In this study of Robert Boyle's epistemology, Jan W. Wojcik reveals the theological context within which Boyle developed his views on reason's limits. After arguing that a correct interpretation of his views on 'things above reason' depends upon reading his works in the context of theological controversies in seventeenth-century England, Professor Wojcik details exactly how Boyle's three specific categories of things which transcend reason - the incomprehensible, the inexplicable, and the unsociable - affected his conception of what a (...) natural philosopher could hope to know. Also covered in detail is Boyle's belief that God had deliberately limited the human intellect in order to reserve a full knowledge of both theology and natural philosophy for the afterlife. (shrink)
What is our nature? What is this enigma that we call human? Who are we? Since the dawn of human history, people have exhibited wildly contradictory qualities: good and evil, love and hate, strength and weakness, kindness and cruelty, aggressiveness and pacifism, generosity and greed, courage and cowardice. Experiencing a sense of eternity in our hearts--but at the same time confined to temporal and spatial constraints--we seek to understand ourselves, both individually and as a species. In Who Are We? (...) Theories of Human Nature, esteemed author Louis P. Pojman seeks to find answers to these questions by exploring major theories in Western philosophy and religion, along with several traditions in Eastern thought. The most comprehensive work of its kind, the volume opens with chapters on the Hebrew/Christian view of human nature and the contrasting classical Greek theories, outlining a dichotomy between faith and reason that loosely frames the rest of the book. The following chapters cover the medieval view, Hindu and Buddhist perspectives, conservative and liberal theories, Kant's Copernican revolution, Schopenhauer's pessimistic idealism, and Karl Marx's theory. Freud's psychoanalytic view, the existentialist perspective, the Darwinian view, and scientific materialism are also discussed. Pojman concludes with a discussion of the question of free will, ultimately asserting that each one of us must decide for ourselves who and what we are, and, based on that answer, how we shall live. (shrink)
Recent historiography of 19th century biology supports the revision of two traditional doctrines about the history of biology. First, the most important and widespread biological debate around the time of Darwin was not evolution versus creation, but biological functionalism versus structuralism. Second, the idealist and typological structuralist theories of the time were not particularly anti-evolutionary. Typological theories provided argumentation and evidence that was crucial to the refutation of Natural Theological creationism. The contrast between functionalist and structuralist approaches (...) to biology continues today, and the historical misunderstanding of 19th century typological biology may be one of its effects. This historical case can shed light on current controversies regarding the relevance of developmental biology to evolution. (shrink)
In the advertising discourse of human genetic database projects, of genetic ancestry tracing companies, and in popular books on anthropological genetics, what I refer to as the anthropological gene and genome appear as documents of human history, by far surpassing the written record and oral history in scope and accuracy as archives of our past. How did macromolecules become "documents of human evolutionary history"? Historically, molecular anthropology, a term introduced by Emile Zuckerkandl in 1962 to characterize (...) the study of primate phylogeny and human evolution on the molecular level, asserted its claim to the privilege of interpretation regarding hominoid, hominid, and human phylogeny and evolution vis-à-vis other historical sciences such as evolutionary biology, physical anthropology, and paleoanthropology. This process will be discussed on the basis of three key conferences on primate classification and evolution that brought together exponents of the respective fields and that were held in approximately ten-years intervals between the early 1960s and the 1980s. I show how the anthropological gene and genome gained their status as the most fundamental, clean, and direct records of historical information, and how the prioritizing of these epistemic objects was part of a complex involving the objectivity of numbers, logic, and mathematics, the objectivity of machines and instruments, and the objectivity seen to reside in the epistemic objects themselves. (shrink)
Scientific and political developments of the early twentieth century led Michael Polanyi to study the role of the scientist in research and the interaction between the individual scholar and the surrounding conditions in community and society. In his concept of “personal knowledge” he gave the theory and history of science an anthropological turn. In many instances of the history of sciences, research is driven by a commitment to beliefs and values. Society plays the role of authority and communicative (...) backdrop that presupposes individual liberty. As a system of beliefs science is rooted in community and also in history. However, as soon as fellow humans become the objects of research, their appeal transcends the researcher. Consequently, the history of human endeavor reveals a “firmament” of standards and obligations which represent an ontological reality, for which Polanyi invokes Teilhard de Chardin’s notion of noosphere. (shrink)
