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"[Veyne's] present book has some kinship with his sprightly theoretical work "Comment on ecrit l'histoire"; and he declares that its aim was to provoke reflection on the way our conception of truth is built up and changes over the centuries. . . . The style is brilliant and exhilarating."--Jasper Griffin, "Times Literary Supplement"
Kierkegaard is a fascinating author. Living shortly after the dawn of modernity in the Enlightenment, he restates classical Christianity in novel and dynamic fashion. His Lutheran heritage is pivotal here as he places 'faith' over against 'reason'. But we should recognise that decidedly pre-modern epistemological presuppositions lie behind Kierkegaard's theological contentions, giving us pause for thought. A profound thinker with eclectic interests, philosophical, theological, ethical, social and pastoral, Kierkegaard never ceases to engage the reader. His insights into human life - the matter of coherence of the self, the crucial category of the individual, or the significance of choice - are memorable. A fine writer with observant eye, Kierkegaard enthrals the reader with his flair, perspicacity and ready wit. After an initial chapter on Kierkegaard's intellectual milieu, the book considers seven of his major texts. An 'Exposition', with extensive quotation, sets the text in philosophical, theological and historical context. Following which a 'Critique' raises issues, ranging from Kierkegaard's indifference to biblical scholarship, to his lack of recognition of the regularity of causation, and his a-political outlook. A final chapter considers Kierkegaard as a person and evaluates the authorship. Lucidly written, Hampson's book provides a general introduction to Kierkegaard, while greatly aiding novice readers of his texts. It should also command the attention of scholars, for its forthright debate with Kierkegaard and for illuminating, as has no previous work, his Lutheran thought forms. Provocative and original, it will leave its mark on Kierkegaard scholarship, while raising seminal questions for the wider theological enterprise.
In Beyond Belief, renowned religion scholar Elaine Pagels continues
her groundbreaking examination of the earliest Christian texts,
arguing for an ongoing assessment of faith and a questioning of
Two familiar worldviews dominate Western philosophy: materialist atheism and the benevolent God of the Abrahamic faiths. Tim Mulgan explores a third way. Ananthropocentric Purposivism claims that there is a cosmic purpose, but human beings are irrelevant to it. Purpose in the Universe develops a philosophical case for Ananthropocentric Purposivism that it is at least as strong as the case for either theism or atheism. The book borrows traditional theist arguments to defend a cosmic purpose. These include cosmological, teleological, ontological, meta-ethical, and mystical arguments. It then borrows traditional atheist arguments to reject a human-centred purpose. These include arguments based on evil, diversity, and the scale of the universe. Mulgan also highlights connections between morality and metaphysics, arguing that evaluative premises play a crucial and underappreciated role in metaphysical debates about the existence of God, and Ananthropocentric Purposivism mutually supports an austere consequentialist morality based on objective values. He concludes that, by drawing on a range of secular and religious ethical traditions, a non-human-centred cosmic purpose can ground a distinctive human morality. Our moral practices, our view of the moral universe, and our moral theory are all transformed if we shift from the familiar choice between a universe without meaning and a universe where humans matter to the less self-aggrandising thought that, while it is about something, the universe is not about us.
God is infinite, but language finite; thus speech would seem to condemn Him to finitude. In speaking of God, would the theologian violate divine transcendence by reducing God to immanence, or choose, rather, to remain silent? At stake in this argument is a core problem of the conditions of divine revelation. How, in terms of language and the limitations of human understanding, can transcendence ever be made known? Does its very appearance not undermine its transcendence, its condition of unknowability? Speech and Theology posits that the paradigm for the encounter between the material and the divine, or the immanent and transcendent, is found in the Incarnation: God's voluntary self-immersion in the human world as an expression of His love for His creation. By this key act of grace, hinged upon Christs condescension to human finitude, philosophy acquires the means not simply to speak of perfection, which is to speak theologically, but to bridge the gap between word and thing in general sense.
God in the Age of Science? is a critical examination of strategies for the philosophical defence of religious belief. The main options may be presented as the end nodes of a decision tree for religious believers. The faithful can interpret a creedal statement (e.g. 'God exists') either as a truth claim, or otherwise. If it is a truth claim, they can either be warranted to endorse it without evidence, or not. Finally, if evidence is needed, should its evidential support be assessed by the same logical criteria that we use in evaluating evidence in science, or not? Each of these options has been defended by prominent analytic philosophers of religion. In part I Herman Philipse assesses these options and argues that the most promising for believers who want to be justified in accepting their creed in our scientific age is the Bayesian cumulative case strategy developed by Richard Swinburne. Parts II and III are devoted to an in-depth analysis of this case for theism. Using a 'strategy of subsidiary arguments', Philipse concludes (1) that theism cannot be stated meaningfully; (2) that if theism were meaningful, it would have no predictive power concerning existing evidence, so that Bayesian arguments cannot get started; and (3) that if the Bayesian cumulative case strategy did work, one should conclude that atheism is more probable than theism. Philipse provides a careful, rigorous, and original critique of theism in the world today.
