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IGNOU BPYE 001 Solved Assignment 2022-23
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Submission Date :
- 31st March 2033 (if enrolled in the July 2033 Session)
- 30th Sept, 2033 (if enrolled in the January 2033 session).
1. Give Answer of all five questions.
2. All five questions carry equal marks
3. Answer to question no. 1 and 2 should be in about 400 words each.
4. If any question has more than one part, please attempt all parts.
1. Discuss and evaluate the arguments given by St. Augustine to prove the existence of
Write a note on the problem of evil.
Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus) lived from 13 November 354 to 28 August 430. He was born in Thagaste in Roman Africa (modern Souk Ahras in Algeria). His mother Monnica (d. 388), a devout Christian, seems to have exerted a deep but not wholly unambiguous influence on his religious development. His father Patricius (d. 372) was baptized on his deathbed. Augustine himself was made a catechumen early in his life. His studies of grammar and rhetoric in the provincial centers of Madauros and Carthage, which strained the financial resources of his middle-class parents, were hoped to pave his way for a future career in the higher imperial administration. In Carthage at the age of ca. 18, he found a mistress with whom he lived in a monogamous union for ca. 14 years and who bore him a son, Adeodatus, who was baptized together with his father in Milan and died a little later (ca. 390) aged 18. Ca. 373 Augustine became a “hearer” (auditor) of Manicheism, a dualistic religion with Persian origins that, in Northern Africa, had developed into a variety of Christianity (and was persecuted by the state as a heresy). His adherence to Manicheism lasted for nine years and was strongly opposed by Monnica. Though probably active as a Manichean apologist and missionary, he never became one of the sect’s “elect” (electi), who were committed to asceticism and sexual abstinence. In 383 he moved to Milan, then the capital of the western half of the Empire, to become a publicly paid professor of rhetoric of the city and an official panegyrist at the Imperial court.
Augustine’s literary output surpasses the preserved work of almost all other ancient writers in quantity. In the Retractationes (“Revisions”, a critical survey of his writings in chronological order down to 428 CE) he suggests a threefold division of his work into books, letters and sermons (Retractationes 1, prologue 1); about 100 books, 300 letters, and 500 sermons have survived. Augustine’s literary career after his conversion began with philosophical dialogues. The first of these, written in Cassiciacum in 386/7, deal with traditional topics such as skepticism (Contra Academicos), happiness (De beata vita), evil (De ordine) and the immortality of the soul (Soliloquia, De immortalitate animae). Augustine continued to pursue these issues in dialogues on the immateriality of the soul (De quantitate animae, 388), language and learning (De magistro, 388–391), freedom of choice and human responsibility (De libero arbitrio, begun in 388 and completed perhaps as late as 395) and the numeric structure of reality (De musica, 388–390).
Augustine and Philosophy
From ancient thought Augustine inherited the notion that philosophy is “love of wisdom” (Confessiones 3.8; De civitate dei 8.1), i.e., an attempt to pursue happiness—or, as late-antique thinkers, both pagan and Christian, liked to put it, salvation—by seeking insight into the true nature of things and living accordingly. This kind of philosophy he emphatically endorses, especially in his early work (cf., e.g., Contra Academicos 1.1). He is convinced that the true philosopher is a lover of God because true wisdom is, in the last resort, identical with God, a point on which he feels in agreement with both Paul (1 Corinthians 1:24) and Plato (cf. De civitate dei 8.8). This is why he thinks that Christianity is “the true philosophy” (Contra Iulianum 4.72; the view is common among ancient, especially Greek, Christian thinkers) and that true philosophy and true (cultic) religion are identical (De vera religione 8). In case of doubt, practice takes precedence over theory: in the Cassiciacum dialogues Monnica, who represents the saintly but uneducated, is credited with a philosophy of her own (De ordine 1,31–32; 2.45). At the same time, Augustine sharply criticizes the “philosophy of this world” censured in the New Testament that distracts from Christ (Colossians 2:8). In his early work he usually limits this verdict to the Hellenistic materialist systems (Contra Academicos 3.42; De ordine 1.32); later he extends it even to Platonism because the latter denies the possibility of a history of salvation (De civitate dei 12.14).
The Philosophical Tradition; Augustine’s Platonism
Augustine tells us that at the age of eighteen Cicero’s (now lost) protreptic dialogue Hortensius enflamed him for philosophy (Confessiones 3.7), that as a young man he read Aristotle’s Categories (ib. 4.28) and that his conversion was greatly furthered by his Neoplatonic readings (ib. 7.13) as well as by the letters of Paul (ib. 7.27; Contra Academicos 2.5). He is more reticent about Manichean texts, of which he must have known a great deal (van Oort 2012). From the 390s onwards the Bible becomes decisive for his thought, in particular Genesis, the Psalms and the Pauline and Johannine writings (even though his exegesis remains philosophically impregnated), and his mature doctrine of grace seems to have grown from a fresh reading of Paul ca. 395 (see 7.6 Grace, Predestination and Original Sin).
