Year 2019, Volume 18 , Issue 36, Pages 337 - 362 2019-12-30

John Dewey'in Naturalistik Din Anlayışı
John Dewey’s Naturalistic Conception of Religion

İlhami ÇITIR [1] , Abdulkadir Tanış [2]


 Pragmatizmin önde gelen isimlerinden biri olan John Dewey, Ortak Bir İman adlı eserinde din hakkındaki görüşlerini detaylıca ifade etmiştir. Temel olarak natüralistik bir bakış açısından hareketle dini ele alan Dewey, konu hakkındaki görüşlerini din ve dinsel arasında öngördüğü ayrıma dayandırmaktadır. Burada din, bir dinin belirli inanç veya pratikler kümesini ya da bu inanç ve pratikler etrafında şekillenmiş olan kurumsal yapıyı dile getirmektedir. Buna karşın, dinsel, yaşamdaki bütün insani ideal amaçlara yönelik benimsenebilecek bir tutumu ifade etmektedir. Onun ileri sürdüğü görüşün özü, dinî olanı daha ziyade doğaüstüyle özdeş gören tarihsel din, kurum veya öğretilerin reddedilmesi, bu sayede tecrübedeki dinsel öğelerin, tarihsel dinlerin getirdiği inanç, dogma vb. öğelerin yükünden özgürlüğe kavuşturulmasıdır. Dolayısıyla, o, doğaüstüne başvurulmadan dinî tecrübenin doğal dünyanın olumsal koşulları içerisinde yorumlanması gerektiğini savunmaktadır. Bu çalışmada, Dewey’in din konusundaki iddiaları eleştirel bir bakışla analiz edilecektir. Bunun için öncelikle onun din konusundaki görüşleri betimsel olarak detaylı bir şekilde ortaya konulacak ve daha sonra bunların değeri tartışılacaktır. İlk olarak, din ve Tanrı konusundaki görüşleri geleneksel teist ve realist anlayışlarla karşılaştırıldığında Dewey’in bir teist veya realist olarak değerlendirilemeyeceği ifade edilecektir. İkinci olarak, görüşleri her ne kadar geleneksel realist veya teist anlayışlar bağlamında yorumlanmaya müsait olmasa da, onun tam anlamıyla anti-realist veya ateist bir bakış açısına sahip olmadığı daha ziyade orta yolcu bir noktada durduğu iddia edilecektir

One of the leading figures in pragmatism, John Dewey expresses his views on religion in his A Common Faith. From a naturalistic perspective, he builds his views about religion on the distinction which he has made between religion and religious. The religion refers to a particular body of beliefs or practices of a religion or the institutional structure formed around these beliefs and practices. In contrast, the religious means an attitude that can be adopted towards all human ideal ends in the life. Basically, his view is the rejection of historical religions, institutions or teachings that identify the religious with supernatural, and thus is to liberate the religious elements of experience from encumbrances such beliefs, dogmas which come from historical religions. Therefore, he argues that religious experience should be interpreted within the contingent conditions of the natural world without referring to the supernatural. In this study, Dewey’s claims on religion will be analyzed critically. For this purpose, his views on religion will be presented descriptively in detail and then their value will be discussed. Firstly, we will claim that Dewey cannot be considered as a theist or realist when his views on religion and God are compared with traditional theist and realist approaches. Secondly, although his views cannot be considered in a realist or theist approach, we will argue that he also has not a purely anti-realist or atheist point of view, but rather he adopts a middle way.                    

Summary

John Dewey, a prominent figure in pragmatism, makes important claims on religion and God in his A Common Faith. Dewey’s views on the subject is based on the distinction between “religion” as a substantive noun and “religious” as an adjective which points to the quality of experience. According to the distinction, while religion refers to beliefs, practices and institutions, religious designates an attitude that can be adopted towards whole existence, objects and ideal ends. So it is possible to express religious as a modus of experience. Dewey’s basic thesis is to leave aside any religion or institutional structure that bases on supernatural and to evaluate the religious quality of experience within the contingent conditions of the natural world. According to him, when historical religions or institutions are rejected, the value of religious experience will be understood more appropriately since it will liberate from encumbrances such beliefs, doctrines and dogmas which come from historical religions. He argues that the identification of religion with belief in supernatural will inevitably lead to a distinction between religious and secular. When religion is confined in a particular compartment, this leads to the division mind and energy of religious person. As a result, religious believer will not use his energy for social ends and ideals since he gives priority to supernatural.

