Existence and the Good: Metaphysical Necessity in Morals and Politics by Franklin I. Gamwell (State University of New York Press, SUNY) These are bold assertions in a climate where the credibility of metaphysics is widely denied. Indeed, for the past two centuries, Western philosophy has been marked by a consensus that questions about moral and political life should be considered separately from questions about ultimate reality. In this challenging work, Franklin I. Gamwell defends metaphysical necessity against both modern and postmodern critiques. The metaphysics vindicated is not the traditional form both critiques typically have in view, however. Instead, Gamwell outlines a neoclassical project for which Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne are the main philosophical resources. As it maintains the significance of theistic metaphysics, the book makes no appeal to religious authority but solely to common human experience, and on this basis articulates principles of human purpose and democratic justice. More
Cultural Ways of Worldmaking: Media and Narratives edited by Vera Nünning, Ansgar Nünning, and Birgit Neumann (Concepts for the Study of Culture: De Gruyter) Taking as its point of departure Nelson Goodman's theory of symbol systems as delineated in his seminal book Ways of Worldmaking, this volume gauges the possibilities and perspectives offered by the worldmaking approach as a model for the study of culture. Its main objectives are to explore the usefulness and scope of the approach for the study of culture and to supplement Goodman's philosophy of worldmaking with a number of complementary disciplinary perspectives, literary and cultural approaches, and new questions and applications. It focuses on three key issues or concepts which illuminate ways of worldmaking and their interdisciplinary relevance and ramifications, viz. (1) theoretical approaches to ways of worldmaking, (2) the impact of media on ways of worldmaking, and (3) narratives as ways of worldmaking. The volume serves to demonstrate how specific media and narratives affect the worlds that are created, and shows how these worlds are established as socially relevant. It also illustrates the extent to which ways of worldmaking are imbued with cultural values, and thus inevitably implicated in power relations. More
Inquiring about God: Volume 1, Selected Essays
by Nicholas Wolterstorff and`Terence Cuneo
(Cambridge University Press) This volume collects Nicholas
Wolterstorff's essays on the philosophy of religion written over the
last thirty-five years. Of interest to both philosophers and
theologians, Inquiring about God offers a lively sense of the
creative and powerful work done in contemporary philosophical
theology by one of its foremost practitioners.
Inquiring about God is the first of two volumes of Nicholas Wolterstorff's collected papers. This volume collects Wolterstorff's essays on the philosophy of religion written over the last thirty-five years. The essays, which span a range of topics including Kant's philosophy of religion, the medieval (or classical) conception of God, and the problem of evil, are unified by the conviction that some of the central claims made by the classical theistic tradition, such as the claims that God is timeless, simple, and impassible, should be rejected. Still, Wolterstorff contends, rejecting the classical conception of God does not imply that theists should accept the Kantian view according to which God cannot be known. Of interest to both philosophers and theologians, Inquiring about God should give the reader a lively sense of the creative and powerful work done in contemporary philosophical theology by one of its foremost practitioners. More
Practices of Belief: Volume 2, Selected Essays by Nicholas
Wolterstorff(Cambridge University Press) The second volume of
Nicholas Wolterstorff's collected papers brings together his essays
on epistemology from 1983 to 2008. Of interest to epistemologists,
philosophers of religion, and theologians, it will appeal to those
interested in the topic of whether religious belief can be
responsibly formed and maintained in the contemporary world.
