This book is our century’s most comprehensive and wise treatment of nihilism in all of its guises, comparing favorably with Rosen, Cavell, and indeed with Spengler. Crosby argues that our culture is genuinely haunted by nihilism expressing itself in the fideism of fundamentalism as well as in the debilitating alienation from all orientation. This results from a one-sided development of Western culture. Unlike most writers on this topic, Crosby acknowledges many sources colluding to frame the culture of nihilism, including “the (...) death of God,” the objectification of nature, the meaninglessness of suffering in a mechanical universe, the ephemerality of time in a world where value does not accumulate, the arbitrariness of historicized reason, the reduction of value to will, and the alienation of the Cartesian ego. These sources are reviewed in the first two parts of the book with the result that the phenomenon of nihilism becomes understandable. In its third and fourth parts, Crosby provides a critical analysis of the religious and philosophical forces leading to nihilism by discussing authors from the early modern period through Dostoyevsky, Sartre, Russell, and Derrida. He shows that these forces are skewed and impoverished and should not be allowed to determine our situation. The comprehensive attention to detail and the multi-perspectival interpretation demonstrates as well as asserts the richness of the culture that puts nihilism in its place. Part Five, finally, rephrases the criticism of the sources of nihilism in positive ways. Part Four in particular is a tour de force of philosophical argument. Its richness of nuance, plurality of views examined, and adroitness of critical interpretation provide cumulatively a powerful, non-nihilistic reading of the philosophic tradition. The force of the argument derives from its comprehensive, cumulative character. Crosby distinguishes and relates five areas of nihilism: political, moral, epistemological, cosmic, and existential. Throughout the book, he illustrates and examines these as they are expressed in literature and art, in daily life and practical affairs, and in philosophy. The book is richly erudite in its marshalling of consciousness from so many domains. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:The Sacredness of Nature: Response to Six Objections to Religious NaturalismDonald A. Crosby (bio)The poet Mary Oliver speaks as a kind of religious naturalist when she writes in her book of prose and poetry Winter Hours, “I would not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me, the door to the woods is the door to the temple. Under the trees, along (...) the pale slopes of sand, I walk in an ascendent relationship to rapture, and with words, I celebrate the rapture. I see, and dote upon, the manifest.”1 She speaks as a poet and not as a philosopher or religious scholar, but she does so as one who is ardently in touch with the sacredness of nature. Her vocation as a poet is testimony to this constant attunement. Her daily walks in the woods and by the sea are her portals of access to the temple of the natural world. Her every step makes contact with holy ground.Oliver’s poetic vocation shows itself to be in deep sympathy with all of the living and nonliving aspects of nature, and thus with the imminent ecological crisis of our time, when she reflects later in this same book, “The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense of honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves—we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other’s destiny.”2Poet, philosopher, religious scholar, ecologist, and perceptive human being are bound together in Mary Oliver’s alert responses to the sacredness of nature. She captures in both her poetic and prose writing the essential spirit and outlook of religious naturalism. I do not claim that she is a religious naturalist; that would be going beyond what I am capable of knowing. But she certainly sounds like one in many respects throughout the poetry and prose of this book.I want us to keep constantly in mind her spirit and outlook as we ponder the cogency, adequacy, and appeal of religious naturalism as a way of thinking and living religiously, for they are the ultimate tests of that adequacy. I want us to do so by considering objections of various sorts arguing that religious [End Page 24] naturalism fails to be sufficiently religious in the way of satisfying the deepest discernments, needs, hopes, and foundations of authentic religious faith. My plan for this essay is to present what I surmise to be some of the most substantive objections, and to reply to each of them in turn.I do so in defense of the thesis that religious naturalism—at least as I have come to interpret and understand it over many years—is a strong contender for having an honored place among the religions of the world. My personal conception of religious naturalism is of course only one of many, and other religious naturalists might have different kinds of response to at least some of these objections. But my responses indicate the capability of religious naturalism to take such objections seriously into account and to provide plausible answers to them.The objections I want to respond to in this essay are six in number. All of them, as will be seen, assume a kind of panpsychism or the primordiality of some kind of mind or spirit, a view I find unnecessary and tending strongly toward an untenable mind-matter dualism in my defense of religious naturalism. 3 The first one is that nature by itself has no overarching purpose or reason for being. The second is that if mind and spirit are emergent rather than primordial, then they are reducible to blind physical processes, meaning that religion is implausibly reduced to physics. The third objection is that nature is just a mass of meaningless facts, with no objective, dependable values of any kind, including religious values. The fourth objection is that with impersonal nature rather than a personal, loving, God as its focus, religious naturalism lacks essential divine... (shrink)
William James and Alfred North Whitehead strongly rejected materialism as a metaphysical option. While James lived and wrote only up to the beginning of the revolution in physics that brought to the fore fundamentally different theories such as quantum theory and the special and general theories of relativity, Whitehead, as an accomplished mathematician, was readily conversant with these new developments. Since their respective times, however, much innovation and refinement of theories in physics and other natural sciences has taken place. With (...) these later developments, conceptions of matter and its capabilities have undergone far-reaching explicit and implicit changes. A consequence of these... (shrink)
Initial sketch of a concept of faith -- Facets of faith -- Faith and knowledge -- Faith and scientific knowledge -- Faith and morality -- Secular forms of faith -- Crises of faith -- My personal journey of faith.
