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Philosophy of Religion

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.

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.

Excerpt: Inquiring about God: Volume 1,  Selected Essays by Nicholas Wolterstorff and Terence Cuneo (Cambridge University Press):


The past several decades have seen an extraordinary flourishing of philosophy of religion within the analytic tradition of philosophy. The essays that follow, written over a span of thirty-five years, are located within that development. In the essay that opens the collection, "Analytic philosophy of religion: retrospect and prospect," I offer a general characterization of the development, along with an account of the changes within the analytic tradition of philosophy that made analytic philosophy of religion possible in the form it has taken.

Most discussions from the Western philosophical tradition that we would classify as philosophy of religion fall under one or the other of three headings. Some are philosophical reflections on some aspect of the human phenomenon of religion: reflections on religious experience, on the nature of religious language, on liturgy and ritual, on the interpretation of sacred texts, on prayer, on the essence of religion, and so forth. Some are philosophical reflections on the epistemology of religious belief: reflections on the nature of religious belief, on what is required of a religious belief for it to count as knowledge and whether some religious beliefs do in fact count as knowledge, on what is required of a religious belief to be entitled and whether some religious beliefs are in fact entitled, on the probability that one and another religious belief is true, and so forth. And some are philosophical theology, that is, philosophical reflections on God and God's relation to experience and reality: reflections on various of God's attributes, on the relation of God to evil, on the relation of God to human freedom, on the relation of God to laws of nature, and so forth. Apart from the fact that analytic philosophers have displayed no interest in reflecting on the essence of religion, all the questions mentioned have been discussed over the past several decades, many at length.

At mid-twentieth century there were no intimations of this development. There were some discussions on various aspects of religion; observers might have expected those to continue, though not to flourish. But no philosophical theology was being done, not, at least, within mainline philosophy. Instead of talking about God, philosophers were debating whether it is possible to talk about God. Pervasive doubts on that score made reflections on the epistemology of beliefs about God irrelevant.

Why were philosophers not talking about God but debating whether it is possible to talk about God? Obviously some were not talking about God because they did not believe in God. But even those who counted themselves as theistic believers found themselves preoccupied with the meta-question of whether it is possible to speak about God. Why was that?

The immediate culprit was logical positivism, which at the time appeared to be in its prime but was in fact near death, as shortly became clear. The positivist criterion of meaning appeared to have the implication that theological sentences lack sense; the criterion had been formulated with that result in mind, among others. But preoccupation with the meta-question, whether it is possible to speak about God, did not begin with the positivists. It began with Kant.

A prominent theme in Kant's critical philosophy is that of the limits or boundaries of thought and knowledge. Confronted with the traditions of rational theology, rational psychology, and rational cosmology, Kant's critical philosophy led him to ask whether such enterprises represent attempts to trangress the boundaries of the knowable. Indeed, it became for Kant a serious question whether we can even have genuine thoughts about God — never mind whether any of those thoughts constitute knowledge. May it be that God is beyond the boundary of the thinkable? If so, then not even theologia revelata is possible.

The power of Kant's question has haunted and intimidated theology in the modern period, both theology as developed by theologians and theology as developed by philosophers. It has led theologians to preface whatever they have to say on theological matters with lengthy prolegomena; it led mainline philosophers to stay away from philosophical theology altogether, and to talk instead about religion and the possibility of theology. In the second essay in this collection, "Is it possible and desirable for theologians to recover from Kant?" I discuss in detail Kant's doctrine of limits and why this doctrine led him to regard it as a serious question whether God lies beyond the limits of the thinkable and the knowable. I go on to argue that the assumptions underlying Kant's worry are mistaken.

In my own case, I felt I had to engage Kant. Most analytic philosophers who have engaged in philosophical theology in recent years have not felt they had to. They have forged ahead without worrying over questions concerning the possibility of the enterprise. The reason for their indifference lies in a rather surprising consequence of the demise of logical positivism. The topic of limits on thought, knowledge, and speech, prominent in modern thought since Kant, has lost all interest for philosophers in the analytic tradition (not so for philosophers in the continental tradition). Analytic philosophers do on occasion charge people with failing to think or speak sense. But it is now tacitly assumed that such claims have to be defended on an ad hoc basis; analytic philosophers are skeptical to the point of being indifferent to all grand limit proposals. Philosophical theology is no longer enervated by the Kantian anxiety.


Kant did not draw from his critical philosophy the skeptical conclusions about theology in general that many have drawn and thought he drew. He did not even draw the skeptical conclusions about rational theology that many have drawn and thought he drew.

Kant did deny that we can have knowledge of God; many readers have run with this and interpreted him as denying the possibility of theology. But not so. Kant explained rational theology as differing from revelational theology in that the former is "based ... solely upon reason"; and it was his view that a rational theology is possible.' It is possible to arrive at well-grounded conclusions about God on the basis of reason alone. From the Critique of Practical Reason onward, a good deal of what Kant himself wrote would have been regarded by him as rational theology. He did not regard it as knowledge, however. To understand why not, one has to realize that "knowledge" (Wissen), as he used the term, was a term of art. On his usage, a judgment constitutes knowledge only if it is related to experience in a certain way; he was convinced that judgments about God cannot be related in that way to experience.

Rational theology comes in two main forms, said Kant. In one form, "it thinks its object ... through pure reason, solely by means of transcendental concepts (ens originarium, realissimum, ens entium), in which case it is entitled transcendental theology." In the other form, it thinks its object "through a concept borrowed from nature (from the nature of our soul) —a concept of the original being as a supreme intelligence — and it would then have to be called natural theology." Those who engage in the former type of rational theology are called deists, says Kant; those who engage in the latter type are called theists.

[Deists] grant that we can know the existence of an original being solely through reason, but maintain that our concept of it is transcendental only, namely, the concept of a being which possesses all reality, but which we are unable to determine in any more specific fashion. [Theists] assert that reason is capable of determining its object more precisely through analogy with nature, namely, as a being which, through understanding and freedom, contains in itself the ultimate ground of everything else. Thus the deist represents this being merely as a cause of the world ... the theist as the Author of the world.

Transcendental theology, or deism, in turn comes in two forms. In one form, "it proposes to deduce the existence of the original being from an experience in general (without determining in any more specific fashion the nature of the world to which the experience belongs), and is then called cosmo-theology." Aquinas' argumentation for God's existence and for God's ontological attributes, in both his Summa contra Gentiles and his Summa Theologiae, is an example of what Kant has in mind by "cosmo-theology." The other form of transcendental theology holds that one "can know the existence of such a being through mere concepts, without the help of any experience whatsoever, and is then entitled onto-theology." Kant had in mind rational theology that begins with an ontological argument, such as Anselm's.

Natural theology also comes in two forms. "Natural theology infers the properties and the existence of an Author of the world from the constitution, the order and unity, exhibited in the world — a world in which we have to recognize two kinds of causality with their rules, namely, nature and freedom. From this world natural theology ascends to a supreme intelligence, as the principle either of all natural or of all moral order and perfection. In the former case it is entitled physico-theology, in the latter, moral theology."

In the third and fourth essays in this collection I discuss and critically appraise two attempts at rational theology. In "Conundrums in Kant's rational theology" I discuss Kant's attempt at rational theology of the moral theological type, as we find it in his Religion within the Boundaries of Reason Alone, coming to the conclusion that the attempt fails at crucial junctures. In the essay, "In defense of Gaunilo's defense of the fool," I discuss the opening argument in Anselm's attempt at rational theology of the onto-theological type, concluding that it too fails.

I approach Anselm's argument from a somewhat unusual angle. One consequence of the combination of the extreme brevity of Anselm's ontological argument for God's existence with its highly provocative character is that, over the centuries, many philosophers have tried to improve on his formulation of his argument. My own view is that most of these "improvements" are sufficiently different from Anselm's argument to make it best to view them as alternative ontological arguments. There is no such thing as the ontological argument; there is, instead, a large family of ontological arguments, Anselm's being the original member of the family.

For a good many years, when teaching Anselm's argument, I too saw myself as improving on his formulation. The earliest written criticism of Anselm's argument that we possess was written by his contemporary, Gaunilo, and sent to Anselm for his response. I had my students read that part of Gaunilo's response in which Gaunilo claims that, by employing the principles to which Anselm appeals in his argument, one could reach the conclusion that there is a perfect island — which is absurd. I then undertook to explain to my students why Gaunilo's perfect island argument was not analogous to Anselm's argument.

But then one day it struck me that in his response to Gaunilo, Anselm did not explain why the perfect island argument is not an analogue to his argument for God's existence; instead, he blustered. That made me suspicious; so I undertook to study carefully the entire exchange. I was led to conclude that though Gaunilo was certainly not a first-rate philosophical mind and misunderstood Anselm on some points, nonetheless he discerned well enough what Anselm was actually arguing to put his finger on its fundamental flaw. The essay, "In defense of Gaunilo's defense of the fool," is thus a look at Anselm's argument through the lens of his exchange with Gaunilo.

The best-known recent example of an ontological argument is that presented by Alvin Plantinga in God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1974). Plantinga makes a brief attempt to show that he is getting at what Anselm had in mind; I do not find the attempt convincing. My view is that Plantinga's argument is not a reformulation of Anselm's argument but a new ontological argument.


Kant would not regard the remainder of the essays in this collection as essays in rational theology,  nor would he regard most of the writings I have been calling "analytic philosophical theology" as rational theology. For the same reason he would not regard them as philosophical theology. He might regard them as theologia revelata — I'm not sure.

Why would he not regard them as rational theology, and thus not as philosophical theology? Because he would not regard them as "theology based solely upon reason." Given what he meant by that, he would be right; they are not theology based solely upon reason.

Kant did not explain what he meant by "theology based solely upon reason." But from his differentiation of various types of theology that he regards as based solely upon reason, we can make a good inference. Theology is based solely upon reason, and is thus rational or philosophical theology, only if it is based solely on premises that all normal, adult, appropriately informed human beings would accept if those premises were presented to them and they understood them. Possibly Kant had in mind additional restrictions on the sort of premises that theology may employ if it is to be rational or philosophical theology; but at least this restriction holds.

Many analytic philosophers of religion, myself included, engage in the enterprise as religious believers without making or having made any attempt to base our religious convictions on premises that all normal, adult, appropriately informed human beings would accept if those premises were presented to them and they understood them. With respect to a good many of our religious convictions we do not make, and have not made, any attempt to base them on any premises whatsoever. So too, many analytic philosophers who work in philosophy of mind enter the discussion as committed physicalists without making or having made any attempt to base their physicalist convictions on premises that all normal, adult, appropriately informed human beings would accept if those premises were presented to them and they understood them.

This description of how analytic philosophers engage in philosophy raises the obvious question, are they entitled to employ their Christian convictions in this way, or their physicalist convictions, or whatever? Are they not defecting from the high calling of the philosopher to base philosophy solely upon reason? Kant would say they are defecting; present-day philosophers assume they are not. Why the change?

The change in view concerning what might be called the epistemology of philosophy reflects dramatic changes in epistemology generally over the past thirty years or so. Here is not the place to discuss those changes.4 Let me simply say that most analytic philosophers operate on the assumption that little of interest would emerge if philosophers did in fact confine themselves to premises that all normal, adult, appropriately informed human beings would accept if those premises were presented to them and they understood them. There is no serious alternative to engaging in philosophy employing considerations that one finds compelling but that some of one's fellow philosophers do not. Philosophy has become a pluralist enterprise. Or rather, in spite of the self-perception of many philosophers, it always has been that.

But then why talk about philosophical theology? The term implies a distinction between theology as developed by philosophers and theology as developed by theologians — between philosophical theology and theological theology. Kant was carrying on the tradition of distinguishing the two by saying that philosophers appeal solely to reason whereas theologians appeal also to revelation. The now-current view among analytic philosophers concerning the epistemology of philosophy makes that way of distinguishing no longer applicable. The fact that someone views certain of his religious convictions as having their source in revelation does not imply that appealing to those convictions in the course of his reflections about God establishes that he is not engaged in philosophy.

I see no structural difference between philosophical and theological theology. In the West there is a distinct tradition and practice of philosophy, and a distinct tradition and practice of theology. Though these two traditions and practices overlap, we are all able to pick out works that clearly belong to one or the other. Whitehead's writings about God belong to the tradition and practice of philosophy — though theologians not infrequently read and discuss them. John Calvin's and Karl Barth's writings belong to the tradition and practice of theology — though philosophers now and then read and discuss Calvin and Barth. Philosophical theology is what emerges when someone engaged in the practice of philosophy and carrying on its tradition turns his or her reflections to God. Anyone acquainted with the two traditions and practices, that of philosophy and that of theology, will recognize that the essays in this collection are philosophical.


With the exception of the last essay, "Tertullian's enduring question," all the essays, from the fifth on, are essays in which I deal directly with one or another of God's attributes or with some aspect of God's relation to the world. I do so by engaging, in a certain way, the tradition of Christian philosophical theology. Let me explain, beginning with an explanation of what I have in mind by Christian philosophical theology, and then explaining my particular mode of engagement with it. A happy consequence of overcoming the Kantian anxiety is that one can treat one's pre-Kantian predecessors in philosophical theology as genuine dialogue partners.

A prominent feature of how those philosophers who are Christians have gone about developing philosophical theology is that they have required of their reflections that they cohere with what Christian Scripture claims and presupposes about God.

Sometimes their reflections have been directly on some aspect of what Scripture claims about God. In my book Divine Discourse, for example, I reflect philosophically on the claim, running throughout Hebrew and Christian Scripture, that God said so-and-so, and on the claim often made about Christian Scripture that it is the word of the Lord. I was aware that the biblical writers were not alone in claiming that God had spoken to them or to someone they knew; so I realized that my reflections had broader relevance than just to the claims of divine speech made within and about Scripture. But in any case, I was not led by philosophical arguments to conclude that God speaks. I found this claim already being made; and I decided to reflect on it philosophically. It is, after all, an intriguing and highly provocative claim.

By contrast, Aquinas arrived at the conclusion that God is ontologically immutable by employing what Kant would have classified as rational theology of the cosmo-theological sort. (I discuss Aquinas' line of argument for God's immutability in the essay, "God everlasting.") Aquinas interpreted Scripture as claiming the very same thing, however; he held that philosophical reasoning and Scriptural claim converge on this point. So though it would be misleading to characterize Aquinas' reflections on divine immutability as philosophical reflections on the biblical claim that

God is immutable, it would also not be correct to say that the role of Scripture in his reflections on immutability was merely to set boundaries to his conclusions. He had independent philosophical reasons for holding that God is immutable; but he would have insisted that his reflections do not merely cohere with Scripture but are a philosophical articulation of Scripture's claim that God is immutable. So when I say that those philosophers who are Christians have required of their philosophical theology that it cohere with what Scripture claims and presupposes about God, it should not be inferred that the actual relationship has been no more than coherence. Coherence is the minimum.

A fair number of philosophical theologians have felt no compunction whatsoever to have their conclusions cohere with what Christian Scripture claims and presupposes about God; Plotinus and Whitehead come to mind. Conversely, many of those who have interpreted Scripture to find out what it claims and presupposes about God have had no interest in reflecting philosophically about God; many are in fact downright hostile to philosophical theology. Christian philosophical theology is the challenging project of achieving an understanding of God that both coheres with Scripture and is philosophically cogent.

