In this long-awaited volume, Jeremy Shearmur and Piers Norris Turner bring to light Popper's most important unpublished and uncollected writings from the time of The Open Society until his death in 1994. After The Open Society: Selected Social and Political Writings reveals the development of Popper's political and philosophical thought during and after the Second World War, from his early socialism through to the radical humanitarianism of The Open Society. The papers in this collection, many of which are (...) available here for the first time, demonstrate the clarity and pertinence of Popper's thinking on such topics as religion, history, Plato and Aristotle, while revealing a lifetime of unwavering political commitment. After The Open Society illuminates the thought of one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers and is essential reading for anyone interested in the recent course of philosophy, politics, history and society. (shrink)
My aim in this chapter is to place John Stuart Mill’s distinctive utilitarian political philosophy in the context of the debate about luck, responsibility, and equality. I hope it will reveal the extent to which his utilitarianism provides a helpful framework for synthesizing the competing claims of luck and relational egalitarianism. I attempt to show that when Mill’s distributive justice commitments are not decided by direct appeal to overall happiness, they are guided by three main public principles: an impartiality principle, (...) a sufficiency principle, and a merit principle. The question then becomes how luck and relational considerations figure into his articulation of these public principles. I argue that relational egalitarianism is more fundamental than considerations of luck and responsibility in Mill’s thought, but I also hope to show that any fleshed out picture of Mill’s reform proposals must recognize his condemnation of the role luck plays in determining the distribution of opportunities and outcomes. (shrink)
My aim in this chapter is to push back against the tendency to emphasize Mill’s break from Bentham rather than his debt to him. Mill made important advances on Bentham’s views, but I believe there remains a shared core to their thinking—over and above their commitment to the principle of utility itself—that has been underappreciated. Essentially, I believe that the structure of Mill’s utilitarian thought owes a great debt to Bentham even if he filled in that structure with a richer (...) conception of human nature and developed it in more liberal directions. This commonality is revealed, in particular, in Mill’s own institutional designs and practical reform proposals in Considerations on Representative Government and related writings. If this is right, then the tendency of interpreters to highlight their differences rather than their similarities has been to the detriment of both Mill and Bentham scholarship, and so to our understanding of the rise of liberal utilitarianism. (shrink)
This article addresses the long-standing problem of how to understand Mill’s famous harm principle in light of his failure to specify what counts as “harm” in On Liberty. I argue that standard accounts restricting “harm” to only certain negative consequences fail to do justice to the text, and that this fact forces us to rethink Mill’s defense of individual liberty. I then offer a new account of that defense in which “harm” is understood in an expansive sense, despite apparent problems (...) for such a view. (shrink)
From its inception in 1890, the journal Ethics declared that it was “Devoted to the Advancement of Ethical Knowledge and Practice.” Although the latter concern may seem anachronistic, the extensive practical work of the Journal’s founders was inspired by an aim shared by many of today’s liberals: establishing a public morality that respects well-intentioned individuals holding a diversity of philosophical and religious commitments. Felix Adler, the guiding force behind the journal and the founder of the Society for Ethical Culture, argued (...) that shared ethical values can be explored, and can have social authority, independent of the truth of any controversial philosophical foundations. In doing so, Adler anticipated Rawls in applying “the principle of toleration to philosophy itself” at the same time that he pursued this idea in practice. (shrink)
A leading classical utilitarian, John Stuart Mill is an unlikely contributor to the public reason tradition in political philosophy. To hold that social rules or political institutions are justified by their contribution to overall happiness is to deny that they are justified by their being the object of consensus or convergence among all those holding qualified moral or political viewpoints. In this chapter, I explore the surprising ways in which Mill nevertheless works to accommodate the problems and insights of the (...) public reason tradition, and the extent to which he makes arguments that can help those working within that tradition. Mill’s utilitarian theory incorporates the claim that the demands of social life require a publicly accepted set of normative expectations to govern judgments about when one has met one’s obligations and, relatedly, about the appropriateness of blame or punishment. (shrink)
Recent scholarship on John Stuart Mill’s moral theory has settled on the view that he is committed to a form of rule utilitarianism. I argue that this consensus is mistaken. Mill’s explicit account of practical rules is incompatible with rule utilitarianism but consistent with sophisticated act utilitarianism. I also examine the direct, textual evidence cited by rule utilitarian interpreters, arguing that it is consistent with the act utilitarian account of practical rules. Finally, I argue that two systematic considerations cited by (...) rule utilitarian interpreters—Mill’s analysis of “wrong” in terms of the appropriateness of punishment, and his account of supererogation—also do not require a rule utilitarian reading. (shrink)
