Not only does this book reflect the clarity and acuity of thought that characterize Wolterstorff's work, it also reflects the humane sensibilities of someone who has thought and felt deeply about these matters for a long time.
The two great philosophical figures at the culminating point of the Enlightenment are Thomas Reid in Scotland and Immanuel Kant in Germany. Reid was by far the most influential across Europe and the United States well into the nineteenth century. Since that time his fame and influence have been eclipsed by his German contemporary. This important book by one of today's leading philosophers of knowledge and religion will do much to reestablish the significance of Reid for philosophy today. Nicholas Wolterstorff (...) has produced the first systematic account of Reid's epistemology. Relating Reid's philosophy to present-day epistemological discussions the author demonstrates how they are at once remarkably timely, relevant, and provocative. No other book both uncovers the deep pattern of Reid's thought and relates it to contemporary philosophical debate. This book should be read by historians of philosophy as well as all philosophers concerned with epistemology and the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Prominent in the canonical texts and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the claim that God speaks. Nicholas Wolterstorff argues that contemporary speech-action theory, when appropriately expanded, offers us a fascinating way of interpreting this claim and showing its intelligibility. He develops an innovative theory of double-hermeneutics - along the way opposing the current near-consensus led by Ricoeur and Derrida that there is something wrong-headed about interpreting a text to find out what its author said. Wolterstorff argues that at (...) least some of us are entitled to believe that God has spoken. Philosophers have never before, in any sustained fashion, reflected on these matters, mainly because they have mistakenly treated speech as revelation. (shrink)
In this essay I develop the thesis that one way in which a person can come to know God is by learning to participate in Christian liturgical enactments. After analyzing some ordinary examples of practical knowledge yielding knowledge of things or substances, I turn to the knowledge of God yielded by the acquisition of practical liturgical knowledge. Pervasive in Christian liturgical enactments is address to God. So, while acknowledging that one can come to know God liturgically by listening to the (...) reading of Scripture and to the sermon, I focus on coming to know God by learning to address God in certain ways. I argue that it is especially by what one takes for granted when addressing God, and by the addressee-identification terms that one learns to employ, that one comes to know God by learning the Christian practice of addressing God. (shrink)
Nicholas Wolterstorff discusses the ethics of belief which Locke developed in Book IV of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, where Locke finally argued his overarching aim: how we ought to govern our belief, especially on matters of religion and morality. Wolterstorff shows that this concern was instigated by the collapse, in Locke's day, of a once-unified moral and religious tradition in Europe into warring factions. His was thus a culturally and socially engaged epistemology. This view of Locke invites a new (...) interpretation of the origins of modern philosophy. He maintained that instead of following tradition we ought to let 'reason be our guide.' Accordingly, after discussing Hume's powerful attack on Locke's recommended practice, Wolterstorff argues for Locke's originality and emphasizes his contribution to the 'modernity' of post-sixteenth-century philosophy. (shrink)
This volume presents influential work by Nicholas Wolterstorff at the intersection between political philosophy and religion, alongside nine new essays on the nature of liberal democracy, human rights, and political authority.
This vigorous debate between two distinguished philosophers presents two views on a topic of worldwide importance: the role of religion in politics. Audi argues that citizens in a free democracy should distinguish religious and secular considerations and give them separate though related roles. Wolterstorff argues that religious elements are both appropriate in politics and indispensable to the vitality of a pluralistic democracy. Each philosopher first states his position in detail, then responds to and criticizes the opposing viewpoint.
My aim in this essay is to understand why it is that we stomp on images of persons that we hate or dislike and kiss or light candles in front of images of persons that we love, honor, or admire. Far and away the most probing and intense discussion of the nature and significance of such actions was that which took place among the Byzantines in the so-called iconoclast controversy, from early in the eighth century until the middle of the (...) ninth century. The bulk of my essay consists of identifying and analyzing the arguments developed in this period for and against icon veneration. After concluding that the Byzantines did not succeed in developing a plausible account of what goes on in icon veneration, I offer my own account of what is going on when someone kisses an icon or stomps on a picture of her mother. (shrink)
One of the most influential analytic philosophers of the late twentieth century, William P. Alston is a leading light in epistemology, philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of language. In this volume, twelve leading philosophers critically discuss the central topics of his work in these areas, including perception, epistemic circularity, justification, the problem of religious diversity, and truth.
