In Saturday, 4th of February 2017, Scientific Board of the Center of Excellence for Philosophy of Religion (CEPR) at Islamic Research Institute for Culture and Thought (IICT) held a meeting with Prof. Ronald Michael Green, Emeritus Professor at Dartmouth College, USA.
Iranian participants were as follows:
- Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Abolfazl Sajedi, Director of CEPR
- Dr. Sayyed Mohammad Ali Dibaji, Member of CEPR
- Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Mohammad Hasan Qadrdan Qaramaleki, Member of CEPR
- Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Hamidreza Shakerin, Member of CEPR
- Dr. Ramezan Ali-Tabar Firoozjaei, Member of CEPR
- Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Mohammad Ali Ardestani, Member of CEPR
- Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Mohammad Arabsalehi, Member of CEPR
- Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Mohammadreza Aqaei, CEPR’s Guest
- Hamid Amirchaqmaqi, Executive Director of CEPR
- Javad Taheri: Administrator of International Affairs of IICT and Organizer of the Meeting
After an introduction about IICT, Center of Excellence for Philosophy of Religion and programs and activities of the center, Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Sajedi, pointed to the goals of holding this video conference meeting. He then introduced panel participants and asked Prof Green to deliver his lecture on “what the philosophy of religion is”
During his lecture, prof. Green, stated a common definition of religion, cited by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy which reads:
Philosophy of religion is the philosophical examination of the central themes and concepts involved in religious traditions. It involves all the main areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics and value theory, the philosophy of language, philosophy of science, law, sociology, politics, history, and so on….
He then expressed his idea about the quiddity and definition of philosophy of religion. In his opinion philosophy of religion should use a philosophical methodology in analyzing religious themes. It can be an analysis of every themes which are related to religious matters. It includes a conceptual and philosophical analysis. Philosophy of religion should be differentiated from other kinds of study on religion. For example it is different from theology, sociology of religion, psychology of religion, religious studies and history of religions etc.
After Prof. Green’s speech, professors from Iranian Center of Excellence for Philosophy of Religion raised some questions about represented discussions. He believes in a Kantian approach to the definition of philosophy, ethics and religion so the core ideas of his discussion about philosophy of religion turned around this approach.
Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Abolfazl Sajedi, asked a variety of questions about Prof Green’s definition of philosophy of religion. For example, he asked: can we consider what has been thought and written by some distinguished thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Paul Tillich, Wittgenstein and the like as examples of philosophy of religion?
He answered that since I am a Kantian philosopher I have my own approach to the definition of philosophy of religion which says that, one, in order to be regarded as a philosopher of religion should give philosophical and conceptual analytic explanations in studying religion.
Dr. Sajedi’s second question was: does philosophy of religion study some issues such as political and sociological issues in religious contexts?
Answer: yes it can do; but through a philosophical methodology.
Another question by Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Mohammadreza Aqaei was:
What is the difference between sociology of religion and philosophy of religion when they are explaining how religion functions?
Answer: sociology of religion is not philosophy; it belongs to the realm of science.
Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Hamidreza Shakerin, as another participant asked:
What is the main issue of philosophy of religion?
Answer: it depends on what is meant by the religion itself. In my opinion, the religion is about the transcendental being, so the main issue within philosophy of religion is the philosophical explanation of transcendence.
Dr. Sayyed Mohammad Ali Dibaji, then, asked:
Can one be a philosopher of religion and at the same time believe in a religious idea for which he cannot be able to provide a philosophical explanation?
Answer: you can be a philosopher of religion and have some opinion for which you do not have any philosophical analysis; but that particular opinion cannot be an example of philosophy of religion.
At the end of the meeting, Hojjat-ul-Islam Dr. Abolfazl Sajedi, gave an overall summary of the discussions.