Skepticism and Certainty
Augustine’s earliest surviving work is a dialogue on Academic skepticism (Contra Academicos or De Academicis, 386; Fuhrer 1997). He wrote it at the beginning of his career as a Christian philosopher in order to save himself and his readers from the “despair” that would have resulted if it could not be proven that, against the skeptic challenge, truth is attainable and knowledge and wisdom possible (cf. Retractationes 1.1.1). The sense of despair must have been very real to him when, after having broken with Manicheism but still being unable to see the truth of Catholic Christianity, he decided to “withhold assent until some certainty lighted up” (Confessiones 5.25). His information about skepticism does not come from a contemporary skeptic “school”, which hardly existed, but from Cicero’s Academica and Hortensius. Much of the discussion in Contra Academicos is thus devoted to the debate between Hellenistic Stoics and skeptics about the so-called “grasping” or kataleptic appearance, i.e., the problem whether there are appearances about the truth of which one cannot be mistaken because they are evident by themselves (Bermon 2001: 105–191). Unlike the original Stoics and Academics, Augustine limits the discussion to sense impressions because he wants to present Platonism as a solution to the skeptic problem and to point out a source of true knowledge unavailable to the Hellenistic materialists.
2. Discuss the role and limits of evidence to resolve the religious conflicts.
What is religious pluralism? Do you agree that secularism is a good option to resolve the religious conflicts? Give arguments to support your answer.
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, a casual glance at world affairs would suggest that religion is at the core of much of the strife around the globe. Often, religion is a contentious issue. Where eternal salvation is at stake, compromise can be difficult at or even sinful. Religion is also important because, as a central part of many individuals’ identity, any threat to one’s beliefs is a threat to one’s very being. This is a primary motivation for ethno-religious nationalists.
However, the relationship between religion and conflict is, in fact, a complex one. Religiously-motivated peace builders have played important roles in addressing many conflicts around the world. This aspect of religion and conflict is discussed in the parallel essay on religion and peace. This essay considers some of the means through which religion can be a source of conflict.
Religion and Conflict
Although not necessarily so, there are some aspects of religion that make it susceptible to being a latent source of conflict. All religions have their accepted dogma, or articles of belief, that followers must accept without question. This can lead to inflexibility and intolerance in the face of other beliefs. After all, if it is the word of God, how can one compromise it? At the same time, scripture and dogma are often vague and open to interpretation. Therefore, conflict can arise over whose interpretation is the correct one, a conflict that ultimately cannot be solved because there is no arbiter. The winner generally is the interpretation that attracts the most followers. However, those followers must also be motivated to action. Although, almost invariably, the majority of any faith hold moderate views, they are often more complacent, whereas extremists are motivated to bring their interpretation of God’s will to fruition.
Religious extremists can contribute to conflict escalation. They see radical measures as necessary to fulfilling God’s wishes. Fundamentalists of any religion tend to take a Manichean view of the world. If the world is a struggle between good and evil, it is hard to justify compromising with the devil. Any sign of moderation can be decried as selling out, more importantly, of abandoning God’s will.
Some groups, such as America’s New Christian Right and Jama’at-i-Islami of Pakistan, have operated largely through constitutional means though still pursue intolerant ends. In circumstances where moderate ways are not perceived to have produced results, whether social, political, or economic, the populace may turn to extreme interpretations for solutions. Without legitimate mechanisms for religious groups to express their views, they may be more likely to resort to violence. Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine have engaged in violence, but they also gained supporters through social service work when the government is perceived as doing little for the population. Radical Jewish cells in Israel and Hindu nationalists and Sikh extremists in India are other examples of fundamentalist movements driven by perceived threat to the faith. Religious revivalism is powerful in that it can provide a sense of pride and purpose, but in places such as Sri Lanka and Sudan it has produced a strong form of illiberal nationalism that has periodically led to intolerance and discrimination. Some religious groups, such as the Kach and Kahane Chai parties in Israel or Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, consider violence to be a ‘duty’. Those who call for violence see themselves as divinely directed and therefore obstacles must be eliminated.
Many religions also have significant strains of evangelism, which can be conflictual. Believers are called upon to spread the word of God and increase the numbers of the flock. For example, the effort to impose Christianity on subject peoples was an important part of the conflict surrounding European colonization. Similarly, a group may seek to deny other religions the opportunity to practice their faith. In part, this is out of a desire to minimize beliefs the dominant group feels to be inferior or dangerous. Suppression of Christianity in China and the Sudan are but two contemporary examples. In the case of China, it is not a conflict between religions, but rather the government views religion as a dangerous rival for citizens’ loyalties. All of these instances derive from a lack of respect for other faiths.