Mill argues that, apart from the principle of utility, his utilitarianism is incompatible with absolutes. Yet in On Liberty he introduces an exceptionless anti-paternalism principle—his liberty principle. In this paper I address ‘the absolutism problem,’ that is, whether Mill's utilitarianism can accommodate an exceptionless principle. Mill's absolute claim is not a mere bit of rhetoric. But the four main solutions to the absolutism problem are also not supported by the relevant texts. I defend a fifth solution—the competence view—that turns on (...) his attention to decision-making structures and, in particular, on the role of expertise considerations in his account. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill’s defense of free discussion in On Liberty includes the claim that silencing discussion implies an “assumption of infallibility.” This claim is often dismissed as absurd on the ground that a censor might attempt to silence an opinion he believes to be true but pernicious, or because rational assurance short of infallibility is obviously sufficient to justify censorship. This paper argues that Mill is concerned about the epistemic position one assumes with regard to future persons and circumstances as (...) a result of attempting to settle some matter irremediably. The irrationality of this "assumption" sets an important authority-limiting constraint on both social authority and individuals in matters that otherwise would fall under their rightful control. For individuals, in particular, it explains Mill's restriction on selling oneself into irrevocable slavery. (shrink)
This article is part of a symposium on Bruce Cain's "Democracy More or Less: America’s Political Reform Quandary." It identifies the basic normative framework of Cain's skeptical "reform pluralism" as a form of democratic instrumentalism rather than political realism, and then argues that a more optimistic instrumentalist alternative is available. The instrumentalist can accept that more democracy need not entail better democracy. But the instrumentalist account of better democracy also gives us reason to believe that significant reform efforts remain worth (...) pursuing, for the simple reason that some of them have worked in the past. (shrink)
This article examines John Stuart Mill's position as the principal historical opponent of legal moralism. I argue that inattention to the particular form of his opposition to legal moralism has muddied the interpretation of his liberty principle. Specifically, Mill does not endorse what I call the illegitimacy thesis, according to which appeals to harmless wrongdoings, whether or not they exist, are illegitimate in the justification of legal interference.
I argue that a notorious passage from Utilitarianism concerning the relationship between morality and blameworthiness need not be an obstacle to a consistent act-utilitarian interpretation of Mill's moral theory. First, the Art of Life provides a framework for reconciling Mill's evaluation of conduct in terms of both expediency and blameworthiness. Like contemporary sophisticated act-utilitarians, Mill treats expediency as the more fundamental category of evaluation. Second, textual evidence suggests that, on Mill's view, evaluations of blameworthiness are not strictly bound by rules, (...) despite rule-ish considerations about punishment and discretion. Third, Mill's own jurisdictional account in terms of competent decision-making remains consistent with the act-utilitarian interpretation. (shrink)
When people of good faith and sound mind disagree deeply about moral, religious, and other philosophical matters, how can we justify political institutions to all of them? The idea of public reason―of a shared public standard, despite disagreement―arose in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the work of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant. At a time when John Rawls’ influential theory of public reason has come under fire but its core idea remains attractive to many, it is important not to (...) lose sight of earlier philosophers’ answers to the problem of private conflict through public reason. -/- The distinctive selections from the great social contract theorists in this volume emphasize the pervasive theme of intractable disagreement and the need for public justification. New essays by leading scholars then put the historical work in context and provide a focus of debate and discussion. They also explore how the search for public reason has informed a wider body of modern political theory―in the work of Hume, Hegel, Bentham, and Mill―sometimes in surprising ways. The idea of public reason is revealed as an overarching theme in modern political philosophy―one very much needed today. (shrink)
The concept of "practices"--whether of representation, of political or scientific traditions, or of organizational culture--is central to social theory. In this book, Stephen Turner presents the first analysis and critique of the idea of practice as it has developed in the various theoretical traditions of the social sciences and the humanities. Understood broadly as a tacit understanding "shared" by a group, the concept of a practice has a fatal difficulty, Turner argues: there is no plausible mechanism by which (...) a "practice" is transmitted or reproduced. The historical uses of the concept, from Durkheim to Kripke's version of Wittgenstein, provide examples of the contortions that thinkers have been forced into by this problem, and show the ultimate implausibility of the idea. Turner's conclusion sketches a picture of what happens when we do without the notion of a shared practice, and how this bears on social theory and philosophy. It explains why social theory cannot get beyond the stage of constructing fuzzy analogies, and why the standard constructions of the contemporary philosophical problem of relativism depend upon this defective notion. This first book-length critique of practice theory is sure to stir discussion and controversy in a wide range of fields, from philosophy and science studies to sociology, anthropology, literary studies, and political and legal theory. (shrink)