Practices of Belief, the second volume of Nicholas Wolterstorff's collected papers, brings together his essays on epistemology from 1983 to 2008. It includes not only the essays which first presented 'Reformed epistemology' to the philosophical world, but also Wolterstorff's latest work on the topic of entitled (or responsible) belief and its intersection with religious belief. The volume presents five new essays and a retrospective essay that chronicles the changes in the course of philosophy over the last fifty years. Of interest to epistemologists, philosophers of religion, and theologians, Practices of Belief should engage a wide audience of those interested in the topic of whether religious belief can be responsibly formed and maintained in the contemporary world. More
Courageous Vulnerability: Ethics and Knowledge in Proust, Bergson, Marcel, and James by Rosa Slegers (Studies in Contemporary Phenomenology: Brill Academic Publishers) This work develops the ethical attitude of courageous vulnerability through the integration of Marcel Proust's novel In Search of Lost Time and the philosophies of Henri Bergson, William James, and Gabriel Marcel. Central to the discussion is the phenomenon of involuntary memory, taken from common experience but "discovered" and made visible by Proust. Through the connection between a variety of themes from both Continental and American schools of thought such as Bergson's phenomenological account of the artist, James' "will to believe," and Marcel's "creative fidelity," the courageously vulnerable individual is shown to take seriously the ethical implications of the knowledge gained from involuntary memories and similar "privileged moments," and do justice to the "something more" which, though part of our experience of ourselves and others, escapes rigid philosophical analysis. More
Uncorrected Papers: Diverse Philosophical Dissents by Wallace Matson (Humanity Books) These incisive, witty, and completely accessible essays on a wide range of topics by historian of philosophy Wallace Matson admirably demonstrate that philosophy can still be based on careful reasoning and presented with clarity of expression. Against fashionable contemporary views, Matson asserts that philosophy is "the most important subject in the college curriculum," because it is the investigation into what rationality is. Getting the answer wrong to the question "What does it mean to be reasonable?" is the most catastrophic of errors. The motivation for most of the essays in this collection is his perception that this error is being widely committed and that received opinion on many topics is dead wrong. More
The Cambridge School of Pragmatism, 4 volumes edited by Andre De Tienne, John R. Shook (The Foundations of Pragmatism in American Thought Series: Thoemmes Continuum) Volume 1: Preface by John R. Shook Introduction by Andre De Tienne The Pragmaticism of Charles S. Peirce Volume 2: Introduction by John R. Shook The Pragmatism of William James Volume 3: Introduction by Randall E. Auxier, The Pragmatic Idealisms of Josiah Royce and John E. Boodin Volume 4: Introduction by John R. Shook, The Pragmatic Naturalisms of George Santayana and Clarence I. Lewis
Excerpt: The Cambridge School of Pragmatism consisted of the founders of pragmatism, Charles S. Peirce and William James, along with Josiah Royce and the next generation of their pragmatic-minded doctoral students at Harvard University from the 1880s to 1910. The most prominent of these students, included in this four-volume set, were George Santayana, John Elof Boodin, and Clarence Irving Lewis. The members of the Cambridge School of Pragmatism all lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a portion of their careers and had a relationship with Harvard University. Peirce, a graduate of Harvard, first formulated the principle of pragmatism during meetings of the Metaphysical Club in private homes around Cambridge during the early 1870s. Peirce later gave lectures in Cambridge elaborating upon his views, which he had come to label "pragmaticism." The foremost promoter of pragmatism to both the academic and public realms was Peirce's close friend William James, also a Harvard graduate and a member of the Metaphysical Club, who taught as a professor of psychology and philosophy at Harvard for many years.
These two giants of American philosophy, whose key writings on pragmatism are contained in the set's first two volumes, in turn deeply influenced several other prominent Cambridge philosophers who incorporated pragmatism into their systems of thought. The philosophies of Josiah Royce and John Elof Boodin, represented in the third volume, were the most important pragmatic varieties of American idealism during the first half of the twentieth century. The philosophies of George Santayana and C. I. Lewis, represented in the fourth volume, were the most significance varieties of pragmatic naturalism in American philosophy during that same era. More
Pragmatism, Old And New: Selected Writings edited by Susan Haack, Robert Lane (Prometheus Books) Morris R. Cohen once described Pragmatism as "a philosophy for people who cannot think"; and Bertrand Russell feared that Pragmatism would lead philosophy into "cosmic impiety." Nothing could be further from the truth. Pragmatism was one of the most fruitful philosophical movements of the late nineteenth century, and has continued to be a significant influence on some of the major figures in philosophy—F. P. Ramsey, W. V. Quine, Sidney Hook, Nelson Goodman, Hilary Putnam, and many others. Today some even speak of a remarkable renaissance of Pragmatism. Very often, though, what they have in mind is not the rich heritage of the classical Pragmatist tradition, but a radical self-styled neo-Pragmatism that has of late transmuted the reformist aspirations of classical Pragmatism into a kind of revolutionary anti-intellectualism—a radical neo-Pragmatism that seems to confirm Russell’s worst fears. More
Religion, Reason, and God: Essays in the Philosophies of Charles Hartshorne and A.N. Whitehead by Santiago Sia (Peter Lang Publishing) The essays in this collection, which examine the philosophies of Charles Hartshorne and A.N. Whitehead, represent the author's journey over the years to achieve a greater understanding of certain aspects of the Christian religion by making use of their metaphysical systems. Among the topics discussed are: reason and faith, concepts of God, the problem of evil, the doctrine of immortality, religion and science, religion in life, and philosophy and literature. Also included in this volume is the primary bibliography of Hartshorne's philosophical works.
