OAKESHOTT ON THE CHARACTER OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE: NEED THERE BE A CONFLICT BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION?
Version of Record online: 19 FEB 2009
© 2009 by the Joint Publication Board of Zygon
Volume 44, Issue 1, pages 153–167, March 2009
How to Cite
Fuller, T. (2009), OAKESHOTT ON THE CHARACTER OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE: NEED THERE BE A CONFLICT BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION?. Zygon, 44: 153–167. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.00992.x
- Issue online: 19 FEB 2009
- Version of Record online: 19 FEB 2009
- experience unmodified;
- historical experience;
- modes of experience;
- practical experience;
- religious life;
- scientific experience;
Michael Oakeshott reflected on the character of religious experience in various writings throughout his life. In Experience and Its Modes (1933) he analyzed science as a distinctive “mode,” or account of experience as a whole, identifying those assumptions necessary for science to achieve its coherent account of experience in contrast to other modes of experience whose quests for coherence depend on different assumptions. Religious experience, he thought, was integral to the practical mode. The latter experiences the world as interminable tension between what is and what ought to be. The question, Is there a conflict between science and religion? is, in Oakeshott's approach, the question, Is there a conflict between the scientific mode of experience and the practical mode? Insofar as we tend to treat every question as a practical one, these questions seem to make sense. But Oakeshott's analysis leads to the view that scientific experience and religious experience are categorically different accounts of experience abstracted from the whole of experience. They are voices of experience that may speak to each other, but they are not ordered hierarchically. Nor can either absorb the other without insoluble contradictions.