At least since Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859, it has increasingly become accepted that the existence of God is, intellectually, a lost cause, and that religious faith is an entirely non-rational matter--the province of those who willingly refuse to accept the dramatic advances of modern cosmology. Are belief in God and belief in science really mutually exclusive? Or, as noted philosopher of science and religion Richard Swinburne puts forth, can the very same criteria which scientists use to (...) reach theories about everything from DNA to the Big Bang be used to argue for the existence of God? In Is There a God? Swinburne presents a powerful and approachable case for the existence of God. Using the methods of scientific reasoning, Swinburne rigorously argues that science, far from replacing God, provides good grounds for belief in God. With each new discovery and advance, from black holes to quarks, superstrings to continuing evolution, science brings us closer to a complete understanding of how things work--but science can only go so far. Though it can explain much of how the universe works, science doesn't tell us why there is a universe at all. We can understand much of how life evolved, but why is there any life on earth? We can name and explicate scientific laws, but how is it that they operate in the universe? The Darwinian theory holds that the complex animal and human bodies that are here today exist because, ages ago, there were certain chemicals on earth, and given the laws of evolution, it was probable that complex organisms would emerge. But why those laws rather than any other? Why those chemicals? In Swinburne's view, the ultimate grand unifying theory is possible only by a belief in what he calls theism, acknowledging the existence of God: it was God who brought about the natural laws so that humans and animals would evolve. The watch may have been made, Swinburne asserts in reference to Richard Dawkins, with the aid of some blind screwdrivers (or even a blind watchmaking machine), but they were guided by a watchmaker with some very clear sight. At the heart of his argument is Swinburne's belief that the very success of science in showing us how deeply ordered the natural world is provides strong grounds for believing there is an even deeper cause of that order. By embracing a belief in God that acknowledges the truth in science, Swinburne's elegant argument supplies an essential spiritual element to our understanding of order and beauty, the structure beneath the chaos of the natural world. This informed and provocative volume will be essential reading for all readers of popular science, philosophy, and religion. (shrink)
The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Philosophy provides an introduction to a complex period of change in the subject matter and practice of philosophy. The philosophy of the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries is often seen as transitional between the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages and modern philosophy, but the essays collected here, by a distinguished international team of contributors, call these assumptions into question, emphasizing both the continuity with scholastic philosophy and the role of Renaissance philosophy in the emergence of (...) modernity. They explore the ways in which the science, religion and politics of the period reflect and are reflected in its philosophical life, and they emphasize the dynamism and pluralism of a period which saw both new perspectives and enduring contributions to the history of philosophy. This will be an invaluable guide for students of philosophy, intellectual historians, and all who are interested in Renaissance thought. (shrink)
Buridan's life, works, and influence -- Buridan's logic and the medieval logical tradition -- The primacy of mental language -- The various kinds of concepts and the idea of a mental language -- Natural language and the idea of a formal syntax in Buridan -- Existential import and the square of opposition -- Ontological commitment -- The properties of terms (proprietates terminorum) -- The semantics of propositions -- Logical validity in a token-based, semantically closed logic -- The possibility of scientific (...) knowledge -- Buridan's anti-skepticism -- Buridan's essentialist nominalism. (shrink)
The most comprehensive collection of its kind, this unique anthology presents fifty-four readings--many of them not widely available--by the most important and influential Christian, Jewish, and Muslim philosophers of the Middle Ages. The text is organized topically, making it easily accessible to students, and the large selection of readings provides instructors with maximum flexiblity in choosing course material. Each thematic section is comprised of six chronologically arranged readings. This organization focuses on the major philosophical issues and allows a smooth introduction (...) to the material. The topics covered are: (1) The Existence of God, (2) Ethics and the Problem of Evil, (3) God's Foreknowledge and Free Will, (4) Theology, (5) Political Philosophy, 6) Knowledge and Sensation, (7) Universals, (8) Logic and the Philosophy of Language and (9) Physics. Each text is preceded by a biographical note on the author and a brief analytical introduction. Unlike other anthologies, which present sources as a series of truncated excerpts, this collection avoids intrusive editing and includes many selections in their entirety, thus preserving the rich flavor of the medieval mind at work. (shrink)