To a certain extent the essays in this volume represent the journey over the years—to take up the metaphor used by the encyclical—or the process that I undertook towards a greater understanding of certain aspects of the Christian heritage. Moreover, this journey, which has been characterised by the stages that I have described above, provides the unifying theme to these explorations into the conceptuality developed by Charles Hartshorne and A.N. Whitehead.
In Chapter 1 `On God, Time and Change' I respond to an article written by Brian Davies who discusses these issues from the Thomistic perspective. Inasmuch as he criticises Charles Hartshorne's handling of the same issues, I offer some clarifications and a defense of Hartshorne's position. My main concern in this essay is to address the question as to whether the affirmation of God's immutability leads to a denial of any change in God.
A more systematic discussion of the concept of God developed by Charles Hartshorne can be found in Chapter 2 `A Process Concept of God'. Here I point out the need to take into account the approach adopted by Harts-home if one wants to do justice to his claims about God. I then examine the concept of God which one will find in his many writings.
Hartshorne's God-talk is the subject matter of Chapter 3 `Hartshorne on Describing God'. In this essay I argue that while we can appreciate Harts-home's reasons for wanting to talk about God in a positive and literal manner, there are certain problematic areas in his God-talk.
The problem of evil has always been a challenge to theism. In Chapter 4 `Evil and Creativity: Hartshorne on the Problem of Evil' I investigate Harts-home's solution to this problem. For Hartshorne there is evil because there is universal creativity. I discuss the metaphysical underpinnings of this claim.
Chapter 5 `Suffering and Theism: Towards a Praxis-based Response to Hume's Challenge' takes up again the problem of evil. Here, however, I argue that Hume's challenge, given the existence of evil, leads us to re-think what we say about God, rather than to deny God's existence. Drawing on Hartshorne's philosophy, I claim that our responses to the existence of suffering can give us an insight into a more adequate conception of God.
In Chapter 6 `Charles Hartshorne's Interpretation of Human Immortality' I first discuss the metaphysical principles that support Hartshorne's notion of objective immortality. I also argue that due to the internal difficulties in his metaphysics and the inadequacy of his solution to the human quest for ultimate meaning, Hartshorne could be more open to the traditional notion of personal immortality.
Chapter 7 `Religion, Science and Hartshorne's Metaphysics' (co-written with Ferdinand Santos) makes a case for Hartshorne's metaphysical system as a mediating paradigm between religion and science. Despite certain problems, his metaphysics, inasmuch as it is informed by contemporary science and offers a holistic view of reality, can facilitate a fruitful dialogue between religion and science.
The next two chapters turn to A.N. Whitehead's philosophy. In Chapter 8 `The Function of Religion in Human Thought and Life: a Whiteheadian Exploration' I discuss Whitehead's notion of religion and show its connection with reason and with life. Whitehead's claim that Christianity is a `religion in search of a metaphysics' is explored through a discussion of a number of definitions of religion that will be found in his writings.
Chapter 9 `Concretising Concrete Experience' focuses on process methodology. In this essay, I discuss the importance of concrete experience and of the task of preserving the concreteness of that experience. For this reason, I urge process thinkers to heed Whitehead's own advice to turn to literary writers for insights into concrete reality. I also suggest communicating process themes in more literary modes (while continuing with the theological and philosophical tasks already undertaken). This is particularly true regarding the issue of our relationship with God. It is a suggestion that I have tried to take upon myself in writing (with Marian F. Sia) the novel, The Fountain Arethuse.
The Appendix is comprised of excerpts from The Fountain Arethuse and Notes on Charles Hartshome. The excerpts from the novel are those which in some way or the other deal with process themes, specifically discussed in thepreceding essays. In the second part, I have included a short biographical note on Hartshorne, a review of his autobiographical book (The Darkness and the Light), and a personal recollection of my encounters with him.
In order to preserve both the context (an intellectual journey over the years) and the content (the development in my own thinking as I interacted with the philosophies of Hartshorne and Whitehead), I have retained the texts of the essays as they were first published. I have, however, added other references in the footnotes. I am grateful to the editors of the series and an anonymous reader for suggesting such a structure for this collection of essays. It will be obvious from these essays that in my journey I have turned more to Charles Hartshorne rather than to Whitehead. Since Hartshorne was very much in dialogue with classical theism, the background from which I was coming, this preference on my part is probably understandable. As I probed deeper into Hartshorne's neoclassical metaphysics to help me understand the Christian heritage, my journey led me to reject some classical interpretations, recognise the value of Hartshorne's alternative interpretation but re-adjust some aspects of it. My hope is that in doing so, I can give a more adequate response to the call, made by the encyclical, for more philosophical thinking in matters of Christian faith.