Dewey links the religious quality of experience with its function and asserts that this function is a permanent and profound harmony of the self, both among its components and with the world. According to him, the permanent and profound harmony of the self, both among its components and with the world, is essentially an ideal because it requires the self to extend beyond itself and the real world. Therefore, it is possible to say that religious is basically ideal. In contrast to a constant and determined the realm of existence, the ideal means potentials or possibilities that do not exist in fact. The foundation for enhancing one’s ideals is the imagination power which human beings have. Based on this, Dewey defines God as “the unity of all ideal ends arousing us to desire and actions.” When we recall that the source of ideal ends is imagination, the idea of God will be the product of imagination.

This brings us to the most controversial point in Dewey’s thought of religion or God. For his claim that the idea of God is a product of human imagination led to many his commentators to interpret his views in an atheistic or secular way. Firstly, it should be expressed obviously that he rejects traditional realist approaches. For he does not accept the idea of God as a fixed or constant entity beyond the physical and social world, independent of human ends and ideals. Considering that traditional theistic view bases on such a realist approach, it can readily be said that Dewey will not adopt a theistic idea of God. Indeed, he repeatedly states that approaches that identify the religion with supernatural must be rejected. Secondly, as we have stated, many commentators who consider these claims interpret his views in a completely naturalistic or secular way, placing him in an anti-realist or atheistic position. However, it is possible to say that these comments fail for a few reasons. First, Dewey expresses that his goal is not merely to provide a purely naturalistic explanation of religious experience or to deny its importance for life. Second, if his goal is to provide a purely naturalistic explanation of religious experience, then why does he continue to employ religious concepts such as God or Divine? Third, he is well aware that his views may be misunderstood: “The view I have advanced is sometimes treated as if the identification of the divine with ideal ends left the ideal wholly without roots in existence and without support from existence.” And he emphasizes strongly that the identification of God with the possibilities within nature, rather than a realm of entity beyond nature, does not mean that God is an idea that exists only in human imagination. Given these reasons, although his views cannot be considered in a realist or theist approach, it can be argued that he also has not a purely anti-realist or atheist point of view, but rather he adopts a middle way.    



  • Dewey, John. A Common Faith, 2. Basım. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.
  • James, William. “The Will to Believe”. Pragmatism and Other Writings. ed. Giles Gunn. 198-218. New York: Penguin Books, 2000.
  • James, William. Pragmatizm: Kimi Eski Düşünme Biçimleri İçin Yeni Bir İsim, trc. Tahir Karakaş. İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2015.
  • James, William. Dinsel Deneyimin Çeşitleri: İnsan Doğası Üzerine Bir İnceleme, trc. İsmail Hakkı Yılmaz. İstanbul: Pinhan Yayıncılık, 2017.
  • Rosenow, Eliyahu. “The Teacher as Prophet of the True God: Dewey’s Religious Faith and its Problems”. Journal of Philosophy of Education 31/3 (1997): 427-437.
  • Tanış, Abdulkadir. “İnanma İradesi: William James’in İmanın Pragmatik Savunusu Üzerine Bir Değerlendirme”. Dini Araştırmalar 19/48 (2016): 179-202.
Primary Language tr
Subjects Social
Journal Section Articles
Authors

Orcid: 0000-0002-5564-7384
Author: İlhami ÇITIR
Institution: HİTİT ÜNİVERSİTESİ
Country: Turkey


Orcid: 0000-0002-5564-7384
Author: Abdulkadir Tanış
Country: Turkey


Dates

Publication Date : December 30, 2019

ISNAD Çıtır, İlhami , Tanış, Abdulkadir . "John Dewey'in Naturalistik Din Anlayışı". Hitit Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi 18 / 36 (December 2020): 337-362 . https://doi.org/10.14395/hititilahiyat.581966