Foucault’s later writings continue his analyses of subject-formation but now with a view to foregrounding an active subject capable of self-transformation via ascetical and other self-imposed disciplinary practices. In my essay, I engage Foucault’s studies of ancient Greco-Roman and Christian technologies of the self with a two-fold purpose in view. First, I bring to the fore additional continuities either downplayed or overlooked by Foucault’s analysis between Greco-Roman transformative practices including self-writing, correspondence, and the hupomnemata and Christian ascetical and (...) epistolary practices. Second, I add exegetical support to recent arguments denying Foucault’s advocacy for the death of the subject per se. In fact, my analyses show that Foucault’s ethico-aesthetic turn and its corresponding concern with self-transformation and self-(re)constitution via ascetical practices assumes a subject with rational and volitional capacities. Without these capacities, the art of living Foucault describes is not possible. (shrink)
Panentheism is an often-discussed alternative to Classical theism, and almost any discussion of panentheism starts by way of acknowledging Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781–1832) as the person who coined the term.1 However, apart from this tribute, Krause's own panentheism is almost completely unknown. In what follows, I first present a brief overview of Krause's life and correct some misconceptions of his work before I turn to the core ideas of Krause's own panentheistic system of philosophy. In brief, Krause elaborates (...) a scientific holism that is anchored in intellectual intuition of the Absolute as the one principle of being and recognition. The task of philosophical speculation consequently is twofold: the analytic-ascending part of philosophy proceeds by way of transcendental reflection and according to Krause enables us to obtain intellectual intuition. The synthetic-descending part of philosophy starts by way of showing that science as a whole is an explication of the original union of the Absolute as apprehended in intellectual intuition. Once this is achieved, Krause argues that the emerging philosophy of science is most adequately referred to as “panentheism” since everything is what it is “in and through” the Absolute, while the Absolute itself is not reducible to anything in particular. I end by showing how to relate Krause's panentheism to recent philosophical discussion. (shrink)
Is organicism inherently Christian-friendly, and for that matter, is mechanism inherently religion nonfriendly? They have tended to be, but the story is much more complicated. The long history of the intertwined metaphors of nature taken as an organism, versus that of nature as a machine, reveals that both metaphors have flourished in the endeavors of philosophers, scientists, and persons of faith alike. Different kinds of Christians have been receptive to both organicist and mechanistic models, just as various kinds of (...) nonreligious scientists have been receptive to both holistic and machine metaphors. Although, it is true, organicism has been generally more attractive to persons of faith than mechanism, an overview of the rich and varied history of allegiances to these metaphors—religious and nonreligious alike—shows that debate is much more interesting and complex. A brief inspection of conversation surrounding recent scientific discoveries shows that this debate between metaphors is still very much alive today. (shrink)
Religion is an important cultural and individual difference variable. Yet, despite its obvious importance in consumers’ lives, religion in the United States has been under-researched. This study addresses that gap in the literature and investigates the influence of consumer religion in the buyer–seller dyad. Specifically, this study examines the influence of consumer religious commitment and a Christian consumer’s conservative beliefs in the United States on store loyalty when retailers make business decisions which are potentially reli- gious objectionable. This study (...) uses structural equation modeling and applies Anderson and Gerbing’s :411–423, 1988 ) two-step approach to exam- ine data obtained from a national sample of 531 consumers. The results from this study suggest that consumers evaluate seller’s actions and form ethical judgments. These judgments are a major explanatory variable in consumer store loyalty intentions. (shrink)
In his sixth seminar, Desire and Its Interpretation (1956–1957), Lacan patiently elaborates his theory of the ‘phantasm’ ($◊a), in which the object of desire (object small a) is ascribed a constitutive role in the architecture of the libidinal subject. In that seminar, Lacan shows his fascination for an aphorism of the twentieth century Christian mystic Simone Weil in her assertion: “to ascertain exactly what the miser whose treasure was stolen lost: thus we would learn much.” This is why, in (...) his theory, Lacan conceptualizes the object of desire as the unconsumed treasure—and, in that sense, the “nothing”—on which the miser’s desire is focused. But the more Lacan develops his new object theory, the more he realizes how close it is to Christian mysticism in locating the ultimate object of desire in God, in a sevenfold “nothing” (to quote the famous last step in the ascent of the Mount Carmel as described by John of the Cross). An analysis of Shakespeare’s Hamlet allows Lacan to escape the Christian logic and to rearticulate the object of desire in an ‘unchristian’ tragic grammar. When he replaces the miser by the lover as paradigm of the subject’s relation to its object of desire, he substitutes a strictly Greek kind of love—eros, not agape—for the miser’s relationship to his treasure. Even when, in the late Lacan, “love” becomes a proper concept, its structure remains deeply “tragic.”. (shrink)