Habits of Hope: A Pragmatic Theory by Patrick Shade (Vanderbilt Library of American Philosophy: Vanderbilt University Press) In this original contribution to the American philosophical tradition, Patrick Shade makes a strong argument for the necessity of hope in a cynical world that too often rejects it as foolish. While most accounts of hope situate it in a theological context, Shade presents a theory rooted in the pragmatic thought of such American philosophers as C. S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. The resulting vision of hope is therefore naturalistic and rooted in our interactions with social and natural environments.
Shade shows that hoping can be made practical without losing its capacity to transcend practical limitations. He first discusses the particular hopes we pursue and then turns to the habits of hope—persistence, resourcefulness, and courage—that are vital to their realization. Each of these habits can be developed individually, but their coordination and mutual reinforcement is most desirable. Indeed, habits of hope are the basis for developing hopefulness, a complex habit that nurtures and sustains us even when we fail to realize particular hopes. Hopefulness, Shade maintains, helps us to avoid the paralysis of despair. Without it, the life of hope is greatly diminished.
Throughout the discussion, Shade gleans insights from a variety of sources, most notably John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, but also from the real-life experiences of such heroes as Cedric Jennings and Martha Manning. These examples embody and illuminate the concept of hope and offer incentive and illustrations for developing a hopeful life. The resulting account shows how we can make hoping practical without undermining its capacity to help us grow.
The following discussion presents a pragmatic theory of hope based on the insights of classical American philosophy, especially as represented by the works of C. S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Though none of these thinkers developed such a theory, their works are ripe with implications about the life of hope. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the resulting vision of hope is naturalistic and so rooted in our interactions with environments, both social and natural. Since habits are the fundamental structures of such interaction, they function significantly both in the formulation and realization of hopes; consequently, I have chosen as my title Habits of Hope. Though this phrase refers to a specific dimension of the life of hope, it also appropriately describes what is central to and also unique about a pragmatic theory.
Excerpt: The central aim of this work is to develop a theory of hope that successfully explains the two senses in which hoping is, or should be, practical. The first concerns the need to make hopes realizable, while the second captures hope's ability to sustain us and foster growth. Succinctly stated, hope needs to be practical (realizable), because it is practical (productive) to hope. My general argument is that a pragmatic theory of hope provides a compelling explanation of hope's practicality. In particular, such a theory emphasizes`three dimensions of the life of hope—particular hopes, habits of hope, and hopefulness—the interweaving of which accounts for hope's practicality.
In the introduction, I discuss the need for a practical theory of hope and then sketch key pragmatic ideas used throughout the book. These include pragmatism's commitment to contextualism as well as the means-end continuum. In chapters 1 and 2, I discuss the first sense of hope's practicality—that is, its realizability. I situate hope in the context of the human being understood as an interactive biological
organism, highlighting the roles of habits, intelligence, and the imagination; also relevant is the role of the self, understood as the reconstructive dynamic of the organism. l then discuss particular hopes by focusing on their ends, understood as future goods that are arduous but nevertheless possible to realize. Chapter 2 examines those habits of hope that are the primary means in realizing particular hopes. The central three such habits are persistence, resourcefulness, and courage, though each of these consists of a complex of other habits.
Habits of hope also play an important role in developing hopefulness. In chapter 3, I discuss the nature of hopefulness, contrasting it with despair and examining how it contributes to the second sense of hope's practicality. I argue that we can develop hopefulness as the regnant habit of the self, such that our hopefulness nurtures and sustains us as we grow and meet life's trials. In chapter 4, I argue that the inter-weaving of the three dimensions of the life of hope accounts for hope's nature as conditioned transcendence. Hope is conditioned because it is rooted in our habits (and the environment which they implicate), yet it is also a form of transcendence because the very activity of hoping both requires and enables us to transcend antecedent limitations of agency. I also consider alternate theories which focus on unconditioned hopes but argue that these theories undermine hope's practicality. They transform its conditioned transcendence into an unconditioned transcendence, thereby impeding hope's realizability.
