The impermanence of human affairs is a major theme in Spinoza’s discussions of political histories, and from our present-day perspective it is both intriguing and ironic to see how this very theme has played out in the evolving fate of Spinoza’s association with atheism. While Spinoza’s contemporaries charged him with atheism in order to impugn his philosophy (and sometimes his character), in our times many lay readers and some scholars portray Spinoza as an atheist in order to commemorate his role (...) as a founder of modern secularism. In this paper, I will argue that Spinoza deserves neither vilification nor praise for being an atheist, for the simple reason that he was not one (unless one employs the term ‘atheism’ in a very peculiar sense). I have chosen the current topic as my contribution to a volume focused on the TTP, the Ethics, and their interrelations because it is precisely these two books which brought about the common reactionary accusation of atheism by Spinoza’s contemporaries. Addressing Spinoza’s 1663 book, Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy, Bayle writes: “Spinoza appears as orthodox in that book about the nature of God.” As we shall shortly see, Descartes too was accused of atheism by some of his contemporaries (though not so by Bayle). The latter designates his target quite explicitly: “[Spinoza’s] Tractatus Theologico Politicus, printed in Amsterdam, in the year 1670, is a pernicious and execrable book which contains all the seeds of the Atheism he plainly discovered in his Opera Posthuma.” François Lamy, in his 1696 Le nouvel athéisme renversé, also focused on the Ethics and the TTP in his attack on Spinoza’s atheism. Bayle’s reference to the Opera Posthuma is ostensibly targeting the Ethics at least primarily, if not uniquely. Even the most suspicious and distrustful mind would have to labor hard in order to find atheism in the Hebrew Grammar, or even in the Tractatus Politicus where Spinoza argues that it is not within the power, and hence right, of the commonwealth to induce people to adopt utterly absurd beliefs, such as “that the whole is greater than its part or that God does not exist.” The TTP and the Ethics are the works where Spinoza launches his merciless attack on anthropocentric thinking and anthropomorphic religion. Spinoza’s panentheism (“quicquid est, in Deo est”) constitutes the metaphysical foundation of the Ethics, and it is repeatedly and clearly alluded to in the TTP. Since it is these two elements – (1) Spinoza’s open assertions of panentheism and (2) his critique of andromorphic conceptions of God – which are the historical grounds for the atheism charge, it seems natural that the merit of this charge should be decided primarily by examination of these two foundational works. I will proceed in the following manner. In the first part of the paper, we will make our first acquaintance with the imputation of atheism by Spinoza’s contemporaries and Spinoza’s response to the charge (or lack thereof). In the second part, I discuss three broad strategies, or hermeneutic avenues, that have been pursued to impute atheism to Spinoza. The first of the three was dominant in Spinoza’s time, while the latter two were employed more recently. These strategies are not mutually exclusive and we can find occasionally various combinations of different shades of these three strategies. In this part, I will also raise some preliminary questions about the cogency of the hermeneutics employed by each strategy. In the third and fourth parts of the paper, I will discuss a small selection of key texts from the Ethics and the TTP, respectively, and argue that the atheist readings fail to make sense of these key passages (unless one adopts an extreme hermeneutics of suspicion which could allegedly find any view harbored in any text). Let me stress that this selection of passages is far from comprehensive, and that dozens of other passages can be adduced to establish the very same point. I hope by the end of the fourth part to convince the reader of the deep problems besetting the atheist readings. In the fifth and last part, I show that both panentheism and the critique of anthropomorphic religion and anthropomorphic conceptions of providence were quite common within rabbinic discourse. Thus, I will argue that if we are not in the business of announcing that both Maimonides and the Kabbalists were atheists, we should avoid the same imputation to Spinoza. Underlying my argument in this final part is the claim that at least some perceptions of Spinoza as an atheist are instances of what could be termed conceptual colonialism, i.e. the enforcement of the categories of a hegemonic culture (in this case, Western Christianity ) on minority cultures (in the current case, rabbinic Judaism). To be clear, this attitude need not be motivated by ill intentions or racism. It is always tempting and easy to explain the unfamiliar through the familiar, but conceptual stagnation and insistence on imposing the categories of the familiar on other cultures may quickly lead to deep distortion and blindness, despite one’s best intentions. Unless one is exceedingly careful to avoid the – completely natural – temptation to impose one’s own categories on a foreign culture (and to look for the coin only under the street light), one is likely to end up with distorted conceptions of the relevant alien culture, despite one’s best intentions. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper we will consider the likely extent of Spinoza’s exposure to Kabbalistic literature as he was growing up in Amsterdam. In the second part we will closely study several texts in which Spinoza seems to engage with Kabbalistic doctrines. In the third and final part we will study the role of the two crucial doctrines of emanation and pantheism (or panentheism), in Spinoza’s system and in the Kabbalistic literature.