Determining what Christian Scripture claims or assumes about God is no simple task. Distinguish between how some passage of Scripture presents God, what the writer (editor) of that passage was claiming or presupposing about God in thus presenting God, and what Scripture claims and presupposes about God . What is directly before us when we read Scripture is the first; what we have to get to by interpretation is the last.

[In my Divine Discourse (Cambridge University Press, 1995) I argue that it is not texts that claim things, but authors (or editors) who claim things by way of authorizing a text, those claims then having various presuppositions. I likewise hold that metaphor, hyperbole, etc., are not matters of meaning but of use; authors (editors) use words metaphorically, hyperbolically, ironically, etc. In apparent violation of these principles, I will speak of Scripture as claiming and presupposing things about God. I speak thus so as to leave open the question of who it might be that is claiming and presupposing these things by way of the text of Scripture.]

Some passages in Scripture present God as having wings; others present God as a rock, No interpreter believes that the writers (editors) of these passages were claiming or presupposing that God has wings or that God is a rock. A passage may present God as a rock without the writer claiming or presupposing that God is a rock; that will be the case if "is a rock" is being used metaphorically. Probably only completely dead metaphors can be fully parsed out into some literal equivalent. But when some biblical writer presents God as a rock, what he is claiming, at least, is that God is steadfast and reliable.

How do we decide whether some passage is to be interpreted literally or metaphorically — or hyperbolically, ironically, and so forth for all the other literary tropes? In Divine Discourse I argued for a general principle: literal interpretation is always the default option. A writer or speaker is to be interpreted as speaking literally — as saying what his words mean —unless there is good reason to conclude otherwise. Knowing, as I do, that Michael is not hallucinatory, I know that when he assertively uttered "the guy is a wolf," he was not saying (speaking literally now) that the man is a wolf; he was speaking metaphorically. So too, we all know that when some biblical writer said "God is a rock," he was not saying (speaking literally now) that God is a rock. Though non-literal interpretation always carries the burden of proof, often that burden is borne successfully.

But what the writer (editor) of some biblical passage claimed or presupposed about God is not necessarily what Scripture claims or presupposes about God. Christians for the most part have insisted that in interpreting Christian Scripture, we must go beyond treating it as a collection of loosely strung-together pericopes, also go beyond treating it as an assemblage of some sixty-six separate books, and treat it as one work, highly varied in its contents.' And for the most part they have insisted that in treating Christian Scripture as one work, we are to give priority to what the Gospels and the Pauline letters say God was doing in Jesus Christ. The combination of this principle of canonical unity with this principle of interpretive priority will sometimes lead to the conclusion that what the writer of some passage claimed or presupposed about God differs from what Scripture claims or presupposes about God — and that the latter differs even more from how the passage presents God. Some passages in the Old Testament present God as doing things (or as instructing human beings to do things) that all of us, along with most biblical writers, would regard as unjust. Yet all Christian interpreters interpret Scripture as teaching that God is just.

[In Divine Discourse (Cambridge University Press) I did not devote much attention to what goes into interpreting a body of writings as one work. I discuss the issues more fully in "The Unity Behind the Canon," in Christine Helmer and Christof Landmesser, eds., One Scripture or Many? Canon from Biblical, Theological, and Philosophical Perspectives (Oxford University Press, 2004). ]

To get from how biblical passages present God to what Scripture claims and presupposes about God, one must subtly and judiciously employ complex interpretive strategies whose results often prove controversial. That might seem to take all bite out of even the minimal requirement of coherence cited above. If the philosophical theologian finds himself led by philosophical considerations to conclusions that conflict with how some biblical passages present God, he doesn't have to choose between surrendering his philosophically argued conclusions and tossing Scripture out the window; he can insist that Scripture does not actually claim or presuppose that God is the way those passages present God.

The situation is by no means as bleak as this abstract way of putting it might make it seem, however. There are pervasive patterns in how Scripture presents God. With respect to such patterns, it takes exceedingly powerful arguments to force one to conclude that this pattern of presentation is not what Scripture claims or presupposes about God. More about this shortly.


I have explained what I had in mind when I spoke of Christian philosophical theology. Let me now explain in what way I engage the tradition of Christian philosophical theology.

In the opening twenty or thirty questions of Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, Christian philosophical theology attained one of its classical formulations, both with respect to the attributes ascribed to God and with respect to the line of argumentation for those attributes. Aquinas begins the articulation of his philosophical theology in Question z of Summa Theologiae by arguing that reality is so structured that there has to be something on which everything not identical with itself is dependent —something such that the existence and properties of everything other than itself are dependent on it and such that its own existence and properties are not dependent on anything other than itself. (I am blending the conclusions of the first four of Aquinas' "five ways.") Everybody agrees that this being is God, says Aquinas. God uniquely possesses aseity.

In the same question in which he argues that reality is so structured that there has to be something that uniquely possesses aseity, Aquinas also argues that reality is so structured that there has to be "some intelligent being ... by whom all natural things are directed to their end." 7 This too, he says, we all call God. But the claim that God uniquely possesses aseity proves sufficient, by itself, for Aquinas to draw a long string of conclusions concerning God's attributes. If God uniquely possesses aseity, then God is also simple, perfect, immutable, eternal, omnipotent, impassible,

and so forth. My engagement with the tradition of Christian philosophical theology mainly takes the form of engaging various components of this classical formulation of philosophical theology, now and then bringing other figures into the picture in addition to Aquinas. (The essay on Anselm is different in that there I engage the opening argument in a formulation of Christian philosophical theology which yields the conclusion that God is that than which nothing more excellent is possible, rather than the conclusion that God uniquely possesses aseity.)

One can engage philosophical theology in one or another of its classical formulations in a variety of different ways. If one finds oneself in basic agreement with its line of argumentation and its conclusions, one can set oneself the project of giving a deeper and richer account than one's predecessors gave of one and another attribute, and of dealing with puzzles and objections better than they did. In contrast to engagement of this sort, mine is a critical engagement. I have serious questions about various parts of Christian philosophical theology in most of its classic formulations, including its classic Thomistic formulation; I do not believe that God is simple, ontologically immutable, eternal in the sense of being outside of time, or impassible.

My argument against Anselm's onto-theology is that the opening move does not work; Anselm's ontological argument is not sound. My argument against the classic Thomistic formulation of philosophical theology is different. I do not argue that Aquinas' line of argument is unacceptable simply qua rational theology of the cosmo-theological sort. To the contrary, in "Divine simplicity" I defend Aquinas' explanation of divine simplicity against a number of philosophical objections that have been lodged against it in recent years. And in the following essay, "Alston on Aquinas on theological predication," I argue that Aquinas' solution to the problem of how it can be that, if God is simple, our predications about God are not all synonymous, has been widely misunderstood. On Aquinas' view, the term "good" applies literally and univocally to both God and creatures, as do the terms "powerful," "knowledgeable," and so forth. Aquinas does have a doctrine of analogy, as all commentators agree; but that doctrine is not what it is commonly taken to be, namely, that such terms as "good" and "powerful" apply only analogously to both God and creatures.

My critical engagement takes the form of arguing that, on key points, Christian philosophical theology of this and most other classic formulations fails to meet the requirement that it be compatible with what Christian Scripture claims and presupposes about God. To those who do not accept that requirement — Plotinians and Whiteheadians, for example — my arguments are irrelevant. But of course Aquinas did accept that requirement, as have most others in the West who have engaged in philosophical theology.

Many passages in Christian Scripture present God as the one who saves us; we human beings cannot save ourselves from what we need saving from. We can do a good deal, but not enough. More specifically, God is presented in many passages as saving us not only by how God wraps things up at the end, but also as saving us by acting salvifically in human history, centrally in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. For any philosophical theologian who identifies herself as Christian, the burden of proof will be on her if she finds herself inclined to believe that in thus presenting God, Scripture is not claiming and presupposing that God acts in history for our salvation but that the passages in question must be interpreted figuratively. That burden of proof will be unusually hard to bear, since Scripture's presentation of God as saving us by acting in history is not incidental but pervasive. It will be much harder to bear than is, for example, the burden of proof one takes onto oneself when one holds that the presentation of God in some passages as having wings must be interpreted figuratively.

Aquinas saw the problem and accepted the challenge, not by arguing that Scripture should be interpreted figuratively on these points, but by trying to explain God's relationship to human wrongdoing in such a way that God's being impassible is compatible with God's judgment that there is something we need saving from, and by trying to explain God's relationship to historical events in such a way that God's being eternal is compatible with God's acting in history for our salvation. In the essays "God everlasting" and "Unqualified divine temporality," I argue that Aquinas was unsuccessful in the latter attempt; in "Suffering love" and "Is God disturbed by what transpires in human affairs?" I argue that Aquinas, along with Augustine before him, was unsuccessful in the former attempt.

In "The silence of the God who speaks," I explain more amply than I do in either of the two preceding articles what it is, in the claims and presuppositions of Christian Scripture about God, that makes the problem of evil so difficult for Christian philosophers and theologians. And in the article, "Barth on evil," I discuss a fascinatingly different way of thinking of evil from that which Augustine and Aquinas adopted in their attempt to show the compatibility of divine impassibility with God's judgment that there is something we need saving from.

Barth identifies evil as what he calls das Nichtige. We human beings are dependent for our existence on God's creating and sustaining activity. Were we brought into existence and then left on our own, we would immediately slide out of existence. Non-existence is thus das Nichtige, that is, a menace that God must constantly oppose if we are to exist. Furthermore, once God has created us as the sort of creatures we are and established what God desires for us, then perforce God has also brought about the possibility of our not doing and undergoing what God desires for us. This possibility is also das Nichtige, also a menace to us. Not only are we menaced by this possibility; God permits us to fall prey to this menace, while yet doing battle against its incursion into our existence. God is not impassible.

My critique of Augustine and Aquinas on the issue of divine impassibility leaves open the possibility that someone else has been successful in showing coherence with Scripture where they were not. I know of none such. Nor do I know of anyone who, agreeing that eternity and impassibility are incompatible with Scripture's presentation of God as savior, has offered such compelling philosophical arguments against the existence of a God who judges that there is something we need saving from, and who acts in history to accomplish that salvation, that either we must interpret this feature of the biblical presentation as a figurative way of saying something else, or toss out this biblical presentation of God as irredeemably wrongheaded.

If Aquinas is right in his argument — and I think he is — that aseity implies simplicity, that simplicity implies immutability, and that immutability implies eternity and impassibility, then giving up eternity and impassibility implies giving up immutability, simplicity, and aseity. Likewise it implies that there is something mistaken in Aquinas' argument for God's aseity, and in all other arguments that philosophers have offered for the same conclusion. I have not myself written a critique of these arguments, however. They have been so extensively discussed and criticized over the centuries that I have found myself with nothing new to say.


The reader who is looking for a fully developed philosophical theology will find this collection disappointing. I would very much like to have a fully developed philosophical theology, both for my own satisfaction and to offer to others for their consideration. But this collection is not

that, nor is it that when paired with my Divine Discourse. I say nothing about such important and much-discussed topics as the nature of God's knowledge and God's power; I do not discuss the Trinity. And my contribution to the topics I do discuss could rightly be described as piecemeal and mostly negative. I argue that God is not simple, not outside of time, not ontologically immutable, not impassible. We would like to hear something positive on these topics; and we would like to see those positive contributions assembled into a comprehensive understanding of God which is an alternative to that found in Aquinas' classic formulation, and indeed, an alternative to that found in all other classic formulations. This collection gives reasons for rejecting the classic formulations; in so doing, it gives some indication of what an alternative formulation would be like. But it scarcely goes beyond that. I would guess that it is my purely negative treatment of the traditional doctrine of God's aseity that will leave readers most dissatisfied. If simplicity, eternity, ontological immutability, and impassibility all have to go, then aseity also has to go. But surely God is not a hapless victim. So what should replace aseity?

If God uniquely possessed aseity, then not only the existence but also the properties of everything other than God would be dependent on God, while the existence and properties of God would not be dependent on anything other than God. I agree that, in one way or another, the existence of everything other than God is dependent on God, whereas God is not dependent on anything other than Godself for God's existence. I likewise agree that, in one way or another, entities other than God having the properties they do have are dependent on God. My disagreement is with the claim that God's having the properties God does have is never dependent on anything other than God.

I hold, for example, that God has been wronged by us — that being wronged by us is one of the things that characterizes God. God has this property on account of our having wronged God; had we not wronged God, God would not have this property. Thus God's having that property is dependent on us. I likewise hold that God is disturbed by our wronging God, as God is disturbed by our wronging each other. God reacts negatively to such wrongings. Though someone might undertake to argue that being wronged by me at a certain time does not represent a genuine change in God from how God was before the wronging took place, no one will undertake to argue that being disturbed by my wronging God does not represent a change in God from how God was before God was disturbed. And as I argue in "God everlasting," no one should undertake to argue that God's knowledge, that God is now being wronged by me, does not represent a genuine change in God from how God was before I wronged God.

Barth held that God chooses to let Godself be disturbed by our actions and chooses to save us from what we need saving from; God might have remained sovereignly aloof, says Barth. I am dubious. I think that once God made us as creatures who have the worth of bearing the image of God, then certain ways of treating us are required of God on pain of wronging us; God could not remain aloof. And I think that once God made us as creatures capable of wronging God and each other, and did not prevent us from doing exactly that, then too God could not remain aloof. The relevant choice goes farther back in the life of God. The situation is not that, having made us, God then faced the choice of whether or not to remain sovereignly aloof. God did not have to create us as the sort of creatures that we are and permit us to wrong God; that's where the choice lay. In creating us as the sort of creatures we are, creatures of great worth but capable of wronging God, and in permitting us to wrong God, God chose to be passible, thereby also choosing to give up aseity.


The collection concludes with an essay of quite a different sort, "Tertullian's enduring question." A question raised by all the preceding essays is how we should deal with the texts of our predecessors. Tertullian, so I argue, represents one way; his near-contemporary, Clement of Alexandria, represents a very different way. The intellectual tradition of the West has been a never-ending contest between these two ways. I leave it to the reader to determine on whose side I come down.

Let me close on a personal note by offering my warm thanks to Terence Cuneo for the work he has put into editing this volume. He has been a superb editor. Indeed, without his prodding, this collection would probably never have come about.

Excerpt: Practices of Belief: Volume 2,  Selected Essays by Nicholas Wolterstorff (Cambridge University Press): Epistemology was of no interest to me in my student days. None of the topics discussed grabbed my attention, not even the issue of how to reply to skepticism concerning the existence and knowability of an external world; such skepticism had never tempted me. It all seemed quite dull. Then two things happened that made epistemology both fascinating and unavoidable.

In the 1960s and 70s the field of meta-epistemology emerged. Beliefs come with a variety of distinct truth-related merits: being true, of course, but also being warranted, being entitled, being rational, being a case of knowledge, and the like. Among the traditional concerns of epistemologists has been the attempt to formulate criteria for the presence of such merits in beliefs. The emergence of meta-epistemology consisted of philosophers stepping back and taking note of the fact that the criteria on offer fall into certain structural types. And rather than doing what their predecessors had done, assume the rightness of a certain type and then discuss the substantive issues within the confines of that type, philosophers were now led to inquire into the tenability of these various types and to ask whether, perhaps, some important types had been neglected. I found this fascinating. And rather soon it became clear to me why epistemology had been of no interest to me in my student days.

One of the structural options that emerged with great clarity from the meta-epistemological discussions was that of foundationalism, and more specifically, of that species of foundationalism that has come to be called classical foundationalism. Let me explain, ever so briefly, what classical foundationalism is; more elaborate explanations will be found in a number of the essays that follow. Foundationalisms of all sorts begin by distinguishing between mediate beliefs, those held on the basis of other beliefs, and immediate beliefs, those not so held. Then, with their eye on some particular merit in beliefs, they do two things. They specify the conditions under which immediate beliefs possess the merit in question. And on the assumption that mediate beliefs possess the merit because it gets transferred to them from immediate beliefs that possess it, they specify how a mediate belief must be related to one or more immediate beliefs that possess the merit for the merit to get transferred to the mediate belief. Foundationalist theories all have this sort of bi-partite structure. What distinguishes classical foundationalism from other versions of foundationalism is its insistence that for immediate beliefs to possess the merit in question, they must be certain for the person whose beliefs they are.

It became clear to me, in retrospect, that in my graduate course in epistemology we had unwittingly taken classical foundationalism for granted and spent our time worrying over problems that arise within that structure, never realizing that there are other epistemological structures in which at least some of those problems do not arise. My professor was by no means unusual in thus taking classical foundationalism for granted. Once classical foundationalism had been identified as one structural option among others, it became clear that epistemology in the empiricist and analytic traditions had been overwhelmingly dominated by classical foundationalist proposals.

A second development around the same time also spurred my interest in epistemology. In my graduate school days, logical positivism appeared to be in the prime of life. And logical positivism posed for me, as a religious person, a serious challenge. The logical positivists venerated modern natural science and abhorred metaphysics and religion. They thought natural science was the road ahead for humankind. To their credit, the positivists recognized that making such a declaration required of them an explanation of what distinguishes natural science from metaphysics and religion, and indeed from all those other intellectual endeavors that they regarded as dead ends. They proposed drawing the distinction by employing a thesis about meaning. For those statements that are not analytically true or false, a statement has meaning in the sense of making a genuine factual claim if and only if it is empirically verifiable. The road ahead for humankind consists of developing a body of theory all of whose non-necessary statements are empirically verifiable. Metaphysics and religion elimination of all doubt, and (2) a "Closure Principle-style" argument based on the claim that if x entails y and S has justification for x, then S has justification for y. He evaluates both, suggesting that while there is plausible support for (2), there seems to be none for (I). Klein turns to contextualism to see if it can contribute to the discussion between one who claims that we can have knowledge about some epistemically interesting class of propositions and the Academic SkeptiSTOR philosophy/philosophyintroductions.htm Skepticism, pointing out that the Pyrrhonist withholds assent concerning our knowledge-bearing status because reason cannot provide an adequate basis for assent. He assesses three possible patterns of reasoning (foundationalism, coherentism, and infinitism), and concludes that the Pyrrhonist view, that reason cannot resolve matters concerning the nonevident, is vindicated.

In "Epistemological Duties," Richard Feldman uses three main questions to illuminate the topic of epistemological duties. (1) "What are our epistemological duties?" That is, what are the obligations of a believer qua believer? Is it simply our duty to form positive beliefs or to develop appropriate cognitive attitudes, which include disbelief and the suspension of judgment? Perhaps our duty is only to try to believe the truth. Perhaps it is more "diachronic", involving evidence gathering and other extended efforts to maximize our true beliefs and to minimize our false beliefs. After suggesting that epistemological duties pertain to the development of appropriate cognitive attitudes, Feldman asks (2) "What makes a duty epistemological?" and (3) "How do epistemological duties interact with other kinds of duties?" His pursuit of (3) contributes to his response to (2), in that he uses it to argue that a concept of distinctly epistemological duty must exclude practical and moral duties that pertain to belief and include only duties that pertain to epistemological success (the act of having reasonable or justified cognitive attitudes).

In "Scientific Knowledge," Philip Kitcher offers an approach to scientific knowledge that is more systematic than many current approaches in the episte­mology of science. He challh superb philosophers, William P. Alston and Alvin Plantinga, I set out to explore the latter option. Is there good reason to accept the evidentialist challenge to theistic belief? Is it true that, for a belief about God to be up to snuff, it has to be held on the basis of good propositional evidence?

Well, why have those who issued the challenge believed that it was valid? What were their reasons for thinking that evidentialism concerning theistic beliefs is true? Our attempt to answer this question led us back to John Locke. It was Locke who first clearly and explicitly issued the evidentialist challenge concerning theistic belief. The recently developed meta-epistemology made it unmistakably clear what led him to do so. It was his adherence to classical foundationalism.

The question that then confronted Alston, Plantinga, and myself, was whether classical foundationalism is true. If not true in general, is it nonetheless true for theistic beliefs? If not true for theistic beliefs, is there some

other compelling epistemological structure that yields the same conclusion concerning beliefs about God, namely, that to be up to snuff, they must be held on the basis of good propositional evidence? And if classical foundationalism is not true in general, is there anything in general to put in its place? Subsequent work by Alston, Plantinga, myself, and many others, has addressed all of these questions.

Among the various lines of thought that emerged from these inquiries was that which has come to be known as Reformed epistemology. In the chapter titled "Epistemology of religion," I briefly discuss Reformed epistemology within the context of a sketch of the history of the epistemology of religious belief. In the chapter titled "Reformed epistemology," I offer a more detailed account of the movement.

The fact that my interest in epistemology was spurred by two distinct but more or less simultaneous developments, the emergence of meta-epistemology and the resuscitation of the evidentialist challenge to theistic belief, is reflected in the fact that the essays in the first part of this collection are essays in general epistemology and those in the second part are essays in the epistemology of religion. If I had been rigorously deliberate and systematic in my thinking about these issues, I would have written the essays in general epistemology first, and then, as an application of my general epistemology, I would have written the essays in epistemology of religion. But that's not how it went. I moved back and forth between the specific and the general. The essay, "Can belief in God be rational if it has no foundations?" was written before any other in this collection.

I have explained what motivated my writing of these essays. Now let me highlight a topic, or question, that runs throughout. I have described Locke as holding that there is something defective in beliefs about God if they are not held on the basis of the sort of evidence required by classical foundationalism. But upon reading Locke with care, it became clear to me that he was saying something much more precise than that there is something defective about such beliefs. He was saying that a person is not entitled to her beliefs about God if she does not hold them on the basis of satisfactory propositional evidence. He was saying that she is not permitted to hold her theistic beliefs, she is not a responsible believer, if she does not hold them on the basis of such evidence. The language of "ought" and "ought not," of "should" and "should not," pervades Locke's discussion of these matters. That realization led me, in turn, to identify what I came to regard as a serious defect in analytic epistemology of the past half century. I found most of it preoccupied with what the writers called justification, this being customarily understood as what has to be added to true belief to make for knowledge. Not only were they themselves preoccupied almost exclusively with justification; I found many of them taking for granted that being justified was in fact the only truth-related merit in beliefs that is of interest to the epistemologist — apart, of course, from being a case of knowledge. The discussions were almost all about the nature of justification and the conditions for its presence in beliefs. There were some discussions about rationality; but these were very much in the minority.

I came to believe that beliefs have a number of distinct merits (and demerits) that are of interest to the epistemologist, and that a good deal of confusion in epistemology has been caused by the assumption that there is just one. There's the merit that Locke had his eye on and that I call entitlement. There's the merit of warrant that Plantinga has his eye on in his trilogy on warrant.' There's the merit of rationality that Richard Foley has his eye on in his books and essays on rationality.2 There's the merit of reliability that Alvin Goldman has had his eye on.3 The list goes on and on.

There was in Locke's day, and there remains in our day, the social practice of holding people responsible for what they believe and for how they believe it, and of holding people responsible for what they do not believe. As I indicated above, the vocabulary that we typically use for this is the vocabulary of "ought" and "ought not," of "should" and "should not." Locke's aim was to intervene in how that practice was conducted in his day. He strongly believed that when it came to matters of morality and religion, the practice should be radically reformed.

At the root of the wars and controversies over religion that Europe was experiencing in Locke's day was the assumption, by each of the contending parties, that they were entitled to their moral and religious beliefs. Locke held that they were not entitled. They would be entitled only if they held their beliefs on the basis of evidence of a classical foundationalist sort. If Europeans could be persuaded to revise their practice of holding each other responsible for their moral and religious beliefs so that it accorded with this principle, religious peace would ensue.

Only rather late in my reflection on these issues did I discern what, so I now think, was deepest in Locke's thought. Yes, he was a classical foundationalist with respect to being entitled to hold theistic beliefs; and yes, he did think that religious peace would ensue if people would follow his proposal. But what was deeper than any of this was Locke's conviction that religious peace was within reach only if there is some way of extricating ourselves from our diverse traditions so as to form our beliefs solely on the basis of the human nature that we all share in common. That's what Locke thought adherence to classical foundationalism would do, and that nothing else would do. For Locke saw classical foundationalism as satisfying what I call the "Doxastic Ideal" in the essay, "Epistemology of religion," an ideal that I trace back to Plato. Locke thought that the only beliefs that are certain for a person are those whose content is some necessary truth that is self-evident to the person, plus those whose content records some feature of consciousness of which the person is introspectively aware. If people can be taught to hold their religious beliefs on the basis of deductive or probabilistic arguments whose validity is self-evident to them and whose premises are of one or the other of those two sorts, then at last our shared human nature and not our diverse traditions will form our beliefs.

Here was epistemology on a grand social scale. I found it gripping. Not for a moment did I believe that Locke's proposal for achieving social peace had any chance of success. Neither did I accept his classical foundationalism, or his evidentialism concerning theistic belief. And I hold that it was pure fantasy on Locke's part to suppose that we can free ourselves from the influence of our immersion in one and another tradition. Nonetheless, the spirit of Locke hovers over the essays in this collection in that, ever since reading Locke, the merit in beliefs that has drawn my attention is entitlement. I concede the importance of knowledge and of its constituent, warrant. I concede the importance of rationality in its various forms. But it's the phenomenon of being a responsible believer that has intrigued me. In my book John Locke and the Ethics of Belief, I explored Locke's own account of entitlement and explained why it doesn't work. Here, in several of these essays, I offer my own account.

My first stab at developing an account of entitlement in general, and of entitlement to beliefs about God in particular, is to be found in the essay already mentioned, "Can belief in God be rational if it has no foundations?" At the time of writing the essay I was on the way to seeing the need to distinguish entitlement from rationality, but not quite there yet. Accordingly there is some blurring of the two concepts in the essay, as there is some blurring of those two concepts with the concept of justification. The essay should have been titled, "Can belief in God be entitled if it has no foundations?"

Even more significant than my blurring of the distinction between entitlement and rationality is the fact that, at the time of writing the essay, I had not yet seen with full clarity the solution to a puzzle that anyone talking about entitlement has to face up to; I was on the way to seeing the solution, but not quite there. In the essay "Ought to believe — two concepts," chapter 3 of the present volume, I argue in detail that we human beings seldom hold our beliefs as the result of deciding to hold them. Yet we often hold people responsible for what they believe and for how they believe it; sometimes we even hold them responsible for their ignorance. What sense does this make if beliefs (and ignorance) are not the product of volition?

It was when reading Locke's small book, On the Conduct of the Understanding, that the solution became clear to me. Entitlement has to do with how we conduct our understandings. A fundamental component of human life is practices of inquiry, that is, social practices that are ways of finding things out or believed to be such. When we say that someone ought to believe or ought not believe this or that, or that he should not have been ignorant of so-and-so, we are indirectly reproaching him for his failure to employ some relevant practice of inquiry with appropriate competence. In "Ought to believe — two concepts," I distinguish this use of "ought" and "ought not," when applied to beliefs, from another common use of the same terms (about which I'll have more to say in a moment). Then, in chapter 4, "Entitlement to believe and practices of inquiry," I offer a general account of entitlement as grounded in practices of inquiry; in chapter eleven, "On being entitled to beliefs about God," I apply this general account to the specific case of entitlement to beliefs about God.

Not only does the spirit of John Locke hover over these essays, in my preoccupation with the doxastic merit of entitlement; the spirit of Thomas Reid hovers over them as well. Indeed, in how I actually treat the issues there is much more of the spirit of Reid than of the spirit of Locke. In 1979, for reasons so insignificant that I don't remember what they were, I happened to read Reid's Inquiry into the Human Mind. I felt that I had met a soul-mate. Here was a fellow opponent of classical foundational-ism; Reid was, in fact, the first great opponent of classical foundational-ism in the modern period. Here was also a fellow metaphysical realist.

I had no sympathy with the opinion, then spreading like wildfire, that to be an anti-foundationalist one had to be an anti-realist, a view typically grounded in views about the role of concepts in cognition.

And there was a third thing that I found fascinating in Reid. Reid's epistemology was not free-standing but set within the context of a rich and extraordinarily insightful account of the belief-forming self. Reid employed this account to offer a compelling reply to the skeptic, to offer an equally compelling reply to Locke's claims about the need for evidence, and so forth. Apart from some adumbrations in Hume, this was entirely new in philosophy of the modern period. And the fact that I found it fascinating was a sign of the fact that in the analytic epistemologists that I had been reading, there was nothing of the sort. Roderick Chisholm, one of the finest of the analytic epistemologists, declares that he too was much impressed by Reid. Yet nothing of this side of Reid rubbed off on him. He employs no account of the belief-forming self in his epistemology. Beliefs are just there.

My fascination with Reid comes to the surface in the two essays that conclude this collection: "Reid on common sense" and "What sort of epistemological realist`was Thomas Reid?" But as I suggested above, his spirit hovers over the collection as a whole. In "Historicizing the belief-forming self," I argue that Reid does not take sufficient account of the fact that our belief-forming selves are formed not just by what our human nature bequeaths to us but also by how we are shaped by experience. But that's only a modification of Reid's view, not a replacement. My interest in entitlement comes from Locke; the understanding of the belief-forming self that I employ throughout is basically Reidian.

Let me now, in closing, describe briefly the sequence of topics in these essays. Part one consists of essays in general epistemology. In chapter 1, "The world ready-made," I defend, against the metaphysical anti-realists, an assumption that underlies all my thought, namely, that there is (in the words of William James) a ready-made world. In chapter 2, I argue against the common view that close scrutiny of how concepts function in human experience leads to the conclusion that that function makes experiential access to ready-made reality impossible. In the next chapter, "Ought to believe — two concepts," I distinguish between two uses of the term "ought" (and its synonyms) as applied to belief, namely, those that express what I call the proper function concept of ought and what I call the responsibility concept of ought. It is the latter concept that interests me. Then in chapter 4 I give a general account of entitlement. And in the following chapter, "Historicizing the belief-forming self," I explain why

Locke's hope, of extricating ourselves from our immersion in tradition, has to be rejected. The belief-forming self is not just "hard-wired" but also "programmed."

