Pragmatic Pluralism: Is it Problematic or Practical?

By Ariana Falco

My familiarity with this topic comes from my philosophy background. I am familiar with the concept of pluralism but at a very surface level. This presentation given by Laurie Patton was very informative and lead to many thoughts. I have personally been grappling with the idea of religion and its comparisons in philosophy but hearing this version of it was intriguing.

 In the past I have only known religion as functioning separately without crossing over. Each has its own sanction and values that individuals believe lead them to a transcendence of life. 

Disclaimer: I know this is not true for all religions but most contain some sort of afterlife

A thought that the conversation started with was that we must cross out tolerance. Why? In order to understand religion we need to look at it not in the abstract, which is where tolerance stands, but rather in the concrete real world sense. We must move from tolerating to sustaining for this to happen. This allows us to wrestle with the values of religions. Religion lives off of a relationship of interdependence where one religion needs another in order to be itself. We were told many stories of how religions cross over, care for, and rely on one another for love and accountability. Religions need differentiation based off of the biodiversity model. I agree with this idea. Most religions need one another to function and even sometimes for their beliefs to be true. In order for pragmatic pluralism to be integrated into everyday life, there needs to be a discussion and understand at the interpersonal level all the way to international level. This is where things could get messy. 

Earlier I touched on making this topic concrete and not just abstract, could this truly be done? I personally believe that religion is a hard topic to grapple with and to get people to have a discussion about. Many religions are not only faith based but lifestyle and value based as well. For a person who lives out their religion each day, it might be hard for them to be accepting of another that differs from theirs. This is where conflict arises and I find it hard to see how this can work. I do however believe that it is ingrained in our system as human beings and we cannot just ignore religion if we want to build a peaceful future. In the long term I do believe that a common understanding of multiple religions is possible, but this will require massive amounts of work. For example, Christianity, which is the leading religion in the world, followed by Islam. Christianity states that everyone should be a follower of Christ and as a follower, you must convert others to believe in it. How can we have Pragmatic Pluralism if some religions goals are to convert all of the others to follow theirs? This question has really stumped me but sparked my interest in learning more about the topic. Is it problematic or practical?

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