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Philosophy > Epistemology

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Evidence and Transcendence Cover

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Evidence and Transcendence

Religious Epistemology and the God-World Relationship

Anne E. Inman

In Evidence and Transcendence, Anne Inman critiques modern attempts to explain the knowability of God and points the way toward a religious epistemology that avoids their pitfalls. Christian apologetics faces two major challenges: the classic Enlightenment insistence on the need to provide evidence for anything that is put forward for belief; and the argument that all human knowledge is mediated by finite reality and thus no “knowledge” of a being interpreted as completely other than finite reality is possible. Modern Christian apologists have tended to understand their task primarily, if not exclusively, in terms of one of these challenges. As examples of contemporary rationalist and postliberal approaches, Inman analyzes in depth the religious epistemologies of philosopher Richard Swinburne and theologians George Lindbeck and Ronald Theimann. She concludes that none of their positions is satisfactory, because none can uphold the notion of God’s transcendence while at the same time preserving a sound account of our claims to freedom and knowledge. The root cause of such failures, Inman argues, is an inadequate philosophy of God and of the relation of God and the finite world. Her exploration of the theologies of Karl Rahner and Friedrich Schleiermacher provides the material for the constructive work in this book. Against rationalist and postliberal epistemologies, Inman calls for an austere grounding of Christian faith in the claim that God is known in human conscious activity as such, as the “other” that grounds the finite.

Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre of 1794 Cover

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Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre of 1794

A Commentary on Part 1

by George Seidel

Seidel presents the English and German text of part 1 of the Wissenscbaftsiebre, followed by a commentary on the text. The work concludes with a summary of parts 2 and 3 of the Wissenscbafislebre. An annotated bibliography surveys the important literature on the philosopher.

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Gazing Through a Prism Darkly

Reflections on Merold Westphal's Hermeneutical Epistemology

B. Putt

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.

God as Reason Cover

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God as Reason

Essays in Philosophical Theology

Vittorio Hösle

In God as Reason: Essays in Philosophical Theology, Vittorio Hösle presents a systematic exploration of the relation between theology and philosophy. In examining the problems and historical precursors of rational theology, he calls on philosophy, theology, history of science, and the history of ideas to find an interpretation of Christianity that is compatible with a genuine commitment to reason. The essays in the first part of God as Reason deal with issues of philosophical theology. Hösle sketches the challenges that a rationalist theology must face and discusses some of the central ones, such as the possibility of a teleological interpretation of nature after Darwin, the theodicy issue, freedom versus determinism, the mind-body problem, and the relation in general between religion, theology, and philosophy. In the essays of the second part, Hösle studies the historical development of philosophical approaches to the Bible, the continuity between the New Testament concept of pneuma and the concept of Geist (spirit) in German idealism, and the rationalist theologies of Anselm, Abelard, Llull, and Nicholas of Cusa, whose innovative philosophy of mathematics is the topic of one of the chapters. The book concludes with a thorough evaluation of Charles Taylor’s theory of secularization.

Hegel's Theory of Imagination Cover

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Hegel's Theory of Imagination

Filling an important gap in post-Kantian philosophy, Hegel’s Theory of Imagination focuses on the role of the imagination, and resolves the question of its apparent absence in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Jennifer Ann Bates discusses Hegel’s theory of the imagination through the early and late Philosophy of Spirit lectures, and reveals that a dialectic between the two sides of the imagination (the “night” of inwardizing consciousness and the “light” of externalizing material) is essential to thought and community. The complexity and depth of Hegel’s insights make this book essential reading for anyone seriously interested in understanding how central the imagination is to our every thought.

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Human Destinies

Philosophical Essays in Memory of Gerald Hanratty

Frank O'Rourke

From 1968 until his death in 2003, Gerald Hanratty was professor of philosophy at University College Dublin. In this volume to his memory, Fran O'Rourke has assembled twenty-six essays reflecting Hanratty's broad philosophical interests, dealing with central questions of human existence and the ultimate meaning of the universe. Whether engaged in historical investigations into Gnosticism or the Enlightenment, Hanratty was concerned with fundamental themes in the philosophy of religion and philosophical anthropology. Human Destinies brings together a wide range of approaches to central questions of human nature and destiny. Included are historical studies of classical thinkers of the ancient and medieval periods (Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas) and of modern authors (Kant, Husserl, Heidegger, Marcel, Adorno, Derrida, Plantinga, Scruton).

Idea and Ontology Cover

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Idea and Ontology

An Essay in Early Modern Metaphysics of Ideas

Marc A. Hight

The prevailing view about the history of early modern philosophy, which the author dubs “the early modern tale” and wants to convince us is really a fairy tale, has it that the focus on ideas as a solution to various epistemological puzzles, first introduced by Descartes, created difficulties for the traditional ontological scheme of substance and mode. The early modern tale depicts the development of “the way of ideas” as abandoning ontology at least by the time of Berkeley. This, in turn, fostered an antimetaphysical bias as modern philosophy developed further, elevating epistemology to its current primary status in the field. Marc Hight challenges this account by showing how, though the conception of ideas changed over time, the ontological status of ideas remained a central part of the discussion about ideas and influenced how even later thinkers like Locke, Berkeley, and Hume thought about them. By his reading of important texts in early modern philosophy, Hight aims not only to provide a more accurate history of philosophy for this period but also to resuscitate the value of metaphysics for philosophical analysis today.

Ignorance Cover

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Ignorance

(On the Wider Implications of Deficient Knowledge)

Nicholas Rescher

Nicholas Rescher presents a broad-ranging study that examines the manifestations, consequences, and occasional benefits of ignorance in areas of philosophy, scientific endeavor, and ordinary life. Citing philosophers, theologians, and scientists from Socrates to Steven Hawking, Rescher seeks to uncover the factors that hinder our cognition. Rescher categorizes ignorance as ontologically grounded (rooted in acts of nature-erasure, chaos, and chance-that prevent fact determination), or epistemically grounded (the inadequacy of our information-securing resources). He then defines the basis of ignorance: inaccessible data; statistical fogs; secreted information; past data that have left no trace; future discoveries; future contingencies; vagrant predicates; and superior intelligences. Such impediments set limits to inquiry and mean that while we can always extend our existing knowledge-variability here is infinite-there are things that we will never know. Cognitive finitude also hinders our ability to assimilate more than a certain number of facts. We may acquire additional information, but lack the facility to interpret it. More information does not always increase knowledge; it may point us further down the path toward an erroneous conclusion. In light of these deficiencies, Rescher looks to the role of computers in solving problems and expanding our knowledge base, but finds limits to their reasoning capacity. As Rescher's comprehensive study concludes, ignorance itself is a fertile topic for knowledge, and recognizing the boundaries of our comprehension is where wisdom begins.

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Knowing Otherwise

Race, Gender, and Implicit Understanding

Alexis Shotwell

Prejudice is often not a conscious attitude: because of ingrained habits in relating to the world, one may act in prejudiced ways toward others without explicitly understanding the meaning of one’s actions. