Ultimate reality is often characterized in terms of what are thought to be a variety of incompatible concepts, like God, Dao, Brahman, śūnyatā, etc. Matthew S. LoPresti suggests that if we shift to a process metaphysics, our horizon of pluralistic understanding shifts as well, allowing multiple religious ultimates, effective religious practices, and their respective salvific projects to simultaneously exist without contradiction. Religious Pluralism: Towards a Comparative Metaphysics of Religion examines the plausibility of a genuine religious pluralism, arguing in favor of the authenticity of a plurality of the world’s major religious traditions.
Responses to the philosophical challenges of religious diversity have often been misidentified as forms of relativism or pluralisms, so this book provides a more robust taxonomy to encourage the field to be more uniform and precise. LoPresti argues that John B. Cobb, Jr.’s Whiteheadian-based approach, known as “Deep Religious Pluralism,” functions as a non-relativistic basis for a meta-theology of world religions. Through discussions of classical and contemporary South Asian philosophy, Western analytic philosophy, and process philosophy, in addition to the writings of Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), LoPresti argues that a proper engagement with religious pluralism requires intimate knowledge of Western and non-Western traditions.
Matthew S. LoPresti is professor of philosophy and humanities at Hawaii Pacific University.
Chapter 1: Re-Examining “Pluralism” and “Pluralistic” Theologies in Contemporary Philosophy of Religion
Chapter 2: The Ontological Basis of Deep Religious Pluralism: A Plurality of Ultimates
Chapter 3: The Metaphysical Lineage of Deep Religious Pluralism: A Primer on the Process Philosophy and Theology of Alfred North Whitehead
Chapter 4: Taking Mystics Seriously: Ultimate Reality and the Prejudice of Mutual Exclusivity of Religious Ultimates
Chapter 5: Pluralistic Responses to Religious Diversity in Classical and Contemporary Indian Philosophy of Religion
Chapter 6: Absolutism, Dialogue, and Pluralism
Conclusion: The Necessity of Comparative Philosophy
Matthew LoPresti is emerging as an important voice in the discourse of religious pluralism, an area of pressing importance for the future of humanity in an era in which cooperation across cultural boundaries has become a matter of survival.
It is widely felt that disagreements must be settled by compromises. In matters of ultimate commitment this seems impossible; so the existence of differences here is a special problem. But there is another possibility. If we understand that none of us know everything, we may find that our ultimate commitment encourages us to grow in knowledge. Perhaps we can learn most from people with different commitments. Instead of thinking that the more we learn from others the less faithful we are to our own tradition, we may find that the more faithful we are to our own tradition, the more open we are to learning from others. Deep religious pluralism thinks this way, and Matthew LoPresti has explained this way of thinking rigorously and comprehensively. We owe him a great debt.
We live in a world today in which competing ideologies–especially religious, social, and political–are fostering in society a distrust, dislike, and denigration of all those who have differing beliefs and values. One of the more divisive ideological forms elevates one’s own religious views as the only one that is True, while all others are false at best. In contrast to such beliefs, various philosophers and theologians have promoted their own concepts of pluralism. In discussing these, Matt LoPresti focuses on the broader concept and considers ways it has been understood and misunderstood, used and misused. He then both lays out his own approach, in which he seeks a “rehabilitation of the term pluralism,” as a means toward replacing divisiveness with dialogue, harmony, and peace. A good read for anyone who thinks we need to start accepting and learning from each other before our society totally falls apart.