Philosophical Theology, Volume One
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: State University of New York Press
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This preface introduces a three-volume systematic project in philosophical theology, a scale of reflection uncommon today and in need of some prefatory explanation. The overall topic of the project is “theology” in the sense of deal-ing with first-order issues in religion, to use the increasingly common word for intellectual construction and analysis in all religious traditions. Such first-order ...
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I wish to thank members of the doctoral seminar in Advanced Systematic Theology at Boston University in fall 2010 for their careful reading and com-mentary on a draft of this volume. They include Joshua Hasler, Anne Hillman, Sungrae Kim, Divine Mungre, Lancelot Watson, and Lawrence Whitney. In fall 2012 students in another doctoral seminar also commented helpfully ...
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The complex metaphysical hypothesis to be elaborated throughout the volumes of Philosophical Theology is that the ultimate reality of the world consists in its being created in all its spatiotemporal complexity by an ontological act of creation. everything determinate in any way is part of the world so created. The ontological creative act is a making and its only nature comes in the ...
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How does one begin a discussion of ultimate reality? The first quandary is that we are already in the middle of very many discussions of ultimate reality. Some of these discussions are the historical traditions of religions with their manifold genres of scripture, commentary, and evolving cultures of rituals, practices, and historical institutionalizations. Others are more philosophical ...
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The phrase, sacred canopy, derives from Peter L. Berger’s book, The Sacred Canopy. The purpose of that book is to develop a theory of religion with the tools of sociology of knowledge; its argument is closely connected with the book Berger wrote with Thomas Luckman at about the same time, The Social Construction of Reality. Berger’s general thesis is that human beings need ...
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The previous chapter made the point that religious people bet their lives that their religious beliefs are true, especially those embodied in their sacred canopies. Roughly put, their bet on the truth of religious beliefs includes an assumption that they refer to what they seem to refer to and that what they say about the objects of reference is right in some important sense. Further ...
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...the epistemology of Philosophical Theology derives from american pragma-tism with a heavy influence from Confucianism. Knowing, according to this epistemology, is a natural interaction of an interpretive organism with an environment. the interpretation allows the interpreter to discriminate what is valuable (or disvaluable) in the environment so as to engage it better. Knowl-...
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The first three chapters of Philosophical Theology focused on ultimacy as sym-bolized in sacred canopies. The first developed the conception of sacred cano-pies, including the technical concept of finite/infinite contrasts. The second dealt with the importance of reference in the symbols of ultimacy in sacred canopies, both for people whose canopies they are and for scholars who study ...
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The purpose of Part I of Philosophical Theology One has been to introduce some of the major conceptual tools necessary for an analysis of ultimacy or ultimate reality. These tools have been introduced but not developed much in use. a brief summary allows for some conclusions to be drawn about the The Introduction to this volume includes a stipulative definition of ...
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Without significant elaboration Part I of Philosophical Theology One put for-ward the hypothesis that reflective religions evolve theologies in response to structures of reality with which all cultures and individuals need to cope in one way or another. Of course, religions are historically diverse, wildly so, and their categories should be seen in their own integrity even as integra-...
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The distinction between ontological and anthropological ultimates has been observed from the beginning of this study (I, Preface). Roughly, ontologi-cal ultimates are realities on their own, whereas anthropological ultimates are human projects of ultimate importance. Part of the significance of the distinction is that some important religious traditions, particularly those of ...
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The purpose of this chapter is to explore what exists in the nature of things that puts pressure on symbols of ultimacy to take form and interpretation toward the transcendent end of the intimacy/transcendence continuum (I, 4, ii). The range of symbols prevalent in religions is indeed along a continuum. To say what a “totally transcendent” symbol would be is extremely difficult. ...
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Whereas issues of scale, idolatry, explanation, and experience put pressure on religious thinking to develop increasingly transcendent symbols, something parallel exerts an opposite pressure to develop increasingly intimate symbols, symbols proximate to the exigencies of life. These are the issues that in summary fashion can be called, respectively, the intension of nature within ...
