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Gazing Through a Prism Darkly

Reflections on Merold Westphal's Hermeneutical Epistemology

B. Putt

Publication Year: 2009

Merold Westphal has been in the foremost ranks of philosophers who proclaim a new postsecular philosophy. By articulating an epistemology sensitive to the realities of cognitive finitude and moral weakness, he defends a wisdom that begins in both humility and commitment, one that always confesses that human beings can encounter meaning and truth only as human beings, never as gods.The present volume focuses on this wisdom of humility that characterizes Westphal's thought and explores how that wisdom, expressed through the redemptive dynamic of doubt, can contribute to developing a postsecular apologetic for faith.This book can function both as an accessible introduction to Westphal for those who have not read him extensively and also as an informed critical appreciation and extension of his work for those who are more experienced readers.

Published by: Fordham University Press


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pp. c-iv

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. v-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

To ‘‘edit’’ is to ‘‘bring forth’’ or to ‘‘give’’ (e-dere), specifically to collect and/or alter materials in order to present them—that is, to make a present of them to the public by ‘‘publishing’’ (publicare) them for general distribution. The editor, therefore, ostensibly acts out of grace, motivated by a...

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The Benefit of the Doubt

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pp. 1-19

In recent years, several scholars in the United States have exploited the implications of Continental philosophy for developing new and innovative approaches to religious and theological studies. These thinkers— including but not limited to Carl Raschke, Mark Taylor, Charles...

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Despoiling the Egyptians—Gently

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pp. 20-34

Merold Westphal is one of the most significant interpreters of Hegel in the English-speaking philosophical world. He has worked on Hegel for the whole of his academic career. His first book, History and Truth in Hegel’s Phenomenology, is still referred to with continuing respect for the...

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Merold Westphal on the Sociopolitical Implications of Kierkegaard’s Thought

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pp. 35-45

Søren Kierkegaard is widely regarded as an archindividualist with little concern for political and social issues. Furthermore, it is well known that he himself had extremely conservative, even reactionary, political views. He was, for example, not happy about the elimination of absolute monarchy...

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Levinas and Kierkegaard on Triadic Relations with God

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pp. 46-60

Merold Westphal’s many insightful comparisons and contrasts between Emmanuel Levinas and Søren Kierkegaard prompt me to reconsider one aspect that continues to intrigue me—namely, Westphal’s characterization of the triadic relation found in each thinker. In ‘‘Kierkegaard and...

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Appropriating Westphal Appropriating Nietzsche

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pp. 61-73

In pointing out that Friedrich Nietzsche can be rightly read as a ‘‘theological resource,’’1 Merold Westphal has done people of faith a great service: that is, he has read Nietzsche carefully and helped them truly hear Nietzsche’s critique. The result is that Westphal has shown how useful Nietzsche...

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Remaining Faithful

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pp. 74-85

Thinking about religion in postmodernity may make strange bedfellows, stranger even than those allegedly made by politics. In this context, Merold Westphal makes a compelling case for linking the seemingly incompatible faith claims of Christianity and the indeterminacy, randomness,...

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The God Who Refuses to Appear on Philosophy’s Terms

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pp. 86-99

On April 1, 2000, sixteen scholars gathered to celebrate the lifework of my former Purdue colleague, Calvin O. Schrag, on the occasion of his retirement. In his critique of Schrag’s move ‘‘beyond classical theism,’’1 Merold Westphal encapsulated some of the main arguments developed in his later...

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What Is Merold Westphal’s Critique of Ontotheology Criticizing?

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pp. 100-115

If Merold Westphal were the leader of the Christian Right, we would all be better off. I do not mean, God forbid, either that we would all be better off if Merold had a change of heart and suddenly headed to the Far Right, or that the Left would be better off without him. Far from it. I...

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Transcendence in Tears

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pp. 116-138

‘‘I propose to explore the transcendence of God in strict correlation with human self-transcendence,’’ Merold Westphal writes at the start of Transcendence and Self-Transcendence.1 His ‘‘basic idea,’’ he says, ‘‘is that what we say about God should have a direct bearing on our own self-transformation....

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Between the Prophetic and the Sacramental

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pp. 139-149

Merold Westphal has been one of the most significant voices in Continental philosophy of religion in recent years. He, along with Paul Ricoeur, has contributed what might be called a specifically Protestant inflection to the ongoing ‘‘theological turn in phenomenology,’’ a movement that...

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Taking the Wager of/on Love

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pp. 150-162

In her prologue to i love to you,1 Luce Irigaray tells of the ‘‘miracle’’ (7) that happened when a debate with a man surprisingly turned into a ‘‘meeting with the other, the different’’ in the between, in ‘‘mutual respect.’’ ‘‘We were two: a man and a woman speaking in accordance with...

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The Joy of Being Indebted

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pp. 163-180

I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the contributors to this volume. For years they have been my friends and teachers, and I have been in their debt in many ways long before the present project. Now the care and seriousness with which they have addressed my work makes me all the...

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Talking to Balaam’s Ass

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pp. 181-206

B. Keith Putt: Merold, in your intellectual autobiography, Faith Seeking Understanding, you refer to the significant influence of Arthur Holmes, one of evangelicalism’s finest scholars, whose clarion call was ‘‘all truth is God’s truth.’’ How has that epigram shaped your own appropriation...


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pp. 207-234


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pp. 235-236


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pp. 237-244

Perspectives in

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pp. 245-248

E-ISBN-13: 9780823247172
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823230457
Print-ISBN-10: 0823230457

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2009