Part two consists of essays in the epistemology of religion. The first essay in this part, "Epistemology of religion," is a historical overview of epistemology of religion. The second, "The migration of the theistic arguments: from natural theology to evidentialist apologetics," is also historical. At the time I wrote the essay, I found many writers assuming that the natural theology of the medieval theologian-philosophers was fundamentally the same project as the evidentialist apologetics of Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment philosophers and theologians; Karl Barth, for example, looks at natural theology through the lens of evidentialist apologetics. In this essay I argue that this is a serious error. Though there are indeed similarities, the projects are fundamentally different.

What then follows is a number of systematic essays. First, the essay that I have already mentioned, "Can belief in God be rational if it has no foundations?" In the next essay, "Once again, evidentialism — this time social," I consider the common claim that religious diversity places on the religious believer the obligation to justify his beliefs or give them up. And in "The assurance of faith," I consider the claim, made by Locke and many others, that the believer should always hold his or her religious beliefs with a certain tentativity. The essay following this, "On being entitled to beliefs about God," can be thought of both as a redoing of "Can belief in God be rational if it has no foundations?" in the light of a clear awareness of the connection between entitlement and practices of inquiry, and as an application to religious belief of general points made in "Entitlement to believe and practices of inquiry."

In this introduction thus far I have said nothing about Wittgensteinian philosophy of religion, this having been for quite some time the main competitor of Reformed epistemology. The Wittgensteinians hold, as I understand them, that it is impossible to refer to God; their interpretation of "God-talk" is thus a theistically anti-realist interpretation. They themselves emphasize the implication that God-talk is not used to make statements about God. But equally it is not used to express hopes about God, to express gratitude to God, and so forth. The religious believer does not thank God for the food but uses God-talk to express gratitude for the food. If this interpretation of God-talk is correct, then not only is Reformed epistemology fundamentally misguided, but also the whole project of epistemology of religious belief is fundamentally misguided. In the essay "Are religious believers committed to the existence of God?",

I spend quite some time explicating the Wittgensteinian position, and then explain why I find it untenable. In the penultimate essay in this part, "Reformed epistemology," I explain in some detail the nature, origins, and significance of Reformed epistemology.

Part three, the concluding part of the collection, consists of two essays in Reid interpretation, viz., "Reid on common sense" and "What sort of epistemological realist was Thomas Reid?"

Finally, in the postscript, "A life in philosophy," I end as I have begun, on an autobiographical note. In this essay, which was presented as the first Dewey Lecture at the American Philosophical Association in 2006, I offer my reflections on what it has been like to have lived through the remarkable changes witnessed by the discipline of philosophy in the past fifty years.

A question that some readers will have is how these essays relate to my two books, John Locke and the Ethics of Belief (Cambridge University Press) and Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology (Cambridge University Press).

The book on Reid was a work of love. Having found in Reid a soul-mate, I wanted to write a book in which I presented what I saw as Reid's genius. For though it seems to me that Reid, along with Kant, is one of the two great figures of the late Enlightenment, Reid had virtually fallen out of the canon of modern philosophy. I wanted to do what I could to repair that slight.

The book about Locke was not — or not in the same way — a work of love. For one thing, I found that I could not write about Reid without writing about Locke; for I came to the conclusion that it was always Locke who was in Reid's gun sight. But there was a second thing that led me to write the book about Locke. The fundamental question to which Locke addresses himself on my interpretation, namely, how can we, given our diverse religious traditions, live in justice and peace with each other, remains on the agenda of the modern world. I wanted to see how Locke proposed answering this question, and to uncover what it is about his answer that so many people have found compelling.

So once again: How does this present collection relate to those books about two historical figures? I have already noted that the spirit of each hovers over this collection. But beyond that, apart from some additional historical work, the connection is two-fold. These essays are the systematic counterpart to the historical inquiries to be found in John Locke and the Ethics of Belief and in Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology. And these essays bring the positions of these two historical figures into the contemporary discussion. 

Seeing Through God: A Geophenomenology by John Llewelyn (Studies in Continental Thought:`Indiana University Press) (Hardcover) Playing on the various meanings of Seeing Through God, John Llewelyn explores the act of looking in the wake of the death of the transcendent God of metaphysics. Llewelyn argues that certain practices of so-called tender-minded Eastern religions are at home among the strategies for observing developed by M the so-called tough-minded sciences of the West. Seeing Through God: A Geophenomenology presents a phenomenological description of the ethical, aesthetic, and religious dimensions of looking that touches on the themes of salvation, the preservation of the environment, and the role of God in our temptation to dishonor the earth. This unique book establishes Llewelyn as one of the leading interpreters of the environmental phenomenology movement.

With a deconstructive penchant for word play and idea play, Llewelyn  notes the space between the main title’s word play and the space between the neologism of the subtitle as an active inquiry into our seeing and looking. Llewelyn  claims his foray into the natural world is to experiment with our technology of looking in response to the look of things. Llewelyn does not attempt to define the word "thing," although—especially in his concluding chapter— Llewelyn does give attention to matters relevant to how things are distinguished, in  marshalling more than monomeanings of this slippery term “thing”. By things Llewelyn means primarily earthly things other than human beings but including non-human animals, and by earthly things he means not only things belonging to our planet but things belonging to the universe as a whole, whether they be things of the natural universe or artifacts, things created or otherwise made out of natural elements. By elements Llewelyn sometimes means the traditional four—earth, air, fire, and water—as these figure in the reflections of Greek thinkers and the poetics of everyday experience. But at other times the elements to which Llewelyn refers to, are the entities or events seen as primary in modern sciences.

It is a subordinate aim of this book “to bring out that one way to achieve its principal aim is to look again closely at methodologies adopted by at least some modern sciences.” In attempting this Llewelyn notices in the so-called tough-minded resources of Western science what is usually taken to be most common in the so-called tender-minded practices of Eastern religion. Llewelyn casts a just suspicion  on our too ready predisposition to oppose the East to the West. The so-called two cultures of C.P. Snow that is too ready to oppose science to poetry and aesthetic experience. Llewelyn attempt to discover through a phenomenological description of a moment in which the imagination is seen to be exercised in very much the same way in all science and poetry. From that description or postulation, if you are not convinced, for Llewelyn it appears that in all of these spheres of imagination and experience of that moment one finds an integral ethical or religious or ethico-religious dimension. By religious Llewelyn does not mean necessarily a theistic worldview. However he does from time to time light upon the topic of salvation as some theisms variously assert but also as can be conceived in the nontheistic and antimetaphysical underpinning of Buddhism.

Llewelyn’s idea of salvation is not linked to right relationship with some creator deity but to the natural world, especially now in our mutual responsibility to care for the world. What is most at stake for Llewelyn is “the salvation and perishing of the earth and the temptation to dishonor it into which we are led by our honoring of a Platonic or God-promised heaven.”

So Seeing Through God: A Geophenomenology may be regarded as a work of disreputing an Alien God whose image encourages “the victims of martyrs indecently preoccupied with their own salvation, whose victims include not only human beings but also things, whether things of the earth or things like the effaced statues of the Buddha in the Bamiyan valley, whose feet once touched the earth but whose eyes were averted from it toward some world other than this one. Seeing Through God: A Geophenomenology then is a evocation that the divine is seen through the mirror of nature; and it is in our moral commitment to the world that any divine presence become known.


The Creative Conscience As Human Destiny by Edward H. Strauch (Peter Lang Publishing) is an important contribution to the proper understanding of the significance of evolution as updated by the discoveries of contemporary biology. It provides a much needed correction of the misleading notions derived from a nineteenth century interpretation of Darwinism. He shows that evolution, far from being accidental and alien to human values, is positively directed by the processes of morphogenesis and symbiosis. The message of evolution is one of hope and progress for humanity rather than nihilism and despair.

The Creative Conscience As Human Destiny explains how human nature derived from our biogenetic evolution. Whereas human ingenuity and self-realization replicate nature’s creativity (its morphogenesis), human conscience epitomizes the integration of organic life (its symbiosis). These mutual processes became incarnate as humanity’s creative conscience. Similarly, the co-evolution of man and woman has enabled us to create cultures and civilization. From our intimation of a Supreme Being in nature, human beings have also evolved a supraconscience. By acknowledging the wisdom of nature, we have a philosophy of life for the future.

Strauch presents evidence that a creative conscience exists in nature and humanity. At times when we catch sight of signs of morphogenesis and symbiosis in life, it makes us wonder if we are witnessing some kind of miracle. If so, what is a miracle?

Usually we think of the term as defining an extraordinary event which evinces divine intervention, or the fulfillment of some spiritual law, or simply an extremely unusual or outstanding event. To be sure, scientists would object that a miracle would imply the suspension of natural law. To our mind, a miracle would somehow surpass what we once designated as natural law. Such a miracle would motivate the human mind to perceive a law higher than what we had hitherto considered possible as a part of reality.

Over years of studying literature, Strauch developed respect for the intricate intelligence of great literary works. He came to realize such works did not necessarily spring from the time during which they were written. Imagery, metaphor, irony and fresh insights into human nature evidently arise from a source deeper than our increasingly sophisticated understanding of humanity and its cultures. To be sure, twentieth century research into mythology, depth psychology, anthropology, comparative religion, and sociology has brought us many new and worthwhile perspectives. His views of the inside meaning of biology are sympathic to Jungian discoveries of the unconscious and effective archetypes.

Similarly, the study of literature in the context of hermeneutics, rhetoric, criticism, history, art, music, and philosophy did not quite account for the originality and conscience evident in the most unforgettable literary works. As valuable as such cross-references were and as much enlightenment as each field brought with it, something timeless, universal, humane and soul-uplifting was manifest in true masterpieces, but what would that mysterious essence be?

Strauch sensed that great literature was illumined by the manifestation of some intelligence beyond that of any individual or culture, past or present. That intelligence was not solely demonstrated by geniuses. Somehow it seemed to emanate from Nature itself, but focused by the evolved human mind. Could it be the "eternal soul"? After all, according to tradition, the "soul" permeated the web of life itself. After all, the "soul" was believed to breathe in the spirit of the universe. It motivated humankind to seek out our significance in the cosmos.

But no, not even the human soul accounts for great literature. There is something larger than that, something not only in contact with the infinite but omnipresent in this world.

While searching for a down-to-earth answer, a man unconsciously stood his twelve-inch, wood ruler vertically on its end on his desk. It did not fall. Bemused, he wondered how that was possible. The planet was whirling through space and time and the ruler continued to stand before him as if it were an icon.

Next, he realized he too stood there perfectly balanced among all the dynamic forces of our universe. He too was held between centripetal and centrifugal powers neither crushed to the center of the earth nor flung out into endless space. At this pinpoint of time, he was witnessing a miracle of his existence and of existence itself.

When we pause to reflect on it, all Existence is in equipoise. On earth, we instinctively know that our lives are cradled in Nature and that nature has "always" been there. We know nature has given us our heritage, soundness of body and intelligence. Through a slow but sure evolution over millions of years, nature has educated us to become human beings.

As remarkable as was the realization that his wood ruler stood steadily balanced between powerful, opposing centripetal and centrifugal energies, living nature itself maintained an equilibrium quite as "miraculous." At first, he thought it to be the struggle between life and death, which began in nature at the start of life itself. But no, it was not the struggle for survival. The miracle was that life had endured

Though deeply concealed, equipoise exists at the heart of life itself. In fact, it manifests itself by its own generative power. That power is the effect of two ubiquitous processes with one mutual purpose, which account for all forms of life on earth.

One is morphogenesis, the vital principle in nature that discloses the origin, innovation, development, engendering and birth of all life forms in Nature. (The ancient Greeks were fond of the mythical god Prometheus, who stole the fire of creativity from heaven and gave it to man. On the other hand, they were awed by the mythical god Proteus who could assume any form of life he chose.) The process of morphogenesis finds its presence in mankind by our propensity to adventure, exploration, experimentation, discovery, invention—in sum, humanity's curiosity and creativity.

However, a second force modifies, controls, directs, and guides the indefatigable drive of morphogenesis. In nature, symbiosis appears to have the responsibility: to coordinate and subordinate all animate activity; to coalesce, concentrate, and combine all vital energies; to organize, methodize, and systematize all life functions; to prioritize, plan and design all distinct life forms; to fuse and integrate the dynamics of every living thing. In short, symbiosis is the creative conscience inherent in Nature.

Mother Nature's wisdom epitomizes it. Our crafts, arts, inventions, literatures, medicine, religions and investigative sciences are morphogenetically generated from her creative nature. Our societies, our synthesizing sciences and philosophies, our established cultures and civilizations emanated from her symbiotic nature. Ageless morphogenesis and symbiosis brought about all human knowledge and what wisdom we have.

To sum up, the dialogue or dialectic between morphogenesis and symbiosis maintains life in the face of natural, accidental and predator death. As such, these universal processes make possible the miracle of life on earth.

Because humankind incarnates Nature's ageless morphogenesis and symbiosis, our timeless intuition tells us that Nature's Creative Conscience is the ultimate source of life that guides the destiny of humanity. In every way that we commit ourselves to this eternal verity, there we emulate the miracle of life itself.

  • The human use of morphogenesis and symbiosis accelerated the evolution of humankind.

  • The co-evolution of morphogenesis and symbiosis is the reason we emerged as Homo sapiens.

  • By the interplay of animus and anima in the individual, each person evolves a more responsible and compassionate being.

  • By the cooperation of man and woman, we mutually educate each other to a fuller understanding of our moral and humane nature.

  • By our educating the young to the wisdom of nature's creative conscience, humankind can evolve beyond its barbarous past. Through time we will engender a world of peace, reciprocity, and mutual respect. We will reach the furthermost, moral evolution possible for humanity.

Contemporary Debates in the Philosophy of Religion edited by Michael L. Peterson, Raymond J. Vanarragon (Contemporary Debates in Philosophy: Blackwell Publishers) (Paperback)  Contemporary Debates in the Philosophy of Religion features newly commissioned debates on some of the most controversial issues in the field. For example: Is evil evidence against belief in God? Does science discredit religion? Is God's existence the best explanation of the universe? Is eternal damnation compatible with the Christian concept of God? Is morality based on God's commands?

This first title in Blackwell's Contemporary Debates in Philosophy series presents important philosophical issues in a stimulating and engaging manner. Twelve central questions are posed, with each question addressed by a pair of opposing essays. The debates range from vigorous disagreements between theists and their critics to arguments between theists of different philosophical and theological persuasions. Both students and scholars in the philosophy of religion will readily sense the value of rigorous debate for sharply defining the issues and paving the way for further progress.

Contributors: William R. Alston, Lynne Rudder Baker, David Basinger, Michael Bergmann, Craig A. Boyd, Peter Byrne, Stephen T. Davis, Evan Fales, Richard M. Gale, William Hasker, Paul Helm, Daniel Howard-Snyder, Janine Marie Idziak, Michael Martin, Paul K. Moser, Michael J. Murray, Del Ratzsch, Bruce R. Reichenbach, William L. Rowe, J. L. Schellenberg, Thomas Talbott, Raymond J. Vanarragon, Jerry Walls, John Worrall, Keith E. Yandell, Dean W. Zimmerman

This is the first book in Blackwell's "Contemporary Debates" textbook series. It is designed to feature some of the most important current controversies in the philoso­phy of religion. In the Western philosophical tradition, theism - the belief that an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good God exists - has been the focus of much philo­sophical debate and discussion. Although not a living religion itself, theism forms a significant conceptual component of three living religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Moreover, beliefs within living religions - particularly beliefs of the historic Christian faith - have also occupied the attention of philosophers of religion. So, in staking out the territory for this book, we selected some issues related to classical theism and some related to Christian faith in particular.

