Which came first: Religion or Philosophy?

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2Dbunk
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Which came first: Religion or Philosophy?

Post #1

Post by 2Dbunk »

Religion is a philosophy of life, but philosophy itself is not considered a religion; instead it is known as the universal pursuit of all knowledge.
As such, philosophy is the class and religion is a sub-class in a taxonomic classification. Deducting from this, philosophy came first . . . then religion. Case closed.

But is the case closed? Religion does not readily take its place as being subordinate to philosophy! Instead it runs roughshod over the dictates of its parent. Why does it not conform to its lower ranking? Because it is emotional, dogmatic, didactic and arrogant in its assertion of what truth (the existence of a deity(s)) is, where philosophy has none of the above mentioned four characteristics.


Is that why philosophy seems dead, and religion very much alive (albeit in so very, very many forms)? Case in point: Nearly a quarter of a millennium ago the Philosophic Society of America, made up of America’s best (Franklin, Rush, Washington, Jefferson, etc.) was the cutting edge of ALL Knowledge! Though it still exists, it has long been surpassed as a clearinghouse of ideas – only a very few consider it to be a functional entity.

What do you think? Which came first into human's consciousness, religion or philosophy? Is religion a part of philosophy OR is philosophy part of religion?

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Re: Which came first: Religion or Philosophy?

Post #2

Post by Divine Insight »

2Dbunk wrote: Religion is a philosophy of life.
I would disagree with this premise right off the bat. I would say that some religious are a philosophy of life, while others are based on superstition and folklore. Not at all the same as a philosophy of life.

I would go further and suggest that most of the religions that developed in the middle eastern or Mediterranean regions were most based on superstition and folklore, while religions of the far east tended to be based more on philosophical ideas.

Examples of Religions based on Folklore and Superstition:

Religious based on Gods that are very anthropomorphic and are often associated with being the cause of many natural events such as storms, volcanic eruptions, lightening, diseases, etc.

The following are just some that come to mind quickly:

Thor
Odin
All of the Greek Gods and Goddesses
Allah, Yahweh, and YVHV (which are obviously all offshoots of a single mythology)

Rumors of demigods would also be included in this, with Jesus being no exception to being an obvious demigod rumor associated with Yahweh.

Examples of Religions based more on Philosophical ideas of Life:

Confucianism
Hinduism
Jainism
Buddhism
Taoism

These often included a belief in reincarnation, but we need to understand that for these cultures reincarnation was seen as a self-evident truth, not as a superstition. These religions often did become infested with superstitious beliefs as these philosophies grew (especially Hinduism), but fundamentally they were based on philosophical ideas rather than on specific folklore and superstitious rumors. Although there may have also grew many rumors about revered figures associated with these religious philosophies.

So while some religions tend to be based on philosophical ideas of life, other's are not. Instead they are based on superstitious rumors and folklore that coincidentally lead to various philosophical reasoning about life.

2Dbunk wrote: , but philosophy itself is not considered a religion; instead it is known as the universal pursuit of all knowledge.
It used to be known as the universal pursuit of all knowledge. It was once believed very strongly that by just sitting in a chair and thinking clearly and logically one could eventually figure out all truths about the real world. In fact, philosophers believed this to be the case up until only a few hundred years ago. Even though they should have been able to recognize the folly of this idea much earlier.

We now know for certain that "Pure Philosophy" (i.e. just thinking alone using pure logic) can never lead to the truth of our reality. We know this because we can imagine perfectly logically sound scenarios that simply don't match up with known reality. For example, we easily imagined the Earth being the center of the universe. That could have turned out to be true. There's nothing in "Pure Logic" that would prevent such a potential reality from existing. So thinking about reality using pure logic and reasoning can often lead us to conclusions that simply aren't true about the world in which we live.

Also, just thinking about the world using pure logic would have never led us to Quantum Mechanics. There is no logical reason why the world needed to break down at the quantum level in this way. In fact, we can't even explain this known truth of our reality today using clear logical explanations.

Another example, is that men used to believe that our Milky Way galaxy constituted the entire universe. Again, there's nothing in pure logic that would require this to be wrong. In fact, astrophysicists tell us that this will indeed become the case in the very distance future. But the point is that we now know that pure philosophy is "dead". In other words, Pure Philosophy can never lead us to truth. Only logical reasoning based on observational evidence can lead us to truth.

And this brings us to the Natural Philosophy or "Science". Only science can lead us to truth. Pure Philosophy is dead.
2Dbunk wrote: As such, philosophy is the class and religion is a sub-class in a taxonomic classification. Deducting from this, philosophy came first . . . then religion. Case closed.
Your conclusion here is based on the premise that all religion is philosophy. As I pointed out above, some religions are based on superstition and folklore, no philosophy required. Those superstitions and folklore may LEAD to as specific worldview which can then be considered to be a philosophy, but they didn't necessarily start out as philosophy in the beginning.