We usually consider literary thinking to be peripheral and dispensable, an activity for specialists: poets, prophets, lunatics, and babysitters. Certainly we do not think it is the basis of the mind. We think of stories and parables from Aesop's Fables or The Thousand and One Nights, for example, as exotic tales set in strange lands, with spectacular images, talking animals, and fantastic plots--wonderful entertainments, often insightful, but well removed from logic and science, and entirely foreign to the world of everyday (...) thought. But Mark Turner argues that this common wisdom is wrong. The literary mind--the mind of stories and parables--is not peripheral but basic to thought. Story is the central principle of our experience and knowledge. Parable--the projection of story to give meaning to new encounters--is the indispensable tool of everyday reason. Literary thought makes everyday thought possible. This book makes the revolutionary claim that the basic issue for cognitive science is the nature of literary thinking. In The Literary Mind, Turner ranges from the tools of modern linguistics, to the recent work of neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio and Gerald Edelman, to literary masterpieces by Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Proust, as he explains how story and projection--and their powerful combination in parable--are fundamental to everyday thought. In simple and traditional English, he reveals how we use parable to understand space and time, to grasp what it means to be located in space and time, and to conceive of ourselves, other selves, other lives, and other viewpoints. He explains the role of parable in reasoning, in categorizing, and in solving problems. He develops a powerful model of conceptual construction and, in a far-reaching final chapter, extends it to a new conception of the origin of language that contradicts proposals by such thinkers as Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker. Turner argues that story, projection, and parable precede grammar, that language follows from these mental capacities as a consequence. Language, he concludes, is the child of the literary mind. Offering major revisions to our understanding of thought, conceptual activity, and the origin and nature of language, The Literary Mind presents a unified theory of central problems in cognitive science, linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. It gives new and unexpected answers to classic questions about knowledge, creativity, understanding, reason, and invention. (shrink)
Scientists often make surprising claims about things that no one can observe. In physics, chemistry, and molecular biology, scientists can at least experiment on those unobservable entities, but what about researchers in fields such as paleobiology and geology who study prehistory, where no such experimentation is possible? Do scientists discover facts about the distant past or do they, in some sense, make prehistory? In this book Derek Turner argues that this problem has surprising and important consequences for the scientific (...) realism debate. His discussion covers some of the main positions in philosophy of science - realism, social constructivism, empiricism, and the natural ontological attitude - and shows how they relate to issues in paleobiology and geology. His original and thought-provoking book will be of wide interest to philosophers and scientists alike. (shrink)
Philosophers have long been tempted by the idea that objects and properties are abstractions from the facts. But how is this abstraction supposed to go? If the objects and properties aren't 'already' there, how do the facts give rise to them? Jason Turner develops and defends a novel answer to this question: The facts are arranged in a quasi-geometric 'logical space', and objects and properties arise from different quasi-geometric structures in this space.
The concept of "practices"—whether of representation, of political or scientific traditions, or of organizational culture—is central to social theory. In this book, Stephen Turner presents the first analysis and critique of the idea of practice as it has developed in the various theoretical traditions of the social sciences and the humanities. Understood broadly as a tacit understanding "shared" by a group, the concept of a practice has a fatal difficulty, Turner argues: there is no plausible mechanism by which (...) a "practice" is transmitted or reproduced. The historical uses of the concept, from Durkheim to Kripke's version of Wittgenstein, provide examples of the contortions that thinkers have been forced into by this problem, and show the ultimate implausibility of the idea. Turner's conclusion sketches a picture of what happens when we do without the notion of a shared practice, and how this bears on social theory and philosophy. It explains why social theory cannot get beyond the stage of constructing fuzzy analogies, and why the standard constructions of the contemporary philosophical problem of relativism depend upon this defective notion. This first book-length critique of practice theory is sure to stir discussion and controversy in a wide range of fields, from philosophy and science studies to sociology, anthropology, literary studies, and political and legal theory. (shrink)
In a series of tightly argued essays, Turner traces out the implications that discarding the notion of shared frameworks has for relativism, social constructionism, normativity, and a number of other concepts. He suggests ways in which these ideas might be reformulated more productively, in part through extended critiques of the work of scholars such as Ian Hacking, Andrew Pickering, Pierre Bourdieu, Quentin Skinner, Robert Brandom, Clifford Geertz, and Edward Shils.
