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Christianity and Secular Reason

Classical Themes and Modern Developments

Jeffrey Bloechl

Publication Year: 2012

What is secularity? Might it yield or define a distinctive form of reasoning? If so, would that form of reasoning belong essentially to our modern age, or would it instead have a considerably older lineage? And what might be the relation of that form of reasoning, whatever its lineage, to the Christian thinking that is often said to oppose it? In the present volume, these and related questions are addressed by a distinguished group of scholars working primarily within the Roman Catholic theological tradition and from the perspectives of Continental philosophy. As a whole, the volume constitutes a conversation among thinkers who agree in their concerns but not necessarily their conclusions. Taken individually, each essay concentrates on a range of historical developments with close attention to their intellectual and sometimes pedagogical implications. Secular reason, they argue, is neither the antipode of Christian thought nor a stable and well-resolved component of it. Christian thinking may engage with secular reason as the site of profound difficulties, but on occasion will also learn from it as a source of new insight.

Christianity and Secular Reason contributes to the contemporary discussion of secularity prompted especially by Charles Taylor’s book A Secular Age. Unlike Taylor's work, however, this collection concentrates specifically on secular reason and explicitly on its relation to Christianity. In this sense, it is closer to Michael J. Buckley’s At the Origins of Modern Atheism or, to a lesser degree, Louis Dupré’s Passage to Modernity, which concern themselves with broad cultural developments.
"This volume offers a variety of perspectives, some historical, some normative/constructive, on the questions of the relations between politics/culture/religion and the relations between selfhood/humanity/world. The essays are, without exception, of high quality in both scholarly-exegetical terms, and constructive-normative ones. The writers are learned, sometimes witty, and often interesting." —Paul Griffiths, Duke Divinity School
"This is no other volume I know of that covers just this ground. There is a substantial literature on, for example, the Habermas/Ratzinger exhange, and on Kant's view of the relation between philosophy and religion, and on the twelfth century background for thirteenth century reflection on this relation. The merit of Christianity and Secular Reason is that it holds these threads together, and others besides, in a new and fruitful way." —John E. Hare, Yale University

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

Early outlines for several of these papers were presented in a seminar organized by the Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture at the College of the Holy Cross. The seminar, and thus much of this research, was made possible by funding from The May and Stanley Smith...

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pp. 1-16

What is it that we are witnessing in the recent appearance, and indeed the proliferation, of rational principles, social structures, and a moral order no longer determined by a positive relation to religion, if not simply the continued unfolding of our...

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Chapter 1: How Rational Is the Heart? How Natural Is Reason? How Universal Is Faith?

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pp. 17-32

Instead of being a fable, truth bothers us as the most desired condition of an authentic life. It must be sought, however. Consequently, human existence has been experienced, represented, imagined, told, and dramatized as a journey, an exodus, a quest, a pilgrimage, an expedition, a ladder, a climb...

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Chapter 2: Naturae Desiderium: The Desire of Nature between History and Theology

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pp. 33-63

To attribute some form of desire or yearning to the natural world is hardly a new proposition. The proposition alone has for a long time been seen as a fount of diverse but unmistakable controversy. For example, Aristotle, in a woeful misreading of Empedocles...

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Chapter 3: Athens, Jerusalem, and . . . : Overcoming the Exclusivist Paradigms of the Past

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pp. 65-85

I have chosen this broader title to think about the split about reason and faith or the gap between secular rationality and religious sensibility, particularly in university life, not only because of Tertullian’s famous question, what has Jerusalem...

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Chapter 4: Kant: Boundaries, Blind Spots, and Supplements

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pp. 87-126

Kant’s project of defining the relations and differences between reason and faith is as urgent now as it was at the end of the eighteenth century. What to do with Christianity, given its depleted or rapidly depleting authority in modernity, when the background...

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Chapter 5: On Knowing God through Loving Him: Beyond "Faith and Reason"

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pp. 127-151

Our vocabulary offers us two words: “faith” and “reason.” And we step quickly from the existence of words to the existence of things, with the accepted theory telling us on one hand that reason has been bestowed on us and on the other that faith can be awakened in us...

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Chapter 6: Phenomenality and Christianity

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pp. 153-185

I begin by considering three propositions, each of which summarizes a complex position: (1) there cannot be a phenomenology of Christianity; (2) there can be a phenomenology of Christianity; and (3) Christianity is already a phenomenology. I shall discuss them one at...

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Chapter 7: Making the Resurrection Reasonable—or Reason “Resurrectional”?

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pp. 187-216

Christ’s rising from the dead is an irreplaceable “given” in the consciousness of Christian faith:1 “No Christianity without the resurrection of Jesus. As Jesus is the single great ‘presupposition’ of Christianity, so also is the resurrection of...

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Chapter 8: Habermas, Religion, and a Postsecular Society

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pp. 217-238

On June 25, 1962, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an 8– 1 decision, Engel v. Vitale, in which the high court prohibited prayer in public schools. Effectively the decision banned a practice that was still, at the time...

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Chapter 9: “Transcendence from Within” : Benedict XVI, Habermas, and Lonergan on Reason and Faith

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pp. 239-275

In his open letter to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (February 10, 2007),1 Jürgen Habermas comments on Benedict XVI’s speech at Regens - burg, saying that the pope’s notion of rationality presupposes a “meta - physical” synthesis between reason and faith that held sway...


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pp. 277-279


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pp. 281-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780268075873
E-ISBN-10: 0268075875
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268022280
Print-ISBN-10: 0268022283

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2012