Jeremiah Carey presents a version of panentheism which he attributes to Gregory Palamas, as well as other Greek patristic thinkers. The Greek tradition, he alleges, is more open to panentheistic metaphysics than the Latin. Palamas, for instance, hold that God’s energies are participable, even if God’s essence is not. Carey uses Palamas’ metaphysics to sketch an account on which divine energies are the forms of created substances, and argues it is open to Orthodox Christians to affirm that God is in (...) all things as their formal cause. I argue Carey’s reading is premised on a superficial examination of the patristic literature. More importantly, Palamas’ metaphysics is opposed to that of Carey, since Palamas’ distinction aims to uphold that created persons are only contingent participants in God. On this, Palamas and the Latins are in complete accord. In conclusion, I propose panentheistic metaphysics begins from a false dilemma. (shrink)
As the title, The Entangled State of God and Humanity suggests, this lecture dispenses with the pre-Copernican, patriarchal, anthropomorphic image of God while presenting a case for a third millennium theology illuminated by insights from archetypal depth psychology, quantum physics, neuroscience and evolutionary biology. It attempts to smash the conceptual barriers between science and religion and in so doing, it may contribute to a Copernican revolution which reconciles both perspectives which have been apparently irreconcilable opposites since the sixteenth century. The (...) published work of C.G. Jung, Wolfgang Pauli, David Bohm and Teilhard de Chardin outline a process whereby matter evolves in increasing complexity from sub-atomic particles to the human brain and the emergence of a reflective consciousness leading to a noosphere evolving towards an Omega point. The noosphere is the envelope of consciousness and meaning superimposed upon the biosphere a concept central to the evolutionary thought of visionary Jesuit palaeontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man). -/- His central ideas, like those of Jung with his archetypes, in particular that of the Self, provide intimations of a numinous principle implicit in cosmology and the discovery that in and through humanity, evolution becomes not only conscious of itself but also directed and purposive. Although in Jung’s conception it was a “late-born offspring of the unconscious soul”, consciousness has become the mirror which the universe has evolved to reflect upon itself and in which its very existence is revealed. Without consciousness, the universe would not know itself. The implication for process theology is that God and humanity are in an entangled state so that the evolution of God cannot be separated from that of humankind. -/- A process (Incarnational) theology inseminated by the theory of evolution is one in which humankind completes the individuation of God towards the wholeness represented for instance in cosmic mandala symbols (Jung, Collected Works, vol. 11). Jung believed that God needs humankind to become conscious, whole and complete, a thesis explored in my book The Individuation of God: Integrating Science and Religion (Wilmette, IL: Chiron Publications 2012). This process theology like that implicit in the work of Teilhard de Chardin, is panentheistic so that God is immanent in nature though not identical with it (Atmanspacher: 2014: 284). (shrink)
This chapter argues that both Berkeley and Vasubandhu accept a kind of metaphysical idealism: while Berkeley’s theistic idealism claims that all of reality exists only in the mind of God, Vasubandhu teaches that external objects have no intrinsic existence and exist only as objects of perception; mind is the ultimate reality. This chapter explores the possibility of reading both these doctrines as a kind of idealist panentheism. Specifically, it will address two questions: (1) in what sense are Berkeley’s and Vasubandhu’s (...) theories idealist philosophies? (2) Is it justified to interpret them as panentheists? More precisely, the second question has two parts: (2a) Should Berkeley’s idealism be regarded as a kind of panentheism? (2b) Can the theism-part of panentheism justly be applied to Vasubandhu’s notion of mind as ultimate reality? The answer will be mostly negative: Berkeley is not a panentheist, and labeling Vasubandhu as a panentheist stretches the concept of God beyond the limits of reasonable application. Finally, though, it is argued that a Yogācārin reading of Berkeley’s idealism opens an interesting possibility for idealist panentheism. (shrink)
Panpsychism has become a highly attractive position in the philosophy of mind. On panpsychism, both the physical and the mental are inseparable and fundamental features of reality. Panentheism has also become immensely popular in the philosophy of religion. Panentheism strives for a higher reconciliation of an atheistic pantheism, on which the universe itself is causa sui, and the ontological dualism of necessarily existing, eternal creator and contingent, finite creation. Historically and systematically, panpsychism and panentheism often went together as essential parts (...) of an all-embracing metaphysical theory of Being. The present collection of essays analyses the relation between panpsychism and panentheism and provides critical reflections on the significance of panpsychistic and panentheistic thinking for recent debates in philosophy and theology. (shrink)