Ramon Llull (1232-1316), born on Majorca, was one of the most remarkable lay intellectuals of the thirteenth century. He devoted much of his life to promoting missions among unbelievers, the reform of Western Christian society, and personal spiritual perfection. He wrote over 200 philosophical and theological works in Catalan, Latin, and Arabic. Many of these expound on his "Great Universal Art of Finding Truth," an idiosyncratic dialectical system that he thought capable of proving Catholic beliefs to non-believers. This study offers (...) the first full-length analysis of his theories about rhetoric and preaching, which were central to his evangelizing activities. It explains how Llull attempted to synthesize commonplace advice about courtly speech and techniques of popular sermons into a single program for secular and sacred eloquence that would necessarily promote love of God and neighbor. Llull's work is remarkable testimony to the diffusion of clerical culture among educated lay-people of his era, and to their enthusiasm for applying that knowledge in the pursuit of learning and piety. This book should find a place on the shelf of every scholar of medieval history, religion, and rhetoric. (shrink)
The Middle Ages span a period of well over a millennium: from the emperor Constantine's Christian conversion in 312 to the early sixteenth century. David Luscombe's clear and accessible history of medieval thought steers a clear path through this long period, beginning with the three greatest influences on medieval philosophy: Augustine, Boethius, and Pseudo-Denis, and focusing on Abelard, Anselm, Aquinas, Ockham, Duns Scotus, and Eckhart among others in the twelfth to fifteenth centuries.
Choice without preference : the problem of "Buridan's ass" -- Nicholas of Cusa on the Koran : a fifteenth-century encounter with Islam -- On learned ignorance and the limits of knowledge -- Unanswerable questions and insolubilia -- Omniscience and our understanding of God's knowledge -- Issues of infinite regress -- Being qua being -- Nonexistents then and now -- Thomism : past, present, and future -- Respect for tradition and the Catholic philosopher today.
Erasmus of Rotterdam was the greatest Christian humanist scholar of the Northern European Renaissance, a correspondent of Sir Thomas More and many other learned men of his time, known to his contemporaries and to posterity for subtlety of his thought and the depth of his learning. He was also, according to some modern writers, an anti-Semite. In this complete analysis of all of Erasmus' writings on Jews and Judaism, Shimon Markish asserts that the accusation cannot be sustained. For Markish, to (...) ask whether Erasmus was a friend or enemy of the Jews is to ask a modern question of a sixteenth-century man, whose attitude can best be called "asemitism." Erasmus' chief preoccupation was with the future of "the true philosophy of Christ"; he had little interest in the Jewish community of his own time. Erasmus and the Jews discusses Erasmus' critique of Mosaic law and his view of the conflict between "Judaism" as legalistic morality and Jesus' teaching; his judgment on the Pharisees of Jesus' time; his emphasis on the importance of the study of Hebrew; and his opinions of sixteenth-century Jews. This meticulous analysis reveals an Erasmus who defended his vision of true piety by rejecting "Judaizing" Christians more than Jews and who saw the Old Testament as integral to the Christian worldview. As a Christian, he regretted nonbelief and pitied unbelievers, without vicious hostility toward any single people. His theological opposition to a form of religious thought which he identified with Judaism was not translated into crude prejudice against actual Jews. In general, his calm consideration of the strange and the foreign and his willingness to restrict his judgments to the philosophical realm were, Markish argues, early and significant steps toward enlightened toleration. Markish's discussion of Erasmus is supplemented with an Afterword by theologian and philosopher Arthur A. Cohen, who offers a variant interpretation of Erasmus' writings and attitudes. The juxtaposed arguments of the two scholars make this an especially illuminating work for any student of Erasmus and his influence. Erasmus and the Jews also gives a necessary clarity to our understanding of the meaning of anti-Semitism and the history of religious toleration. Markish's profound knowledge of Erasmus allows him to demonstrate the fundamental importance of putting arguments and terminology in the context of a thinker's work and his own time. (shrink)
Introduction -- Saint Thomas : putting nature into natural law -- Maritain and the love for the natural law -- The new natural law and evolutionary natural law -- International human rights, natural law, and Locke -- Conclusion : evil and the limits of the natural law.