We are pleased to annouce that God’s Companions by Samuel Wells has been shortlisted for the 2007 Michael Ramsey Prize for theological writing. www.michaelramseyprize.org.uk Grounded in Samuel Wells’ experience of ordinary lives in poorer neighborhoods, this book presents a striking and imaginative approach to Christian ethics. It argues that Christian ethics is founded on God, on the practices of human community, and on worship, and that ethics is fundamentally a reflection of God's abundance. Wells synthesizes dogmatic, liturgical, ethical, (...) scriptural, and pastoral approaches to theology in order to make a bold claim for the centrality of the local church in theological reflection. He considers the abundance of gifts God gives through the practices of the Church, particularly the Eucharist. His central thesis, which governs his argument throughout, is that God gives his people everything they need to worship him, be his friends, and eat with him. Wells engages with serious scholarly material, yet sets out the issues lucidly for a student audience. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 229 - 233 This note announces a recent find in a private Swiss archive: Christian Wolff’s complete lecture course on Grotius’s _De iure belli ac pacis_ that he gave at the University of Marburg between June 1739 and May 1740.
This article aims at exploring some recent developments in Catholic Church's recent relationship with religious others. It does so by exploring the theological-anthropological sources behind Vatican II and some subsequent Papal teachings concerning the Church's mission of dialogue. Specifically, it discusses the notion of common origin, destiny and common humanity as sources for praxis-oriented and faith-based initiatives in a Christian-Muslim dialogue. This article is divided into three sub-sections. First, it considers the Catholic Church's renewed dialogue with non-Christian believers, (...) with particular focus on the theological-anthropological turn in recent Church teaching. Second, it examines the prospects and challenges of Christian-Muslim dialogue based on belief in God the creator and divine revelation, and human beings' response to divine manifestations in history. Finally, it considers some faith-based humanistic and dialogic initiatives that emerge from the Christian-Muslim confession of one creator God. The paper suggests that a theology of dialogue that understands the world and human beings as the realm of encounter, uncovering and necessitating the divine and the Church's activity in human history, can foster faith-based humanistic and dialogic initiatives between Christians and Muslims. (shrink)
Although it is well known that Aquinas holds that infused versions of prudence and the other acquired virtues are bestowed on man along with habitual grace, there is no uniform and widely accepted account of how the infused and acquired virtues are related: some scholars interpret Aquinas to mean that the acquired virtues are ‘taken up’ into the infused virtues, while others credit him with the view that the infused and acquired virtues somehow coexist. This paper explores one common way (...) of maintaining that the Christian’s infused and acquired virtues ‘coexist’. I argue that while such an interpretation is able to accommodate some of Aquinas’s most fundamental claims about the infused and acquired virtues, it is also problematic in important respects. (shrink)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer's thinking about ethics and Christianity is a fascinating attempt to combine different, and often conflicting, strands in the Christian intellectual tradition. In this article, I outline his thinking, analyse the advantages and disadvantages in his approach, and relate it to developments in contemporary philosophy. His critique of an excessive stress upon principles and abstraction in opposition to a concern for concrete circumstances is, I argue, best seen as a necessary critique of what I call moralism rather than (...) morality. It is also related to recent philosophical theories of particularism and the debates about ‘emergency ethics’ in current philosophy. On the negative side, Bonhoeffer has a tendency to treat non-Christian ethics as necessarily relativist and at times is excessively influenced by the elements in Christian theological tradition that are hostile to the natural and to non-Christian philosophy. In addition, his invocation of ‘the Divine mandates’ seems to have undesirable implications for some genuine values in liberal democratic theory and practice. (shrink)