In this article, I defend my previous argument that natural divine causation suffers under the problem of causal overdetermination and that it cannot serve as a line of demarcation between theistic evolution (TE) and intelligent design (ID). I do this in light of Christoffer Skogholt's critique of my article. I argue that Skogholt underestimates the naturalistic ambitions of some current thinkers in TE and fails, therefore, to adequately respond to my main argument. I also outline how partial causation better serves (...) as a model for the relationship between God's providence and evolution. (shrink)
Karl Pfeifer attempts to present a coherent view of panentheism that eschews Pickwickian senses of “in” and aligns itself with, and builds upon, familiar diagrammed portrayals of panentheism. The account is accordingly spatial-locative and moreover accepts the proposal of R.T. Mullins that absolute space and time be regarded as attributes of God. In addition, however, it argues that a substantive parthood relation between the world and God is required. Pfeifer’s preferred version of panpsychism, viz. panintentionalism, is thrown into the mix (...) as an optional add-on. On this account, God is conceived of as a “spiritual field” whose nature can be made more intelligible by regarding “God” as having a mass-noun sense in some contexts. Pfeifer closes with the suggestion that we look to topology and mereology for further development of the position outlined in his paper. (shrink)
The question whether God should be thought of as personal or a-personal is closely linked to the issue of an appropriate model of God-world relation on the one hand and the question how to conceive divine action on the other hand. Starting with a discussion of the scientific character of theology, this article critically examines the univocal-personal concept of God. Traditional Christian conceptions of God have, however, always acknowledged a radical asymmetry between the personal existence of created beings and the (...) ground of being itself. In a second step, the ontological truth claim associated with this way of speaking about God is being related to its methodological consequences. In final step, attention is given to the relation of immanence and transcendence as it is defended in different versions of panentheism: As an alternative to divine interventionism, panentheism can be shown to explicate divine providence as formal and final causation. (shrink)
Is theistic evolution (TE) a philosophically tenable position? Leidenhag argues in his article “The Blurred Line between Theistic Evolution and Intelligent Design” that it is not, since it, Leidenhag claims, espouses a view of divine action that he labels “natural divine causation” (NDC), which makes God explanatory redundant. That is, in so far as TE does not invoke God as an additional cause alongside natural causes, it is untenable. Theistic evolutionists should therefore “reject NDC and affirm a more robust notion (...) of divine agency.” However, this will, Leidenhag claims, have the effect that theistic evolutionists “will move their position significantly closer to Intelligent Design,” and so the line between TE and intelligent design is (or ought to be?) blurred. If successful, the criticism by Leidenhag would be bad news for theists who want to take science seriously and good news for those scientistic atheists according to whom there simply is no scientifically respectable way of combining theism and modern natural science in an overarching worldview. So, is TE stuck between a rock (of redundancy) and a hard place (of pseudo‐science)? No, at least not due to the criticism offered by Leidenhag—but maybe religious naturalism is? (shrink)
In his landmark book on philosophical theology, Saving God: Religion After Idolatry, Mark Johnston develops a panentheistic metaphysic of the divine that he contends is compatible with ontological naturalism. On his view, God is the universe, but the ‘is’ is the ‘is’ of constitution, not identity. The universe and God are coinciding objects that share properties but have different essential modal properties and, hence, different persistence conditions. In this paper, I address the problem of accounting for what it is about (...) the organization or structure of the universe that makes it sufficient to constitute the Divine Mind. Specifically, I consider what kind of unity the universe exhibits in virtue of which it constitutes the Divine Mind. I consider how Johnston’s hylomorphic account of the unity of composite objects might be applied to provide a solution and offer an alternative that emends the Johnstonian proposal I present by exploiting a variant of a neo-Aristotelian ontology of causal powers that takes properties to be powerful qualities. On the framework I defend, we can understand the universe as a constellation of powers that displays the sort of unity sufficient to truthfully described it as a Divine Mind. The approach I recommend will, however, ultimately lend itself to a pantheistic metaphysic of the divine rather than Johnston’s preferred panentheism. (shrink)
