Gale on Religious Experience

Philo 6 (1):114-131 (2003)
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Abstract

Richard Gale has mounted the most effective attack on religious experience’s cognitive credentials in recent decades. This article explains why I am nonetheless not persuaded by it. I argue that: (1) Contrary to Gale, mystical experiences do take an objective accusative, and are therefore presumptively cognitive. (2) The tests for the veridicality of religious experience are more like those for sense experiences than Gale allows. (3) Gale’s “big” or “deep” disanalogy (viz., that “there are no analogous dimensions [to space-time] in which the apparent object of a religious experience could be housed” and, as a result, no way to distinguish between religious experiences that are of numerically one and the same religious object and religious experiences “that are of merely qualitatively similar ones”) is not as devastating as he thinks. (4) Gale’s critique of my and Alston’s attempt to defuse attacks on the cognitively of religious experience by appealing to categoreal differences between the apparent objects of religious experience and sense experience is unsuccessful.

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