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...one of the most important distinctions within theology is between two structures of the broadest frame for theological discussion. one structure is a kind of cosmic or ultimate narrative. The other is an ontological structure articulating relations among finite affairs, natural and human, and ultimates that are infinite in crucial aspects as finite/infinite contrasts. Ontology in this ...
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The purpose of Part II was to explore how realities common to the human situation exert pressures on religion to symbolize ultimacy in various ways. These pressures show up in all religions that have reflective depth. They determine that symbols of ultimacy are of various kinds in response to the Chapter 5 argued that one of the fundamental distinctions regarding ...
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The purpose of Part III is to provide arguments for the philosophy of ulti-mate reality on which Philosophical Theology is based. A consistent theme of Parts I and II is that the cognitive control on symbols of ultimacy comes through metaphysics. Metaphysics, as the term is used here, and as an inter-pretive generalization of the great philosophic traditions of civilizations, is ...
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What is the best strategy for developing a proper metaphysical conception of ultimate reality? Reflection can begin on the phrase itself. Ultimate reality is the reality that is ultimate or last in the seeking out of conditions, that which is presupposed by other things but has no presuppositions itself. furthermore, ultimate reality is not merely accidentally last in the sequence of conditions ...
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Before we can be more exact about what might constitute the ontological context of the mutual relevance of determinate things, it is important to develop a formal theory of determinateness. In several of the previous chap-ters it was asserted that to be determinate is to be a harmony of essential and conditional components. now this needs to be explicated as a proper ...
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The metaphysical question for this chapter is how it is possible that there is a world of many beings. This question is answered in four ways. The first section presents a dialectical argument that such a pluralistic world is radically contingent and that the only thing on which it might be contingent is an ontological creative act that functions as the ontological context of mutual ...
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...according to the concept of the ontological creative act, the act has no nature except that which comes to be in its creating the world. This affords the greatest intelligibility to the question of why there is a world at all. for, the concept of the ontological creative act starts within nothing, which needs no explanation. It moves through sheer making, productivity, creativity of ...
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One purpose of Part III was to develop a set of metaphysical ideas about ultimate reality that can serve as a kind of orienting control on the symbols of ultimacy discussed in Part II. many of those metaphysical ideas were introduced in Parts I and II, but not developed and defended. The main purpose of Part III was to provide a detailed defense of the metaphysical ...
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The philosophical theology of ultimate reality has been built on three layers of argument. Part I presented tools for the analysis of religion, including a theory of symbolic engagement according to which theory can deal with first-order questions about ultimacy. Part II examined elements common to religious life in the real world that put pressures on symbols of ultimacy, ...
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Given the abstractness of the conception of the ontological ultimate arising from an analysis of bare determinateness, and the explicit denial that the ontological act of creation has a nature of its own over and above its products, what of religious importance can be known about it? This chapter articulates what positively can be known and the next draws negative inferences about ...
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...apart from the ontological act of creation, and its termination in the deter-minate things of the world, nothing is to be known of ultimate reality. This is affirmed explicitly in the hindu notion of Nirguna Brahman, Brahman without qualities. as discussed in chapter 6, the move to greater transcen-dence involves a dialectic that ends with denying any traits to Brahman as ...
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The metaphysical theory of ultimacy developed in Part III and from which consequences about the knowledge of the ultimate were drawn in chapters 13 and 14 stands as an hypothesis. It was drawn up in light of analyses of how ultimacy figures in people’s worldviews, both as more or less directly symbolized in those portions of worldviews we called sacred canopies and ...
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The purpose of this chapter is to explore paths of spiritual cultivation that make possible and promote the development of concrete, materially constituted, acts of symbolic engagement of the ultimate understood as the ontological act of creation. This preliminary exploration is supplemented from many other angles in Philosophical Theology Two and Three. These paths ...
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Part I of Philosophical Theology One raised the problem of how to understand ultimacy and suggested the hypothesis of the ontological act of creation, although not exactly in these theoretical terms. Part II set this problem in the larger context of how various dimensions of reality exert pressures on understandings of ultimacy, defined as symbols of ultimacy; in important ...
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Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2013