Most Anglo-American philosophy is oriented toward the rigorous analysis of ideas, arguments, and positions - and this orientation certainly flourishes in the philosophical treatment of religion. Since the analytic approach lends itself to crisp, straightforward debate, we have made "debate" the central motif of the book. With its most notable origins in Socratic dialectic, debate is essentially the interplay between opposing positions. Each debate here is organized around a key question on which recognized experts take drastically different positions. For each question, one expert on the subject presents an affirmative position and develops his or her argu­ment, and another presents a negative position with a corresponding argument. Brief responses are also included to allow writers to clarify further their own positions, identify weaknesses in the opposing position, and point out directions for further dis­cussion. Each debate on a given question has a short editorial introduction, and then the following structure: affirmative essay, negative essay, reply to negative position, reply to positive position.

Teach the conflicts! We are convinced of the pedagogical value of teaching vigorous, well-argued debate for encouraging students to sharpen their own critical abilities and formulate their own points of view. The noteworthy growth and vibrancy of contemporary philosophy of religion provide a wide range of exciting topics for debate. From this rich vein of discussion, we have chosen topics that fall into three general categories: those involving attacks on religious belief, those involving argu­ments for religious belief, and those involving internal evaluation of the coherence or appropriateness of certain religious beliefs. In the first two categories, the debates are waged between theists and nontheists; in the last category, the debates are largely between religious believers who differ over the implications of their faith commitments. In all, these debates provide an ideal format not simply for students but also for professional philosophers and interested nonprofessionals to explore issues in the philosophy of religion.

Philosophy of Religion in the 21st Century edited by D. Z. Phillips, Timothy Tessin (Claremont Studies in the Philosophy of Religion: Palgrave) offers the rare opportunity to assess, within a single volume, the leading schools of thought in the contemporary philosophy of religion. With contributions by well-known exponents of each school, the book is an ideal text for assessing the deep proximities and divisions that characterize contemporary philosophy of religion. The schools of thought represented include philosophical theism, Reformed epistemology, Wittgensteinianism, Postmodernism, Critical Theory, and Process Thought.

Excerpt: The symposia and discussions presented here represent the proceedings of the 1999 annual philosophy of religion conference which took place at Claremont Graduate University. Previous publications in the series Claremont Studies in the Philosophy of Religion are: Philosophy and the Grammar of Religious Belief; Religion and Morality; Can Religion Be Explained Away? Religion without Transcendence?; Religion and Hume's Legacy; and Kant and Kierkegaard on Religion. It was thought appropriate in 1999 to prepare for the year 2000 by presenting a volume on the present state of philosophy of religion. It was impossible to include everything, so choice was made on the basis of movements which it was thought had to be represented. On the other hand, the conference was arranged with considerable trepidation, since there was always the danger that the six philosophical schools would pass each other by like ships in the night. The message in my Thai fortune‑cookie, opened in the closing banquet of the conference, would have summed up my foreboding at its outset. It read, 'You would be wise not to seek too much from others at this time.' For once my fortune‑cookie was not uncannily revelatory, since, as the discussions reveal, genuine attempts were made to probe and explore difficulties connected with each point of view. I am not going to rehearse these in this introduction. Instead, I am going to single out a feature of the conference which struck me most forcibly as its organizer.

The papers in the conference represent, not simply differences on specific topics, but differences concerning the very conception of philo­sophical enquiry. In one sense, it would be foolish to try to determine the nature of philosophy since, descriptively, this would be a futile exer­cise. Why insist that philosophy or philosophy of religion can only be done in one way, when it is obviously practised in a number of ways?

It is tempting to take a tolerant attitude and simply say, 'Let a thousand flowers bloom.' But, in another sense, that cannot be allowed without denying a considerable part of philosophy's history. This is because the nature of philosophy is itself a philosophical question and great philosophers have been critical of their predecessors' conception of the subject.

In the papers in this collection we are presented with marked differences in one's conception of the tasks which philosophy of religion can and should perform.

According to Richard Swinburne, philosophy of religion has, at its heart, the rational assessment of religious beliefs. They are to be assessed, as he would say any belief must, in terms of the probability of their being true. Swinburne holds that the truth and rationality of religious beliefs can be assessed in this way.

While William Wainwright is generally sympathetic to Swinburne, he is sceptical about the efficacy of probability arguments for most educated audiences today. This is because, he argues, we need a properly disposed heart in order to assess the evidence. The vital issue, as Wainwright recognizes, then becomes one of showing how these antecedent judgements are related to the evidence on has to consider.

Nicholas Wolterstorff condones Reformed Epistemology's rejection of the Enlightenment ideal of a rational religion. Something does not have to be grounded in order to be rational. As a result of a worldtransforming experience, the Christian philosopher in this tradition offers, not a philosophy of religion, but a religious philosophy. Its aim is to see all aspects of human life, intellectual and non‑intellectual, in the light of faith. It does not subject religion to the test of so­called neutral evidence.

Stephen Wykstra wonders whether this rejection of evidentialism itself comes from a too narrow conception of evidence, namely, inferential evidence. He finds the rejection unrealistic in a world in which faith is challenged in many ways. It may not be necessary for an individual believer to consider these challenges in detail, but unless someone in the community does so, he argues, it is too easy to see faith as simply burying one's head in the sand. One is robbed of the much‑needed resources one has to turn to in face of these challenges.

Stephen Mulhall in expounding Wittgenstein on religion and Wittgensteinianism, emphasizes the contemplative character of philosophical enquiry. The main interest here is in giving a just account of religious belief by seeing to it that it is not confused with beliefs of another kind. This interest itself has a demanding ethic and is connected, he claims, with a certain kind of spiritual concern in the enquirer. This is because we cannot be true to ourselves unless we are true to our words.

Walford Gealy emphasizes that some of Wittgenstein's early remarks on religion take the form that they do because of views of language he held at the time and which he rejected later. This should be remembered when these remarks are discussed. Like Mulhall, Gealy too argues that the charge that Wittgensteinians hold that religion is immune to criticism is absurd. Both writers give examples to counter this charge. On the other hand, he insists that whatever is meant by spirituality in philosophical enquiry, this should not be compared with religious spirituality. Philosophy's concerns come from its own problems and puzzlements.

John Caputo emphasizes postmodernism's rejection of the Enlightenment dream of universal reason. We must recognize that 'reason' means something different in different modes of thought and at different times and places. We must not seek a premature closure on questions of meaning and value. Some have seen, in Derrida, a formless, chaotic, openness to everything in these emphases. Caputo denies this and sees in Derrida's openness a concern with justice for the other, which involves listening to what we do not want to hear, the preparedness to be surprised, and to take risks in such encounters.

Anselm Min is more sceptical about these latter claims, seeing in Derrida, the constant appeal to openness as being uninformed by specific moral or political values. In emphasizing the impossibility of arriving at a final statement of justice, something Min endorses, there is the danger of the dream of the impossible turning us aside from the actions that are required of us now.

Again, in expounding critical theory, Matthias Lutz‑Bachmann emphasizes its rejection of the objectifying tendency one finds in metaphysics. Reasoning knows no absolute. Yet, Horkheimer and Habermas want to invoke 'the unconditional' as a regulative ideal that calls us on to improve the world, without any conception of a final goal. Religion may assist this task at certain times, but this is a contingent fact. Religion is replaceable by secular hopes for a better world. Lately, Habermas has come to see that religious meanings may be sui generis, irreducible to any secular substitute. Lutz‑Bachmann argues, however, that as long as Habermas bases human progress, Jnot on values, but on what human interests happen to be, he cannot avail himself of any positive conception of justice.

Maeve Cooke recognizes the tensions in Habermas's thought which Lutz‑Bachmann emphasizes. He wants his conception of truth to be pragmatic and yet absolute. It is difficult to see how religious truth can be accommodated in his system, she argues, because his criteria of vin dication demand publicly assessable evidence and a public agreement which is hard to imagine in the case of religious belief.

John Cobb emphasizes the way in which Process Thought calls the assumptions of classical metaphysics into question. It argues that 'becoming' is more fundamental than 'being' and that 'events' are more fundamental than 'substances'. Following Whitehead, Cobb argues that science is the most reliable guide to what we are given, as long as it is not permeated by the assumptions of classical metaphysics. Religion explores the more subjective side of human nature.

Cobb is sceptical about the possibility of neutral philosophy. For him, any Olympian height is such within a system. Thus he acknowledges that his Process system has its presuppositions and that these play a vital role not only in the assessment of data, but in the very possibility of seeing the data in a certain way.

Schubert Ogden insists that although philosophy is motivated by the existential questions concerning the meaning of existence, it is not constituted by them. Its task is to elucidate the necessary conditions of human discoursel and to reflect on the meanings which discourse actu­ally has. This latter task includes reflection on the distinctive claims of Christianity, one in which philosophy and theology come together.

Ogden thinks that the existential questions and theological reflections are furthered best in Process thought. On one central issue, however, he differs from most Process philosophers and theologians. They, Whitehead and Hartshorne included, treat the conditions for the possi­bility of discourse, or ultimate reality, as though these were a further super‑fact. This confusion is found when myth is treated as a fact or when God, as ultimate reality, is treated as though it were a fact. 'God exists' is not a statement of fact.

It is clear from this brief survey of points of view represented in this collection that there are wide differences between them in their con­ception of philosophy. In some ways, the Wittgensteinian tradition of contemplative philosophy seems an odd one out, but would claim to be as old as Plato. In what sense does philosophy investigate reality? If, like the Presocratics, we try to give substantive accounts of 'the real' in terms of, for example, water or atoms, the problem arises of what account can be given of the reality of the water or atoms. Plato came to see that a philosophical account of reality cannot lead to answers of that kind. The philosophical interest is a conceptual one; the question of what it means to distinguish between the real or the unreal. Thus, on this view, philoso­phy is not itself a way of reaching the substantive judgements, but an enquiry into what it means to reach conclusions of this kind. Unlike Plato, Wittgenstein did not think that this question admitted of a single answer. Hence his promise to teach us differences.

This perspective raises questions about Swinburne's assumption that all beliefs are matters of probability. Are all beliefs of the same kind? Is belief in generosity the expression of a conviction or a matter of probability? Further, is it a mere probability that we had a Conference at Claremont? If I could be convinced otherwise would I say that I had miscalculated probabilities, or that I was going insane? Is trusting God a probability?

William Wainwright is bothered, too, by some of these questions. He emphasizes that we make antecedent judgements in terms of which we see the data we are to assess. How are these antecedent judgements to be understood? The suggestion that we can make them when our faculties are working properly seems a lame analogy, since, normally, the notion

of 'proper functioning' is normative and, in that sense, independent of the individual. Further, there is usually agreement on the notion of proper functioning, as the case of eyesight illustrates. Is it like this in the case of the clash between belief and unbelief?

There is another difficulty which relates to the contemplative concep­tion of philosophy. If what can be seen is linked to the personal appro­priation of the perspective in question, or to the 'proper functioning' of faculties, how is it possible to contemplate, and give an account of, different perspectives? Further, someone who does not embrace a per­spective may give a better philosophical account of its character than one who does not embrace it.

In Reformed Epistemology a world‑transforming religious experience is at the root of the religiously orientated philosophical vocation to see the world in the light of faith. Obviously, such a use can be made of philosophy, or this is what philosophy can amount to for someone, but what is its relation to the contemplative conception of philosophy? Can it admit that a non‑believer can give a better philosophical account of religious belief than a believer? What sort of claim does a religious

philosophy make? Is it a theoretical claim? If something is seen in the light of faith, how is that 'seeing' related to other non‑religious 'seeings'? Can there be a philosophical interest in these differences which is not a further form of such 'seeing'?

In Postmodernism and in Critical Theory we have attacks on the ambitions of a universal metaphysics, and a recognition of differences.

The question arises, however, whether in the ethical concerns of Derrida or Habermas, an ethical insight is appropriated which cannot be derived from their philosophical critique. Having abolished a universal metaphysics, there seems to be a desire to replace it with an attitude which is equally universal even when it calls itself 'open' and denies the possibility of closure.

Again, in Process Thought, we have a similar attack on classical metaphysics. This attack may he upheld in many respects, but questions may be asked as to whether one set of ultimates, 'becoming' and 'events' has now replaced another. Also as Cobb admits, certain presuppositions are brought to bear on the data in interpreting them and he denies the possibility of a neutral philosophy. Does this mean that Process Thought can argue against this possibility? If so, there is at least one perspective it seems to deny when, at other times, it seems to recognize a plurality of systems of interpretation. Ogden says that Process Thought is the best theological system in answering central existential questions about the meaning of existence. How would this be argued in relation to different theological and atheistic perspectives? Are they shown to be conceptually confused in some sense?

Ogden recognizes, along with Wittgensteinians, that the investigation

of the conditions of discourse is not an investigation of some super‑fact. On the other hand, he speaks of the necessary conditions of discourse. Do they form a single class? He also speaks of God a% ultimate reality', and says that this, too, does not refer to a matter of fact. How is this notion of reality related to the necessary conditions of discourse? Are they the same? If so, as in the case of Reformed Epistemology, here, too, we would have a religious conception of reality.

These questions are prompted by philosophical considerations which are familiar to students of Wittgenstein, but questions can be asked of Wittgensteinianism too. Is the analogy between language and games an adequate one? After. all, all games do not make up one big game, whereas all language games occur within the same language. What account is to be given of the unity or identity of language? Does that lead back to a single account of reality? Without such an account is not the sense of life and living compartmentalized in unacceptable ways?

The questions asked of Wittgensteinianism can and have been addressed, for example, by Rush Rhees. No doubt the questions I have asked of the other points of view can and have been addressed too. I mention them here as questions with which the conference meeting left us. Thus, this introduction gives an indication, not of where we started, but of the points at which we would have liked to have gone on.

If philosophical enquiry is conceptual and contemplative, and recognizes the conceptual variety in human discourse, no single account of reality can be given. The enquiry will be motivated by wonder at the world and the desire to do justice to its variety in the account we give. For others, this is the road to relativism and they seek a religious conception of reality which, in some way, can be shown to be more rational than any secular alternative. Alternatively, there are those who argue that although the sense of things is open to a change and development to which philosophy cannot assign a closure, that development is itself to be informed by certain ethical and political values.

Perhaps one major difference which needs to be explored is this: are all perspectives on reality interpretations or expressions of interest, or is there such a thing in philosophy as disinterested enquiry? Is disinterested inquiry another interest, alongside others, religious and secular, or is it a different kind of interest, an interest in the variety of those religious and secular interests and the relation between them? Is an Olympian view always one from within some system or other?

Many of the participants expressed the view at the end of the conference that we needed to address these issues further. If we did so in another conference, perhaps its topic would be: Presuppositions.