Classic introduction provides readers with insightful, accessible survey of major philosophical trends and thinkers of the Middle Ages--from the thought of Thomas Aquinas and the Averroists to Duns Scotus and William of Ockham. "A better conspectus of medieval philosophy than this would be difficult to conceive ... a notable achievement." The Tablet (London).
This volume provides a comprehensive presentation of the philosophical work of the fifteenth-century Renaissance thinker Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. In essays specially commissioned for this book, a distinguished group of scholars presents the central tropics and texts of Pico’s literary output. Best known as the author of the celebrated “Oration on the Dignity of Man,” a magnificent speech originally intended to introduce a debate of 900 theses to be held in Rome before the Pope, the College of Cardinals, and an (...) international group of scholars, Pico also wrote several other prominent works. (shrink)
Aquinas, Aristotle, and the Promise of the Common Good claims that contemporary theory and practice have much to gain from engaging Aquinas's normative concept of the common good and his way of reconciling religion, philosophy, and politics. Examining the relationship between personal and common goods, and the relation of virtue and law to both, Mary M. Keys shows why Aquinas should be read in addition to Aristotle on these perennial questions. She focuses on Aquinas's Commentaries as mediating statements between Aristotle's (...) Nicomachean Ethics and Politics and Aquinas's own Summa Theologiae, showing how this serves as the missing link for grasping Aquinas's understanding of Aristotle's thought. Keys argues provocatively that Aquinas's Christian faith opens up new panoramas and possibilities for philosophical inquiry and insights into ethics and politics. Her book shows how religious faith can assist sound philosophical inquiry into the foundation and proper purposes of society and politics. (shrink)
The work of Thomas Aquinas has always enjoyed a privileged position as a pillar of Catholic theology, but for centuries his standing among western philosophers was less sure. Today, Aquinas's work is recognized as a cornerstone of the western philosophical tradition. This book offers a full-scale introduction to Aquinas's philosophy. Brian Davies has collected in one volume the best recent essays on Aquinas by some of the world's foremost scholars of medieval philosophy. Taken together, they illuminate the entire spectrum of (...) Aquinas's thought: philosophy of nature, logic, metaphysics, natural theology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, and ethics. The essays are philosophically solid, readable, informative, critical, and evaluative of the texts of Aquinas. Davies frames the essays with a detailed introduction that provides an account of Aquinas's life and works, as well as of his major philosophical conclusions. (shrink)
In the thousand years from the end of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance and Reformation of the Sixteenth century the discussion of the great questions of philosophy and religion was intense. Does God exist? What is he like? What is the purpose of human life and how does God show concern for the future of mankind? This is an introduction to the debates which did more than anything else to transform the ancient into the modern world of thought.