The paper is the first of two to be published in Cognitio which explore the hypothesis that the thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803- 1882), brilliantly expounded in the generation before Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), anticipated, if not provided the direct provenance of, Peirce’s mature metaphysical ideas. The papers provide running commentaries on Emerson’s later-phase essays, “Poetry and Imagination” (1854, published in 1876) and “The Natural History of Intellect” (1870). “Poetry and Imagination” is shown to contain the seeds of Peirce’s (...) objective idealism — namely, that “matter is effete mind,” or “mind hide-bound with habits,” — set within an evolutionary cosmology that grounds the human mind’s connaturality or affinity with the laws of nature, a doctrine subtending his abductory logic of scientific discovery. Mutatis mutandis, all these components were already present in Emerson’s essay. Peirce spoke of his “buddhisto-christian religion,” which was another name for Emersonian cosmosemiosis. His originality consisted in applying Emerson’s emphasis on the poetic to the scientific imagination, though the seeds of the latter are present in Emerson’s “The Natural History of Intellect” and other essays as well. (shrink)
This well-written volume is an introduction, not to world history, but to the special genre of "Big History," as the subtitle indicates. Christian and his fellow big historians, reacting against popular scepticism toward "master narratives," seek to create a new class of grand works that incorporate not only the history of human society, but also of the Earth, its life, and the universe as a whole. Specialists in any of the fields covered by the volume may find rough spots (...) in the treatment of topics they know well, but given the scope of the effort I think it is fair to regard this as something like the first edition of a continuing work. Later editions would be strengthened—as would the Big History movement as a whole—by explicitly incorporating some discussion of teleological reasoning in science, and by deploying clear distinctions between processes that are teleomatic (such as star formation), teleonomic (such as organismal development), and classically teleological (such as intentional behaviour on the part of humans). In "Maps of Time," David Christian has given us a book full of interesting facts, and with ideas to argue for and against in every chapter. It should provoke lively discussion across a whole range of academic disciplines. (shrink)
This article explores Paul Ricœur’s early writings in the 1930s on Christian philosophy. It seeks to contextualize both his published and unpublished works from that period within the robust historical, philosophical and theological debates in Paris between the leading intellectuals of the time: Bréhier, Gilson, Blondel, Brunschvicg, Marcel, Maury, de Lubac, and Barth. The article proceeds to examine Ricœur’s own position within these debates.
Hans Christian Andersen is a cultural icon, and his fairy tales are famous around the world. But despite the positive ring to this description, his status as a canonized author poses a challenge when he is passed on to new generations of readers. In this article, we show examples of how this challenge reveals itself in Danish primary school teaching where Andersen is an obligatory figure in the subject Danish where he is frequently framed as a national romantic author (...) of morally unambiguous texts. Taking the current use of “The Ugly Duckling” (1844) in primary school teaching materials as a point of departure, we aim to show Andersen’s potential to be presented as an element in primary school teaching that draws on dialogic inquiries rooted in Philosophy with Children. Philosophical inquiries are characterized by an open mindset that incite teachers as well as school children to engage with the rich ethical themes and literary qualities of Andersen’s fairy tales. We conclude the article with our own inquiry manual to “The Ugly Duckling” to illustrate a way to overcome the current hegemonic framing of Andersen and reopen his fairy tale for future discussions and interpretations. (shrink)
This work examines the dynamics through which women are marginalized and impoverished, and offers a constructive proposal for addressing women's socio-economic vulnerability. Part One surveys the economic status of women globally and discerns both common threads of subordination and significant differences among women. Part Two reviews the social-justice positions of the Roman Catholic church and the World Council of Churches in light of this survey. Part Three identifies theoretical resources that adequately address women's socio-economic vulterability. Brubaker advances her own theoretical (...) approach, which illuminates and engages women's impoverishment. She concludes with a discussion of how placing women's economic condition at the center of Christian economic ethics would affect social analysis, economic policy, and social vision. (shrink)
In this article I distill a trio of lessons for Christian environmental ethics from the stewardship model’s detractors and rivals. I begin by delineating stewardship and explaining the model’s initial prevalence as Christians’ primary response to widespread recognition of environmental crisis and their faith’s alleged culpability for it. I then distinguish two waves of criticism that, by denouncing stewardship’s substance and method, thoroughly discredited the model among Christian ethicists. Yet, as stewardship was being rejected for its susceptibility to (...) anthropocentrism, one of its chief competitors—the land ethic—was being repudiated for its liability to misanthropy. I argue that these developments give Christians cause to affirm a hierarchical non-anthropocentrism that prioritizes human interests; premise such priority in part on human embrace of non-anthropocentrism; and interpret environmental ethics as more than a matter of models like stewardship. (shrink)