This article offers an argument for a form of panentheism in which the divine is conceived as both ‘God the World’ and ‘God the Good’. ‘God the World’ captures the notion that the totality of everything which exists is ‘in’ God, while acknowledging that, given evil and suffering, not everything is ‘of’ God. ‘God the Good’ encompasses the idea that God is also the universal concept of Goodness, akin to Plato’s Form of the Good as developed by Iris Murdoch, which (...) is inextricably conjoined with God the World because it is the nature of the world which determines the nature of perfect Goodness. This form of ‘conjoined’ panentheism yields a concept of divine personhood which includes both divine agency and human/divine engagement. God the Good is an agent of change by providing human persons with a standard of Goodness against which to measure the goodness of their own actions, while God the World provides the physical embodiment through which God acts. Human engagement with the divine may take a number of forms and may lead to moral action, the means by which the divine acts upon the world and changes it for the better. (shrink)
In this article, I consider the importance of philosophy in the dialogue between religious believers and non-believers. I begin by arguing that a new epistemology of epistemic peer disagreement is required if the dialogue is to progress. Rather than viewing the differences between the positions as due to a deficit of understanding, I argue that differences result from the existential anchoring of such enquiries in life projects and the under-determination of interpretations by experience. I then explore a central issue which (...) is often implicit in these dialogues, namely the ontological status of God-world relations. Drawing on the reflections of Hegel on the infinite and the finite, I argue that his version of panentheism provides an insightful way to conceptualise God-world relations that avoids both dualistic and monistic approaches and helps to explicate a holistic ontology of transcendence from within the world of experience. (shrink)
Panentheism is best understood as a philosophical research program. Identifying the core of the research program offers a strong response to the demarcation objection. It also helps focus both objections to and defenses of panentheism — and to show why common objections are not actually criticisms of the position we are defending. The paper also addresses two common criticisms: the alleged inadequacy of panentheism’s double “in” specification of the relationship between God and world, and the “double God” objection. Once the (...) research program framework is in place, topics like these become opportunities for panentheists to engage in the kind of careful constructive work in theology and philosophy — historical, analytic, and systematic — that is required for making long-term, positive contributions to our field. (shrink)
In this paper I offer an argument against one important version of panentheism, that is, mereological panentheism. Although panentheism has proven difficult to define, I provide a working definition of the view, and proceed to argue that given this way of thinking about the doctrine, mereological accounts of panentheism have serious theological drawbacks. I then explore some of these theological drawbacks. In a concluding section I give some reasons for thinking that the classical theistic alternative to panentheism is preferable, all (...) things considered. (shrink)
Panentheism is among the most influential variations on classical theism found within nineteenth and twentieth century theology, a prominent perspective in the recent religion and science dialogue, and is increasing in prominence within analytic philosophy of religion. Existing works on the history of panentheism understandably focus primarily on proponents of the view and their arguments in its favor. Less attention has been given to the history of arguments against it, and in particular little has been written on mediaeval Scholastic critiques. (...) Here, I summarize the criticisms leveled by an important thirteenth-century Franciscan, Alexander of Hales. I also assess the enduring value of his critique, arguing that it helps bring to the fore the importance of panentheism’s link with a further metaphysical debate: that between spacetime relationism versus substantivalism. (shrink)
Panenetheism is the claim that God and the cosmos are intimately inter-related, with the cosmos being in God and God being in the cosmos. What does this exactly mean? The aim of this paper is to address this question by sheding light on four possible models of God-world-inter-relatedness. Being critical of those models, which understand maximal immanence in a literal, spatial sense, the paper argues in favor of a model, which cashes out immanence in terms of divine activity. God is, (...) where God acts. Since God acts upon all of creation everywhere and anytime, God is omnipresent to it at all times. Thus, the proposal is to read the ‘en’ in ‘panetheism’ in an ‘agential sense’: God is in the cosmos by creating and sustaining it and the cosmos is in God by constantly being within the sphere of divine activity. (shrink)
My suggestion is to replace Charles Hartshorne's term "panentheism" with that of "pansyntheism" as a more fruitful way of characterizing the dynamic relation between God and the world. He introduced the term panentheism in order to split the difference between traditional theism and pantheism, to define God as highly interactive with the cosmos without being totally in control of it. The world is thought of as being in God without being identified with God.
I summarize and critically respond to Raphael Lataster and Purushottama Bilimoria’s paper on panentheism. I show that their suggested concept of panentheism is useless for academic discourse because it refers to contradictory positions.