Therefore it's impossible to say which came first. Did men start having superstitious thoughts before applying sound reasoning? That's seems very likely to me. That being the case, religions may very well have preceded philosophy by quite a bit. Because it doesn't require reason and logic to believe in superstitions and folklore.
2Dbunk wrote: But is the case closed? Religion does not readily take its place as being subordinate to philosophy! Instead it runs roughshod over the dictates of its parent. Why does it not conform to its lower ranking? Because it is emotional, dogmatic, didactic and arrogant in its assertion of what truth (the existence of a deity(s)) is, where philosophy has none of the above mentioned four characteristics.
I suggest that you were simply wrong in your premise that religion is as subset of philosophy. Religion doesn't need to be based on philosophy at all. But religious beliefs can lead to embracing various philosophical worldviews.

So I don't see religions being necessarily based upon reason and logical thinking (i.e. philosophy).

2Dbunk wrote: Is that why philosophy seems dead, and religion very much alive (albeit in so very, very many forms)? Case in point: Nearly a quarter of a millennium ago the Philosophic Society of America, made up of America’s best (Franklin, Rush, Washington, Jefferson, etc.) was the cutting edge of ALL Knowledge! Though it still exists, it has long been surpassed as a clearinghouse of ideas – only a very few consider it to be a functional entity.
"Pure Philosophy" is dead because it has been recognized to be ineffective in leading us to truth. It has been replaced by "Natural Philosophy" (or Science) which demands real world evidence and observations to back up any proposed ideas based on pure thought alone.
2Dbunk wrote: What do you think? Which came first into human's consciousness, religion or philosophy? Is religion a part of philosophy OR is philosophy part of religion?
Just to summarize I'll answer these questions here in brief:

Which came first into human's consciousness, religion or philosophy?

My guess is that humans started believing in illogical superstitious ideas before they started to think more logically. Therefore I would suggest that religious superstition came first with philosophy coming later.

Is religion a part of philosophy OR is philosophy part of religion?

My view is that, for the most part, the answer is neither. Religion is based on superstition, philosophy is based upon logic and reasoning. They are entirely separate things.

Having said this, obviously a belief in superstitions will lead one to also create a specific philosophy based on the premises of those superstitious beliefs. So one can have an influence on the other. But I wouldn't say that they are part of each other. They are simply related in that if superstitions are believed, then those superstitious beliefs will be used as premises to draw logical conclusions when thinking philosophically.

And keep in mind that false premises naturally lead to false conclusions. So a philosophy based on religion has a very high chance of producing false results.
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Re: Which came first: Religion or Philosophy?

Post #3

Post by 2Dbunk »

First, I apologize to amortalman if I usurped his idea for my OP (his: 'Origin of Religion'). I didn't search the stack to see if my idea was playing elsewhere down the line. It appears that I stole it, but, no, my idea has been kicking around in my mind for a good while. Since DI, the unmatched seer of seers on these forums, seems to be the only debater interested in either of our OPs, he should have kicked my arse for what seems an infraction of courtesy on my part. With that said, I humbly pick up my hat and answer DI's usually succinct analyses.
Divine Insight wrote:
2Dbunk wrote: Religion is a philosophy of life.
I would disagree with this premise right off the bat. I would say that some religious are a philosophy of life, while others are based on superstition and folklore. Not at all the same as a philosophy of life.
Please understand that my premise is a broader, more general scope of philosophy. Even if superstition and folklore is foremost in early humans' thinking, it still can be the basis of a personal philosophy of life. Everyone is a philosopher! Even if one's philosophy of life is flawed in some way, making for an unhappy life, he or she has 'made their bed and must now (or then) sleep in it.' Whether they were influenced by superstition, Homer, Aurelius, Milton or Donald Trump, they are living a life that will be influenced by their idols, thus their philosophy.

Further Research: As much as I want to validate my above critique, dictionaries rule in DI's favor. Philosophy deals in realities, not theology.
I would go further and suggest that most of the religions that developed in the middle eastern or Mediterranean regions were most based on superstition and folklore, while religions of the far east tended to be based more on philosophical ideas.
You are mentioning a comparison of higher philosophy with that of lesser, knee jerk philosophy but nonetheless distinct philosophies. People of either region might want to weigh in that their philosophy is more tangential to their way of life.

AGAIN, further research does not support my original premise. DI is correct in that middle eastern religions are theologically based rather than logical. One of the five tenants of philosophy is logic

2Dbunk wrote:
. . . but philosophy itself is not considered a religion; instead it is known as the universal pursuit of all knowledge.
Rather than to continue trying to debunk DI's reasoning, I respectfully scoop up my hat and make for the exits, deferring the floor to the eminent Divinely Inspired.