The conclusion highlights a main point interwoven through all the other chapters: the active role we play in developing, sustaining, and enriching the life of hope. There is much we can do to promote practical hoping, whether by developing the basic habits of hope or by expanding them into communities of hope. Our success depends on our willingness to embrace hope's practicality and to actively resist the debilitating effects of fear and despair. When we do, we become active participants in the life of hope, buoyed by it even as we support its basic structures.
Dr. Shade has written an engaging book about the importance of hope that is itself hopeful, an extended meditation on the practical side of a phenomenon that offers the promise of what he calls "conditioned transcendence." Transcendence can be an intimidating thing to ponder, not easily pinned by a definition. But Peter Ackroyd helpfully reconstructed it in "The Plato Papers" as "trans-end-dance: the ability to move beyond the end, otherwise called the dance of death." Shade's approach moves beyond the hypothetical end of unredeemed despair and mortality by offering real insight into the conditions of effective hopefulness. But he invites us to join a dance that has more to do with the processes of living, and of fashioning the total human environment to meet life's ongoing dynamic of adaptation, perseverance, and hard-won growth, than with any slow or ritual reconciliation to finality. The quest for transcendence is ultimately a dance of life, and the perpetually renewable resolve to remake a world not yet entirely hospitable to our aspirations. "The more hopeful are those whose habit of hopefulness is more deeply rooted, forming a more stable part of their characters such that it is less likely to wax and wane with changing circumstances." Shade draws astutely here on the American philosophical tradition of pragmatism, the tradition of Peirce, Dewey, William James, and (more recently) Cornel West. If there is anything we humans know well, it is the precarious nature of our circumstances; and if there is a practical emphasis in philosophy more instrumental than the pragmatists' emphasis on habit, it would be a difficult case to make. "The enormous fly-wheel of society," James called the mechanism by which we store (and thus cease having to think constantly and consciously about) those patterns and routines that carry us securely through our days. But a mechanism that can sustain constructive and even transcendent hopefulness in the fact of ignorance, poverty, fear, cruelty, disaffection, and all their attendant social and personal ills requires patient, concerted, trans-generational efforts at amelioration; Shade says it requires habits of persistence, courage, and resourcefulness. "A pragmatic hope . . . provide[s] us a resource for facing complicated problems whose solutions are not obvious or within immediate reach. A pragmatic hope is thus itself a source of hope." With his innovative account of the life of hope, gathering insight not only from the usual suspects familiar to students of pragmatic philosophy but from figures as diverse as Victor Frankl, John Steinbeck, Sherwin Nuland, and Stephen King as well, Shade has indeed created a rich philosophical resource that deserves our most thoughtful attention.
Joining Hands: Politics and Religion Together for Social Change by Roger S. Gottlieb (Westview) presents a brave new account of how religious ethics and progressive moments share a common vision of a transformed world. This book will alter they way spiritual seekers, political activists, and society as a whole think about the political role of religion and the spiritual component of politics.
Goes beyond the church versus state debate to argue that religious belief and spiritual practice are integral to the politics of social change. Did Martin Luther King's spiritual understanding of political struggle truly help the Civil Rights movement? Can breast cancer victims incorporate both spiritual wisdom and political action in their fight for life? Tackling such questions that shake the core of our political and spiritual foundations, Roger S. Gottlieb presents a brave new account of how religious ethics and progressive movements share a common vision of a transformed world. In doing so, he offers a bold and eloquent affirmation: that authentic religion requires an activist, transforming presence in the political world, and that the moral and psychological insights of religion are indispensable resources in political struggles for democracy, human rights and ecological sanity. With original and compelling interpretations of Martin Luther King and the civil rights struggle, feminism, disability rights, the global environmental movement, and the fight for breast cancer, Joining Hands will alter the way spiritual seekers, political activists, and society as a whole think about the political role of religion and the spiritual component of politics.
The Black Report by Billy J. Tidwell (University Press of America) is a multifaceted statistical examination of contemporary Black America. "The Report" grew out of the mounting concerns about the present character of African-American life and anxiety over seriously deteriorating possibilities for the future, all of which demands a more critical, objective assessment of status and directions. This inaugural edition of the Report covers six major topics--black demography, health, education, economics, political empowerment, and youth; it covers these issues by discussing the current sociopolitical context, emphasizing the society's increasing conservatism toward the problems of disadvantaged minorities. A concluding section elaborates on such observations in considering the implications of the data for policymakers and the African-American community itself. This is a valuable ready-reference resource for anyone who has an interest in understanding and/or improving the conditions of African-Americans.
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