Sociology Index

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Atheism In Philosophy

Atheism in philosophy and philosophical atheism. Jainism believes the universe is eternal and has no need for a creator God, but Tirthankaras are revered. Secular Buddhism does not advocate belief in gods. Early Buddhism was atheistic as Gautama Buddha's path involved no mention of gods. Later conceptions of Buddhism consider Buddha himself a god. Buddhism is a non-theistic system of beliefs based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, an Indian prince later known as the Buddha. The Astika school, or theistic school in Hinduism hold atheism to be a valid path to moksha.

The question of God is largely irrelevant in Buddhism, and it is mainly founded on the rejection of certain orthodox Hindu philosophical concepts. Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics and epistemology.

Jainism stresses spiritual independence and the equality of all life, with particular emphasis on non-violence, and posits self-control as vital for attaining the realization of the soul's true nature.

Jain belief emphasizes the immediate consequences of one's behavior. Jains use the existence of evil as a reason for denying the existence of an omnipotent, wholly good, Creator. To answer the question "is Jainism atheistic?" The scholar Heinrich Zimmer suggested transtheistic, meaning "inaccessible by arguments as to whether or not a God exists."  - Society And Atheism.

Sociology of religion covers the phenomenon of atheism, secularization, theism and existentialism.

Atheist Philosophers Atheism in philosophy

Theodorus the Atheist (lived around 300 BC): Philosopher of the Cyrenaic school who taught that the goal of life was to obtain joy and avoid grief. "Theodorus, the atheistic philosopher of Cyrene, appears in Athens during the Phalerean regime."

Diagoras of Melos (5th century BC): Ancient Greek poet and sophist known as the Atheist of Milos, who declared that there were no Gods. A History of Freethought, Ancient and Modern, to the Period of the French Revolution, J.M. Robertson.

Slavoj Žižek (1949–): Slovenian sociologist, postmodern philosopher, and cultural critic. Atheism is a legacy worth fighting for, an editorial by Slavoj Zizek, The New York Times, Monday, March 13, 2006.

A. J. Ayer (1910–1989): British philosopher and an advocate of logical positivism. He described himself as an atheist. Ayer may be considered a practical atheist: one who sees no reason to worship an invisible deity." 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt, by James A. Haught, Prometheus Books, 1996, p. 276.

Jan Woleński (1940–): Polish philosopher specializing in the history of the Lwów-Warsaw school and in analytic philosophy. He is recognized in Poland as an atheist and has promoted the replacement of religion classes with philosophy classes in Polish schools.

Lucilio Vanini (1585–1619): Italian philosopher, brutally executed for his atheism. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz; Austin M. Farrer; E. M. Huggard (2010). Austin M. Farrer (ed.). Theodicy. Cosimo, Inc. p. 434. An atheist, a man like Lucilio Vanini, suffered a preposterous martyrdom for his chimera rather than renounce his impiety.

Paul Edwards (1923–2004): Austrian-American moral philosopher and editor of The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. "'There is no God, there is no life after death, Jesus was a man, and, perhaps most important, the influence of religion is by and large bad,' he wrote in the current issue of Free Inquiry, a magazine about secular humanism, a school of thought that emphasizes values based on experience rather than religion." Paul Edwards, Professor and Editor of Philosophy, Dies at 81, by Jennifer Bayot, The New York Times, December 16, 2004.

Julian Baggini (1968–): British writer specialising in the philosophy of identity, author of Atheism: A Very Short Introduction. "The reverend Dr Tom Ambrose was sacked yesterday by his bishop for being "arrogant, aggressive, rude, bullying, high-handed, disorganised and at times petty", as a Church of England tribunal put it. Twice, he even spat at parishioners. You might expect that, as an atheist, I might rub my hands over this clerical outrage." Julian Baggini, Thought for the day - BBC Radio Bristol, blog entry, April 11, 2008.

George H. Smith (1949–): Libertarian philosopher, author and educator. Smith authored Atheism: The Case Against God.

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980): French existentialist philosopher, dramatist and novelist who declared that he had been an atheist from age twelve. Although he regarded God as a self-contradictory concept, he still thought of it as an ideal toward which people strive. He rejected the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964. According to Sartre, his most-repeated summary of his existentialist philosophy, "Existence precedes essence," implies that humans must abandon traditional notions of having been designed by a divine creator "He was so thoroughly an atheist that he rarely mentioned it, considering the topic of God to be beneath discussion. In his autobiography, The Words, Sartre recalled deciding at about age twelve that God does not exist, and hardly thinking about it thereafter." 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt, James A. Haught, Prometheus Books, 1996.

Ayn Rand (1905–1982): Russian-American founder of Objectivism and novelist. "Asked if Rand was an atheist, [Yaron] Brook said, "Yes, she was - and I have been since the age of 6, before I read Ayn Rand. But more than anti-religion, she was for reason. She spends time on the positive. She believed the way to evaluate things in life and reality is through reason, rational thought. That's what we try to emphasize." " George Hohmann, 'Ayn Rand relevant today, speaker says', Charleston Daily Mail (West Virginia), June 1, 2009.

