What is religion? What does the concept of religion mean? Today, the word ‘religion’ appears everywhere; a seemingly all pervasive notion associated with a vast array of phenomena, including: war, terrorism, politics, science fiction, morality, and of course, with delusion and irrationality. However, what religion is, or what it means, remains a highly contested matter. It will be the aim of this paper to offer an interpretation of the meaning of the concept of religion by using just one of many philosophical ways of approaching religion, namely; phenomenology as ontology.

The paper will focus upon the remaining fragments of three Pre-Socratic philosophers; Anaximander, Heraclitus, and Parmenides, seeking in these fragments the basic conceptual subject matter for an interpretation of the meaning of religion. I will argue that these fragments reveal that the meaning of religion is a relation between being-human and what gets called the arche (or ground of being). Further, I will argue that this relation can be conceptually determined as a quest for ground: the ground of the human sense of being and of grounding thinking, meaning, truth, and purpose…

Ultimately, I will argue in this paper that there are two essential characteristics of the meaning of religion as this relation to ground(ing). First, insofar as religion belongs to humans in our being; the meaning of religion may be characterized as the directed-ness of being-human towards meaning and purpose. Additionally, as with all relationships, the relationship that constitutes religion has a ‘towards which’ – or – if you will, a being that is related to. Thus, the second essential characteristic of religion will be disclosed as the arche; that which is the ground of being and as such, that which is otherwise than being.


Phenomenology, phenomenology as ontology, interpretation of religion

Find in your library

Included in

Philosophy Commons