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Title: Une analyse du phénomène religieux chez quelques philosophes de Louvain (KULeuven)
Author(s): VERHAEGHE, Jean
Volume: 64 Issue: 2 Date: 2003
The rise of the natural sciences in the 16th century has strongly influenced the way in which philosophers reflect on activities that confer meaning to human life and, more specifically, on the religious and ethical phenomenon. Measured by the ideal of rationality as can be found in the sciences, each act of conferring meaning is seen either as a specific form of irrational behaviour which can nevertheless be considered as fulfilling a need for psychic convenience, or as something in line with the cognitive demands of science – many forms of ‘holism’ are an example of this. Burms and De Dijn indicate that every act of conferring meaning is ‘sui generis’ and cannot be reduced neither to an utilitarian nor to a cognitive interest. Mainly this last point is clarified in the first part of this article. The thesis that there is a divide or a gap between intellectual knowledge and life, between knowing and meaning is shown by referring to a twofold insight. Intellectual knowledge in itself cannot be a source of meaning. In opposition to the thesis of Boëthius knowledge cannot – according to De Dijn – give any consolation. What’s more: the craving for meaning cannot, as Wittgenstein remarked, be reduced to a craving for information. Religion and morality must, as disciplines of meaning, be described as original activities completely distinct from scientific insight. – In the same line Paul Moyaert points, inspired by Lacan’s analysis of desire, to the therapeutic role of the symbolic order and consequently to the priority the outer has on the inner. Since the Reformation and mainly since Kant the religious phenomenon threatens to be reduced to a moral opinion and its varieties. Moyaert wants to ‘de-protestantize’ reflection on religion, which involves according to him taking religion away from the order of the inner and taking it back home to the order of the outer (symbols).