In the wake of the paleobiological revolution of the 1970s and 1980s, paleontologists continue to investigate far-reaching questions about how evolution works. Many of those questions have a philosophical dimension. How is macroevolution related to evolutionary changes within populations? Is evolutionary history contingent? How much can we know about the causes of evolutionary trends? How do paleontologists read the patterns in the fossil record to learn about the underlying evolutionary processes? Derek Turner explores these and other questions, introducing the (...) reader to exciting recent work in the philosophy of paleontology and to theoretical issues including punctuated equilibria and species selection. He also critically examines some of the major accomplishments and arguments of paleontologists of the last 40 years. (shrink)
Denys Turner argues that there are reasons of faith why the existence of God should be thought rationally demonstrable and that it is worthwhile revisiting the theology of Thomas Aquinas to see why. The proposition that the existence of God is demonstrable by rational argument is doubted by nearly all philosophical opinion today and is thought by most Christian theologians to be incompatible with Christian faith. Turner's robust challenge to the prevailing orthodoxies will be of interest to believers (...) as well as non-believers. (shrink)
Leaving so few traces of himself behind, Thomas Aquinas seems to defy the efforts of the biographer. Highly visible as a public teacher, preacher, and theologian, he nevertheless has remained nearly invisible as man and saint. What can be discovered about Thomas Aquinas as a whole? In this short, compelling portrait, Denys Turner clears away the haze of time and brings Thomas vividly to life for contemporary readers—those unfamiliar with the saint as well as those well acquainted with his (...) teachings. Building on the best biographical scholarship available today and reading the works of Thomas with piercing acuity, Turner seeks the point at which the man, the mind, and the soul of Thomas Aquinas intersect. Reflecting upon Thomas, a man of Christian Trinitarian faith yet one whose thought is grounded firmly in the body’s interaction with the material world, a thinker at once confident in the powers of human reason and a man of prayer, Turner provides a more detailed human portrait than ever before of one of the most influential philosophers and theologians in all of Western thought. (shrink)
Although it might be argued that the social drama is a story in [Hayden] White's sense, in that it has discernible inaugural, transitional, and terminal motifs, that is, a beginning, a middle, and an end, my observations convince me that it is, indeed, a spontaneous unit of social process and a fact of everyone's experience in every human society. My hypothesis, based on repeated observations of such processual units in a range of sociocultural systems and in my reading in ethnography (...) and history, is that social dramas, "dramas of living," as Kenneth Burke calls them, can be aptly studied as having four phases. These I label breach, crisis, redress, and either reintegration or recognition of schism. Social dramas occur within groups of persons who share values and interests and who have a real or alleged common history. The main actors are persons for whom the group has a high value priority. Most of us have what I call our "star" group or groups to which we owe our deepest loyalty and whose fate is for us of the greatest personal concern. It is the one with which a person identifies most deeply and in which he finds fulfillment of his major social and personal desires. We are all members of many groups, formal or informal, from the family to the nation or some international religion or political institution. Each person makes his/her own subjective evaluation of the group's respective worth: some are "dear" to one, others it is one's "duty to defend," and so on. Some tragic situations arise from conflicts of loyalty to different star groups. Victor Turner is professor of anthropology and a member of the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Virginia. His many publications include Schism and Continuity in an African Society, The Forest of Symbols, The Ritual Process, and, with Edith Turner, Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture. (shrink)
What will be the future of social science? Where exactly do we stand, and where do we go from here? What kinds of problems should we be addressing, with what kinds of approaches and arguments? In Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science, Mark Turner offers an answer to these pressing questions: social science is headed toward convergence with cognitive science. Together they will give us a new and better approach to the study of what human beings are, what human beings (...) do, what kind of mind they have, and how that mind developed over the history of the species. Turner, one of the originators of the cognitive scientific theory of conceptual integration, here explores how the application of that theory enriches the social scientific study of meaning, culture, identity, reason, choice, judgment, decision, innovation, and invention. About fifty thousand years ago, humans made a spectacular advance: they became cognitively modern. This development made possible the invention of the vast range of knowledge, practices, and institutions that social scientists try to explain. For Turner, the anchor of all social science - anthropology, political science, sociology, economics - must be the study of the cognitively modern human mind. In this book, Turner moves the study of those extraordinary mental powers to the center of social scientific research and analysis. (shrink)
Taking as his starting-point the emerging scientific view of the universe as a free, unpredictable, self-ordering evolutionary process in which human cultural history plays a leading part, Turner (arts and humanities, U. of Texas at Dallas) ...