There is a close systematic relationship between panentheism, as a metaphysical theory about the relation between God and the world, and transhumanism, the ethical demand to use the means of the applied sciences to enhance both human nature and the environment. This relationship between panentheism and transhumanism provides a ‘cosmic’ solution to the problem of evil: on panentheistic premises, the history of the world is the one infinite life of God, and we are part of the one infinite divine being. (...) We ourselves are therefore responsible for the future development of the life of the divine being. We should therefore use the means provided by the natural sciences to develop the history of the world in such a way that the existence of evil shall be overcome and shall no longer be part of the divine being in whom we move and live and have our being. The metaphysics of panentheism leads to the ethics of transhumanism. (shrink)
"Jewish Nothing-elsism" is the school of thought according to which there is nothing else besides God. This school is sometimes and erroneously interpreted as pantheistic or acosmic. In this paper I argue that Jewish Nothing-elsism is better interpreted as a form of “panentheistic priority holism”, and still better interpreted as a form of “idealistic priority monism”. On this final interpretation, Jewish Nothing-elsism is neither pantheist, panentheist, nor acosmic. Jewish Nothing-elsism is Hassidic idealism, and nothing else. Moreover, I argue that Jewish (...) Nothing-elsism follows from some very basic assumptions common to almost every theist. All theists should be Nothing-elsers. (shrink)
The concept of ultimate reality has an important role in the metaphysics of religious pluralism. John B. Cobb—a process philosopher in the Whiteheadian tradition—has suggested not only two ultimates, like other process philosophers, but three ultimates: God, creativity, and the cosmos. Based on this, I argue, firstly, that Cobb’s tripartite conception of the ultimate offers greater conceptual resources for inter-religious dialog than, for example, John Hick’s conception of ultimate reality or ‘the Real’. In support of this first claim, I will (...) apply Cobb’s conception of the ultimate to Zen-Buddhism, thus exemplifying the resources of this conception. Secondly, given the conclusion that Cobb’s conception of the ultimate does indeed offer greater conceptual resources, I further explicate how panentheism, understood as the thesis of a transcendent, immanent divine being who is bilaterally related to the world, can be read in terms of Cobb’s conception of the ultimate. I thus argue that panentheism in general inherits and retains many of the conceptual resources of Cobb’s understanding of the ultimate, and can be seen as a preferable position in relation to religious pluralism. Finally, I conclude from the example of Zen-Buddhism that, although Cobb’s conception offers greater resources for engaging in a dialog from a metaphysical point of view, work has to be done to adequately address questions on the level of soteriology. (shrink)
The perhaps most challenging problem for a panentheistic paradigm in Christian god-talk consists in integrating the trait of personhood in the monistic horizon of this approach. A very helpful way to this goal seems to be the concept of imagination. Its logic of an “as if” represents a modified variation of Kant`s idea of the postulates of reason. Reflections of Jürgen Werbick, Douglas Headley, and Volker Gerhardt substantiate the philosophical and theological capabilities of this solution which also include a sensibility (...) for the ontological commitments included in the panentheistic approach. (shrink)
In a recent paper on panentheism, Raphael Lataster and Purushottama Bilimoria offer a critique of several contemporary attempts to define what panentheism is and what panentheism is not. Lataster and Bilimoria find the recent attempts to define panentheism deficient. In particular, they find my approach to panentheism to be riddled with problems. In my reply, I explain that Lataster and Bilimoria have failed to explain what panentheism is and what it is not.
Panentheism, a frequently discussed view in recent theological debate, claims that the world is ‘in God’ but that God is ‘more than’ the world. Different theories of the structure of the world produce distinct panentheist views. According to the hunky structure, the world is composed of an infinite number of layers and lacks an ungrounded level. To depict this model, I employ the concepts of ‘grounding’ and ‘emergence.’ The outcome is that if the world is hunky and material reality emerges (...) from such a structure, the world can be in God, but the model of God the Creator is dismissed. (shrink)
In this paper I suggest that we should identify panentheism on a scale, with deism at one extreme and pantheism at the other. The surprising outcome of the analysis is that many of the things which in the philosophical and theological debate are simply taken for granted as distinguishing panentheism from traditional theism turn out to be possible extension claims rather than core doctrines of these different conceptions of God. Nevertheless, I maintain that it remains possible to draw a line (...) between them. It is also emphasized that the greatest challenge many panentheists face is to give a convincing argument why we should think that God’s power can never be coercive, but must always be persuasive. The good news is that there is nothing in panentheism that requires that we must accept this particular doctrine. (shrink)
A number of theologians engaged in the theology and science dialogue—particularly Pentecostal theologian Amos Yong—employ emergence as a framework to discuss special divine action as well as causation initiated by other spiritual realities, such as angels and demons. Mikael and Joanna Leidenhag, however, have issued concerns about its application. They argue that Yong employs supernaturalistic themes with implications that render the concept of emergence obsolete. Further, they claim that Yong's use of emergence theory is inconsistent because he highlights the ontological (...) independence of various spirits in the world concurrently with his advocation of supervenience theory. In view of these concerns, Leidenhag and Leidenhag urge Yong to depart from his application of emergence theory. In what follows, we plan to address each of these criticisms and demonstrate that they are tenuous, if not unwarranted, especially in light of a kenotic-relational pneumatology. (shrink)
According to theistic consubstantialism, the universe and God are essentially made of the same stuff. If theistic consubstantialism is correct, then God possesses the essential power to have knowledge de se of the contents of the mind of every conscious being internal to God. If theistic consubstantialism is false, then God lacks this essential property. So either God is essentially corporeal and possesses greater essential epistemic powers than God would have otherwise or God is essentially incorporeal and has a diminished (...) range of essential epistemic powers. In light of this dilemma, I argue that theists should accept theistic consubstantialism. (shrink)
There has been much written of late on the topic of panentheism. Dissatisfied with many contemporary descriptions of “panentheism” and the related “pantheism,” which we feel arise out of theistic presuppositions, we produce our own definition of sorts, rooted in and paying respect to the term’s etymology and the concept’s roots in Indian religion and western philosophy. Furthermore, we consider and comment on the arguments and comments concerning panentheism’s definition and plausibility put forth by Göcke, Mullins, and Nickel.
