Naturalism, Involved Philosophy, and the Human Predicament

In Fiona Ellis (ed.), New Models of Religious Understanding. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press. pp. 59-78 (2017)

Abstract

Scientistic naturalism is an important current in contemporary philosophy, but it offers a skewed and impoverished account of nature, human existence, and the nature of philosophy. I first present and contrast this form of naturalism with two opposing varieties: extended and expansive naturalism. As I show, extended and especially expansive naturalism point toward a conception of philosophy as an “involved,” hermeneutic discipline, which is incompatible with scientistic naturalism. This conception of philosophy is then enriched by taking into account Cottingham’s religious epistemology of involvement and Heidegger’s elaboration of the hermeneutic circle. As it turns out, a genuinely involved approach to philosophy requires, as its starting-point, a hermeneutics of the human predicament. Key aspects of such a hermeneutics are introduced by means of Luther’s existential theology. Finally, six main points of an involved philosophy, taken as a new model of religious understanding, are formulated.

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