This article raises three challenges to Richard McCormick's proportionalism. First, adequately to judge proportionate reason requires the specification of a particular background moral content and metaphysical context. Absent such specification, evaluation of proportionate reason is inherently and deeply ambiguous. Second, to resolve such ambiguity and yet remain Christian, proportionalism must adopt a forthrightly Christian moral content set within a straightforwardly Christian metaphysics. This move will, however, set Christian bioethics off as sectarian—a conclusion McCormick wishes to avoid. (...) Third, even if proportionalism were to adopt a Christian moral content and metaphysics to avoid such ambiguity, its methodology sets aside a key aspect of the Christian life: repentance. Proportionalism does not account for the core reality that repentance plays in one's personal encounter with and knowledge of God. As I will argue, the challenge in part is that moral action cannot be adequately conceptualized, nor can moral theology be properly understood, outside of the authentic practice of the religious life, and repentance is central to that Christian reality. (shrink)
Christian bioethics springs from the worship that is the response of the Church to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Such worship is distinctively political in nature, in that it acknowledges Christ as Lord. Because it is a political worship, it can recognize no other lords and no other prior claims on its allegiance: these include the claims of an allegedly universal ethics and politics determined from outside the Church. However the Church is called not just to be a contrast (...) society, but also to witness to the freeing of the world from salvific pretensions in order that it may embrace its proper temporality. The implications of this for the distinctiveness of Christian bioethics are brought out in three movements: first, the Church's itself learning how it is to conceive bioethics; second, the Church's role in unmasking the idols of secular bioethics; and third, the Church's witnessing to the freeing of medicine from idolatrous aspirations. (shrink)
This article offers a new interpretation of Bonhoeffer's Christian peace ethic, a more penetrating description of what is usually called his `pacifism'. This peace ethic does not rest on a principle of non-violence — Bonhoeffer rejects an ethic of principles — but is rooted in his distinctive reading of Scripture, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and his understanding of Christ, discipleship, the gospel and the church. Consequently he does not abandon his peace ethic to participate in the anti-Hitler (...) conspiracy and attempted tyrannicide. Theological analysis and historical information both support this conclusion. (shrink)
In this essay, I take up the critique of Christian pacifism offered in Nigel Biggar’s In Defence of War. 1 Focusing on the New Testament, Biggar argues that the evidence does not suggest a requirement of pacifism for Christians. This seems correct, but I argue that Biggar’s critique should be extended through an engagement with the Old Testament and other sources that inform Christian practical reason.
This article retraces progression of Engelhardt’s work so as to place After God in broader context. In The Foundations of Bioethics, Engelhardt argues that given the moral pluralism that is at the core of postmodernity, only a merely formal morality of permission can bind moral strangers in peaceful coexistence. In The Foundations of Christian Bioethics, Engelhardt presents a bioethics that binds Orthodox Christian moral friends. After God shows itself more pessimistic about the possibility of a merely formal morality (...) of moral friends and calls traditional Christians to wage a culture war. These reflections close with some criticisms of Engelhardt’s philosophical-theological project. (shrink)
John Paul II proposes that 1 Cor. 9:24-27 includes sport among the human values and offers a paradigm to recognise ‘the fundamental validity of sport, considering it not just as a term of comparison to illustrate higher ethical and aesthetic ideal, but also in its intrinsic reality as a factor in the formation of man as a part of his culture and his civilization’. In this paper, I intend to follow John Paul II’s interpretation and moral reasoning in order to (...) demonstrate how 1 Cor. 9:24-27 can be used in Christian ethics as a paradigm for theological reflection on sport. (shrink)
Orthodox bioethics is distinctive in how it reflects on issues in bioethics. This distinctiveness is found in the relationship of spirituality and liturgy to ethics. Eber's essay, however, treats the distinctiveness as absolute uniqueness. In so focusing on the incommensurability of Orthodox bioethics Eber fails to tell his reader what Orthodox bioethics is about. Furthermore, his description of Western Christian ethics is seriously inaccurate.