The first modern treatise of political philosophy, The Prince remains one of the world’s most influential and widely read books. Machiavelli, whose name has become synonymous with expedient exercises of will, reveals nothing less than the secrets of power: how to gain it, how to wield it, and how to keep it. But curiously, this work of outspoken clarity has, for centuries, inspired myriad interpretations as to its author’s true message. The Introduction by noted Italian Renaissance scholar Albert Russell Ascoli (...) provides a perfect opening to Peter Constantine’s illuminating new translation of this seminal work. "Constantine elegantly captures in English the pith of Machiavelli’s brilliant Italian prose." –Edward Muir, Clarence L. Ver Steeg Professor in the Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University “Peter Constantine’s excellent translation belongs in everyone’s library. Perhaps now more than ever we have much to learn from this Renaissance thinker, present at the birth of the modern world.” –John Jeffries Martin, professor of history, Duke University. (shrink)
In this book, James McEvoy provides a brief, accessible introduction to the thought of Robert Grosseteste (c.1168-1253). Grosseteste was the initiator of the English scientific tradition, one of the first chancellors of Oxford University, and a famous teacher and commentator on the newly discovered works of Aristotle. Despite his importance, very little of his work is available in English. McEvoy translates into English brief passages from Grosseteste's own writings which are of central importance to his thought and builds around them (...) the first general, inclusive overview of the entire range of Grosseteste's intellectual achievement. (shrink)
The English Franciscan, William of Ockham (c. 1285-1349), was one of the most important thinkers of the later middle ages. Summoned to Avignon in 1324 to answer charges of heresy, Ockham became convinced that Pope John XXII was himself a heretic in denying the complete poverty of Christ and the apostles and a tyrant in claiming supremacy over the Roman empire. Ockham's political writings were a result of these personal convictions, but also include systematic discourses on the basis and functions (...) of spiritual and secular power as well as exhaustive discussions of Franciscan poverty and the general problem of papal heresy. Ockham emerges in this study as a man deeply committed to natural and Christian human rights, who found these fundamental values so seriously menaced in his time that their survival could be assured only by radical, even revolutionary, personal action and by a basic reworking of traditional political thought. (shrink)
This book studies the intersection of sacred and secular conceptions of kingship in the Renaissance. The book documents in detail six instances of the attempt to connect Machiavelli's thought to an ancient and secret tradition of political counsel, the arcana imperii, or mysteries of state. The ways in which Renaissance writers attempted such a connection varied widely. In addition to carefully analyzing these arguments, the book documents patterns in their dissemination. Through his connection with mysteries of state, Machiavelli influenced not (...) only Renaissance political ideas, but the transmission of these ideas. Machiavellian politics was a secret art; its vehicles, frequently secret books; and its authors and readers, sharers in a mystery. (shrink)
the philosophers in the West, none, perhaps, is better known by name and less familiar in actual content of his ideas than the medieval Muslim philosopher, physician, minister and naturalist Abu Ali Ibn Sina, known since the days of the scholastics as Avicenna. In this book the author, himself a philosopher, and long known for his studies of Arabic thought, presents a factual account of Avicenna's philosophy. Setting the thinker in the context of his often turbulent times and tracing the (...) roots and influences of Avicenna's ideas, this book offers a factual philosophical portrait. It details Avicenna's account of being as a synthesis between the seemingly irreconcilable extremes of Aristotelian eternalism and the creationism of monotheistic scripture. It examines Avicenna's distinctive theory of knowledge, his ideas about immortality and individuality, including the famous "floating man argument", his contributions to logic, and his probing thoughts on rhetoric and poetics. (shrink)
Moses Maimonides, rabbinist, philosopher, and physician, had a greater impact on Jewish history than any other medieval figure. Born in Cordova, Spain, in 1137 or 1138, he spent a few years in Morocco, visited Palestine, and settled in Egypt by 1167. He died there in 1204. Maimonides was a man of superlatives. He wrote the first commentary to cover the entire Mishna corpus; composed what quickly became the dominant work on the 613 commandments believed to have been given by God (...) to Moses; produced the most comprehensive and most intensely studied code of rabbinic law to emerge from the Middle Ages; and his Guide for the Perplexed has had a greater influence on Jewish thought than any other Jewish philosophic work. During the last decades of his life, he conducted an active medical practice, which extended into the royal court--the Sultan Saladin is reported to have been his patient--and composed some ten or eleven works on medicine. This book offers a fresh look at every aspect of Maimonides' life and works: the course of his life, his education, his personality, and his rabbinic, philosophical, and medical writings. At a number of junctures, Davidson points out that information about Maimonides which has been accepted for decades or centuries as common knowledge is in actuality supported by no credible evidence and often, more disconcertingly, is patently incorrect. Maimonides' diverse writings are frequently viewed as expressions of several distinct personas, uncomfortably and awkwardly bundled into a single human frame; the present book treats his writings as expressions of a single, integrated, albeit complex, mind. (shrink)