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Durham e-Theses
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Philosophical pragmatism and religious belief: interpreting Christian non-realism through john Dewey and Richard Rorty

Knight, Philip J. (1996) Philosophical pragmatism and religious belief: interpreting Christian non-realism through john Dewey and Richard Rorty. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



In this thesis I consider the account of religious non-realism in the work of Don Cupitt and in other prominent writers belonging to the 'Sea of Faith' network. I argue that the appropriate context of the non-realists understanding of religious belief is provided by philosophical pragmatism as this is presented in the work of John Dewey and Richard Rorty. This context outlines important aspects of the 'Sea of Faith' religious non-realists' self-understanding; and provides them with an argumentative resource which they can employ against alternative critical-realist approaches to religious belief I show that John Dewey's understanding of religious faith coheres with many of the ideas expressed by religious non-realists and that Rorty's pragmatism provides religious non-realism with a contemporary philosophical articulation of its theology. In order to defend this assertion I argue that Rorty's pragmatism does not necessarily lead to radical subjectivism nor to a dangerous political ideology as some interpreters have suggested. Further, I argue that his ideas are open to theological appropriation and that his rejection of religious belief is tempered by a tolerance toward those who still find a use for it. Rorty, I claim, has such a use. He employs the term 'God' as a backdrop against which he can present his own account of a pragmatic culture. I show that his work contains positive references to the influence that religious belief has had on the development of such a culture and argue that this pragmatic culture fits well with a non-realist understanding of religious belief

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1996
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Oct 2012 15:07

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