Recensie van een kennelijk bijzonder boek - met veel Spinoza

Graag wijs ik hier op een uitvoerige en zeer informatieve bespreking die gisteren werd gepubliceerd door The New Republic onder de titel: "When Religion Had a Mind. The history of philosophical religion."

Peter E. Gordon, hoogleraar geschiedenis in Harvard en auteur van Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (Harvard, 2012), geeft een lange en interessante bespreking van het boek van

Carlos Fraenkel, Philosophical Religions from Plato to Spinoza: Reason, Religion, and Autonomy [Cambridge University Press, 2012 - ISBN 9780521194570 - cf blog en books.google]

Uitvoerig gaat het ook over Spinoza en hoe hij in de lange traditie van de 'filosofische religie' staat die Fraenkel - en Gordon in zijn kielzog samenvattend - beschrijven. Zeer aanbevolen.

Boeiend te lezen over de lange geschiedenis van pogingen door filosofen om de rationele kern van het geregeld samenleven mede met behulp van de godsdienst vanaf al vanaf Socrates en Plato als God en de Rede te identificeerden. Hoe er een lange traditie was waarin een onderscheid werd gemaakt tussen de (uiterlijke) vormen van de godsdienst voor de gewone mensen en de rationele kern ervan die alleen door de weinige geleerden kon worden begrepen. Filosofie, begrijpen en doorzien wat de kern is waar het om gaat, was voor de weinigen, gehoorzamen aan de goddelijke wetten was voor de velen. Opmerkelijk is de leer dat het streven van de filosofen om menselijke perfectie, wijsheid, (dat is: God) te bereiken verenigbaar zou zijn met religieuze vroomheid. Gehoorzaamheid aan de rede was het zelfde als gehoorzaamheid aan God.

 

Gordon: "Proponents of philosophical religion were not democrats in the modern sense: they did not believe that everyone was capable of grasping the identicalness of God and Reason. But neither did they believe that popular religion was a mere fabrication or a collection of noble lies. Instead they held, in the words of the medieval Islamic philosopher Al-Fârâbî, that “through religion the multitude is taught, educated, and given all that is needed to attain happiness.” This is because religion serves as a vehicle for what divine reason demands. It conveys the “theoretical and practical matters that have been inferred in philosophy, in such a way as to enable the multitude to understand them by persuasion or imaginative representation.”

Verschillen tussen godsdiensten, hun contextuele meervormigheid, is niet incompatible met filosofisch universalisme. Een symphônia van religie en filosofie werd mogelijk gehouden.
Kortom, wat alle religies gemeenschappelijk hebben is: filosofie.

Ik neem hierna enige alinea's over van het gedeelte over Spinoza.

Does Spinoza represent the late-summer flowering of philosophical religion? Much has been said in recent years about Spinoza’s founding role as progenitor of a “radical Enlightenment” that percolated through European letters in the eighteenth century and breathed life into the atheistic and materialist doctrines of radical philosophes such as La Mettrie and Diderot. On this view, Spinozism represents nothing less than the great caesura in European thought, a discontinuity with what came before and a passageway to the secular world. It is therefore all the more surprising to learn from Fraenkel that Spinoza, who clearly read not only Delmedigo but also Maimonides, at least started out by subscribing to the traditional principles of philosophical religion.

When confronted with apparent contradictions between philosophy and holy scripture, Spinoza did not respond with an atheist’s disdain for vulgar belief. He did not reject Scripture, but instead followed the well-worn technique that earlier exponents of philosophical religion found congenial: he subjected them to a philosophical reinterpretation. In 1663, in his Cogitata Metaphysica, he even appealed to the same principle as Averroes:“For the truth does not contradict the truth.” To smooth over the obvious divergence between philosophical truth and religious imagery, Spinoza’s habitual explanation was that the prophet recognizes how communication with the multitude demands that one adopt the more humano, or human custom. But this is precisely the well-known rabbinic axiom that Maimonides used in The Guide of the Perplexed as a philosopher’s excuse for the otherwise inexcusable sin of anthropomorphism: dibrah Torah ki’lashon bnei-adam (the Torah speaks in the language of men).

Fraenkel goes so far as to suggest that we can discern Spinoza’s debt to philosophical religion even in the Theological-Political Treatise, a work whose assault on religious verities achieved such notoriety that it ended up on the papal index of prohibited books. The suggestion is provocative, since the Treatise is typically seen as an inaugural text in the canon of modern philosophical atheism. The great historian of Jewish philosophy Harry Austryn Wolfson, for example, saw Spinoza as the first thinker to break with the ancient tradition of “Philonic philosophy” that had embraced philosophy as ancilla theologiae, or theology’s handmaid. But Fraenkel thinks that Wolfson failed to appreciate the equality of philosophy and religion in the Philonic tradition; he also believes that Wolfson was blind to the ways Spinoza remained that tradition’s faithful disciple.

Voor de rest zie de review.