The German text of Cohen’s Spinoza on State & Religion, Judaism & Christianity (Spinoza über Staat und Religion, Judentum und Christentum) first appeared in 1915 in the Jahrbuch für jüdische Geschichte und Literatur. Two years before, in the winter of 1913, Cohen taught a class and a seminar on Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. This was Cohen’s first semester at the Hochschule, after retiring from more than thirty years of teaching at the University of (...) Marburg. Cohen’s fame at the time was at its zenith, and his move to the Hochschule was a cause for celebration and excitement. According to the testimony of some students who attended the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus seminar, Cohen left no place for any expression of dissent (regrettably, the academy frequently encourages such authoritarian behavior). The text of Spinoza on State, which was the product of this seminar, still bears the marks of this “didactic” attitude. It is bombastic and feebly argued. Thus, in one moment of emotional crescendo in the text, we can literally hear Cohen shout: When Spinoza, with merciless severity, makes his own nation the object of contempt – at the time that Rembrandt lived on the same street and immortalized the ideal type of the Jew - no voices rises in protest against this humanly incomprehensible betrayal. Such patriotic rhetoric is quite typical of Cohen’s Spinoza on State, as the work reads more like a series of rants against the devil incarnated (“the demonic spirit of Spinoza”) in the figure of the traitor from Amsterdam than like a sustained and serious philosophical polemic. From time to time, one can observe hints of critical arguments, but hardly any are fleshed out. The text is also replete with rudimentary factual and interpretative errors. Thus, when Cohen argues that Spinoza traces his pantheism to Jewish sources, Cohen erroneously cites Spinoza’s reference in E2p7s to “some of the Hebrews [quidam Hebraeorum]” who argued for the identity of Sekhel, Maskil, and Muskal (the Intellect, the Intellecting Subject, and the Intellected Object) – a Maimonidean doctrine that has nothing to do with pantheism – while the text Cohen clearly had in mind was Spinoza’s claim, in Letter 73, that the traditions (traditionibus) of the “ancient Hebrews [antiquis Hebraeis]” agree with Spinoza’s claim that “all things are in God.” Similarly, and on the very same page, Cohen ascribes to Spinoza the claim that “the God of the Old Testament is only a body,” a claim which is nowhere to be found in Spinoza’s works, and which can be inferred from Spinoza’s text only through a patent fallacy. If I may add one last example, consider the following passage from Cohen’s Spinoza on State: [For Spinoza] divine law is grounded in our mind. Yet this does not mean that our mind bears responsibility for producing and obeying the law. Instead, it means that, by definition, the human mind and God are identical, inasmuch as He exists in the human mind. Hardly any claim in this brief passage is correct. Yet, what is most striking is Cohen’s derivation of the identity of God and the human mind from the claim that God exists in the human mind. If I exist in North America, this obviously does not imply that I am identical to North America (there are, for example, a couple of North American porcupines and alligators that are distinct from me). What rule of inference Cohen sought to employ in this argument, and how this impressive inference of the identity of God and the human mind is supposed to square with Cohen’s view of Spinoza as a pantheist – i.e., as considering the physical nature to be divine – is beyond my grasp. Instead of tracking down the dozens of crude errors and fallacies in Cohen’s text, I would like to concentrate here on one crucial issue: Cohen’s critique of Spinoza’s pantheism. By doing this, I will have to pass silently over a couple of surprising agreements between the two figures, such as the (false) claim that all of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible taught the same universal and simple morality. My discussion of pantheism will be divided into two sections. In the first, I will examine Cohen’s understanding of Spinoza’s pantheism. In the second, I will briefly examine the historical validity of Cohen’s claim that pantheism is a Christian doctrine, diametrically opposed to Judaism. (shrink)
The paper is the summary of a wider work, a research program. The hypothesis is that if Fundamental Ontology is apophatic – that is, if it has the same dialectical nature (relationality-substantiality) as the Trinity – we can accept that Trinity is also apophatic. The apophatic-relational explanation may sound odd, but it is the most honest one, because it does not hide the problems under the carpet. What emerges is a coherent form of Trinitarian Theism – since there is correspondence (...) between the human (un)ability to know the two levels of reality (the World and God) – that is based on an inevitable relational-apophatic paradigm. The apophaticism that we see in the Trinity (and in ontology) ensures that Trinitarian Theism can neither be proven nor disproven. (shrink)
