John Dewey points out in A Common Faith (1934) that what stands in the way of religious belief for many is the apparent commitment of Western religious traditions to supernatural phenomena and questionable historical claims. We are to accept claims that in any other context we would find laughable. Are we to believe that water can be turned into wine without the benefit of the fermentation process? Are we to swallow the claim that there is such a phenomenon as the (...) spontaneous conception of a child without the intervention of the traditional technique? Were we to confront these claims in any but a religious context, we would dismiss them as the workings of an overactive imagination or simple cover for an overactive sex life. But for the devout believer, there is no doubt even with a paucity of evidence. At the same time, the rise of science has forcibly suggested the idea that the natural world is self-contained and, if explainable, that explanation will come from within. There seems to be no room for the traditional God and, much as one might wish otherwise, nothing for him to do. Perhaps... (shrink)
We offer a reading of Anselm's Ontological Argument inspired by Wittgenstein which focuses on the fact that the “argument” occurs in a prayer addressed to God, making it a strange argument since as a prayer it seems to presuppose its conclusion. We reconstruct the argument as expressive. Within the religious perspective, the issues are to be focused on the right object not to present an argument for the existence of God. While this sort of reading lets us understand much about (...) the argument, it also opens new avenues of criticism, one of which is the problem of worship. (shrink)
Aristotle's distinction between the practical life and the contemplative life has been of central importance in fixing the sort of justification that is required for engineering activity. As practical it must be justified by its products, while intellect's activity claims intrinsic worth. Most philosophers of technology accept this model of justification. However, engineering is not essentially practical in the relevant sense. To claim that it is overlooks a distinction between "structuring ends" and "products" which when made allows engineering to lay (...) claim to the same sort of value as intellectual activity. The final conclusion is that both have intrinsic worth but that does not free either from the obligation to look to their consequences. (shrink)
Thinking in the Ruins will enhance our understanding of the intellectual accomplishments of monumental thinkers Ludwig Wittgenstein and George Santayana, showing how each influenced subsequent American philosophers. The book also serves as a call to philosophers to look beyond traditional classifications to the substance of philosophical thought.