Philosophy of religion is as old as religion itself: it is the rational reflection on statements, structures, arguments, implicit and explicit preconditions and consequences of religions and views of life. Rational reflection on religious and existential issues is worldwide and is present in all great wisdom traditions.
What is the meaning of life? How can we know anything? Is there a higher being? What is love? What happens after death? It seems integral to human existence to wonder and marvel at these issues.
What is considered rational and sensible can vary in different contexts, though, and is in itself a philosophical question that is much discussed today. Religions are often perceived as problematic particularly with regard to reason, and especially in the science-oriented contemporary Western culture.
What do researchers do?
An academic subject since the 1700s, philosophy of religion was previously closely linked to systematic theology and thus the Christian faith. Today, it treats all kinds of philosophical problems raised by religion and existential views of life. Some recent areas for philosophy of religion include questions on how philosophy can deal with things like rites or works of art, that is to say, not only analyze texts and dogmas but also other central religious elements. Feminist philosophy of religion, which emerged in the 1990s, is also stretching the traditional boundaries by taking up issues concerning gender and intersectionality, in relation not only to the traditional questions about the image of God, rationality, etc., but also the more concrete expressions such as religious oppression of women or deviants from the sexual norm of the religion in question.
Concept analysis, critical reflection and the construction and testing of arguments, presuppositions and conclusions are common tools for scholars in philosophy of religion, as well as phenomenological and hermeneutical methods.
To sum up, philosophy of religion aims at treating philosophical problems arising from religion and secular views of life. Doing this, it deals with classic central issues such as truth, meaning, knowledge, reality and rationality. Philosophy of religion also provides tools to perform critical and constructive reflection on themes of importance to man and society today, such as religious freedom, religious pluralism, religiously motivated discrimination, free will, etc.
Current research at CTR
Research within philosophy of religion in Lund is characterized by diversity and openness to new perspectives. All possible and (seemingly) impossible philosophical questions that arise from religion and secular views of life can be treated in philosophy of religion and the issues that dominate at any given time therefore depend on the interests of research staff and doctoral students.
To read more about current research at CTR, click the links in the right column.