Mathematics and the definitions of religion

  • Kevin Schilbrack


In 2014, I published a proposal for a definition of “religion”. My goal was to offer a definition of this contentious term that would include Buddhism, Daoism, and other non-theistic forms of life widely considered religions in the contemporary world. That proposal suggested necessary and sufficient conditions for treating a form of life as a religious one. It was critiqued as too broad, however, on the grounds that it would include the study of math as a religion. How can one include forms of life based on non-theistic realities without including math? In this paper, I show the flaw in the previous definition and the weaknesses of two attempts to evade that flaw, before recommending a shift, first, to a Wittgenstein-inspired polythetic definition of “religion” and, second, to a certain kind of polythetic definition that I call “anchored”.


Mathematical realism Polythetic definition Family resemblance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and ReligionAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA

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