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Appeal and Attitude

Prospects for Ultimate Meaning

Steven G. Smith

Publication Year: 2005

In Appeal and Attitude, Steven G. Smith offers a multicultural view into issues at the heart of existentialism, hermeneutics, and the phenomenology of religion. By looking closely at the concepts of appeal, or what commands our attention, and attitude, or the quality of the attention we pay, Smith probes into the core of religious ideals to answer questions such as why faith and rationality are compelling and how religious experience becomes meaningful. Smith turns to philosophical and religious texts from Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions including Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida, Confucius, and the Bhagavad-Gita. He also engages everyday objects such as stones, birds, boats, and minnows to arrive at normative definitions of supreme appeal and sovereign attitude. This book provides readers at all levels with a thoughtful and widely comparative window into idealism, community, responsibility, piety, faith, and love.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion

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pp. ix-xii

"I take the most basic philosophical question to be, What ultimately warrants and constrains our thoughts, utterances, and actions? So far I seem to have made my best progress with this question by working out applications of the concept of the spiritual, deriving the sense of ‘‘spirit’’ centrally from the old moving-air metaphor of a movement from within (breath) integrally related to..."

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1. Appeals

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pp. 1-18

"How will we live? With experience we learn that this most basic of questions gets addressed and shaped by particular beings, relations, and events on various scales of complexity. We want to understand the question in order to comport ourselves in it in the best way. An understanding requires a construal of the situation. A construal must be constructed. A construction must start..."

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2. Appeal in the Axial Age

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pp. 19-39

"When we feel it necessary to try to establish our fundamental orientation,we appeal to great appeals like God, reality, humanity, the Earth, reason, love, and hope. Our appealing action has of course been shaped and to some extentaimed by a history. (Notice that I construe what we have been doing and are doing as an action rather than as, say, activity. . ."

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3. The Appeal in Modern Philosophy

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pp. 40-72

"Virtually from its beginning, Western philosophy has manifested a conflicted relationship with the ideal of a supreme appeal. The most important work in philosophy today for our purposes derives from Kant’s interpretation of this situation. Before discussing Kant’s contribution, I will indicate the nature of the problem Kant inherited."

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4. The Appeal in Modern Theology

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pp. 73-104

"We began our investigation of appeals by considering the appeals of beings as though a solitary subject had just begun a life and entered a world and could freely observe how his or her attention spontaneously follows objects of outer and inner perception. That pristine scenario never actually obtains, but the idea of it indicates a layer of meaningful experience that is important at all..."

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5. Attitudes

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pp. 105-117

"You are attending to my words. Your attitude is good. We can work together. Actually, I know almost nothing about your attitude—or very little, at least, in relation to many of the possible motives and tendencies that could affect real dealings between us. You are only a pale gleam somewhere in the darkness of the virtual theater in which I form this discourse. Yet I am almost sure that..."

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6. Attitude in the Axial Age

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pp. 118-180

"We have already used Jaspers’s conception of a mid-first-millennium BCE ‘Axial Age’ to frame an account of appeal thinking. The same approach is needed to enter understandingly into attitude thinking, its close companion, since another of the compellingly relevant novelties of Axial Age teaching is..."

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7. Attitude Issues in Modern Philosophy

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pp. 166-226

"Modern European philosophy renews the Axial Age probe into basic attitudes as determinative of meaningfulness, extending the initiatives of Hebrew and Greek thought. I find the basic attitude issues to be engaged most directly and with the most interesting conceptual specifications along a certain predominantly German line, thanks in large part to a starting point furnished..."

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8. Attitude Issues in Modern Theology

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pp. 227-267

"It would be possible to document through the last two centuries nearly every conceivable appropriation of philosophical attitude theses by theologians right up to deconstruction. (As explained in chapter 4, I continue to use ‘theologian’ as the imperfect but apparently best term of convenience for all who speak normatively about divinity as representatives of religious communities.)"

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9. A Frame for Pneumaticism

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pp. 268-284

"The preceding chapters sought to develop a strategically revealing mise-en-scène for our two most articulate and explicitly ambitious forms of directive thinking, the philosophical and the religious, as we have practiced them and as we may practice them. This final chapter offers a synthesis of implications of what has been revealed, relying on a guiding pneumatological principle and..."


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pp. 284-328


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pp. 329-344


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pp. 345-356

E-ISBN-13: 9780253111449
E-ISBN-10: 0253111447
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253346452

Page Count: 376
Illustrations: 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion