There’s a theory in the Philosophy of Religion called religious pluralism, which has many variations, one of which is the belief that no one religion has got it right, but that parts of different religions can be combined to find the Truth. Many years ago a friend alerted me to another term that was used for one version of this theory of religion – cafeteria pluralism. Gregory Bassham, who I believe originally coined this term, thought that he could use this to form an objection to a pluralist theory, but it’s not clear to me that it is. 1
According to Bassham, the cafeteria pluralist “eclectically picks and chooses themes and doctrines from the various religious traditions to create an idiosyncratic personal religion” – and I like to call this a “Pick n Mix” theory of religion. Sometimes I think about who my personal god(dess) would be – a combination of the trickster Loki, the wisdom of Athena, the energy of Vishnu – you get the idea. But I digress.
So why am I writing about this? Well, because of a conversation we’ve been having on Twitter about D&G, where this happened:
— ℳąhą Bąℓi مها بالي (@Bali_Maha) January 9, 2016
Then Simon said that all reading and quoting was out of context, and I replied with “pick n mix theory of learning” and then I remembered how I’d used it before. Now I’m going to extend it and use it for any philosophy, not just philosophy of religion.
There’s a theory of knowledge which I am drawn to which is called coherentism, which I have written about before. According to my very superficial reading, coherentism is a theory of knowledge for a rhizomatic thinker. Unlike foundationalism, which is arborescent in its belief that there is one fundamental truth or set of truths which underpin all knowledge, coherentism sees knowledge as a web of belief, where things are justified by their consistency to other beliefs in the system. So we can have our own pick n mix version of philosophy – a bit of Hume, some Lucretius maybe and then Spinoza, Bergson and Nietzsche, for example, with a nod to Kant and a shake of the head at Hegel.2
So there we have it – a pick n mix theory of philosophy. It doesn’t matter what the original writer meant, it’s how it fits in with your theory that matters.
- See here and here for more about this.
- The first 5 of these are Deleuze’s “orphans” – the philosophers he has the most respect for). Kant he sees as a worthy adversary, Hegel he finds “despicable”. (ATP p.x)