In this thorough compendium, nineteen accomplished scholars explore, in some manner the values they find inherent in the world, their nature, and revelence through the thought of Frederick Ferré. These essays, informed by the insights of Ferré and coming from manifold perspectives—ethics, philosophy, theology, and environmental studies, advance an ambitious challenge to current intellectual and scholarly fashions.
This book explores the nature of human freedom, or what Crosby calls genuine freedom. He argues at length for the crucial importance of genuine freedom for responsible and meaningful human life and takes extended issue, on practical as well as theoretical grounds, with those who argue for the compatibility of freedom with causal determinism.
This book questions the idea that the boundary between truth and falsity must always be absolute, and thus that there is no possible bridge between the two. The author argues that searching for liminal bridges between opposing claims is an essential part of finding absolute truths.
Argues that a pluralistic understanding of truth can foster productive conversations about common concerns involving religion, science, ethics, politics, economics, and ecology without falling into relativism. In this book, Donald A. Crosby defends the idea that all claims to truth are at best partial. Recognizing this, he argues, is a necessary safeguard against arrogance, close-mindedness, and potentially violent reactions to differences of outlook and practice. Crosby demonstrates how partial truths are inevitably at work in conversations and debates about religion, science, (...) morality, economics, ecology, and social and political progress. He then focuses on the concept in the discipline of philosophy, looking at a number of distinctions that are taken to be strictly binarythose between fact and value, continuity and novelty, rationalism and empiricism, mind and body, and good and eviland demonstrates how in all of these cases, each on its own can offer only an incomplete picture. Partial Truths and Our Common Future invites ongoing dialogue with others for the sake of mutual enlargements of understanding rather than mere civility, and provides incentive for continuing open-minded and shared inquiries into the important issues of life. This is a transdisciplinary philosophical work that moves with grace across traditions, time periods, and thinkers. It is a master class in the existential and public relevance of philosophy and a rare example of a book that is both timely and timeless. Michael S. Hogue, author of The Promise of Religious Naturalism. (shrink)
This book explicates and defends the reality of time against its scientific, philosophical, and theological detractors, and it discusses how a proper view of the nature of time serves as a way to comprehend the challenges of human existence and confront the current ecological crisis.
This book argues that the subjective and the objective are crucially dependent on one another and neither is intelligible apart from the other. There is no such thing as a purely external, in-itself world. This book is not intended as a defense of epistemological relativism but as a strong recommendation for modest fallibilism and pluralism.