Modern thought is characterized by a dichotomy of meaningful culture and unmeaning nature. Signs in the Dust uses medieval semiotics to develop a new theory of nature and culture that resists this familiar picture of things. Through readings of Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, and John Poinsot (John of St. Thomas), it offers a semiotic analysis of human culture in both its anthropological breadth as an enterprise of creaturely sign-making, and its theological height as a finite participation in the Trinity, which can be understood as an absolute 'cultural nature'. Signs in the Dust then extends this account of human culture backwards into the natural depth of biological and physical nature. It puts the biosemiotics of its medieval sources, along with Felix Ravaisson's philosophy of habit, into dialogue with the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis that is emerging in contemporary biology, to show how all living things participate in semiosis, so that that a cultural dimension is present through the whole order of nature and the whole of natural history. It also retrieves Aquinas' doctrine of intentions in the medium to show how signification can be attributed in a diminished way to even inanimate nature, with the ontological implication that being as such should be reconceived in semiotic terms. The phenomena of human culture are therefore to be understood not as breaks with a meaningless nature, but instead as heightenings and deepenings of natural movements of meaning that long precede and far exceed us. Against the modern divorce of nature and culture, Signs in the Dust argues that culture is natural and nature is cultural, through and through.
No thinker has reflected more deeply on the role of religion in human life than Soren Kierkegaard, who produced in little more than a decade an astonishing number of works devoted to an analysis of the kind of personality, character, and spiritual qualities needed to become an authentic human being or self. Understanding religion to consist essentially as an inward, passionate, personal relation to God or the eternal, Kierkegaard depicts the art of living religiously as a self through the creation of a kaleidoscope of poetic figures who exemplify the constituents of selfhood or the lack thereof. The present study seeks to bring Kierkegaard into conversation with contemporary empirical psychology and virtue ethics, highlighting spiritual dimensions of human existence in his thought that are inaccessible to empirical measurement, as well as challenging on religious grounds the claim that he is a virtue ethicist in continuity with the classical and medieval virtue tradition.
When it comes to death, is there ever a best case scenario? In this disarmingly witty book, Julian Barnes confronts our unending obsession with the end. He reflects on what it means to miss God, whether death can be good for our careers and why we eventually turn into our parents. Barnes is the perfect guide to the weirdness of the only thing that binds us all. Selected from the book Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes VINTAGE MINIS: GREAT MINDS. BIG IDEAS. LITTLE BOOKS. A series of short books by the world's greatest writers on the experiences that make us human Also in the Vintage Minis series: Calm by Tim Parks Drinking by John Cheever Babies by Anne Enright Psychedelics by Aldous Huxley
The doctrine of the atonement is the distinctive doctrine of Christianity. Over the course of many centuries of reflection, highly diverse interpretations of the doctrine have been proposed. In the context of this history of interpretation, Eleonore Stump considers the doctrine afresh with philosophical care. Whatever exactly the atonement is, it is supposed to include a solution to the problems of the human condition, especially its guilt and shame. Stump canvasses the major interpretations of the doctrine that attempt to explain this solution and argues that all of them have serious shortcomings. In their place, she argues for an interpretation that is both novel and yet traditional and that has significant advantages over other interpretations, including Anselms well-known account of the doctrine. In the process, she also discusses love, union, guilt, shame, forgiveness, retribution, punishment, shared attention, mind-reading, empathy, and various other issues in moral psychology and ethics.
Thomas J. J. Altizer is the leading radical theologian of our time. His creative lifework-a steady output of some seventeen books and tens of articles-spans from the late 1950s to the present. In the past few decades, Altizer has written letters on religious, theological, political, and philosophical matters to an international virtual community of scholars and friends who work in a number of disciplines, ranging from British literary theorist David Jasper, to well-known contemporary philosophers such as Richard Kearney, John D. Caputo, and Edward S. Casey. Like the seventeenth century philosopher Marin Mersenne, who was renowned in the age of Descartes for gathering around him a network of brilliant philosophers and scientists through exchanges of written correspondence, so Altizer in his own domain of philosophical theology has acted as a hub for networking talented thinkers and scholars. In these brilliant letters, which take the form of meditative mini-essays, Altizer writes in an accessible, personal, and occasionally confessional manner. They are an intellectual tour de force and provide another entry into engagement with Altizer's thought.
What is a religious or spiritual delusion? What does religious delusion reveal about the difference between good and bad spirituality? What is the connection between religious delusion and moral failure? Or between religious delusion and religious terrorism? Or religious delusion and despair? The Abraham Dilemma: A Divine Delusion is the first book written by a philosopher on the topic of religious delusion - on the disorder's causes, contents, consequences, diagnosis and treatment. The book argues that we cannot understand a religious delusion without appreciating three facts. One is that religiosity or spirituality is a part of human nature, whether it takes theistic or non-theistic forms. Another is that religious delusion is something to which we are all vulnerable. The third is that the delusion is not best understood by reducing it to brain chemistry, or by insisting that it is empirically false. It is best understood by examining its harmful personal and moral consequences - consequences that nearly unfolded when the biblical patriarch Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac in response to a command, he thought, from God. The book presents a fascinating and profound exploration of a phenomenon as old as mankind itself.
Factory of Strategy is the last of Antonio Negri's major political works to be translated into English. Rigorous and accessible, it is both a systematic inquiry into the development of Lenin's thought and an encapsulation of a critical shift in Negri's theoretical trajectory. Lenin is the only prominent politician of the modern era to seriously question the "withering away" and "extinction" of the state, and like Marx, he recognized the link between capitalism and modern sovereignty and the need to destroy capitalism and reconfigure the state. Negri refrains from portraying Lenin as a ferocious dictator enforcing the proletariat's reappropriation of wealth, nor does he depict him as a mere military tool of a vanguard opposed to the Ancien Regime. Negri instead champions Leninism's ability to adapt to different working-class configurations in Russia, China, Latin America, and elsewhere. He argues that Lenin developed a new political figuration in and beyond modernity and an effective organization capable of absorbing different historical conditions. He ultimately urges readers to recognize the universal application of Leninism today and its potential to institutionally-not anarchically-dismantle centralized power.
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