Beyond the dichotomy of faith and reason: German idealism, philosophy of religion, and the modern idea of the university
Larson, David B.
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This dissertation critically reconsiders the dichotomy drawn in modern philosophy between faith and reason, especially as formalized by the German Idealists. The latter, I suggest, continue to influence how the philosophy of religion is conceived and what it is considered to be capable of accomplishing. Though originally used to reconcile religious faith with the philosophical reason that had animated forceful skepticism, this dichotomy also underscores a tension between the conceptualization of a rational public good and private religious values within pluralistic societies. I focus on the efforts of Kant, Hegel, and F.W.J. Schelling to develop a philosophy of religion that distinguished philosophical reason and religious faith as distinct sources of theory while nevertheless establishing meaningful dialogue between each. The first chapter surveys Kant's and Hegel's philosophy of religion and argues that they struggled to maintain the otherness of religious faith relative to philosophical interpretation. The subsequent chapters each focus on a period of Schelling's intellectual development — his early criticisms of Kant, his mature rejection of German Idealism's subjective metaphysics, and his late philosophy of religion — as he developed an alternative philosophical approach to religion. This provides a means of exploring the challenges that a philosophy of religion must navigate to move beyond the problematic opposition of faith and reason. I conclude by considering the university as a promising context for reformulating this problematic dichotomy central to the philosophy of religion. The professional division of faculties embodies the abstract delineation of faith and reason and indicates the social and political dimension of such academic efforts. I argue that Schelling's contributions to the philosophy of religion point to the idea of the university as a vital framework for both reconsidering the opposition of faith and reason and moving beyond this schema in order to conceptualize effectively the contemporary conflicts between rational and religious authority within pluralistic societies.