Engaging Philosophies of Religion: Thinking Across Boundaries

Gereon Kopf and Purushottama Bilimoria, Editors.

How can a variety of different approaches be put into dialogue within one book? A dialogue between a multiplicity of equal voices eschews the notion of a “meta-narrative” (métarécits) or a dominant paradigm. The volume has has multiple possible beginnings and endings, since it contains a variety of narratives. In conceiving of this volume, we are inspired by the Mahāyāna Buddhist image of Indra’s net and Mark Taylor’s, albeit unreadable, Hiding.  The former presents an image of the cosmos with no center and infinite entry points, the latter a book that is non-linear in design.

The multi-entry approach proposes to rethink our discipline by introducing 18 different ways to envision philosophy of religion. “18,” of course, is an arbitrary number that emerged from the participants in the GCPR project.

The approach has five fundamental features.

1) A multi-entry approach shifts the focus from traditions such as “Christianity” or “indigenous religions” to systems such as “monotheism” and “communalism.”

2) Systems are driven by governing paradigms. Each paradigm determines unique questions and concerns with regard to what may be “philosophy” and/of “religion.”

3) Each system has a concrete historical context that has shaped its development, even if it can be thought through and applied independent from this particular context.

4) Each system develops its own language (translation into English will be an interesting problem) to envision what we call “religion” and “philosophy.” Every author either adopts an existing language or develops a new one.

5) All systems are regarded equal. There will be no overarching paradigm or language. Every chapter engages two other chapters on its own terms.