Thursday, December 6, 2012

[PHI 3000] Tax exemptions for philosophers?

Following up on Bill O'Reilly's comment that "Christianity is a philosophy, not a religion," Jon Stewart said the following:

Is Stewart right about the difference between philosophy and religion? Suppose that, after his death, Socrates is also revered and worshiped as a god. Would Socratism then be a religion?


  1. Jon Stewart is right when saying that there is a difference between philosophy and religion. Like he said there are some common points and there are points in which they do in fact meet but they are still different.
    Even by defination they are completely different. Philosophy is the academic discipline concerned with making explicit the nature and significance of ordinary and scientific beliefs and investigating the intelligibility of concepts by means of rational argument concerning their presuppositions, implications, and interrelationships; in particular, the rational investigation of the nature and structure of reality (metaphysics), the resources and limits of knowledge (epistemology), the principles and import of moral judgment (ethics), and the relationship between language and reality (semantics). On the other hand religion is belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe and a personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship. When looking at it with just the definations philosophy is a study based on logical reasoning and religion is a belief based on faith, they are polar opposites. Yes, there is the aspect where religion does teach philosophy and the other way around but it is needing because there are times where both do find their roots stem from them. However this doesn't mean they are the same.
    Lets suppose that after Socrates death, Socrates is then revered and worshiped as a god. The question stands "Would Socratism then be a religion?" The answer is yes. This is because as stated in the defination of religion above, it is a belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe and a personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship. All parts of this defenation is satisfied. Socrates is then revered and worshiped as a god meaning there is a belief in and reverence for a supernatural power because he is revered and seen as a god, something that supernatural. All that is needed now is for people to worship and believe, if that is so then Socratism would be an religion rather then a philosophy.

  2. Ahmednur Ahmed

    Yes, I believe Stewart is right about the differences between Philosophy and Religion. Although you may believe in Jesus's teachings and agree with them, according to the religion christianity, one must believe that Jesus is God. This is has nothing to do with logic, but purely based on faith, which is where religion and philosophy differs. Philosophy is based on rational thinking, and that does not coincide with faith, which is what most religions are based on.
    Socratism would be considered a religion, if him/his teachings were being worshipped. Because, you can agree with someones logic, but that doesn't mean you worship them, or accept them as God. Strictly by definition, as long as Socrates is being worshipped/acknowledged as God, then it is a religion, regardless of familiarity.

  3. Part of this debate is based on the semantics behind both words. Thus, defining philosophy is a good place to start. According to Google’s dictionary philosophy is: "the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence".

    I think that drawing the distinction Jon Stewart tries to draw between religion and philosophy is subtle, but is very intellectually dishonest. As I understood it, his argument went as follows: “both Socrates and Jesus taught some philosophy, but the followers of Jesus added a supernatural component to his life, making Christianity a religion, NOT a philosophy.”

    This is not what logically follows, though. If Jesus spoke the truth (namely, that God exists as a trinity and is a personal being who seeks the good of all His creation, that all morality stems from loving God and one’s neighbor and, most importantly, that He is the long awaited Jewish Messiah who was slain and three days later rose from the dead) then he is the greatest philosopher that ever lived. If he spoke the truth, then he is the one who understands reality and existence to its fullest because he is the creator of reality and existence in the first place.

  4. Stewart is equating supernatural assertions about Jesus to religion. This is correct, religion deals with the belief and worship of a supernatural being. But where he goes completely wrong is when he denies that Christianity is a philosophy. If Jesus is who he says he is then his philosophy is THE philosophy, the correct description of knowledge, reality and existence. If Jesus is not God, and he did not resurrect from the dead then his philosophy is extremely deceitful and dangerous, but that doesn’t mean it is not philosophy.

    My most important point here is that it seems that Stewart and many today equate religion with someone demanding a “leap of faith” or believing in something without a complete philosophical and rational assessment of it. Through this he tries to separate philosophy/rational thought and religion. I think that believing religion and philosophy are opposites is equal to saying that religion is unreasonable, and most likely very deceitful. If no religion is correct then perhaps we can say that correct philosophy (correct descriptions of reality) and religion are polar opposites. But even then every religion is also its own philosophy. Not all of them are equally reasonable to believe, but the philosophies are still there.


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