How are Christians to understand God’s grace for individuals in the midst of severe trauma, particularly in light of a global epidemic of sexual violence against so many women and children? How does the call to witness to the good news of Christ’s love translate into specific obligations that respond to the needs of sexual abuse survivors? The purpose of this article is to explore these questions in the context of Karl Rahner’s theology of grace. When seeking to understand God’s (...) gracious presence in the midst of sexual violation, it is particularly helpful to explore Rahner’s insight that God’s grace is mediated through acts of neighbour-love both within and beyond Christian communities. Such insight into the social mediation of grace has exciting potential to transform perceptions of what is at stake in loving our neighbour and the forms that neighbour-love can take, mobilising Christians for greater social justice in the service of God. (shrink)
Despite petitions from friends and critics through much of his career, Paul Ramsey adamantly refused to revise his first book, Basic Christian Ethics. Yet, several pieces of Ramsey’s private correspondence indicate specific changes to Basic Christian Ethics that he felt were necessary. These include a desire to distance his use of agape from associations with Anders Nygren’s Agape and Eros, an added emphasis on the importance of the doctrine of creation for his understanding of agape, covenant, and natural (...) law, and a shift from eschatology to Christology as the foundational doctrine for political ethics. Drawing upon personal letters and other disparate comments throughout Ramsey’s published work, this paper explores the impact such proposed revisions might have on contemporary interest (or lack thereof) in Basic Christian Ethics. In so doing it also highlights Ramsey’s ability to rethink central theological concepts in his work and draw his readers’ attention to fundamental questions in the field of moral theology. (shrink)
This paper responds to John Milbank's essay, `The Poverty of Niebuhrianism' in The Word Made Strange, in which Milbank critiques Reinhold Niebuhr's Christian realism for reliance on Stoic natural law thinking and its deficiency in regard to original sin. While Milbank rightly detects naturalism in Christian realism, this naturalism is inaccurately identified as Stoic in conception. Additionally, more detailed analysis of Niebuhr's thought reveals similarities between Niebuhr and Milbank on original sin, as this article seeks to demonstrate.
In attempts to come to grips with Kant’s thought, the influence of the philosophy of Christian Wolff (1679-1754) is often neglected. In this paper, I consider three topics in Kant’s philosophy of mind, broadly construed, where Wolff’s influence is particularly visible: consciousness, self-consciousness, and psychology. I argue that we can better understand Kant’s particular arguments and positions within this context, but also gain a more accurate sense of which aspects of Kant’s accounts derive from the antecedent traditions and which (...) constitute genuine philosophical innovations. (shrink)
This paper intends to show the connection between the theological, logical and epistemological ideas in Leibniz’s thinking. The paper will focus on the reasons for Leibniz’s fundamental decision to defend the Christian mysteries and his three different strategies for doing so. Each of these strategies is an answer to a particular challenge: to the Socinian who claims that the mysteries are contradictory; to the mechanical philosophy which denies the possibility of the mysteries, and to Spinoza’s parrot argument which demands (...) that we be silent when we have no comprehension. Although he had already worked out his reconciliation of the Christian mysteries with the mechanical philosophy in Mainz around 1670, Leibniz first published it only in 1710 in his Théodicée. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Amongst other things, African culture (societies) has been characterised by its perception and fear of witchcraft. Even though the belief in witchcraft is an old phenomenon, its growth is revealed and to some extent mitigated by videos, films and accounts and stories of church ministers. Whilst some Christian worship services have been turned into witchcraft-centred campaigns against witchcraft, a second group perceive witchcraft as a way of getting rid of one's enemies and a third group see it as (...) the root of human misfortune. Indeed ministers (including preachers and pastoral caregivers) are almost 'measured' by their ability to successfully ward off demons (believed to have been sent by witches), as a yardstick for determining whether they are good ministers with a good following or congregation. The first group of people attend church to pray for protection against 'the enemy', the second group approach native doctors to protect their households from attacks by witches, and the third group rid themselves of witches by burning them along with their personal belongings. This article investigates the impact and consequences of a fear of witchcraft amongst Christians in African societies, particularly those in the Limpopo province of South Africa. It also offers pastoral guidelines for a theological response to witchcraft and its life-threatening influence on people in the affected communities. (shrink)
Berkeley's doctrine of archetypes explains how God perceives and can have the same ideas as finite minds. His appeal of Christian neo-Platonism opens up a way to understand how the relation of mind, ideas, and their union is modeled on the Cappadocian church fathers' account of the persons of the trinity. This way of understanding Berkeley indicates why he, in contrast to Descartes or Locke, thinks that mind (spiritual substance) and ideas (the object of mind) cannot exist or be (...) thought of apart from one another. It also hints at why Gregory of Nyssa's immaterialism sounds so much like Berkeley's. (shrink)
