John E. Smith has contributed to contemporary philosophy in primarily four distinct capacities; first, as a philosopher of religion and God; second, as an indefatigable defender of philosophical reflection in its classical sense ( a sense inclusive of, but not limited to, metaphysics); third, as a participant in the reconstruction of experience and reason so boldly inaugurated by Hegel then redically transformed by the classical American pragmatists, and significantly augmented by such thinkers as Josiah Royce, william Earnest Hocking, and Alfred (...) North Whitehead; fourth, as an interpreter of philosophical texts and traditions (Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche no less than Charles Peirce, WIlliam James and John Dewey; German idealism as well as American; the Augustinian tradition no less than the pragmatic). Reason, Experience, and God provides an important and comprehensive look at the work of John E. Smith by collected essays which each address aspects of his life-long work. A response by John E. Smith himself draws a line of continuity between the pieces. (shrink)
A modern philosopher described religion as “that region in which all the enigmas of the world are solved.” Smith argues in Experience and God that religion itself has become an enigma for modern man. In the book, smith attempts to reunite philosophy with religion. He argues that in recent decades the prevailing attitude has been chiefly one of indifference. This indifference, leading to the failure of understanding can be overcome only through radical reflection and self-criticism: a re-consideration of the nature (...) of religion, its place in the total structure of human life, and its relations to the secular culture in which the faith of man must live. The task Smith lays out must be of a largely philosophical nature, not only because of the necessity to understand religion in relation to a comprehensive scheme of things, but also because the idea of religion is intimately connected with the issues of metaphysics. Smith’s purpose is to bridge the gap between the ontological approach to God as represented by Augustine, Anselm, and Bonaventure, and the cosmological approach represented by Thomas Aquinas and Albert the Great. Smith shows that, although the two approaches significantly differ, they can be interpreted as ways of leading the meditating mind to the Presence of God, through the soul and through the world. (shrink)
In these previously uncollected essays, Smith argues that American philosophers like Peirce, James, Royce, and Dewey have forged a unique philosophical tradition--one that is rich and complex enough to represent a genuine alternative to the analytic, phenomenological, and hermeneutical traditions which have originated in Britain or Europe. "In my judgment, John Smith has no equal today in combining two scholarly qualities: the analysis of philosophical texts with penetration and rigor, and the discernment of what it is in these texts that (...) matters. These qualities are in evidence throughout the essays in America's Philosophical Vision. Whether he is evaluating Rorty's view of Dewey the pragmatic theory of experience and truth theories of freedom, creativity, and the self Royce's conception of community or synoptic philosophic visions, Smith always succeeds in uniting a comprehensive understanding of philosophic writings with a sure grasp of their import for human culture and aspiration. It is a great benefit to students of American thought that these papers have now been collected into one volume."--James Gouinlock, Emory University. (shrink)
Purpose in American philosophy.--Radical empiricism.--Three types and two dogmas of empiricism.--William James as philosophical psychologist.--Charles S. Peirce: community and reality.--The contemporary significance of Royce's theory of the self.--The course of American philosophy.--The philosophy of religion in America.