Ambitiously undertaking to develop a strategy for making the study of religion "scientific," Ninian Smart tackles a set of interrelated issues that bear importantly on the status of religion as an academic discipline. He draws a clear distinction between studying religion and "doing theology," and considers how phenomenological method may be used in investigating objects of religious attitudes without presupposing the existence of God or gods. He goes on to criticize projectionist theories of religion and theories of rationality in both (...) religion and anthropology. On this basis he builds a theory of religious dynamics which gives religious ideas and entities an autonomous place in the sociology of knowledge. His overall purpose is thus "to indicate ways forward in the study of religion which free it from being crypto-apologetics or elevating poetry." Originally published in 1973. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905. (shrink)
"Dimensions of the Sacred is arguably one of the most comprehensive and readable accounts of religion that we have had in the past thirty years. Not only does it provide a rich analysis of religious experience, but he also includes much that has been overlooked by other interpreters of the world's religions."—Richard D. Hecht, coauthor of The Sacred Texts of the World.
Professor R. C. Zaehner's distinction between panenhenic, monistic and theistic mysticism will be examined. It will be argued that there is no necessary reason to suppose that the latter two types involve different sorts of experience: the difference lies rather in the way the experience is interpreted. Likewise it will be argued that the Theravperennial philosophy’ common to mystics. Their doctrines are determined partly by factors other than mystical experience itself.
Can miracles happen? Is the human will free? Against the background of the world's religions, what does religious experience show? If a good God exists, why does he allow evil? As the author writes, "We have to think our way through a number of the central issues raised by the claims of religion to give a true account of the world in which we live." His special contribution is to insist that we do not ignore the achievements of those who (...) have wrestled with the problems in previous generations. In this book, therefore, each problem is presented in connection with the thought of a major figure in the history of philosophy and theology: Hume, Kant, Aquinas, Otto and Tennant. He is also convinced that Western Christians have much to learn from the other religions of the world. (shrink)
It has in recent years been argued, by Professors Antony Flew and J. L. Mackie, that God could have created men wholly good. For, causal determinism being compatible with free will, men could have been made in such a way that, without loss of freedom, they would never have fallen into sin. This if true would constitute a weighty anti-theistic argument. And yet intuitively it seems unconvincing. I wish here to uncover the roots of this intuitive suspicion.
World Philosophies presents in one volume a superb introduction to all the world's major philosophical and religious traditions. Covering all corners of the globe, Ninian Smart's work offers a comprehensive and global philosophical and religious picture. In this revised and expanded second edition, a team of distinguished scholars, assembled by the editor Oliver Leaman, have brought Ninian Smart's masterpiece up to date for the twenty-first century. Chapters have been revised by experts in the field to include recent philosophical developments, and (...) the book includes a new bibliographic guide to resources in world philosophies. A brand new introduction which celebrates the career and writings of Ninian Smart, and his contribution to the study of world religions, helps set the work in context. (shrink)
This book provides a series of selections from what has been written in this field by past Western philosophers. Topics treated include the proofs of the existence of God, immortality, free will, religious language and the nature of belief. After extracts from Plato, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Anselm and Aquinas, the main period represented is that from Lord Herbert of Cherbury and Descartes to the present century, but no living philosopher is included. Biographical, philosophical and bibliographical notes introduce each selection, to make (...) the student's task easier. But no attempt is made to assess the validity of the reasonings of the philosophers represented, since this would destroy much of the value of the direct encounter with them which this book aims to provide. The present volume aims not only to give a sound background, but also to reflect some contemporary philosophical concerns. Although it has been produced primarily with theological students and teachers in mind, it ought to be useful to anyone else who reflects about religion, Ninian Smart was Professor of Theology in the University or Birmingham. (shrink)
First published in 1968, Ninian Smart’s The Yogi and the Devotee: The Interplay Between the Upanishads and Catholic Theology is based on lectures given in Delhi and explores in a novel way the relation between Hinduism and Christianity. The author puts forward a general theory of the relationship between religious experience and doctrines, a theory he had developed in earlier works. He argues that a new form of ‘natural theology’ should be presented, which would show the relevance of religious experience (...) and ritual to what is given in revelation. Smart believes this could be the key to a new understanding between Christianity and Indian religions, and also examines what Christians can learn from other faiths. During a career as a Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy, Ninian Smart was hugely influential in the way Religious Studies was taught, not only in Britain but around the world. (shrink)
My title is of course a variation on Professor H. D. Lewis' well-known Our Experience of God . There he expounded a variety of religious intuitionism, which stands in the line of Schleiermacher, Rudolf Otto and Martin Buber. These and other writers have characteristically made ‘the move to experience’, as a new blend of natural and revealed theology. The move makes a great deal of sense. On the one hand it grounds belief at a time when the older natural theology (...) apparently had crumbled. On the other hand, it points to the dynamics of religious inspiration and gave a new perspective on revelation. It softens both reason and faith, of course, but it also provides a defence against skepticism. It fits well with a liberal attitude to scriptures and tradition. So there are manifest advantages of the move to experience, for those who wish to make it in the context of the Western theistic tradition. The writers I cited above, and Professor Lewis himself, have discussed religious experience from a mainly Western and theistic angle – even Otto with his great comparative concerns did so; and more needs to be said about the nature of religious experience in the broader context of Eastern and other religions. Lewis, however, paid attention to this wider problem, for instance in his 1963 article ‘Buddha and God’. In some respects this issue of the relationship of apparently non-theistic religions to theism is the most important one in contemporary crosscultural philosophy of religion. (shrink)
This collection of essays focuses on East-West dialogue. Scholars of Western, Indian & Chinese thought such as Ninian Smart, Fred Dallmayr, Chad Hansen, Barbara Holdrege, Robert Ellwood, Srinivasa Rao, & others, including Akin Makinde of Nigeria share their insights on: Person East-West, Religion & Culture, Comparative Ethics, Indian, Chinese, & Western thought. To order write: Long Beach Publications, P.O. Box 14807, Long Beach, CA 90803. Telephone: (310) 439-7347.