John Dewey is often regarded as a purely secular thinker, a “naturalist” and “humanist.” In most commentaries, Dewey's pragmatism, including his moral, social, and educational thought, is barely, if at all, connected with his views on religion, in contrast to another classical pragmatist, William James, whose explorations of religious themes, emphasizing the value of individual believers' experiential perspectives, continuously attract scholars' attention. This chapter, however, discusses the socially oriented, pragmatically naturalist conception of religious faith Dewey developed in A Common Faith and elsewhere, as well as Dewey's influence on pragmatically naturalist currents in the philosophy of religion. In particular, Dewey's distinction between “the religious,” on the one side, and actual religions, on the other, is emphasized. According to Dewey, the religious aspects of experience can be appreciated without metaphysical commitments to anything supernatural. Here a problem arises: can the religious qualities of experience be fully naturalized by understanding them in a Deweyan manner as imaginative relations to human ideals, or will such naturalization inevitably reduce religious experience to something else?
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