God and the Problem of Evil edited by William L. Rowe (Blackwell Readings in Philosophy: Blackwell) (PAPERBACK) considers the question of whether the amount of seemingly pointless malice and suffering in our world counts against the rationality of belief in God, a being who is understood to be all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good.
Beginning with historically significant essays by Leibniz and Hume, the book then focuses on contemporary discussions of the problem of evil. The volume concludes with three important articles that sketch an explanation of why God might need to permit the terrible evils that abound in our world.
The study of these essays and replies will provide students with a thorough understanding of the central issues involved in the problem of evil.
Contents: Introduction. Part I: Historically Important Essays and Some Contemporary Responses and Clarifications: Introduction. 1. Theodicy: Leibniz. 2. Must God Create the Best: Adams. 3. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part X and Part XI: Hume. 4. Hume on Evil: Pike. Part II: The Logical Problem of Evil: Introduction. 5. Evil and Omnipotence: J. L. Mackie. 6. The Free Will Defense: Plantinga. Part III: The Evidential Problem of Evil: Introduction. 7. An Exchange on the Problem of Evil: Howard-Snyder and Michael Bergmann/W. L. Rowe. 8. Stalemate and Strategy: Rethinking the Evidential Problem of Evil: Schellenberg. 9. Pain and Pleasure: An Evidential Problem for Theists: Draper. 10. The Problem of Evil, the Problem of Air, and the Problem of Silence: Van Inwagen. Part IV: Theodicies: Introduction. 11. Some Major Strands of Theodicy: Swinburne. 12. Soul-Making Theodicy: Hicks. 13. The Problem of Hell: A Problem of Evil for Christians: M. Adams.

 The Divine Attributes by Joshua Hoffman, Gary S. Rosenkrantz (Exploring the Philosophy of Religion: Blackwell) (PAPERBACK) Written with a clear presentation of the basic arguments of a rational justification of the idea of God. The Divine Attributes is excellent: thoughtful and systematic work that has an unusual clarity and intellectual rigor. It enables the reader to understand the attributes --omnipotence, omniscience, perfect goodness, eternality, etc. -- that make up the dominant idea of God in Western civilization.

The Divine Attributes is an engaging analysis of the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam from the perspective of rational theology. An ambitious study that rationally explores the nature of God, differentiates the idea of God from other historical ideas of the divine, and identifies the core qualities of a maximally great, or perfect, being. It includes detailed discussions of the fundamental divine attributes, such as divine power, knowledge, and goodness. It also addresses whether God is to be understood as eternal, within or outside of time, existing necessarily or contingently and whether God is to be understood as a physical or a spiritual substance.

In The Divine Attributes the authors analyze the idea of God (understood as a maximally great being). This exercise belongs to a philosophical discipline known as rational theology. In developing their analysis, they go through the following stages; (i) describing the nature of rational theology, (ii) differentiating the idea of a maximally great being from other historical ideas of the divine (and identifying the core great-making qualities of a maximally great being), (iii) defending the coherence of maximal greatness and the mutual coherence of the divine attributes it includes, and (iv) elucidating those divine attributes.

They contrast various historical ideas of the divine with the idea of a maximally great being. The key great-making qualities of a maximally great being are identified.

The divine person is traditionally thought to be concrete and substantial (though not corporeal). They elucidate these ideas by analyzing the concrete/abstract distinction and the concept of substance.

According to traditional theology, God is soul (a purely spiritual being). They clarify the notion of a soul, and argue that a soul cannot literally be omnipresent. It has been charged that the notion of a soul is unintelligible, and similarly, that body‑soul interaction is impossible. They answer these charges. Finally, they argue that there is a sense in which a soul must be simple.

God is said to be a "necessary being," that is, a being that exists in every possible world. They elucidate the notion of a necessary being and in so doing will assess competing accounts of possible worlds. It is sometimes thought that God is a "self-existent being," that is, a being whose existence is explained by itself. They argue that this notion of self-existence is incoherent.

The orthodox view is that God exists outside of time. They dispute this view, arguing instead that God is temporal and mutable (but nonetheless incorruptible).

They develop an analysis of omniscience (understood as maximal knowledge) and examine its implications for the nature of God. Their analysis implies that if an omniscient being foreknows the occurrence of a contingent event, then this event is causally determined. As we shall see, our analysis implies that God would not foreknow the occurrence of human actions that are free in the libertarian sense. We will discuss the implications of this analysis for the problem of divine foreknowledge and human freedom.

What are the implications of God's moral perfection for the char­acter of what God creates? They attempt to advance our under­standing of these implications by describing the moral principles or rules that guide the actions of a maximally great being. We will also attempt to resolve an alleged paradox that claims that moral perfection is incompatible with moral admirability.

The divine attribute of omnipotence seems puzzling, even para­doxical, to many philosophers. They wonder, for example, whether God can create a spherical cube, or make a stone so massive that God cannot move it. They defend the consistency of omnipotence (understood as maximal power). As a part of this defense, They analyze omnipotence and examine the implications of this analy­sis for the nature of God. At the end of this book, the authors provide an overview of the prospects for justified belief in the existence of a maximally great being from the perspective of rational theology.

Issues in Contemporary Philosophy of Religion by Eugene Thomas Long (STUDIES IN PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION Volume 23: Kluwer Academic) collection of original articles, written by leading contemporary European and American philosophers of religion, is presented in celebration of the publication of the fiftieth volume of the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. Following the Editor's Introduction, John Macquarrie, Adriaan Peperzak, and Hent de Vries take up central themes in continental philosophy of religion. Macquarrie analyzes postmodernism and its influence in philosophy and theology. Peperzak argues for a form of universality different from that of modern philosophy, and de Vries analyzes an intrinsic and structural relationship between religion and the media. The next three essays discuss issues in analytic philosophy of religion. Philip Quinn argues that religious diversity reduces the epistemic status of exclusivism and makes it possible for a religious person to be justified while living within a pluralistic environment. William Wainwright plumbs the work of Jonathan Edwards in order to better understand debates concerning freedom, determinism, and the problem of evil, and William Hasker asks whether theological incompatibilism is less inimical to traditional theism than some have supposed. Representing the Thomist tradition, Fergus Kerr challenges standard readings of Aquinas on the arguments for the existence of God. David Griffin analyzes the contributions of process philosophy to the problem of evil and the relation between science and religion. Illustrating comparative approaches, Keith Ward argues that the Semitic and Indian traditions have developed a similar concept of God that should be revised in view of post-Enlightenment theories of the individual and the historical. Keith Yandell explores themes in the Indian metaphysical tradition and considers what account of persons is most in accord with reincarnation and karma doctrines. Feminist philosophy of religion is represented in Pamela Anderson's article, in which she argues for a gender-sensitive and more inclusive approach to the craving for infinitude.

Editor’s Summary: One of the important developments in the philosophy of religion during the last quarter of the twentieth century traces its roots to Martin Heidegger and the phenomenological tradition. One can hardly think of Heidegger and religion without thinking of Rudolf Bultmann and Paul Tillich. Yet Heidegger's emphasis upon interpretation and his understanding of language as the house of being helped prepare the way for what has been called a hermeneutical or linguistic turn in phenomenology. In its more radical form this is called deconstruction or postmodernism and is illustrated in the work of such philosophers as Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. Postmodernism is an expression used widely in literature, philosophy and theology during the last decades of the twentieth century to signal a rejection in various degrees of the concept of rationality associated with modern philosophy or the Enlightenment.

The first essay by John Macquarrie, `Postmodernism in Philosophy of Religion and Theology', provides an analysis of postmodernism and its influence in contemporary philosophy and theology. Macquarrie, whose own approach to philosophical theology is influenced by Heidegger and Bultmann, identifies several characteristics of postmodernism, including the limits of the intellect, the questioning of authority, the rejection of any unified world view, and the emphasis upon difference, the particular, pluralism and desire. From his own point of view he then illustrates and critically evaluates these characteristics in the work of three postmodern philosophers, Levinas, Jean‑Franqois Lyotard and Derrida and three postmodern theologians. Mark Taylor, Graham Ward and Jean‑Luc Marion.

Adriaan Peperzak, the author of the second essay, `Philosophy‑Religion-Theology', is also indebted to recent continental philosophy. Defining the religious dimension of human existence in a broad way to mean the deepest dimension of human life in which all other dimensions are rooted, Peperzak argues that the religious dimension is a necessary and basic topic of philosophy, that philosophy itself is a kind of faith, and that if philosophy proclaims itself autarchic, it is a religion that must look down upon other religions as deficient forms of its own truth. From this perspective he challenges the modem self‑conception of philosophy and argues that other religions can in turn criticize the impossibility of philosophy's faith in its autarchy and the arrogance that follows from it. Peperzak analyzes some relations between faith and thought in philosophy, philosophy of religion and theology and argues for a form of universality different from that professed by modern philosophy.

During much of the twentieth century, religion was relegated by many to the margins of the so‑called modern political and intellectual worlds. Religion, however, has emerged on the geopolitical stage of the late twentieth-century as a significant force leading many to challenge an overly simplistic separation of the worlds of the religious and non‑religious. In his article, `Of Miracles and Special Effects', Hent de Vries argues that the narrative of Western `secularist' modernity has obscured the fact that in most of its historical forms the concept of the political has to some extent always been dependent upon the religious. He is particularly concerned with what he identifies as an intrinsic and structural relationship between religion and the new media, and the transformative changes we are witnessing today. His study of miracle in relation to special effects provides a concrete example to illustrate this. Starting out from a discussion of Jacques Derrida's recent essay, `Faith and Knowledge', de Vries investigates the structural resemblances and differences between the miracle and the special effect and sketches out the place and function of religion in relation to the new technological media.

Analytic philosophers of religion trace their twentieth century roots to the new realism that characterized much British and American philosophy in the early part of the century. Since the 1960s, however, many analytic philosophers have called into question classical foundationalism and the evidentialist challenge to religious belief in the work of such philosophers as W.K. Clifford, Bertrand Russell, and Antony Flew. Some of these philosophers are classified as moderate foundationalists while others, who are more closely indebted to the later Wittgenstein, are often called anti‑foundationalists.

Among the leading so‑called moderate foundationalists is William Alston. Alston argues that a person may be justified in holding certain beliefs about God based on his or her direct experience or perception of God. Given what appears to be the incompatibility of perceptual religious beliefs formed in different religions, however, questions arise concerning the reliability or rationality of different religious practices and the closely connected issues of religious exclusivism and religious tolerance. In his essay, `Religious Diversity and Religious Toleration', Philip Quinn discusses the work of Alston and related thinkers and challenges their tendencies towards religious exclusivism. Abstracting arguments from Pierre Bayle and Immanuel Kant, Quinn makes a connection between discussions of religious diversity in religious epistemology and discussions of religious diversity in moral and political philosophy. He argues that religious diversity reduces the epistemic status of religious exclusivism and intolerance, and makes it possible for a person to be justified in aspiring to be religious while living fully within a religiously pluralistic cultural environment.

Many contemporary analytic philosophers of religion are committed to traditional Jewish or Christian theism and this has helped stimulate interest in a diversity of topics associated with theistic faith and belief. The problem of evil has proven to be particularly acute for traditional theists and it has been the focus of much discussion in recent analytic philosophy of religion. In addressing this problem analytic philosophers have often explored medieval and other classical texts. William Wainwright's article, `Theological Determinism and the Problem of Evil: Are Arminians Any Better Off?', plumbs the work of Jonathan Edwards in an effort to better understand contemporary debates concerning freedom, determinism and the problem of evil. Wainwright maintains that Edwards' theological determinism aggravates the problem of evil in three ways. It appears to make God the author of sin, exposes God to charges of insincerity and raises questions about God's justice. Wainwright argues that Edwards is correct in thinking that Arminianism is exposed to many of the same difficulties, but that his idea of God's justice inflicting infinite punishment upon persons whose actions have been determined by God is indefensible and may not be a difficulty for Arminianism.

The apparent incompatibility between divine foreknowledge and human freedom is another problem that has haunted the theistic tradition for many centuries and has received almost unprecedented attention in recent analytic philosophy of religion. In his article, `The Foreknowledge Conundrum', William Hasker provides a survey and analysis of several classical and contemporary efforts to solve the problem of the incompatibility between comprehensive, infallible divine foreknowledge and libertarian free will, focusing in particular upon those solutions most actively considered by philosophers during the last three decades of the twentieth century. Concluding that none of the proposed solutions to the problem is fully satisfying, Hasker raises the question, whether theological incompatibilism might be less inimical to traditional theism than some have supposed. In this context he calls attention to `open theism', a recent movement within evangelical Protestantism which, based upon its revised conception of God and of God's relationship with the world, affirms the incompatibility of divine foreknowledge and free will. While admitting that it is too soon to draw conclusions about the effects of this movement, Hasker suggests that at a minimum it demonstrates that one cannot simply assume that theological incompatibilism is inimical to Biblical faith and traditional Christian theology.

Thomism is the expression applied since the fourteenth century to philosophers whose thinking has its foundation in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. The expression Neo‑Thomism is sometimes used to refer to the revival of Thomism which began in the middle of the nineteenth century and was later officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church. The aim of this revival was not merely a restatement of Thomas' philosophy and theology, but an accurate understanding of the permanent truth of the principles of his thought that could be applied to contemporary thought. This has led to a re‑vitalization of the Thomistic tradition as some have brought Thomas' thought into conversation with other contemporary philosophical movements and others have challenged traditional conceptions of how to read his thought. In his essay, `Theology in Philosophy: Revisiting the Five Ways', Fergus Kerr calls into question what he calls the standard reading of Aquinas' arguments for the existence of God. On the standard view, Aquinas is understood to be a good example of those who think that the existence of God can be inferred from natural features of the world. Kerr challenges this reading of Aquinas and the general conception of philosophy of religion that arises from it. Reading the text in context, argues Kerr, suggests how theologically determined the philosophical arguments are. Thomas' approach in the Summa Theologiae, he suggests, may be read not as turning away from the Bible, choosing Aristotle and conducting foundationalist apologetics, but as continuing more than a thousand years of reading the Vulgate in the light of a certain neo‑Platonism.

Process philosophy is widely understood today to refer to the kind of realistic metaphysics associated with Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne and those influenced by them. Although not limited to American thinkers, its greatest impact in recent years has been in the United States and in particular among those who declare themselves to be neo‑classical or process theists. In general process theists are committed to the view that whatever exists in reality should be characterized in terms of processes rather than substances or things, and that we should look for God in the world process itself. They argue for a close relationship between philosophy and the natural sciences and understand God less in terms of timeless perfection and more in terms of temporal becoming. It is not their intention to deny the perfection of God, but to insist that perfect knowledge and love require involvement in the world.

In his article, `Process Philosophy of Religion', David Ray Griffin summarizes ways in which he has sought to employ process metaphysics to address several topics, including the problem of evil and the relation between science and religion. Process philosophy's panentheistic view of God seeks to combine features of both pantheism and theism. This results in a rejection of creatio ex nihilo in the strict sense and a rejection of the traditional idea of God's omnipotence which leads to the traditional problem of evil. Creative power is understood to be inherent in the world as well as God, and God's power is understood to be persuasive rather than coercive. With regard to the question of the relation between science and religion, Griffin argues that the real conflict is not between science and religion as such, but between traditional views of scientific naturalism and religious supernatur­alism. He maintains that process philosophy provides a theory of naturalism more adequate to science than traditional scientific naturalism, and a theory of theistic naturalism more adequate to theism than traditional supernaturalism.

