What's the difference between a philosophy and a religion?

One might mark the difference between philosophy and religion by looking at the different bases given for claims in these two domains. Philosophical claims are justified by arguments, which provide reasons to believe those claims; religious claims need not rest on arguments, but appeal to faith. To be sure, philosophers have sought to give arguments for religious claims: such argument are part of what is called natural religion. Nevertheless, certain claims--such as the claim that Jesus is the son of God, or the doctrine of the Trinity--are recognized to lie outside the scope of rational justification, and therefore are considered to be part of revealed religion. Arguably, philosophy began to be distinguished from religion in the work of the Pre-Socratics, and one can track the emergence of rational justification for claims as one reads through their fragments.

Hi. I was wondering if Jean-Paul Sartre's view on Existentialism have any relevance for today's philosophers? Looking forward to an answer. Thanks, Magnus Sweden

In recent years, there has been an upsurge in interest among Anglo-American philosophers in such philosophers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Jean-Paul Sartre. In a recent book, Authority and Estrangement: An Essay on Self-Knowledge , Richard Moran draws on Sartre's Being and Nothingness in order to give an account of first-person authority. I think that there is much in Being and Nothingness that could illuminate such questions as the nature of human freedom and the nature of our knowledge of other minds. Sartre's writings deserve further consideration from Anglo-American philosophers.

Concerning Berkeley's view that there are no such thing as external objects, just our perception of such ideas: What would he say about space?

In Sections 110-117 of the Principles of Human Knowledge , Berkeley takes up questions in natural philosophy. He argues that space cannot exist without the mind, any more than other objects can. He also discusses space in An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision and in De Motu .

The notion of "free will" implies an agent can make its own choice independent of the deterministic laws of nature. However, within a causally closed system this is impossible. Why then would evolution endow agents with the feeling of control? Would it not be more efficient (and more expected) for evolution to produce automata without subjective (and superfluous) mental phenomena?

One way to respond to this question is to reconceive the notion of control at issue. Rather than accepting that the control that agents feel they have requires that they be able to make choices independent of the laws of nature, one might argue that all the control that agents need in order to be responsible for their choices is for their choices to be sensitive to their reasoning. On this conception of freedom, an agent would be responsible for her choices, and have control of them, because she chose for a reason. Rational control of this sort seems eminently compatible with determinism. On such an account, the feeling of control that one has is not taken to indicate that one is exempt from the laws of nature, but rather reflects the fact that one's choices are up to one because they reflect one's reasons.

Is it possible to deify an object, perhaps a penguin? If so, what qualities and/or properties would make it godlike? D.D.

In Chapter XII of Leviathan , Hobbes says that "there is almost nothing that has a name that has not been esteemed...in one place or another, a god or a devil....Men, women, a bird, a crocodile, a calf, a dog, a snake, an onion, a leek, [were] deified." Hobbes would probably say that somewhere, already, penguins have been deified. So it is certainly possible to deify a penguin. The question is whether one would be justified in deifying a penguin. Hobbes--and most Christians--would say no, because only a being with all the attributes of the Christian God (omniscience, omnipotence, etc.) is justly worshipped, but no finite being has such attributes, and consequently, no finite being ought to be worshipped. Perhaps other religious traditions would allow one to deify, and hence worship, a penguin. But I'm not familiar enough with other religious traditions to say.

What is the connection, if there is any, between enjoyment of art and the judgment of its aesthetic merit?

There is no connection between enjoying food and its being healthy, or good for one's body. Why should there be a connection between enjoying an artwork and judging it to be good?

Problem with the Problem Of Evil I've read here a few references to the Problem Of Evil and it brings to mind a small philosophical statement which I hold dear - Beauty in all things. To use the Katrina example for sake of continuity, is it not a short term and narrow view to say people have suffered? Let's assume anybody who has died in the event is not suffering. Those left behind probably are suffering but ultimately their life and those of onlookers may be bettered because of the experience; they may continue to lead more fulfilled lives than what they otherwise may have appreciated. Happiness comes from within and is not determined by what we have, what we've lost, or what we've been through. I concede that beauty in all things is partly just a psychological state, but I also believe rationally that positives can be found in the seemingly most negative situations. We have all experienced this in life first hand. Btw: wonderful website, thanks to all who contribute.

The problem of human suffering is indeed an instance of the problem of evil: it's the problem of physical evil (as opposed to the problem of moral evil, or sin, which arises from the fact that God allows agents to make bad choices and commit immoral acts). It is not clear to me that theists do respond to the problem by denying the reality of human suffering. Indeed, early modern philosophers, such as Leibniz and Malebranche, who grapple with the problem, admit the reality of human suffering, but deny that God is responsible for it. Leibniz, for example, argues that although God creates the world, he does not will that suffering takes place, but he rather wills the existence of the best possible world, a world that includes suffering, which he does not directly will, but merely permits. According to Leibniz, the suffering that takes place in this world is a necessary component of this world, the best possible world, which God creates because it is the best world. Sometimes this point is put in...

Do you believe that freedom is just being able to do what one wants without constraint? If so, why and how?

A person is not free to act if she is constrained. So, for example, if a person is chained to his bed, he is not free to get out of bed (or even to remain in it). Suppose, however, that a person is the victim of brainwashing, an evil deceiver, a mad scientist, etc.. In the absence of external constraints, such a person might be free to act as she wants, but if her desires have been implanted in her, then what she wants wouldn't be up to her, and so she wouldn't be free to want what she wants. This suggests that there is something more to freedom than freedom of action--some philosophers call it 'freedom of will'. The trick, however, is to explain the nature of freedom of will. I won't even try to do that here.