The critical comments by my fellow symposiasts on my book, Justice: Rights and Wrongs , have provided me with the opportunity to clarify parts of my argument and to correct some misunderstandings; they have also helped me see more clearly than I did before the import of some parts of my argument. In his comments, Paul Weithman points out features of the right order conception of justice that I had not noticed. They have also prodded me to clarify in what (...) way rights are trumps; and both his comments and Bernstein's have prodded me to clarify certain aspects of the theistic account of human rights that I offered. Attridge's comments lead me to see that I was perhaps over-zealous in emphasizing the objective aspects of the semantic range of dikaiosunê as used in the New Testament and downplaying the subjective aspects. And O'Donovan's comments have provided me with the opportunity to make clear that my account of rights is not an immunities account that presupposes nominalism, and to emphasize the ways in which it is not an asocial individualistic account. (shrink)
In this article I review some of the more important developments in philosophy of the past fifty years with the aim of pointing out the contribution that the work of Alvin Plantinga has made to these developments. Along the way I also highlight the most important enduring themes in Plantinga’s work.
Reid's theory of perception has long been cited as a paradigmatic example of direct realism; and the term “direct” undoubtedly carries the connotation that external objects are items in “the manifold of intuition.” There are important ways in which perception, on Reid's analysis, undoubtedly is immediate and direct. Nonetheless, this paper contends that, with the exception of his account of our perception of visible fi gure, Reid's theory is not an example of direct realism, if a condition of a theory (...) of percep- tion's being a direct realist theory is that it hold that perception yields acquaintance with external objects, so that those objects are present to consciousness. The defense given in Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology of the no-acquaintance interpretation of Reid's theory occurred in the context of a comprehensive account of Reid's theory of perception, and was accordingly brief. This essay places that interpretation in the center of attention so as to offer a more adequate defense, developing somewhat more fully the arguments briefly presented in the book, and adding some additional considerations. (shrink)
Jeffrey Stout addresses two of the main criticisms of liberal democracy by its contemporary neotraditionalist Christian critics: that liberal democracy is destructive of social tradition, and thereby of virtue in the citizenry, and that liberal democracy is inherently secular, committed to expunging religious voices from the public arena. I judge that Stout effectively answers these charges: liberal democracy has its own tradition, it cultivates the virtues relevant to that, and it is not inherently hostile to piety. What Stout does not (...) do, I suggest, is take the next step of showing, positively, that Christianity can and should affirm the substance of liberal democratic society. This is due, in good measure, to the fact that Stout never tells us, except in off-hand comments, what he takes the substance of liberal democracy to be. And this, in turn, is due to his way of employing pragmatism: he uses pragmatism to give an account of human society generally, not of liberal democratic society. I raise some questions about the general account that pragmatism gives of human society, and thus about the account that it would give of liberal democracy. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss an issue concerning how faith ought to be held. Traditionally there have been those who contended that faith should be held with full certainty, with great firmness. John Calvin is an example. John Locke offered both epistemological and pragmatic considerations in favor of the view that faith should be held with distinctly less than maximal firmness. He proposed a Principle of Proportionality. I assess the tenability of Locke’s proposal-while also suggesting that Calvin’s position is different (...) from whaton first reading it would appear to be. It is not straightforwardly in conflict with Locke’s position. (shrink)
In this paper I offer an interpretation of Karl Barth’s discussion of evil in volume III/3 of his Church Dogmatics. It is, I contend, an extraordinarily rich, imaginative and provocative discussion, philosophically informed, yet very different from the mainline philosophical treatments of the topic---and from the mainline theological treatments as well. I argue that though Barth’s account is certainly subject to critique at various points, especially on ontological matters, nonetheless philosophers are well advised to take seriously what he says. It (...) offers a powerful attack on many standard lines of thought. (shrink)
I take social injustice to be injustice perpetrated on members of society by laws and public social practices. I take social justice to be the struggle to right social injustice. After explaining these ideas, I then address the question: why are so many people opposed to the very idea of social justice? I offer a number of explanations, among them, that to acknowledge that there is social injustice in one’s society often requires considerable change on one’s part.
C. S. Lewis’s small book, The Problem of Pain, first published in 1940, is essentially a theodicy, specifically, a version of soul-making theodicy. In this essay I present Lewis’s theodicy and I offer some critical comments. I conclude by asking whether his theodicy remains intact and helpful upon the death of Lewis wife, as he reflects on that in A Grief Observed. I conclude that it does.