Religious naturalism and three scientific revolutions: Introduction -- The cosmological revolution -- The evolutionary revolution -- The ecological revolution -- Inwardness and awareness in nature: Introduction -- Inwardness of life and inwardness of mind -- Mind and consciousness in nature -- The range of conscious awareness on earth -- Presumptive rights and conflicts of rights: Introduction -- Rs of the thou of nature -- A scheme of presumptive natural rights -- A fourth R of the thou of nature -- Conflicts (...) of rights -- Hunting and fishing : Introduction -- Hunting -- Fishing -- Responses to the charge of impractical idealism -- Eating and wearing: Introduction -- Using animals for food -- The vegetarian response -- Using animals for apparel and other purposes -- Other areas of responsibility and concern: Introduction -- Experimenting on animals -- Rodeos, circuses, zoos, and aquariums -- Endangered species and despoliations of natural environments -- The human population explosion -- The threat of global climate change -- A new moral and religious consciousness: Introduction -- Empowerment in religion of nature -- Objections and replies -- Principles and prescriptions. (shrink)
Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much wider battle of worldviews, a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil, and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect. Because what is overwhelming about the climate challenge is that it requires breaking so many rules at once.Columnist and editor Naomi Klein calls our attention to the urgent (...) need for a radical reenvisioning of entrenched worldviews or conceptions of reality in our time of direly threatening climate change and pending ecological disaster around the globe. We need, in other words, to question our most basic assumptions... (shrink)
In his book Divine Beauty: The Aesthetics of Charles Hartshorne, Daniel A. Dombrowski performs a welcome service by bringing into clear focus a large number of the extensive writings of Hartshorne and relating them to the topic of aesthetics.1 In so doing, he shows how central Hartshorne’s analysis of aesthetic experience is to various aspects of his thought, including but by no means restricted to his views on the nature of art and the place of the arts in human life. (...) Dombrowski brings Hartshorne’s ideas on aesthetic experience into the context of the writings of aestheticians and other thinkers, comparing and contrasting his views with theirs, and in that way elaborating and clarifying Hartshorne’s views. He .. (shrink)
The problem of evil is not an accidental difficulty for religion; it is the starting-point from which the search that sometimes leads to religion begins.The problem of evil of which Mary Midgley speaks is not just the relatively narrow theoretical one familiar to us in the West of how conceptually to reconcile an alleged absolute goodness and power of God with the rampant evil in the world, but the much broader existential one, applicable everywhere, of how to interpret, respond to, (...) and cope with the presence and power of evil in daily life. It is the problem of how to find courage and strength in the face of the relentless perils, sufferings, and losses experienced on an everyday basis by the world's creatures .. (shrink)
A dissertation in philosophy of religion for the degree of Doctor of Theology at Uppsala University, this book is well-informed and carefully reasoned. Its approach is original, and it contains numerous insightful observations and arguments. The book defends three central theses. The first is that philosophical interpretations of religion are profoundly affected by the different “philosophical anthropologies” that lie behind and inform them. Zackariasson notes that these anthropologies are often unconsciously assumed by philosophers rather than being subjected to their conscious (...) scrutiny. The second thesis is that a pragmatic anthropology provides a promising route to interpreting and understanding religious phenomena and to securing the distinctive goods of religion. The third thesis is that a pragmatic anthropology is a much more useful and illuminating way of analyzing and defending key claims in theistic religions than is the approach of most philosophy of religion in the West today. (shrink)
In this thorough compendium, nineteen accomplished scholars explore, in some manner the values they find inherent in the world, their nature, and revelence through the thought of Frederick FerrZ. These essays, informed by the insights of FerrZ and coming from manifold perspectives—ethics, philosophy, theology, and environmental studies, advance an ambitious challenge to current intellectual and scholarly fashions.
The question of causality has haunted the history of Western metaphysics since the time of the Pre-Socratic philosophy. Hand-in-hand with attempts to address this question is the promise of unlocking larger and more complicated questions pertaining to human freedom. But what of novelty? In this brilliant extended essay Donald A. Crosby contends that, though novelty can't be comprehended without efficient causality, causality requires a concept of novelty; without it cause and effect relations are unintelligible and, indeed, impossible.
Positions in the ongoing debate about free will are characterized and compared, that is, determinism, indeterminism, chaoticism, stronger and weaker versions of indeterminism and chaoticism, and hard and soft determinism, and libertarianism. Libertarianism is claimed to be the most adequate of these alternatives and is defended from the process perspectives of A. N. Whitehead, Charles Hartshorne, and the psychologist-philosopher William James. The defence is developed by responding to three objections to libertarianism: (1) that scientific explanations in psychology and other disciplines (...) require belief in causal determinism; (2) that indeterminism, assumed by libertarianism, makes impossible moral or other kinds of responsibility for human acts; and (3) that libertarianism must assume an untenable mind-body dualism. The article concludes that liber4tarianism is a more subtle and cogent position than most of its opponents have recognized, that determinism has glaring deficiencies of its own, and that libertarianism is an appropriate position for psychology—even for a scientific psychology. (shrink)