Although philosophical reflection on religion can be traced back to the origins of western philosophy, western philosophy of religion in the more strict sense is a modern development indebted in particular to the work of such philosophers as Hume, Kant and Hegel. It is widely understood to be an autonomous discipline devoted to the kinds of issues that arise in western monotheistic traditions. In recent years, however, some western philosophers of religion have challenged this view arguing that it is too narrow in scope, and that philosophers of religion need to extend the boundaries of their disci­pline to allow them to take into account other religious traditions and issues raised in those traditions. This has led to the development of a variety of approaches to the comparative philosophy of religion, and in some cases to the view that the sharp boundaries often drawn between philosophy, theology and the history of religions are unjustified. Although some roots of this development may be traced to late nineteenth and early twentieth century anthropological and historical studies, it has been stimulated in recent years by the growing recognition that politically and economically persons are in some sense citizens of the world.

Keith Ward's article, `The Temporality of God', provides an example of the comparative approach to the philosophy of religion. Elsewhere Ward has argued that the comparative approach is important to efforts to develop a more comprehensive view rooted in but not limited to one's own historical tradition. In the article included here Ward argues that, in spite of different philosophical terminology, Semitic and Indian traditions have developed a similar classical concept of God, and that this concept of God should be revised in view of the post‑enlightenment emphasis on the irreducible value of the individual and the historical. Ward considers some primary objections to divine temporality and argues that if contingency and autonomy are real characteristics of the universe, divine knowledge and activity must be partly responsive and thus temporal.

Keith Yandell also represents the comparative approach to the philosophy of religion. In his article, `Some Reflections on Indian Metaphysics', Yandell explores some themes and tensions in the Indian metaphysical tradition beginning with the idea that everything that really exists is everlasting, and the opposite notion that almost all of what exists is radically impermanent. He discusses the notion of substances that are continuants and argues that Indian

monotheists should be friendly to the idea of continuants which, in contrast to everlasting continuants, need not be everlasting. Yandell argues that some initially plausible arguments against continuants do not stand up to scrutiny and considers what account of persons is most in accord with reincarnation and karma doctrine when that doctrine is taken to be literally true.

Although feminist philosophy also has roots in the early part of the twen­tieth century, it is today often associated with a movement that began in the 1960s, building in some cases upon Simone de Beauvoir's book, The Second Sex (1949). Feminist philosophy is a way of thinking which insists that female experiences, identities and ways of being and thinking must be considered at least equal to those of the male. It is rooted in a belief that women have been dominated and disadvantaged by a way of being and thinking that is patri­archal in character. Feminist philosophy has made significant strides during the last quarter of the century. In spite of the fact, however, that there are a number of distinguished women philosophers of religion and distinguished feminist theologians, until recently there has been little in the way of feminist philosophy of religion in the more strict sense. This picture is now changing.

Pamela Anderson's article, `Gender and the Infinite: On the Aspiration to be All That There Is' helps illustrate this new interest in feminist philosophy of religion. Anderson is particularly concerned with the topic of the infinite. She argues that a gender‑sensitive approach to the infinite reveals a corrupt striving to become infinite or all there is in both masculinist and feminist philosophy of religion. She calls for a more inclusive approach that would allow instantiating the regulative ideals of truth, love goodness and justice as conditions for an incorrupt craving for infinitude.

Contents: Contemporary philosophy of religion: Issues and approaches; E.T. Long. Postmodernism in philosophy of religion and theology; J. Macquarrie. Philosophy -- religion -- theology; A. Peperzak. Of miracles and special effects; H. de Vries. Religious diversity and religious toleration; P.L. Quinn. Theological determinism and the problem of evil: Are Arminians any better off; W.J. Wainwright. The foreknowledge  onundrum; W. Hasker. Theology in philosophy: Revisiting the Five Wayes; F. Kerr. Process philosophy of religion; D.R. Griffin. The temporality of God; K. Ward. Some reflections on Indian metaphysics; K.E. Yandell. Gender and the infinite: On the aspiration to be all there is; P.S. Anderson.

The Idol and Distance: Five Studies by Jean-Luc Marion, translated by Thomas A. Carlson (Perspectives in Continental Philosophy, No 17: Fordham University Press) Marked sharply by its time and place (Paris in the I 970s), this early theological text by Jean‑Luc Marion nevertheless maintains a strikingly deep resonance with his most recent, groundbreaking, and ever more widely discussed phenomenology. And while Marion will want to insist on a clear distinction between the theological and phenomenological projects, to read each in light of the other can prove illumi­nating for both the theological and the philosophical reader‑and perhaps above all for the reader who wants to read in both directions at once, the reader con­cerned with those points of interplay and undecidability where theology and philosophy inform, provoke, and challenge one another in endlessly complex ways.

In both his theological and his phenomenological projects, Marion's central effort to free the absolute or unconditional (be it theology's God or phenomenolo­gy's phenomenon) from the various limits and preconditions of human thought and language will imply a thoroughgoing critique of all metaphysics, and above all of the modern metaphysics centered on the active, spontaneous subject who occupies modern philosophy from Descartes through Hegel and Nietzsche.

Marion assumes in The Idol and Distance a faith in the insurpassable primacy of the Christian God's self-revelation. The properly theo-logical thinking that would answer such revelation, Marion's theology of distance, would be a theology of Goodness, generosity, charity, kenosis, or self‑giving­ and of all the other infinitely possible names for the inconceivable gift in response to which we would most fundamentally receive ourselves. Marion's theology would be, in short, if this were not redundant, a theology of love. And love, in the form of the absolute that "dissolves the tie that ties it to our thought", would under no condition be subject to conditions. "The kenosis sets no condition for revealing itself," Marion's core assertion goes, "because in that revelation it gives itself and reveals nothing other than this unconditional gift. Our lack of respect, in a word, our `unsuitability,' even grounded in ontological destiny, cannot set any condition upon this gift without precondition. For the mystery consists precisely in this: God loves those who do not love him, manifests himself to those who turn away, and all the more that they turn away".

Just as the phenomenon "in its fullest sense" shows itself of itself and starting from itself, without precondition, even to the one who does not yet see it, so here in Marion's theology, God loves even those who do not love him, shows himself even to those who do not yet see him. And just as my will to see phenomenal givenness would itself be a function of that givenness itself, so here my eventual capacity to love and to see God would be given first and only by God's love for me. At this level the structure of Marion's phenomenological vision and the structure of his theological vision are strikingly similar, if not isomorphic: if I see the givenness of the phenomenon, which means if I give myself to it by repeating the act of giving, this is only because that givenness first gave me to myself and moved me to receive givenness in my very being; if I love God, which means if I give myself to him in the love that gives me to others, this is only because God first loved me even when I was not, and moved me to love in my very being.

Such an isomorphism would not mean, as many argue or assume, that Marion's phenomenology is "really" or "only" an indirect means to advance his theology. It could mean, however, that Marion's theology and phenomenology inform one another in more subtle and complex ways than Marion himself sometimes wants to allow. This would stand to reason if Marion's distinction between the historically actual (Revelation, the domain of revealed theology) and the phenomenologically possible (the saturated phenomenon, revelation treated phenomenologically, apart from faith or tradition) finally proves itself unstable. As suggested by the structural similarities I have outlined in this introduction, it could well be the case that one's conception of the possible is substantially and inevitably shaped by what one already takes to be actual just as one's understanding of the actual would always already be framed by what one imagines to be possible. As Derrida argues of the founding and the founded in Heidegger, so here, perhaps, one could never be sure whether the possible is indebted to the actual or the actual to the possible; one would remain undecided as to which constitutes an example of which.

Perhaps it would be in the light (or obscurity) of such undecidability that we should read the fact that Marion's most developed phenomenological work, Etant donne, ends by pointing toward a possible treatment of love‑which is precisely where, as indicated by The Idol and Distance, his theology actually begins.

Flight of the Gods: Philosophical Perspectives on Negative Theology edited by Ilse Nina Bulhof, Laurens Ten Kate, Laurens Ten Kate (Perspectives in Continental Philosophy, 11: Fordham University Press) review pending

Acts of Religion by Jacques Derrida, edited by Gil Anidjar (Routledge) Is there, today," asks Jacques Derrida, "another 'question of religion'?" Derrida's writings on religion situate and raise anew questions of tradition, faith, and sacredness and their relation to philosophy and political culture. He has amply testified to his growing up in an Algerian Jewish, French-speaking family, to the complex impact of a certain Christianity on his surroundings and himself, and to his being deeply affected by religious persecution. Religion has made demands on Derrida, and, in turn, the study of religion has benefited greatly from his extensive philosophical contributions to the field.
Acts of Religion brings together for the first time Derrida's key writings on religion, along with two new essays translated by Gil Anidjar that appear here for the first time in any language. These eight texts are organized around the secret holding of links between the personal, the political, and the theological. In these texts, Derrida's reflections on religion span from negative theology to the limits of reason and to hospitality.
Acts of Religion will serve as an excellent introduction to Derrida's remarkable contribution to religious studies.

Editor’s Introduction It has become a commonplace to assert that religion in Jacques Derrida's works depends upon the range of meanings promoted by terms such as God, theology, and even Judaism. Under the guise of these terms, we may no longer be hearing simply about the demise of religion, most famously proclaimed by Nietzsche, but we keep hearing a great deal about what has been called its "return." According to this view religion acts, exercising its pressure by reflecting a dominantly theological lexicon that communicates values of spirituality, community, and faith. And since religion inevitably brings up figures of aberrant returns and archaic remnants, figures of familial or ethnic traditions preserved and fossilized, Derrida has been seen as well as performing acts of religion, as enacting a return to his own "religious" origins, though within the constraints of a necessarily complicated reappropriation.

Among the developments enabled by these considerations, there is moreover the undeniable fact that the study of religion has already benefited greatly from Derrida's extensive contributions and the growing recognition that, clearly, Derrida has spoken and written on religion, on the following terms of "religion": God, for example, but also theology, negative theology, "a new atheistic discourse," and the touch of Jesus and of Jean‑Luc Nancy (in "The Theater of Cruelty," "Violence and Metaphysics," Of Grammatology, "On a Newly Arisen Apocalyptic Tone in Philosophy," "How to Avoid Speaking: Denials," On the Name, Aporias, Le toucher, Jean-Luc Nancy); Islamic alms, circumcision (Arab, Jewish, and other), angels and archangels, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and other religions (in "Edmond Jabes and the Question of the Book;" "Ellipses," Glas, Post Card, "Schibboleth: For Paul Celan," "In this Very Work, At this Very Moment," Ulysse Gramophone, Given Time, "Circumfession," Archive Fever, On The Name, Politics of Friendship, Donner la mort, "Typewriter Ribbon: Limited Ink [2]"); the Kabbalah, the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, Paul, Augustine, the Talmud, messianism and messianicity, forgiveness, hospitality, prayer, and his prayer shawl (in Dissemination, "Des Tours de Babel," Force de loi, Donner la mort, Memoirs of the Blind, Specters of Marx, Adieu, Of Hospitality, "A Silkworm of One's Own"); the spirit and the letter, and German Jews and Arab Jews (in Writing and Difference, "Interpretations at War," Of Spirit, Aporias, Monolingualism of the Other); and more. Derrida, the argument continues, has amply and sufficiently testified to his growing up in an Algerian Jewish, French‑speaking family, to the complex impact of a certain Christianity on his surroundings and on himself, and to his being deeply affected by religious persecution. With various degrees of seriousness, Derrida has also referred to himself as "the last and the least of the Jews" and as "Marrano," and he has said that he watches, on television, "very regularly, on Sunday mornings, from 8:45am to 9:30am, ... the religious, Jewish and Muslim, programs that interest me greatly and if we had time I would tell you why."

Acts of Religion, then, in which what are put on stage, what are in fact restaged and replayed, are a number of acts, a number of books and plays, deeds and performances, pretenses and obligations. Jacques Derrida's writing on religion has indeed consisted of a manifold and powerful effort to situate and raise again questions of tradition, faith, and sacredness and their relation to the premises of philosophy and political culture.' These writings, therefore, do not merely constitute an exploration of familiar theologemes, a bringing to light of hidden religious dimensions of language and sociality, the producing and revisiting of exegetical elaborations‑be they "traditional" or "heretical"‑and ritual body markings; nor do they simply announce, indeed, prophesy, the renewal of faith. Rather, when Derrida writes on religion, it is always on the Abrahamic.

Contents: Introduction: "Once More, Once More": Derrida, the Arab, the Jew," Gil Anidjar 1 Faith and Knowledge 2 Des Tours de Babel 3 Interpretations at War: Kant, the Jew, the German 4 The Eyes of Language: The Abyss and the Volcano 5 Force of Law 6 Taking a Stand for Algeria 7 A Silkworm of One's Own (Points of View Stitched on the Other Veil) 8 Hostipitality

Religion and Its Monsters by Timothy K. Beal (Routledge) Wit andUز ދ64:A /LsKMQ!@@А0'hp8  hYd@ LBs ̔ 0.P ?051.edE adb?C@@#\$XϠ>̘~8@>s7r<>!I{ @a,~!HPx` c@ S_~(!FA1d)PBC_lg Cc$, ː[&Xyx v|' PB8{1`nT0 ` @(~F*` b ! 00H$.̌il9@> Cuf, ip @l9KZB"a 0=@&B`3=l Aa>7 3`gRʌ>!@6"+ˌ e}`W0  P L @ cu `060! /! D\: a>! 6 Ppc1C@   ;P9#A; C0 f!BCH@cD@He@nnp:/%A)3D`]1!2C|X@@90fLwsȁAavx7B;%D;C'P(A݀P;ALI@* {lcV*.c0d(ON  RB!F "D?Bő`{" }!HH p8lA#1r"@>9s͹*盙<&' |;!!Ÿpγ gg`|ClɃ@@uC0VsuA`iQEDbH ,2k7}XoH!,@aaVë CEU]ajuUqWE]&}YO3\k#"?跲2+/+N@8s@*rb(HږJ]eqyF_E .fZ(1yUtEEPqtH28H ]b ^O8]d^~ By;HۢJ=.=T{$ζ @L39 a?ѰxvXUqVQ]GDUV}{廓h?]+a|W>~{v\8Zpwy210 %׀̲b$E( /++["<}?;ELqwH TB:(mEx3.ODg}YY(>j>̺T_wTU`v"E!APl9/?wAԏ@PWAQUd]]j3+s@/*OCfץ_EZl׈\6( @'A'BFI0#,HSs |xz\@PX ڪ;{0uT QZA裲"DuGxشv>xXb cxk  ʖ}`~C-P={WzoQyAAo8ߡg`:o8E\$IWޅ$N02AW`(> <;߁Uzgџp@%FŝAM-.(¿/UPA}]c/obidos/ASIN/0801859956/wordtrade-20"> Philosophy & the Turn to Religion by Hent De Vries (Johns Hopkins University Press) and The Religious edited by John D. Caputo (Blackwell Readings in Continental Philosophy: Blackwell) provides a solid introduction to the nature of religious thought in recent continential philosophical investigations.

The Religious is impressive collection takes its lead from the question - "Who comes after the subject?" - posed by Jean-Luc Nancy some years ago and responds to similar questions of "Who comes after the God of metaphysics?" and "What becomes of God and of religious faith after the 'first cause' has been shown the door?"

