophy believes in rigorous investigation into the nature of reality just because it loves knowledge to be certain and indubitable. There can be no area of knowledge which can be excluded from such an enquiry. Religion as an area of experience thus comes under the scrutiny of philosophy.

Philosophy at present considers that the enquiry is to be carried on so as to make clear to our reason the nature of the processes of religious experience, its content, its effect, its cause and so on. The apparatus of inquiry or rather the means has been defined by some as an ‘intellectual enquiry’ for that is all that so far as man knows, helps him to make clear to him the nature of reality. That this limitation of the enquiry to intellectual enquiry is a serious limitation, has been affirmed by thinkers who have come to the conclusion that our intellect cannot probe into reality for it is an instrument of practical and limited action, secondly it misunderstands the very scope of reality by limiting it to human status and action, thirdly that it is limited by its own assumptions and categories of experience which exceed it, fourthly that it is sense-dependent and has the ideal of sense-certainty or finite-logic certainty.

Notwithstanding these limitations some thinkers proceed to utilize philosophical intellectual method as a justification of transcendent experience on grounds of need for belief. Probability is certainly a better thing than nihilism or scepticism.

The claim that religion should be independent of philosophical investigation is of course unfounded. Though religious experiences are immediate (even like sensations), though they are as subjective as sensations themselves, and even the ultimate object of religious experience is beyond our knowledge even like the matter and self of ordinary consciousness (cognitivity), yet they are facts which cannot be dismissed. However to utilize intellectual to measures and determine the nature of the religious experience and value-experiences may not satisfactory, even when the intellect is trained to the new area of ‘facts’.

Brightman and other philosophers of Religion in America hold that since we have not accustomed to use a philosophical method in a certain manner in certain areas and got skill in it could be used here too. This naturalistic method is vastly used in recent times and has had many votaries who would make religion intelligible to all men.

The religious values pose a philosophical problem in the sense whether they are part of and constitute reality. A belief in a hierarchy of values would make one determine the hierarchy. We have already been shown that there are instrumental as well as intrinsic values and ultimately the reverse process as to how the intrinsic sustains and operates through the several instrumental values in many ways. Indeed one of the most important problems would be to determine in the light of the intrinsic, the utility and function of the instrumental and to determine their instrumentality itself. Secondly no philosopher of religion at present is prepared to consider the instruments of knowledge themselves as to how far any of them is the means to determine value. We have yet to discover the value-pramana, or that means of knowledge which will grant us the value-cognition so to speak. To say that this is a problem of philosophy is correct, and this cognitivity-instrument has to be detrmined by one’s consciousness as knowledge-securing is also true. But is the human intellect with its adaptation to human values and practical interests capable of deciding or discovering it is a philosophical question.

That religion, science and philosophy refer to the same world it is true and one believes that they refer to the same set of facts, which is not so true, they do demand different areas for their operation in so far as sciences seek the material sensate knowledge, which is limited obviously, religion seeks the spiritual non-sensate value knowledge and philosophy seeks an omniscience about all facts of science and values of religion and any other too.

The real question for philosophical investigation in religion seems to be based on the extraordinary presence of contradictory views about values and claims allegedly religious. It is the attempts to solve these value-claims that requires the philosophical approach: this is its reason for entering into the field of religion.

A candid analyses the scope of this enquiry from the empirical standpoint of inductionor collection of data, analysis and synthesis, hypothesis, verification of how far these are coherent. Finally reinterpretation is necessary.

The philosophical criterion to be used is coherence. Coherence is explained as (i) consistency with the whole of reality or body of facts. (ii) consistency with all the known facts of experience, (iii) consistency with all the propositions known as true, (iv) explaining all facts and interpreting them as related to one whole or Reality which is assumed to be a Coherent Whole and One. This coherence is stated to be something that is not a static one, as new facts and value-experiences about the Whole are coming in all the time, and perhaps the Whole itself is no block universe so that there is constant need for reinterpretation of the Nature of the Whole or Reality. Thus a static concept of coherence becomes nugatory in a wolr or Reality that is apprehended as always growing or expanding.

What has this to do with certainty which is one of the claims of Philosophy?  Deway cautions not to seek certainty for, that is impossible, since in a changing and self-making universe the only certainty is uncertainty itself : the Nature of Reality becomes uncertain, indeterminate though it could be tried to be made certain only by being untrue to its basic nature. This conception of coherence is a working hypothesis and different from the idealistic coherence in an Unchanging Reality within which changes take place but not in the whole.

Current Philosophy of religion thus clearly postulates that ‘there is no way of securing objective truth except by ways of subjective conviction’, secondly that "it is only from beliefs that objective over individual validity attaches to many of our subjective institutions and experiences, and that all proof is relative and not absolute".Thus, it is
claimed that one has "theoretical relativism united with practical absolutism”

How far this approach is limited, is clear; the ground of beliefs is rationality but the rationality being itself thoroughly grounded in relativism we have here a perfect spectacle of theoretical skepticism combined with practical belief-certainties and these are in turn based on intellectual hypotheticals, based on sense-data, value-data and so on.