Religious fundamentalists are primarily driven by displeasure with modernity. Motivated by the marginalization of religion in modern society, they act to restore faith to a central place. There is a need for purification of the religion in the eyes of fundamentalists. Recently, cultural globalization has in part become shorthand for this trend. The spread of Western materialism is often blamed for increases in gambling, alcoholism, and loose morals in general. Al-Qaeda, for example, claims it is motivated by this neo-imperialism as well as the presence of foreign military forces in the Muslim holy lands. The liberal underpinning of Western culture is also threatening to tradition in prioritizing the individual over the group, and by questioning the appropriate role for women in society. Of course, the growth of the New Christian Right in the United States indicates that Westerners too feel that modern society is missing something. Conflict over abortion and the teaching of evolution in schools are but two examples of issues where some groups feel religious tradition has been abandoned.
Religious nationalists too can produce extremist sentiment. Religious nationalists tend to view their religious traditions as so closely tied to their nation or their land that any threat to one of these is a threat to one’s existence. Therefore, religious nationalists respond to threats to the religion by seeking a political entity in which their faith is privileged at the expense of others. In these contexts, it is also likely that religious symbols will come to be used to forward ethnic or nationalist causes. This has been the case for Catholics in Northern Ireland, the Serbian Orthodox church in Milosevic’s Yugoslavia, and Hindu nationalists in India.
Popular portrayals of religion often reinforce the view of religion being conflictual. The global media has paid significant attention to religion and conflict, but not the ways in which religion has played a powerful peacemaking role. This excessive emphasis on the negative side of religion and the actions of religious extremists generates interfaith fear and hostility. What is more, media portrayals of religious conflict have tended to do so in such a way so as to confuse rather than inform. It does so by misunderstanding goals and alliances between groups, thereby exacerbating polarization. The tendency to carelessly throw around the terms ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘extremist’ masks significant differences in beliefs, goals, and tactics.
Religion and Latent Conflict
In virtually every heterogeneous society, religious difference serves as a source of potential conflict. Because individuals are often ignorant of other faiths, there is some potential tension but it does not necessarily mean conflict will result. Religion is not necessarily conflictual but, as with ethnicity or race, religion serves, as a way to distinguish one’s self and one’s group from the other. Often, the group with less power, be it political or economic, is more aware of the tension than the privileged. When the privileged group is a minority, however, such as the Jews historically were in much of Europe, they are often well aware of the latent conflict. There are steps that can be taken at this stage to head off conflict. Interfaith dialogue, discussed further below, can increase understanding. Intermediaries may help facilitate this.
Religion and Conflict Escalation
With religion a latent source of conflict, a triggering event can cause the conflict to escalate. At this stage in a conflict, grievances, goals, and methods often change in such a way so as to make the conflict more difficult to resolve. The momentum of the conflict may give extremists the upper hand. In a crisis, group members may see extremists as those that can produce what appear to be gains, at least in the short-term. In such situations, group identities are even more firmly shaped in relation to the other group, thereby reinforcing the message of extremists that one’s religion is threatened by another faith that is diametrically opposed. Often, historic grievances are recast as being the responsibility of the current enemy. Because at this stage tactics often come detached from goals, radical interpretations are increasingly favored. Once martyrs have been sacrificed, it becomes increasingly difficult to compromise because their lives will seem to have been lost in vain (see the essay on entrapment* for more on this problem).
What is to Be Done
In the eyes of many, religion is inherently conflictual, but this is not necessarily so. Therefore, in part, the solution is to promote a heightened awareness of the positive peace building and reconciliatory role religion has played in many conflict situations. More generally, fighting ignorance can go a long way. Interfaith dialogue would be beneficial at all levels of religious hierarchies and across all segments of religious communities. Where silence and misunderstanding are all too common, learning about other religions would be a powerful step forward. Being educated about other religions does not mean conversion but may facilitate understanding and respect for other faiths. Communicating in a spirit of humility and engaging in self-criticism would also be helpful.
3. Answer any two of the following questions in about 200 words each. 2*10= 20
a) Write an essay on the role of dialogue to resolve the religious conflicts.
b) Write a note on Religious Tolerance.
c) Evaluate Emile Durkheim’s approach to religion.
d) Write a note on Max Weber’s approach to Religion.
4. Answer any four of the following questions in about 150 words each. 4*5= 20
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5. Write short notes on any five of the following in about 100 words each. 5*4= 20
b) “God is simple”
c) Kalam Argument for the Existence of God
d) Free will
e) The ‘Wholly other’
h) Pre-established Harmony
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