To answer these questions, The Religious offers landmark texts from Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida, and Irigaray, excerpts from the famous debate between Jean-Luc Marion and Dominique Janicaud, and ten original selections, some of which include coverage of feminist theology.  This volume is an ideal text for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in the philosophy of religion.

When Hegel said that in his philosophy the "pictorial" thinking that goes on in Christianity at last clears its head and achieves crisp conceptual form, Kierkegaard groaned in pain. When Hegel said that with the advent of his "Philosophy of Spirit," the Absolute finally achieves self‑consciousness, Kierkegaard quipped that the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth did not come into the world and assume the form of a servant in order to consult with German metaphysicians about the nature of the divine being. The bite that Kierkegaard took out of the hide of Hegelian metaphysics is for me the beginning of the "end of metaphysics." It is at least the most recent beginning of the end of metaphysics, since the religious project of keeping the nose of the philosophical camel from nuzzling under the tent of faith is as old as the scolding that St. Paul (who seemed to set off a riot wherever he visited) gave to the Corinthians for their misguided attempts to speculate God into the highest heavens instead of trembling before the living God.

After Kierkegaard, Nietzsche would follow and launch a merciless "attack upon Christendom" of his own, for strictly irreligious purposes, of course, or (depending on how you want to look at it) for the purposes of a religion of the earth centered on the god Dionysus. Nietzsche could not think of things mean enough to say about Paul (or Augustine), who were Kierkegaard's heroes. But Nietzsche would have agreed with Kierkegaard that the pale bloodless speculations of the nineteenth‑century metaphysicians, and the pale bloodless lives of the nineteenth‑century Christian European bourgeoisie, represented a singularly sick substitute and pallid imitation of a robust and passionate "life." If Nietzsche located the passionate life in ancient Greek tragedy and bloodthirsty Roman conquerors, Kierkegaard located it in the early apostolic age when Christians had the fortitude to face the Romans' lions and to make an Abrahamic leap of faith in fear and trembling.

After Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, no major philosopher (there are always local revivals and minor outbreaks) has had the nerve to try metaphysics again, not in the left to do was to pick up the pieces, figure out what had happened, and write the story of the "destruction of the history of ontology"' or of the "end of metaphysics. ,2 That is the role that fell to Heidegger, the great chronicler and part time undertaker of metaphysics. Heidegger told the tale of how metaphysics had spun itself out, having never been up to its self‑appointed task to think the meaning or truth of Being. The latter was a mantle that he, in all humility, felt called upon to assume up by way of a new alliance with the very poets whom Plato, the first metaphysician, tried to run out of town. For better or for worse, Heidegger has described the scene of contemporary continental philosophy within which everyone works, including those who concern themselves with God and religious faith.

Thus, in organizing the present volume, I have taken my lead from Jean‑Luc Nancy, who, when guest‑editing a`volume of the journal Topoi some years ago, posed the question, "Who comes after the subject?  What is the state of human subjectivity, Nancy asked his contributors, after the "death" or delimitation of the subject in Freud, Nietzsche, Heidegger, structuralism, and post-structuralism? I have posed an analogous question to our contributors, "Who comes after the God of metaphysics?" or "What comes after onto-theo-logic?" What becomes of God and of religious faith after the onto-theo-logical "first cause" has been sent packing?

For it is clearly not God who is dead, an illusion entertained mostly by academics, but metaphysics's God, the God of metaphysical theology; it is speculative ruminations on God's nature and causal arguments demonstrating God's existence whose health has been recently declining. Thus, in the place of the "first cause," or the "unmoved mover," we have heard of the God (or gods) before whom I can sing and dance (Heidegger), the God beyond Being (Levinas), and most recently the God without Being (Marion). Even contemporary French philosophers like Jacques Derrida, who writes of "my religion," and Luce Irigaray, who writes of "becoming divine," thinkers who would be counted out as cold hard‑hearted atheists by conventional confessional standards cannot stop talking about God.

The talk about God and religion in contemporary continental philosophy bears almost no resemblance to what passes for traditional "philosophy of religion." The latter has typically concerned itself with offering proofs for the immortality of the soul and for the existence of God, and with identifying and analyzing the divine attributes. This tradition, which goes back to the scholastic debates of the high middle ages, is largely perpetuated today in the works of contemporary Anglo‑American philosophers, who offer the old wine of metaphysical theology in the new bottles of analytic philosophy. Richard Swinburne alone can fill a blackboard with the symbolic logic of his proofs. All over Anglo­America, logicians and epistemologists, from the Dutch Reformed to the Roman Catholic confessions, hasten to stretch a net of argumentation under faith in the divine being, lest the leap of faith end up falling to the floor in a great crash.

We on the continental side of this divide have sworn off that sort of thing and taken our stand with the equally traditional objection to the ontotheological tradition, voiced in a prophetic counter‑tradition that stretches from Paul to Pascal and Luther, and from Kierkegaard to the present, with honorary headquarters in a Jerusalem that is constitutionally wary of visitors from Athens. The objectifying tendencies, the preoccupation propositions, prove to be almost completely irrelevant to anyone with the least experience of religious matters, which beg to be treated differently and on their own terms. The God of the traditional philosophy of religion is a philosopher's God explicating a philosopher's faith, to be found, if anywhere, only on the pages of philosophy journals, not in the hearts of believers or the practice of faith. This philosopher's God is a creature of scholastic, modernist, and Enlightenment modes of thinking that deserve nothing so much as a decent burial.

So who, or what, comes next? After the funeral? The answer, or the beginnings of the answer, lie in Husserl's ground­breaking investigations into the "phenomenological" method, whose "principle of all principles" is to approach things in the terms in which they themselves are given, rather than on the terms which we (read: philosophers) have decided in advance is what they deserve. b Let us leave the guns of metaphysics at the door and let God and religious faith feel free to speak for themselves. As the great German mystic‑preacher Meister Eckhart said, God desires nothing more of us than that we let go of our creaturely mode of existing and let God be God in us.  Let faith, or religious life, or the divine life among us, be what they are, without cutting them down to fit the presuppositions of western metaphysics or theology, which, as Johannes de Silentio once quipped, sits in the window all rouged waiting for the philosophers to come walking by.

If religion once seemed to have played out its role in the intellectual and political history of Western secular modernity, it has now returned with a vengeance. In this engaging study, Hent de Vries argues that a turn to religion discernible in recent philosophy anticipates and accompanies this development in the contemporary world. Though the book reaches back to Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger, and earlier, it takes its inspiration from the tradition of French phenomenology, notably Emmanuel Levinas, Jean‑Luc Marion, and, especially, Jacques Derrida.

"Where‑or where not?‑does religion exist in contemporary culture, and in what forms or by what symptoms does its perennial encounter with philosophy now manifest itself? Following the leads of Derrida, Heidegger, and Levinas, and of those whose leads they follow, Hent de Vries proposes these new/old questions as tracing the most sensitive seismograph of the state of our worldwide culture. His extraordinary learning, his sophisticated sympathy with various disciplines and with competing modes of philosophizing, and his patient, engaged, courteous voice, make this book a place of profit not alone for those already convinced of the gravity of its topics, but for those who may well seek a way into matters that they sense they have been keeping at bay.

Philosophy & the Turn to Religion examines a "turn" to religion in modern philosophy. Although I take my lead in it from the later writings of Jacques Derrida, especially from the recurrence of certain religious and theological motifs in his work, I nonetheless pursue a more general sys­tematic problem: the present‑day form and implications of the uneasy relationship between the universal claims of philosophy and the supposed particularisms of religion. This relationship has always been complex, un­stable, and full of contradictions.

While sometimes aligned to the point of assimilation, philosophy and religion have often been defined in terms of their analogical relation, based in turn on the doctrine of the analogy of being (analogia entis) that was said to exist between the divine and the created realm, as well as on the assumption that the natural light of reason only needed to be sup­plemented by the supranatural gift of revelation. Martin Heidegger and others have insisted on the ontotheological nature of the history of West­ern metaphysics from the early Greeks on. Conversely, there are those (most famously Blaise Pascal, in distinguishing between the "god of the philosophers and of learned scholars" and the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob") who stress the difference from the very outset between the philosophical and the theological. In "Dieu et la philosophie" ("God and Philosophy"), Emmanuel Levinas has suggested, however, that these ap­parently opposite positions may have more in common than appears at first glance.

Retracing Derrida's engagement with the religious and theological makes it possible to view the uneasy relationship between philosophy and religion in a radically different way, one that is not anticipated or ex­hausted by any of the better‑known classical or modern interpretations of their entanglement or antithesis. In many of the chapters that follow, I at­tempt to provide arguments for a philosophical reassessment of his work in light of its ever more prominent citation and rearticulation of religious and theological idioms. Derrida's writings exhibit the paradox of a non‑theological, and, it would seem, even nonreligious, concern with religion, a type of philosophical reflection that does not simply coincide with itself but lets itself be "doubled," as he would put it, by religion. Only as religion's double can such philosophical reflection be said in turn to "haunt" all (positive or historical) religion. This exposure of the philosophical to the religious and, more indirectly, to the theological may provide us with the best, as well as both the most responsible and the most risky, access to the questions of ethics and politics in the current historical constellation­and, who knows, perhaps beyond.

My book circles around the persistent conceptual and analytical necessity for discourse to situate itself at once close to and at the farthest remove from the resources and current manifestations of the religious and the theological, their traditional and dominant figures, their cultural practices, and the basic tenets of their ethics and politics. This paradox is captured in the familiar French expression adieu, which Levinas made into a philosopheme. The adieu conveys the departure from all known, all‑too‑human‑positive, metaphysical, ontotheological‑names of the divine, and of everything that has come to take its place. Yet if this expression signals a leave‑taking, a departure from the postulation of an irreducible realm or being called divine‑epitomized by the unity of some unknown, perhaps unpronounceable, name‑one might also interpret it as a hint, a gesture toward the absolute (in the etymological sense of the Latin absolvere, to set free or untie) that eludes all context and every reference, but that nonetheless marks, enables, and challenges every utterance‑and not just prayer or ritual‑from within and without. As we shall see, examples of this are legion.

Despite the prominence of Derrida in these pages, as well as in the sequel to this book, entitled Horror Religiosus, I address other authors and examples in them as well: Emmanuel Levinas and Eric Weil, Maurice Blanchot and Jean Wahl, Michel de Certeau and Michael Foucault, Paul Ricoeur and Mikel Dufrenne, Edmund Jabes and Jean‑Francois Lyotard, Jean‑Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue‑Labarthe, Jean Greisch and JeanLuc Marion, Jean‑Franqois Courtine and Francoise Dastur, Jean‑Louis Chretien and Marlene Zarader, among others. The work of these interlocutors provides the interpretive context for my own interrogation of the central motifs and argumentative structures that have played a crucial role in Derrida's engagement with the religious and the theological since his earliest writings, and with increasing intensity: they focus in particular on the "Old" and "New" Testaments; the Confessions of St. Augustine and the treatises of Pseudo‑Dionysius; the sermons of Meister Eckhart and the epigrams of Angelus Silesius; the Meditations of Descartes and the critical works of Kant; the early theological writings of Hegel and the dialectical lyric of Kierkegaard; the poems of Holderlin and the poetics of Celan; the work of Rosenzweig, Kafka, and Benjamin; all approached with a type of questioning that would be impossible without the indefatigable and ultimately polemical reassessment of the work of Husserl and Heidegger that characterizes Derrida's thinking.

I attempt here to comprehend the theoretical significance of religious and theological citations in writings whose roots lie in the phenomenological tradition, although by historical accident they came in the United States to be associated first with the "structuralist controversy" and then with poststructuralism and its purported godfathers, Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud. Attention to the significance of religious and theological motifs in this genealogy rectifies its hasty association with a "hermeneutics of suspicion" (Paul Ricoeur's phrase in Le Conflit des interpretations [The Conflict of Interpretations]), to say nothing of unhelpful charges of nihilism, skepticism, or relativism.

The turn to religion discussed here must not be understood as a turn to theology in the conventional or confessional sense of the word. Rather, I attempt to rethink the concepts of ethics and politics, their structural and aporetic linkage with practices and institutions. Taken thus, the turn to religion counterbalances a common misunderstanding voiced by Dominique Janicaud's Le Tournant theologique de la phenomenology francaise (The Theological Turn of French Phemenology) and echoed by neohumanist critics of the newest French philosophy. Indicative of the turn in contemporary philosophy, or so their argument goes, is its invocation of the religious and the theological, as opposed to the sober use of the language of philosophy and the principles of secular humanism. This view badly needs correction. In fact, by renegotiating the limits and aporias of the ethical and the political in light of the religious and the theological, we can rearticulate the terms and oppositions in which the most pressing and practical present‑day cultural debates are phrased. Thus, here and in Horror Religiosus, I explore how Derrida's texts address the question of responsibility in its relation to democracy, globalization, and the "politics of hospitality." More particularly, I explore his views on the nation‑state in its engagement with censorship and religious tolerance, on identity and its relation to violence, on the politics of the academy in its confrontation with cultural diversity, on the politics of memory and of mourning, and also on the multimedia and their ambiguous role in the trend toward globalization and the "virtualization" of reality.

In discussions of these issues, the theoretical and pragmatic obsolescence of certain alternative interpretations‑of secularism, modernity, autonomy, self‑determination, progressivism, and humanism‑seems to me more evident than ever. The semantic, symbolic, or intellectual horizon within which these notions have been put to work restricts their capacity to serve as critical tools in`addressing the most pressing questions of our time. The turn to religion provides a genealogical and strategic reformulation or renaming of these notions, one that reveals‑and raises‑the stakes involved in their recurrent deployment. It helps to illuminate why there can be no such thing as the ultimate neutrality of a public sphere in which philosophical, cultural, and political conflicts are debated. More important, it makes us understand why this insight by no means implies that the formal and critical task of reason has become obsolete.

Speaking about religious and theological tropes or figures of speech and thought, examining the rhetorical features of their occurrences and reinscriptions, while stressing their fundamental undecidability or unreadability‑all this would certainly have been impossible without the "Newer Criticism," to employ Rodolphe Gasche's term for the first phase of the reception of deconstruction, which seemed to make it part of a canon of "poststructuralism" I sympathize with the more philosophically focused rereadings of the second phase of Derrida's reception, exemplified by Gasche, which was concerned to demonstrate what should have been clear all along‑namely, that Derrida's oeuvre is steeped in the tradition of Western thought, that it should be examined against the background of his philosophical engagement with the concept of reflection and the transcendental, from Hegel, through Husserlian phenomenology, to Heidegger and beyond.' My book also presupposes a third and a fourth strain of Derrida's reception, however, which shift toward the ethical and the pragmatic respectively.

Is there still room, then, to attach a "fifth wheel," in Kant's metaphor, to this wagon? To some, it seems already to be traveling at full speed; others see it as sidetracked from the outset and likely soon to come to a halt. In choosing to highlight the religious and theological motifs in Derrida's writing, and in claiming that they bring aspects of it discussed by previous scholarship into "their own," I am, of course, aware that deconstruction and theology have been intensely discussed from the very beginning; at each of the four stages of reception I have indicated. However, rather than attempting to determine the relevance of Derrida's writings for a rethinking of the task and scope of systematic theology,' I reverse the perspective, asking: Why is religion a relevant philosophical or theoretical topic at all?