Contemporary Philosophical Debate On The Validity Of Religious Experience(近代宗教哲學有關宗教經驗的論爭) / 關啟文



近年來,分析哲學中的宗教哲學甚為興盛,宗教經驗論證亦因而復穌。其中一個爭論非常熱烈的課題便是「宗教經驗的真實性」。不少哲學家有力地維護這論證,他們包括斯溫伯恩(Richard Swinburne)、奧爾斯頓(William Alston)、格庭(Gary Gutting)和格爾曼(Jerome Gelman)。筆者在本文中首先概述這論證如何在當代哲學家中復興,接著解釋這論證為何在直覺上有一定的說服力,然而也有 不少表面上的困難——這些困難可歸納為十種常見的反駁。筆者會簡評以下六種反駁:






In recent years, the field of analytic philosophy of religion has greatly flourished. One hotly debated topic is the validity or veridicality of religious experience. This is due to the revival of the argument from religious experience which is ably defended by Richard Swinburne, William Alston, Gary Gutting, and Jerome Gellman among others. In this paper, I first survey the revival of this argument among contemporary philosophers, and then explain both its intuitive force and prima facie difficulties (which are due to ten stock objections to religious experience). Six objections are briefly discussed:

1) that religious experiences are induced under abnormal conditions;

2) that there is an unbridgeable logical gap between subjective experience and objective reality;

3) that religious experiences are heavily theory-laden;

4) that naturalistic explanations of religious experience are readily available;

5) that religious experiences are essentially private;

6) that the validity of religious experience is uncheckable and unverifiable;

I contend that none of these objections succeeds to discredit religious experiences.

I then discuss the objection that since religious experiences are so unlike sense experiences, they must be subjective. I argue that the disanalogy is often exaggerated. I further point out that the argument presupposes an illegitimate premise which amounts to a kind of epistemic imperialism or chauvinism. I conclude that although many objections still need to be assessed, the argument from religious experience is alive and well, and well worth serious investigation.