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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 4, 1999

Philosophies of Religion, Art, and Creativity

Kai Nielsen
Pages 29-50

On Being a Secularist All the Way Down

I explicate and argue for a way of looking at life, and responding to it, that is uncompromisingly secularist. It is an atheism and a social naturalism: a distinctive form of naturalism that I argue answers better than religious orientations or “scientific” forms of naturalism to both our cognitive interests and to our moral and political and other affective interests. It is a thoroughly anti-metaphysical naturalism rejecting metaphysical realism and physicalism without taking an antirealist or dualist turn. How it is a social naturalism is explained and defended as well as the senses in which it is non-scientistic, historicist, and contextualist. It will also seek to make clear what really grips some religiously sensitive people, even people fully attuned to modernity, about religion and then to show how we can live full well and even flourishingly without religion. However, I do not only argue that we can so live, but that we should so live. We should be secularists all the way down.

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