Schleiermacher set himself in sharp opposition to the intellectualism and moralism of the Age of Reason. He accused it of misunderstanding and debasing religion, of confusing it with and transforming it into metaphysics and morality. Thereby the Enlightenment had obscured the unique independent essence of religion (Schleiermacher, Friedrich. On Religion, Speeches to its Cultured Despisers, Introduction, xvii).'Belief', Schleiermacher wrote, 'must be something very different from a mixture of opinions about God and the world and of precepts for one life or two. Piety cannot be an indistinct craving for a mass of metaphysical and moral crumbs.' (On Religion, 31).
That which was allowed to pass as religion was really but a set of definite statements on the supreme and ultimate questions of being and reality on the one hand and tenets and rules of morality on the other. The latter were to be fulfilled on the basis of conviction rooted in the former. Both were related to and united with each other - this was "religion" (Introduction to On Religion, xviii).Schleiermacher states it even more clearly in the first edition of On Religion:
Religion neither seeks like metaphysics to determine and explain the nature of the universe, not like morals to advance and perfect the universe... It is neither thinking nor acting but intuition and feeling... It is reverent attention and submission in child-like passivity to be stirred and filled by the Universe's immediate influences (277).Often when philosophers come to deal with religion they reduce it to something other than it is, usually as Schleiermacher says, to metaphysics and morals. They ignore the fact that religion belongs to a different level of consciousness as both Schleiermacher, Otto and indeed Scheler have shown.
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