DI Wrote:
It used to be known as the universal pursuit of all knowledge. It was once believed very strongly that by just sitting in a chair and thinking clearly and logically one could eventually figure out all truths about the real world. In fact, philosophers believed this to be the case up until only a few hundred years ago. Even though they should have been able to recognize the folly of this idea much earlier.

We now know for certain that "Pure Philosophy" (i.e. just thinking alone using pure logic) can never lead to the truth of our reality. We know this because we can imagine perfectly logically sound scenarios that simply don't match up with known reality. For example, we easily imagined the Earth being the center of the universe. That could have turned out to be true. There's nothing in "Pure Logic" that would prevent such a potential reality from existing. So thinking about reality using pure logic and reasoning can often lead us to conclusions that simply aren't true about the world in which we live.

Also, just thinking about the world using pure logic would have never led us to Quantum Mechanics. There is no logical reason why the world needed to break down at the quantum level in this way. In fact, we can't even explain this known truth of our reality today using clear logical explanations.

Another example, is that men used to believe that our Milky Way galaxy constituted the entire universe. Again, there's nothing in pure logic that would require this to be wrong. In fact, astrophysicists tell us that this will indeed become the case in the very distance future. But the point is that we now know that pure philosophy is "dead". In other words, Pure Philosophy can never lead us to truth. Only logical reasoning based on observational evidence can lead us to truth.

And this brings us to the Natural Philosophy or "Science". Only science can lead us to truth. Pure Philosophy is dead.
Agreed!

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Re: Which came first: Religion or Philosophy?

Post #4

Post by elphidium55 »

I want to make a case for religion predating philosophy by thousands of years.

Humans seem to come pre-programmed with proclivities for magical thinking. Social science has identified such mechanisms as hyperactive agency detection errors, minimal counter-intuitive ideas, promiscuous teleology, etc. to explain why we behave superstitiously. It seems reasonable to think that these mechanisms operated in a similar way in our deep past. I conclude from this that we humans are naturally superstitious.

There is also archeological evidence for ritual practices associated with ancient burial sites that hint at some sort of pre-historic proto-religious sensibility.

Given the evidence from both the present and the past, it's probably safe to assume that human beings have been religious for at least a hundred thousand years.

I take philosophy to include some sort of commitment to critical reasoning. Whereas religious attitudes seem to be the default condition for humans, critical reasoning seems to be a disposition which needs to be actively cultivated. A look at the historical records seems to confirm this. Human critical thinking as a prerequiste for philosophy is, quite simply, unnatural and recent.

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Re: Which came first: Religion or Philosophy?

Post #5

Post by Purple Knight »

elphidium55 wrote: I want to make a case for religion predating philosophy by thousands of years.

Humans seem to come pre-programmed with proclivities for magical thinking. Social science has identified such mechanisms as hyperactive agency detection errors, minimal counter-intuitive ideas, promiscuous teleology, etc. to explain why we behave superstitiously. It seems reasonable to think that these mechanisms operated in a similar way in our deep past. I conclude from this that we humans are naturally superstitious.

There is also archeological evidence for ritual practices associated with ancient burial sites that hint at some sort of pre-historic proto-religious sensibility.

Given the evidence from both the present and the past, it's probably safe to assume that human beings have been religious for at least a hundred thousand years.

I take philosophy to include some sort of commitment to critical reasoning. Whereas religious attitudes seem to be the default condition for humans, critical reasoning seems to be a disposition which needs to be actively cultivated. A look at the historical records seems to confirm this. Human critical thinking as a prerequisite for philosophy is, quite simply, unnatural and recent.
This is all true as far as I know.

However, if you're going to look at (for example) the weather, and conclude agency, this doesn't even potentially help you survive unless you also think about why Mr. Cloudso is sending rain at particular times and not others.

That's not exactly philosophy but in a way it's close, if only because you're already thinking in terms of certain behaviours being right or wrong (if only because they might upset Cloudso).

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Post #6

Post by Thomas123 »

I think we have to observe the behaviour of primate groupings to answer this question. Your question can also be approached from an observance of the behaviour of another unrelated species, in my case it might be homing pigeons. It is something I do.

I consider all natural groupings or group species to have their own unique and established morality. I see the troop species of man as being indistinguishable from these other clusters of specific moral types. I am talking about established and evolved species today.

What are these moralities about?
They are unifying codes of behaviour that enforce the long view regarding the species in questions, ability to thrive and compete. Morality is self serving in the long run and not a high ideal that it is sometimes construed to be.
How does it work?
Your evolution impregnated your being with this code. If you are a pigeon or a chimpanzee, or a human for that matter you have this code.We had this as we became evolved humans.
Choices?
Most species absolutely follow their code but the human appears to have more leniency in this regard due to some evolutionary anomaly.
Therefore I think that critical thinking and philosophy is as old within us as ,superstition, and or religious feeling. Fear and curiosity and bravery cocktails to add to the mix. To go against your instinct requires critical thinking.

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