Based on the proven maxim that "money makes the world go round", this study, drawing from Shakespeare 's texts, presents a lexicon of common words as well as a variety of familiar familial and cultural sitations in an economic context. Making constant recourse to well-known material from Shakespeare 's plays, Turner demonstrates that terms of money and value permeate our minds and lives even in our most mundane moments. His book offers a new, humane, evolutionary economics that fully expresses (...) the moral, spiritual, and aesthetic relationships among persons, and between humans and nature. Playful and incisive, Turner's book offers a way to engage the wisdom of Shakespeare in everyday life in a trenchant prose that is accessible to scholars and to the general reader. (shrink)
We may wonder about the status of logical accounts of the meaning of language. When does a particular proposal count as a theory? How do we judge a theory to be correct? What criteria can we use to decide whether one theory is âbetterâ than another? Implicitly, many accounts attribute a foundational status to set theory, and set-theoretic characterisations of possible worlds in particular. The goal of a semantic theory is then to find a translation of the phenomena of interest (...) into a set-theoretic model. Such theories may be deemed to have âexplanatoryâ or âpredictiveâ power if a mapping can found into expressions of set-theory that have the appropriate behaviour by virtue of the rules of set-theory (for example Montague 1973; Montague1974). This can be contrasted with an approach in which we can help ourselves to ânewâ primitives and ontological categories, and devise logical rules and axioms that capture the appropriate inferential behaviour (as in Turner 1992). In general, this alternative approach can be criticised as being mere âdescriptivismâ, lacking predictive or explanatory power. Here we will seek to defend the axiomatic approach. Any formal account must assume some normative interpretation, but there is a sense in which such theories can provide a more honest characterisation (cf. Dummett 199). In contrast, the set-theoretic approach tends to conflate distinct ontological notions. Mapping a pattern of semantic behaviour into some pre-existing set-theoretic behaviour may lead to certain aspects of that behaviour being overlooked, or ignored (Chierchia & Turner 1988; Bealer 1982). Arguments about the explanatory and predictive power of set-theoretic interpretations can also be questioned (see Benacerraf 1965, for example). We aim to provide alternative notions for evaluating the quality of a formalisation, and the role of formal theory. Ultimately, claims about the methodological and conceptual inadequacies of axiomatic accounts compared to set-theoretic reductions must rely on criteria and assumptions that lie outside the domain of formal semantics as such. (shrink)
The authors co-organized (Snyder and Crooks) and gave a keynote presentation at (Turner) a conference on ethical issues in medical tourism. Medical tourism involves travel across international borders with the intention of receiving medical care. This care is typically paid for out-of-pocket and is motivated by an interest in cost savings and/or avoiding wait times for care in the patient’s home country. This practice raises numerous ethical concerns, including potentially exacerbating health inequities in destination and source countries and disrupting (...) continuity of care for patients. In this report, we synthesize conference presentations and present three lessons from the conference: 1) Medical tourism research has the potential for cross- or inter-disciplinarity but must bridge the gap between researchers trained in ethical theory and scholars unfamiliar with normative frameworks; 2) Medical tourism research must engage with empirical research from a variety of disciplines; and 3) Ethical analyses of medical tourism must incorporate both individual and population-level perspectives. While these lessons are presented in the context of research on medical tourism, we argue that they are applicable in other areas of research where global practices, such as human subject research and health worker migration, are occurring in the face of limited regulatory oversight. (shrink)
Habermas meets science Content Type Journal Article Category Essay Review Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9560-2 Authors Stephen Turner, Department of Philosophy, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
The article shows some moving occasions during the first fieldwork of Victor Turner and myself in Africa during the 1950s. For instance, the Ndembu people would always give great welcomes to their returning kin after long absences. The scenes are etched on my mind as a blueprint for all welcomes. On their friends return, the villagers would immediately gather and sing the simple song, “You're back, you're back!” Why did the people so much value each other? In this village (...) I was learning about communitas. The scenes were etched on my mind as a blueprint for all sociality. They were like the Hallelujah Chorus, Beethoven's Song of Joy, the Marseillaise, “When the Saints Come Marching In”—many anthems of praise. They were unconditionally directed, the song of what we came to know as communitas. We were intensely interested and enjoyed the rituals just as they did; only they were unfamiliar to us. For the people, they were everything. (shrink)