The finite body -- Experiencing finitude n the body and its world -- Finitude, language, and the alterity of the world -- The appearance of the other : and the disruption of finitude by infinity -- Transcending and affirming finitude in desire -- Finitude and authenticity : a discussion of some elements in Heidegger -- Finitude and concrete experience -- Hans Jonas : a limited life is a better life than one that goes on forever -- Coming to terms with (...) death existentially and psychologically : Irvin D. Yalom -- Mediating the infinite and the finite : religion and theology -- Death and sin, wholeness and totality : the task for a philosophical theology that affirms finitude while not neglecting death -- A theological ontology of finitude : Paul Tillich -- God as infinite, and human finitude : F. LeRon Shultz -- Hermeneutics of finitude : Merold Westphal -- Finite symbols ; Breaking on the infinite : R.C. Neville -- Finitude, religion, and human uniqueness : a discussion of J. Wentzel van Huyssteen's Alone in the world? (shrink)
An integrated overview of history The volume in this series are arranged topically to cover biography, literature, doctrines, practices, institutions, worship, missions, and daily life. Archaeology and art as well as writings are drawn on to illuminate the Christian movement in its early centuries. Ample attention is also given to the relation of Christianity to pagan thought and life, to the Roman state, to Judaism, and to doctrines and practices that came to be judged as heretical or (...) schismatic. Introductions to each volume tie the articles together for an integrated understanding of the history. Offers insights and understanding The aim of the collection is to give balanced and comprehensive coverage, selected on the basis of the following criteria: original and excellent research and writing; subject matter of use to teachers and students; groundbreaking importance for the history of research; background information for issues and opinions. Understanding the development of early Christianity and its impact on Western history and thought offers valuable insights into the modern world and the present state of Christiantiy. It also provides perspective on comparable developments in other periods of history and reveals human nature in its religious dimension. (shrink)
This text represents an exploration of the possible significance of Bernard S. Cohn's 1980 essay, `History and Anthropology: The State of Play', for understanding the present of historical anthropology and its futures. My discussion has two aims: (1) to reflect on both Bernard S. Cohn's pedagogy and mode of inquiry; and (2) to explore the complexity and nuance of citationality as a generative principle within the constitution of historical anthropology's subject. Toward this, I examine Cohn's notion (...) of `the colonial situation' and reflect on how the emergence of the human sciences is intertwined with the proliferation of colonialism's enduring legacy within postcoloniality. (shrink)
Late nineteenth-century German anthropology had to compete for intellectual legitimacy with the established academic humanities (Geisteswissenschaften), above all history. Whereas humanists interpreted literary documents to create narratives about great civilizations, anthropologists represented and viewed objects, such as skulls or artifacts, to create what they regarded as natural scientific knowledge about so-called 'natural peoples'-colonized societies of Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas. Anthropologists thus invoked a venerable tradition that presented looking at objects as a more certain source of knowledge (...) than reading texts. Visual representations, especially of the colonized, not only allowed anthropologists allegedly objective insight into humanity but also put them in direct contact with popular audiences of ethnographic spectacles, exotic photography, and even pornographic images. Anthropologists thus sought to create a peculiar kind of anthropological vision that both differentiated them from humanists as 'objective' natural scientists but also distinguished them from the leering 'Schaulust' that they believed characterized popular consumption of exotic images. To do so they invented technologies of visual representation that eschewed the subject position figured by linear perspective. These novel optics dispensed with the leering subject posited by popular spectacles and the knowing subject posited by humanism and created an anti-humanist form of knowledge. (shrink)
In this book, award-winning historian of religion Paula Fredriksen tells the surprising story of early Christian concepts of sin, exploring the ways that sin came to shape ideas about God no less than about humanity.
Contemporary theologicalanthropology is now almost united in its opposition toward concepts of the abstract individual. Instead there is a strong preference for concrete concepts, which locate individual human being in historically and socioculturally contingent contexts. In this paper I identify, and discuss in detail, three key themes that structure recent theological opposition to abstract concepts of the individual: (1) the idea that individual human beings are constituted in part by their relations with their environments, with other (...) human beings, and with God; (2) the idea that individual human beings are unique entities; (3) the idea that individual human beings cannot be conceptualized in atemporal terms. Subsequently, I seek to demonstrate that theories of embodied cognition offer broad, if not unconditional, support for the concept of the concrete individual. As such, I suggest, theories of embodied cognition provide a valuable resource for dialogue between contemporary science and theologicalanthropology. (shrink)
This essay traces Gustafson's understanding of the methodological significance of history and time for theological ethics. I argue that Gustafson qualifies his original thoroughgoing historicist perspective in the interest of developing a natural theology and ethics. His continuing emphasis on a historical perspective, I suggest, is best understood by attending to his recommendation that the theologian's task is best captured by the image of the "participant.".
