Partakers of the Divine
Contemplation and the Practice of Philosophy
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Series: Emerging Scholars
Praise, Title Page, Copyright
Preface and Acknowledgements
This book is an extended essay in “contemplative philosophy” within the Christian tradition. Throughout the book, I keep one eye on the present by engaging the controversies and arguments of those contemporary theologians and philosophers of religion who have tried to think philosophically about contemplation and the contemplative tradition, but I keep my other eye trained...
Introduction: Contemplation and Philosophy
The passage above, from the apocryphal book The Wisdom of Solomon, written in Greek by an Alexandrian Jew sometime in the first century BCE, bears witness to a conversation, even a contest, between philosophy and biblical faith. The text has its own polemics—the author, for example, regularly takes aim especially at the Epicureans for their ungodliness, lawlessness, and...
1. Between Theory and Theoria
By the middle of the twentieth century, philosophy of religion appeared almost extinct within most philosophy departments—a few dinosaurs notwithstanding—while across the campus one could find philosophical theologians facing similar odds within their own divinity faculties. Philosophical naturalists, on the one hand, and broadly neo-orthodox...
2. The Adorative Intellect
In chapters 2 and 3 of his Proslogion, Anselm argues that the name of God—that than which nothing greater can be thought, id quo maius cogitari necquit—constrains us to think the necessity of God’s existence. “Surely,” he says, “that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought cannot exist in the mind alone...
3. A Stranger Modernity
In the preceding chapter, we saw the way that Anselm integrated inquiry and contemplation, or theory and theoria, through an adorative and self-implicating practice of philosophy and theology. But Anselm’s project was undertaken within a decisively medieval and monastic milieu. Can we still entertain such an approach today? Can philosophers of religion and theologians today pursue...
4. A Universe of Icons
Some thoughts change us; they are not entertained at a safe distance but confront us, lure us, implicate us. We cannot think them and remain the same, which is also to say that some thoughts only open to us as we risk ourselves in opening to them. In ancient philosophy, one word for such thoughts was...
5. Contemplative Philosophy of Religion
What are the prospects for contemplative philosophy today? I began this book by noting that in recent decades mystical and contemplative texts assumed a place of surprising philosophical importance for discussions in both the analytic and continental traditions. However, as we saw in chapter 1, most of these studies fail to treat the practices of the contemplative tradition as integrally...