7.4 Religion: true or false?

I noted earlier that differences between the truth claims made by religions has led those who practise Religious Studies to avoid premature judgements when dealing with questions relating to the truth and value of particular religions. By seeming to by-pass truth claims, you may feel that what I have been describing as Religious Studies avoids what many would regard as the purpose of religion – to deal in truths. This is a difficult area to cover briefly, but let me at least try to explain
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

7.1 Some basic principles of religious studies

Remember that in Section 4 I suggested that possible reasons for studying religion could be clustered together under two broad headings:

  1. to understand the society in which we live, the culture we inherit and the wider world of which we are a part;

  2. as part of a personal quest for religious
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

6.1 Introduction

Whatever else they may be, religions grow in historical and social settings. The present form of a religion has its roots in the past. Religion can exercise a strong influence upon society and the cultural forms of a society, but religion itself is no less affected by changes and pressures within society. Religion gives meaning to a pattern of living and may even be responsible for establishing a certain lifestyle or distinctive social organisation or institution. At the same time, religion o
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5.3 Scholarly definitions of religion

Scholars offer us many different definitions of religion, but these definitions tend to be of two types. The first type is known as a substantive definition: that is, a definition that tells us what kind of thing religion is by pointing to its distinguishing characteristic – usually its beliefs and/or practices. We can find an example of a substantive definition of religion in my summary of the definitions found in the Concise Oxford Dictionary. Think again about d. Acc
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5.2 The ‘answer’ in your dictionary

Exercise 9

Please now look at the definition of ‘religion’ given in your dictionary.

  1. Do you think that the definition is going to help you when deciding what is or is not religion? Please give
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5.1 ‘Religion’ and ‘the religions’: two new notions

I want to begin our closer discussion of the question ‘what is religion?’ by looking briefly at the history of the use and meaning of the term. You may be surprised to find how recently the word ‘religion’ has taken on the meanings attached to it today.

Contemporary scholars of religion emphasise not merely the cultural breadth but also the antiquity of religious activity. Yet, the term ‘religion’ as we understand it today is very much a Western concept.

Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

4.3 Religion and political stability

Wilberforce’s whole approach is strong indirect testimony to the predominance among his contemporaries of the kinds of religious outlook he is criticising, although objective evaluation requires a detachment from his own Evangelical zeal. Certainly his portrayal of the dominant tone of late eighteenth-century Christianity as one of undemanding endorsement of social harmony, decency and good neighbourliness rings true. A leading theological influence was that of William Paley (1743–1805) w
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

Learning outcomes

When you have completed your work on this unit you should have developed:

  • a knowledge of key aspects of William Wilberforce’s political career and writings, and an appreciation of their historical and religious significance;

  • an awareness of the relationship of Evangelicalism to cultural transitions between the Enlightenment and Romanticism;

  • an understanding of the contribution of religion to cultural, social and political change in Britain in the
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

Introduction

This unit provides an overview of John Napier and his work on logarithms. It discusses his approach to this lasting invention and looks at the key players who worked with him, including Briggs, Wright and Kepler.

This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Topics in the history of mathematics (MA290) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in
Author(s): The Open University

4 Conclusion

The biographical monograph is probably one of the best ways of writing appealing and accessible art history. Helen Langdon's Caravaggio is an attractive and well-written narrative of the life and work of an important and allegedly infamous artist. We learn about a set of artworks in a particular context and at the same time get to know a ‘new friend’ whose personality and environment seem to speak through the illustrations. The biographical structure is also a convenient way of con
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2 The varieties of imaginative experience

What would life be like without imagination? Perhaps, in this very first question, we have found something that is impossible to imagine. Imagination infuses so much of what we do, and so deeply, that to imagine its absence is to imagine not being human. Some people, I am told, think about sex every five minutes. For them, I presume, a sudden loss of imaginative powers would be devastating. Some people (not necessarily the same ones), at certain points in their lives, think about getting marr
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

9.2 Cultural shifts: from Enlightenment to Romanticism, c.1780–1830

  1. A growing impulse towards revolution, rupture, transformation and radicalism.

  2. A growing scepticism about the potential to identify objective, empirically validated and universally valid truths, and an increased emphasis on subjectivity.

  3. An increasing emphasis on the self, introspection, identity and individualism.

  4. A growing exploitation and intensification of an aesthetic of the sublime.

  5. A
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5 Enlightenment and the classics

The civilisations of ancient Greece and Rome formed both a common background and a major source of inspiration to Enlightenment thinkers and artists (see Figure 4). The dominant culture of the Enlightenment was rooted in the classics, and its art was consciously imitative and neoclassical. English literature of the first half of the century was known as ‘Augustan’ – that is, comparable to the classic works of the age of the Roman emperor Augustus (27 BC
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

3.2 Public or private memorial?

The choice of location has wider implications, too. If the chosen site is in a public place, such as a park or village green in public ownership, then the building is accessible to all. No specific interest controls it (though of course there may be special arrangements made for its upkeep) and no particular individual owns it.

On the other hand, if a memorial is created by a family in memory of an individual, then the location of the memorial reflects that gift. Such memorials are ofte
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

4.4 Physicalism and the hard problem

I introduced the hard problem as an explanatory problem – the problem of explaining how consciousness arises. But it can also be presented as a metaphysical problem – the problem of saying what kind of phenomenon consciousness is, and, more specifically, whether it is a physical one. In this section I shall say something about this aspect of the hard problem and its relation to the explanatory one.

The terms ‘physical’ and ‘physicalism’ (the view that everything is ph
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.8 The Gricean Programme

Before considering any further potential criticisms of Grice's position, let us step back and consider his wider importance to philosophy: his contribution to what is often called The Gricean Programme. Grice himself was not really a Gricean in this sense, since he was not committed to all elements of the programme that bears his name. But Grice's influence has been as great as it has in part because of the way in which his ideas have been co-opted into this broader programme.

Th
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.4 The meaning of expressions versus the meaning of individual utterances

I drew a contrast at the beginning of the chapter between those approaches to the meaning of utterances that look to the meaning of the words used, and those approaches that look instead to the content of the mental or psychological states of speakers. Grice belongs to the second camp. He aims to show that the meaning of an expression (e.g. a word or a sentence) is derivative, definable in terms of how that expression is typically used in meaningful utterances. The meaning of individual utter
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

1.6 Further reading

For an advanced general introduction to the philosophy of language, see Blackburn 1984. Lycan 1996 is pitched at a more accessible level. Pinker 1994 is an informal but informative discussion of the hypothesis that much of our linguistic ability is innate, an important topic that has had to be left out of this unit.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

6 Hospital care

In most aspects of medical care, the rich generally enjoyed better access to medical services and better-quality services than the poor. The only exception to this rule was hospital care. In the nineteenth century the ‘deserving’ poor – whose respectability was guaranteed by the need for them to have a letter of admission from a subscriber or employer – could receive medical and surgical treatment in charitable hospitals. The very poor could obtain care through Poor Law hospitals, whi
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5.2 General practitioners

General practitioners were the backbone of medical services. They dealt with almost every sort of complaint, from the serious to the trivial. Although it is often assumed that previous generations were prepared to put up with discomfort, in 1876, an anonymous correspondent to a friendly society magazine complained that ‘one of the most distinctive traits of this generation is its almost fidgety care about its health’ (quoted in Riley, 1997, p. 199). Working men went to the doctor with min
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share