The thermodynamics of life Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11016-012-9651-8 Authors J. Scott Turner, SUNY, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Eugen Fink is considered one of the clearest interpreters of phenomenology and was the preferred conversational partner of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. In Play as Symbol of the World, Fink offers an original phenomenology of play as he attempts to understand the world through the experience of play. He affirms the philosophical significance of play, why it is more than idle amusement, and reflects on the movement from "child's play" to "cosmic play." Well-known for its non-technical, literary style, this (...) skillful translation by Ian Alexander Moore and Christopher Turner invites engagement with Fink's philosophy of play and related writings on sports, festivals, and ancient cult practices. (shrink)
Our understanding of the nature and processing of figurative language is central to several important issues in cognitive science, including the relationship of language and thought, how we process language, and how we comprehend abstract meaning. Over the past fifteen years, traditional approaches to these issues have been challenged by experimental psychologists, linguists, and other cognitive scientists interested in the structures of the mind and the processes that operate on them. In Figurative Language and Thought, internationally recognized experts in the (...) field of figurative language, Albert Katz, Mark Turner, Raymond W. Gibbs Jr., and Cristina Cacciari, provide a coherent and focused debate on the subject. The book's authors discuss a variety of fundamental questions, including: What can figures of speech tell us about the structure of the conceptual system? If and how should we distinguish the literal from the nonliteral in our theories of language and thought? Are we primarily figurative thinkers and consequently figurative language users or the other way around? Why do we prefer to speak metaphorically in everyday conversation, when literal options may be available for use? Is metaphor the only vehicle through which we can understand abstract concepts? What role do cultural and social factors play in our comprehension of figurative language? These and related questions are raised and argued in an integrative look at the role of nonliteral language in cognition. This volume, a part of Counterpoints series, will be thought-provoking reading for a wide range of cognitive psychologists, linguists, and philosophers. (shrink)
Drawing on the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin, Turner offers an original reconstruction of democratic individualism in American thought.
The proposition that the existence of God is demonstrable by rational argument is doubted by nearly all philosophical opinion today and is thought by most Christian theologians to be incompatible with Christian faith. This book argues that, on the contrary, there are reasons of faith why in principle the existence of God should be thought rationally demonstrable and that it is worthwhile revisiting the theology of Thomas Aquinas to see why this is so. The book further suggests that philosophical objections (...) to proofs of God's existence rely upon an attenuated and impoverished conception of reason which theologians of all monotheistic traditions might wish to reject. Denys Turner proposes that on a broader and deeper conception of it, human rationality is open to the 'sacramental shape' of creation as such and in its exercise of rational proof of God it in some way participates in that sacramentality of all things. (shrink)
Denys Turner is a philosopher who holds a chair in Cambridge's Faculty of Divinity. In this erudite and entertaining lecture he explores the conditions for the belief that God does not exist. According to Turner, the first challenge lies in acknowledging the question 'Does God exist?' to be a valid one. Once the question is established, various things follow, each one making it harder to maintain 'atheism' as a credible or interesting position. Turner boxes atheists into a (...) philosophical corner, showing how the belief that something has come of nothing is itself an acknowledgement of God's existence. Enlisting the help of thinkers as diverse as Aquinas, Kant, Wittgenstein, Nicholas Lash and John Milbank, Turner's witty and provocative piece will be of interest to anyone engaged in religious enquiry who has wondered about the nature and status of atheism as a defendable intellectual position in our age. (shrink)
For centuries readers have comfortably accepted Julian of Norwich as simply a mystic. In this astute book, Denys Turner offers a new interpretation of Julian and the significance of her work. Turner argues that this fourteenth-century thinker's sophisticated approach to theological questions places her legitimately within the pantheon of other great medieval theologians, including Thomas Aquinas, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Bonaventure. Julian wrote but one work in two versions, a Short Text recording the series of visions of Jesus (...) Christ she experienced while suffering a near-fatal illness, and a much expanded Long Text exploring the theological meaning of the "showings" some twenty years later. Turner addresses the apparent conflict between the two sources of Julian's theology: on the one hand, her personal revelation of God's omnipotent love, and on the other, the Church's teachings on and her own witnessing of evil in the world that deserves punishment, even eternal punishment. Offering a fresh and elegant account of Julian's response to this conflict—one that reveals its nuances, systematic character, and originality—this book marks a new stage in the century-long rediscovery of one of the English language's greatest theological thinkers. (shrink)
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