Over 700,000 copies of the original hardcover and paperback editions of this stunningly popular book have been sold. Karen Armstrong's superbly readable exploration of how the three dominant monotheistic religions of the world—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have shaped and altered the conception of God is a tour de force. One of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, Armstrong traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From classical (...) philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one compelling volume. (shrink)
In this article the advent of Lévi-Strauss's structural anthropology is described as a reaction against the predominantly phenomenological bias of French philosophy in the post-war years as well as against the old humanism of existentialism which seemed parochial both in its confinement to a specific tradition of western philosophy and in its lack of interest in scientific approach. Nevertheless, the paradigm of structural anthropology cannot be equated with the field of structuralism, which became a very contestable form of (...) intellectual fashion. The reception of Lévi-Strauss's theory in the English-speaking world carried on both the same enthusiasm and the same distortions and simplifications, to the extent that in the course of anti-structural criticism, the main thrust of the epistemological approach of Lévi-Strauss seems to have been lost, to the collective detriment of social sciences and anthropology. (shrink)
In order to address the question of hope in the present, it behooves us to revisit Kant’s third and fourth questions: ‘What may we hope?’ and ‘What is the human being?’ I reexamine these questions through an analysis of Thomas McCarthy’s recent book Race, Empire, and the Idea of Human Development and several works by Hans Blumenberg. I agree with McCarthy that Kant’s anthropology is incomplete and that the postmodern rejection of macronarratives was premature, but I claim that he (...) requires a more complex philosophical anthropology to guide a philosophy of history. In order to address the question about hope, I reconstruct the anthropology implied in Blumenberg’s writings. I claim that this answer to Kant’s fourth question supplies conceptual scaffolding missing from McCarthy’s book, provides resources necessary for making normative claims on behalf of all human beings, and can inform a multiversal history for grounding rational hope in the present. (shrink)
Mainstream currents within Christianity havelong insisted that humans, among all creatures, areneither fully identified with their physical bodiesnor fully at home on earth. This essay outlines theparticular characteristics of Christian notions ofhuman nature and the implications of this separationfor environmental ethics. It then examines recentefforts to correct some damaging aspects oftraditional Christian understandings of humanity''splace in nature, especially the notions of physicalembodiment and human embeddedment in earth. Theprimary goal of the essay is not to offer acomprehensive evaluation of Christian thinking (...) aboutnature but rather to identify theological anthropologyas a crucial dimension of, and problem for, Christianenvironmental ethics. (shrink)
This article focuses on the role that distorted Christian theology played in the construction of the racial ideologies of Nazism and Apartheid. The central theoretical argument is that these theologies were instrumental in sacralising the history of a specific group by creating origin myths, by idolising the ingroup, defining the outgroup, by providing racist ideologies with rituals and symbols and by creating final utopian solutions. The theologicaldoctrines that were used are characterised by certain common features, such (...) as a collectivist anthropology, the identification of the church with an ethnic group, the view of history as a source of revelation, and the appropriation of myths. The article concludes with the remark that the modern global environment is particularly vulnerable to racism. It is therefore important for Christianity to clearly identify the common characteristics of pseudo-racist theology and to educate its adherents on the difference between authentic theology and pseudo-theology, so that they will not fall prey to destructive forms of religion that encourage racism. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- Preface -- Citations -- 1. Hegel's Philosophy of World History -- 2. History and the Progress of the Consciousness of Freedom -- 3. The State and the Actualization of Freedom -- 4. The Course of World History: Shapes of Freedom -- 5. God in History: The Kingdom of Freedom -- Bibliography.
Although history is the pre-eminent part of the gallant sciences, philosophers advise against it from fear that it might completely destroy the kingdom of darkness—that is, scholastic philosophy—which previously has been wrongly held to be a necessary instrument of theology.
This article offers two arguments for the centrality of historical studies to constructive theological ethics. The first is pedagogical: it is argued that precisely because historical texts call for reflective interpretation, the close study of these texts can provide insights that are not readily available in other ways. The second is more foundational: the Christian moral tradition is the proper subject matter of Christian theological ethics, and because that tradition evolves over time and cannot be understood apart from (...) some account of that evolution, historical studies are a constitutive part of Christian theological ethics. This claim is defended through an ex- amination of the historical dimension of the interpretation of Scripture as a moral document. The essay closes with some reflections on the institutional implications of these arguments. (shrink)
The 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis sponsored both an International Congress of Arts and Sciences aimed at unity of knowledge and an anthropology exhibit of diverse peoples. Jointly these represented a quest for unifying knowledge in a diverse world that was fractured by isolated specializations and segregated peoples. In historical perspective, the Congress's quest for knowledge is overshadowed by Ota Benga who was part of the anthropology exhibit. The 1904 World's Fair can be viewed as a Euro-American (...) ritual, a global pilgrimage, which sought to celebrate the advances and resolve the challenges of modernity and human diversity. Three years later Afropentecostalism dealt with these same issues with different methods and rituals. This ritual system became the most culturally diverse and fastest growing religious movement of the twentieth century. I suggest that the anthropological method of Frank Hamilton Cushing, the postcritical epistemology of Michael Polanyi, and the Afropente-costal ritual movement initiated by William J. Seymour are all attempts to develop a postmodern epistemology that is simultaneously constructive, focused on discerning reality, and broad enough to allow for human consciousness and diverse human communities. I explore this confluence of scientific and participatory epistemology through six theses. (shrink)