John Rawls (1921–2002): American philosopher and a leading figure in moral and political philosophy. Ronald J. Sider; Paul Charles Kemeny; Derek H. Davis; Clarke E. Cochran; Corwin Smidt (2009). Church, State and Public Justice: Five Views. InterVarsity Press. p. 34. ISBN 9780830874743. Religious beliefs, argues John Rawls—a Harvard philosopher and self- identifying atheist—can be so divisive in a pluralistic culture that they subvert the stability of a society."

Bruno Bauer (1809–1882): German philosopher, theologian and historian, the first propounder of the Jesus myth hypothesis. "Feuerbach's book received criticism from two quarters: expectedly from Christian theologians but surprisingly, from the atheists Max Stirner and Bruno Bauer." Van A. Harvey, Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2007.

Aatheistic post-modernist Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007): French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator and photographer.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986): French author and existentialist philosopher. Beauvoir wrote novels and monographs on philosophy, politics, social issues and feminism."Beauvoir remained an atheist until her death." Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

John Stuart Mill (1806–1873): The philosopher declared his atheism, and that of his father, in an essay published posthumously. Henry R. West (2004). An Introduction to Mill's Utilitarian Ethics. Cambridge University Press. p. 22. ISBN 9780521535410. Mill had no religious instruction as a child, growing up an atheist."

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900): German philosopher whose Beyond Good and Evil sought to refute traditional notions of morality. Nietzsche penned a memorable secular statement of the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence in Thus Spoke Zarathustra and is forever associated with the phrase, "God is dead" (first seen in his book, The Gay Science).

Michel Foucault (1926–1984): French philosopher and social theorist known for his analysis of power and discourse. He is best known for his revolutionary philosophical analyses of social institutions such as Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality. "If I were not a total atheist, I would be a monk...a good monk." David Macey (2004). Michel Foucault. Reaktion Books, p. 130.

Friedrich Engels (1820–95): Karl Marx's collaborator in developing the theory of communism. Engels' atheistic beliefs strained his relations with his parents.

Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832): English author, jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. He is best known for his advocacy of utilitarianism. "Bentham on Religion: Atheism and the Secular Society". Journal of the History of Ideas. University of Pennsylvania Press. Bentham was an atheist and in no sense of the word could he be described as a theologian. James E. Crimmins (1986).

Albert Camus (1913–1960): Algerian-born French absurdist philosopher and author. His non-fiction philosophical works include The Myth of Sisyphus and The Rebel. David Simpson writes that Camus affirmed "a defiantly atheistic creed." Albert Camus (1913–1960), The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2006.

"If I had to sum up my own atheism, I think I would have to say that it amounts to this: I have no interest in the supernatural. I also have no interest in what others believe about the supernatural as long as their belief does not involve intolerance of those who disagree with them." Robert Todd Carroll, Skeptic's Dictionary entry: atheism

Auguste Comte (1798–1857): French positivist thinker, credited with coining the term "sociologie." "Despite his atheism, Comte was concerned with moral regeneration and the establishment of a spiritual power." Mary Pickering, 'Auguste Comte and the Saint-Simonians', French Historical Studies Vol. 18, No. 1 (Spring 1993), pp. 211-236.

"Despite his atheism, Comte was concerned with moral regeneration and the establishment of a spiritual power." Mary Pickering, 'Auguste Comte and the Saint-Simonians', French Historical Studies Vol. 18, No. 1 (Spring 1993), pp. 211-236.

Donald Davidson (1917–2003): American philosopher. Interviewer: "What is your relation with religion? Which religion do you think is true?" Donald Davidson: "None. I am an atheist, and always have been. Many of the claims of religion are good candidates for propositions that lack a truth value."

Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995): French philosopher of the late 20th century. From the early 1960s until his death, Deleuze wrote many works on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. "Deleuze's atheist philosophy of immanence is an artistic (or creative) power at work on theology" Deleuze and Religion. Mary Bryden (2002). Routledge, p. 157.

Jacques Derrida (1930–2004): Algerian-born French philosopher. "So when I say “I rightly pass as an atheist” I know that because of everything that I’ve done so far, say in terms of deconstruction and so on and so forth, I’ve given a number of signs of my being a non-believer in God in a certain way, an atheist. And nevertheless, although I confirm that it is right to say “I’m an atheist”, I can’t say myself “I am an atheist” as a position, see “I am” or “I know what I am”: “I am this, and nothing else and I’m identifying myself as an atheist.” I would never say… this would sound obscene: “I am.” I wouldn’t say “I am an atheist” or I wouldn’t say “I am a believer” either." Jacques Derrida On ‘Atheism’ and ‘Belief’ (excerpt from an interview in Toronto, 2002).