Foucault repeatedly argued that his work on techniques of the self were not a denial of his previous work on 18th- and 19th-century Europe, but a different way to make our present intelligible. Although Foucault explicitly associated modern techniques of the self with the Christian model, he never considered Christian techniques of the self in a comprehensive manner. The recent publication of his last two lectures at the Collège de France in 1983 and 1984 seems to fill this (...) gap. Christian techniques of the self are characterized by an ascetic of obedience, and are considered as antithetical to ethical, parrhesiastic techniques of the self. Foucault’s detailed analysis of Sophocles’ Oedipus and Euripides’ Ion in these lectures also provides valuable insights into the rationality that presides over the modern techniques of the self, and the logic that animates the Christian politics of obedience. (shrink)
In Warranted Christian Belief, Alvin Plantinga makes use of his earlier two books, Warrant: the Current Debate and Warrant and Proper Function, to show how it is possible for someone to have a warranted belief that God exists and that all of the great things of the Christian Gospel are true even if the believer is unable to give any argument to support these beliefs. Three objections are lodged against Plantinga’s position. First, the alleged sensus divinitatis and the (...) internal instigation of the Holy Spirit are crucially disanalogous to the cognitive faculties, such as memory and perception, in the standard package, thereby destroying his argument based on an analogy between the former and the latter. Second, in order to defeat defeaters for these beliefs one must give arguments, thus merely relocating the point at which the believer must produce argumentative support for her belief. Third, there are moral defeaters for exclusivist basic theistic and Christian beliefs based on the undesirable consequences of such beliefs. (shrink)
I argue that St. Augustine of Hippo was the first in the history of Christian spirituality who expressed a key tendency of Christian mysticism, which implies a gradual intellectual ascent of the human soul to God, consisting of the three main stages: external, internal, and supernal. In this ascent a Christian mystic proceeds from the knowledge of external beings to self-knowledge, and from his inner self to direct mystical contemplation of God. Similar doctrines may be found in (...) the writings of the Greek Fathers. Although there are many similarities in the overall doctrine and in particular details between them, it does not imply the direct impact of Augustine’s theological thought on the Greek Fathers but rather the influence of the Neoplatonic philosophy on both Western and Eastern Christianity, in particular, of Plotinus’ theory of intellectual cognition. (shrink)
Among the crimes in the South African black townships, mob justice has become a growing concern. Some questions that need to be asked are: Is our police force doing enough to protect the ordinary citizens of this country? If the situation continues, will all suspects be killed in the same manner or will there be a solution to change the situation? What is the impact of mob justice on the families of the victims and the witnesses of the brutal acts? (...) How long are we going to live as a traumatised nation as a result of these violent acts? Is there any hope that our nation will ever have the peace it deserves in the context of democracy? This article intends to investigate the impact of the mob justice system and find out what the role of the Christian church should be in the midst of this escalating violence. This study aims to unveil the negative impact of mob justice on the lives of many township South Africans and giving pastoral-biblical suggestions of the church's role in the elimination of this kind of brutality. (shrink)
'Christian nationalism' refers to the set of ideas in which belief in the development and superiority of one's national group is combined with, or underwritten by, Christian theology and practice. This study examines Kierkegaard's critique of Christian nationalism in relation to political science theories of religious nationalism.
Many Christian theodicists believe that God's creating us with the capacity to love Him and each other justifies, in large part, God's permitting evil. For example, after reminding us that, according to Christian doctrine, the supreme good for human beings is to enter into a reciprocal love relationship with God, Vincent Brummer recently wrote: In creating human persons in order to love them, God necessarily assumes vulnerability in relation to them. In fact, in this relation, he becomes even (...) more vulnerable than we do, since he cannot count on the steadfastness of our love the way we can count on his steadfastness.... If God did not grant us the ability to sin and cause affliction to him and to one another, we would not have the kind of free and autonomous existence necessary to enter into a relation of love with God and with one another.... Far from contradicting the value which the free will defence places upon the freedom and responsibility of human persons, the idea of a loving God necessarily entails it. In this way we can see that the free will defence is based on the love of God rather than on the supposed intrinsic value of human freedom and responsibility.1 And Peter van Inwagen recently put the same point this way. (shrink)
This essay critically engages the concept of transcendence in Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. I explore his definition of transcendence, its role in holding a modernity-inspired nihilism at bay, and how it is crucial to the Christian antihumanist argument that he makes. In the process, I show how the critical power of this analysis depends heavily and paradoxically on the Nietzschean antihumanism that he otherwise rejects. Through an account of what I describe as naturalistic Christianity, I argue that transcendence (...) need not be construed as supernatural, that all of the resources necessary for a meaningful life are immanent in the natural process, which includes the semiotic capacities of Homo sapiens. Finally, I triangulate Taylor's supernatural account of transcendence, naturalistic Christianity, and Dreyfus and Kelly's physis-based account of “going beyond” our normal normality in All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics for Meaning in a Secular Age. (shrink)