Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-vi

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xiv

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-9

Merold Westphal stands as one of the preeminent thinkers in North America concerning Continental philosophy of religion. Moreover, together with John Caputo and Richard Kearney, Westphal can be thought of as one of the main philosophers who popularized postmodern thought on religion in North America. The present work reviews Westphal’s contributions to philosophy, what possible offerings those may have for theology, and how his work might best be understood within these discourses.

Although Westphal often fashions himself as a Christian philosopher—...

read more

1 Of Hermeneutics and Style: How to Read Westphal

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 10-20

Beginning our investigation by understanding how Westphal thinks of and approaches philosophy and theology will inform us of his motivations and the subsequent implications of his writing. We start by investigating Westphal’s hermeneutics and his earlier writings to gain a particular ‘Westphalian’ perspective for things to come. What is important is to look at how he first receives his intellectual influences and carefully parses out their meaning before crafting his own original thinking. From here, one should see the foundations of Westphal’s own hermeneutics....

read more

2 Recontextualization: A Westphalian Aufhebung?

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 21-43

William Desmond describes Westphal’s style of appropriation as similar to the Israelites’ despoilment of the Egyptians. However, Westphal’s is a gentle despoilment: the fidelity he shows superficially to sources appears to be an agreement between him and his source, but he is actually enacting a piecemeal acquisition of certain key ideas within that source.1 It is not a hostile takeover—it is not a takeover at all—rather, it is a form of retrieval; he takes parts of an author’s idea while also diligently critiquing the idea as a whole. A charitable reading of this method would call it a recontextualization, but...

read more

3 Westphal and Hegel: Judging Religion through Politics

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 44-70

Westphal’s reading of Hegel reveals the political nature of his own philosophy. Moreover, Westphal’s struggle with Hegel, as we shall see, can also be seen as a struggle with modernity and its resultant political, economic, and religious structures. With these thoughts in mind, Westphal’s second book on Hegel, entitled Hegel, Freedom, and Modernity, is a prime source, as Westphal shapes the book to highlight these struggles, hoping to shed light upon the insights Hegel can give us and where he goes astray. This chapter explores Westphal’s journey with Hegel by focusing on Westphal’s political...

read more

4 Hegelians in Heaven, but on Earth . . . : An “Unfounding,” Kierkegaardian Faith

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 71-110

Westphal is attempting to craft a prophetic line of philosophy he finds sorely lacking, particularly with Hegel. This is also the case for Husserlian phenomenology, which he sees as replicating Hegel by being purely descriptive, never prescriptive.1 At this point, it is clear that Westphal aims to push philosophy into the realm of action: to not just reasonably argue but to move those arguments toward helping the widow, orphan, and stranger. Westphal sees in Kierkegaard a possible way to adapt this preferential option for the poor into a postmodern framework; with Kierkegaard, Westphal finds...

read more

5 Religiousness: The Expression of Faith

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 111-143

The previous chapter partially answered the question of the type of faith Westphal holds by finding it to be Kierkegaardian and wholly dependent on revelation, and thus resists any reasonable foundation to ground itself. However, this was only a partial answer since it merely addresses how one assents to, or otherwise accepts, faith. Holding or enacting that faith through discipleship is the decisive step and what follows will continue our investigation by describing how, exactly, faith is opposed to sin and how this opposition, once enacted and lived, becomes an ideology critique.

We begin with the epistemological question proposed at the end of the...

read more

6 Faith Seeking Understanding: Westphal’s Postmodernism

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 144-181

Overcoming Onto-theology finds itself in two worlds: one that is suspicious of postmodern critique of religion and one whose appreciation of postmodern thought makes it suspicious of religion.1 Speaking to both, Westphal situates the work as a primer for the Christian theist’s endeavor into postmodern philosophy. The book’s very first words set this trajectory:

Some of the best philosophers whom I count among my friends are postmodernists. But they do not share my faith. Others of the best philosophers whom I count among my friends share my faith. But they are not...

read more

7 Intermediary Conclusions: The Believing Soul’s Self-Transcendence

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 182-202

My attempt thus far has been to craft Westphal’s intellectual narrative, and what I have found is that Westphal’s narrative is heavily theological. In fact, Westphal is so theological that I argue he is best read within this discourse, which is perhaps his proper home. The previous chapters have focused on how Westphal shapes his thinking and how it tacitly develops into a theology that appropriates philosophical reasoning to minister and guide the life of faith. Furthermore, his articulation of faith as a task of a lifetime, which compels the believing soul to continually enact the love commandment,...

read more

8 Radical Eschatology: Westphal, Caputo, and Onto-theology

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 203-224

It is impossible to speak of Merold Westphal’s academic contributions without including the lengthy (and lifelong) debates he has held with John Caputo. Truly, the debates between Westphal and Caputo (also frequently involving Richard Kearney) have dominated Continental philosophy of religion in North America for quite some time, and stories of their witty jousting at conferences and symposia are familiar to many. One such account has been transcribed in Modernity and Its Discontents, where Westphal and Caputo, along with James Marsh, hold a roundtable discussion exploring...

read more

9 Comparative Eschatology: Westphal’s Theology, Kearney’s Philosophy, and Ricoeurian Detours

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 225-261

In the previous chapter, we discussed Merold Westphal’s thought in light of his primary debate partner, John Caputo. As I argued, Westphal is almost always discussed alongside his friend Caputo as both represent different, opposing sides of various debates in Continental philosophy of religion in North America. On the one hand, Westphal argues for a ‘thick theology’—a hearty soup—that provides a theistic, religious appropriation of postmodern thought to nourish the believing soul. On the other hand, Caputo analyses theism through a radical critique of religion’s onto-theo-logico-centrism....

read more

Conclusion: Westphal as a Theologian and Why It Matters

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 262-268

As I mentioned in the introduction, when researching this book and speaking at both philosophical and theological conferences (mostly in Europe, but also in North America), I got mainly two reactions to Westphal’s thinking: those who thought his work truly embraced Protestant Christianity and provided a pathway for Christians to seriously consider mostly secular critiques of religion (similar to his opening statements in Overcoming Onto-Theology), and those who found that his work did not pass the standard for rigorous philosophical thinking. Those in the latter camp, especially...

Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 269-286

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 287-290

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 291-292