Can Contemporary Science Inspire Philosophical and Theological Reflection on Causality? The cooperation between natural science, philosophy, and theology in an analysis of the causal structure and co-dependency of entities in the universe seems to be both legitimate and expected. It turns out, however, that in practice it oftentimes raises some tensions, questions and difficulties, leading to the development of alternative and in a sense competitive models of causality and of God’s action in the world. What is more, the attitude of (...) natural sciences since modernity, concentrated on gaining knowledge about natural phenomena to predict and control them, without trying to determine the nature of their ultimate causes, Humean criticism and rejection of the concept of causality as such, and concentration of analytic philosophers on the description of what accompanies phenomena classified as causal, leaving aside the question of the metaphysical status of causes and effects – they all seem to make impossible an interaction and mutual reference of contemporary science, philosophy, and theology in their reflection on the topic of causation. The main goal of this article is to defend the thesis about the possible and actual influence of scientific analysis of cause and effect relationships on the philosophical and theological reflection on causation, not only in the Middle Ages and Modernity, but also in contemporary thought. The presentation of the latest positions in the debate on divine action in the natural world will be followed by an argument in favor of the relevance of the model developed by philosophers and theologians representing the Thomistic school. (shrink)
A well-known difficulty of the interdisciplinary dialogue beyond the limits of particular disciplines is the lack of common ground regarding their metaphysical and methodological assumptions and commitments. This is particularly evident for the precarious relationship between science and religion. In a 2016 conference entitled “The Many Faces of Panentheism” held in Zurich, and now in this introduction as well as this section, we try to counteract this situation by choosing a focus theme located at the interface between nature and the (...) divine. Thus, key perspectives, arguments, and implications of panentheism are introduced not only from one selected point of view but in relation to others. This allows us to explore territory beyond the boundaries of disciplinary backgrounds and to address intellectual and practical consequences for current debates. (shrink)
SummaryIn Germany, Holm Tetens is an influential analytic philosopher of science, mind, and logic. For many years he had been arguing within the widely accepted framework of naturalism and atheism. It came, to put it mildly, as a surprise to the entire philosophical community in Germany when he published a book defending theism in 2015. In this book “Thinking God” he claims that physicalism is an incomplete account of reality, because the mental and ideal realm cannot be reduced to the (...) physical realm. As an alternative, he develops a version of theistic idealism which stands in the tradition of “panentheism”. Human subjectivity is fully embedded into the all-encompassing divine subjectivity. In dealing with the problem of theodicy, he then argues that the hope for eternal life and salvation by a supremely good being makes life more meaningful, esp. because it offers a prospect for justice to the countless victims of history. To Tetens, the worldview of naturalism and the worldview of theistic idealism are on the one hand both equally rational and defensible. On the other hand, both cannot be defeated by knock-down arguments. In closing, he urges his peers in philosophy to take the question of God seriously again. Shortly after the publication of the book, the Catholic Academy of Bavaria and the Munich School of Philosophy jointly organized an international master class on Tetens’s views which was taught by himself. The papers published in this issue grew out of this master class. For each paper by a young scholar there is also a reply by Tetens. The following editorial addresses specifically the German-speaking audience. It was thus not translated into English. All original papers discussing Tetens’s views and his replies to these, however, were written in English for the sake of reaching a larger worldwide readership. (shrink)
Panentheism has often been put forward as a means for bringing theology and science into dialogue, perhaps even resolving some of the major tensions between them. A variety of “faces” of panentheism are distinguished, including conservative, metaphysical, apophatic, and naturalist panentheisms. This series of increasingly radical panentheisms is explored, each one bringing its own core commitments, and each describing very different relationships between religion and science. We consider, for example, the diverse ways that the radical panentheisms construe emergent phenomena in (...) the natural world. In the end, comparing the increasingly radical forms of panentheism yields a new understanding of the state of the religion/science dialogue today. (shrink)
Is panentheism a metaphysical and religious understanding of the divine and of the world that aligns better with science than classical theism? In order to address this question, I'll present brief descriptions of theism, pantheism, and panentheism, and of religious visions as integrating models of the world and models for the world. In this respect, science has its limitations. The conclusion that I will argue for is that naturalistic varieties of theism, pantheism, and panentheism do equally well with respect to (...) the natural sciences, and hence that there is no argument from science that favors a panentheistic metaphysics. There may be philosophical or religious arguments that make one prefer one position over another. Science can be involved in the choice for one interpretation of a religious-metaphysical view such as panentheism. Thus, science might play a role in the development of positions, once chosen, and hence in intra-religious competition, even though it cannot be decisive on fundamental choices in metaphysics. (shrink)
SummaryWe briefly clarify Tetens’s concept of God and argue that there are some problems regarding both the precise formulation of his panentheism as well as its implications for sin and special divine action.
The neo-Darwinian paradigm, focusing on natural selection of genes responsible for differential adaption, provides the foundation for explaining evolutionary processes. The modern synthesis is broader, however, focusing on organisms rather than on gene transmissions per se. Yet, strands of current biology argue for further supplementation of Darwinian theory, pointing to nonbiotic drivers of evolutionary development, for example, self-organization of physical structures, and the interaction between individual organisms, groups of organisms, and their nonbiotic environments. According to niche construction theory, when organisms (...) and groups develop, they not only adapt to their environments but modify their environments, creating new habitats for later generations. Insofar as ecological niches persist beyond the lifecycle of individual organisms, an ecological inheritance system exists alongside genetic inheritance. Such ecological structures may even facilitate the development of a cultural inheritance system, as we see in humans. The article discusses theological perspectives of such new developments within holistic biology. (shrink)
What reasons and resources can Christian theology find for developing a panentheist position that is also able to engage with contemporary science? By taking its point of departure in basic human experiences, Christian theology can, even in a Trinitarian fashion, be developed as a way to understand God's presence in the world as a presence where the actual occurrences point towards God's own work. This point is especially related to the experience of love. Furthermore, God's presence can be understood as (...) sacramental in the Augustinian sense. Moreover, the contributions of the Danish philosopher of religion Knud E. Løgstrup on God's presence and transcendence, as well as Niels Henrik Gregersen's elaborations on deep incarnation. Prove to offer important reasons for considering panentheism a viable option for the articulation of Christian theology. (shrink)
In his exposition, Pannenberg dialectically explores the possibility of a redefinition of the notion of God and rejects the anthropomorphic analogies and the Greek understanding of God as nous in order to emphasize the idea of God as Spirit and thus facilitate the intersection between the natural sciences and Christian theology. Thus, based on the Hebrew notion of the spirit as “wind/breath” and using a naturalistic framework, Pannenberg offers an insightful yet panentheistic view of the Spirit of God as a (...) field of force that binds the Three Persons of the Trinity. (shrink)
In this article, I draw on historical and conceptual arguments to show, first, that disenchantment and the influential view of the relationship between science and religion to which disenchantment gives rise are rooted in the metaphysics of theism. I then introduce the alternative metaphysical position of panentheism and identify Jungian psychology as an important, if implicit, mid-twentieth-century instance of panentheistic thought. Using the example of Jungian psychology, I demonstrate how the viewpoint of panentheism undoes the implications of disenchantment for the (...) relationship between science and religion, promoting greater opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation between science and religion. I note, however, that these closer relations may depend on understanding science and religion differently from how they are understood under disenchantment. While the original tension between science and religion is eased, another tension—between panentheistic and disenchanted understandings of science and religion—is exposed. I conclude by reflecting on some implications of this discussion for sociology. (shrink)
Panentheism has been one major view of God and the God-world relation for many centuries. It is a middle view between classical theism on the one hand and pantheism on the other. This essay examines several expressions of panentheism. It begins with two ancient expressions, one by Plotinus and the other by Ramanuja. It then considers some reasons for the rise of panentheism in recent decades. One example of this rise is Charles Hartshorne's dipolar expression. After exploring Hartshorne's view, the (...) article concludes by noting several objections to panentheism. (shrink)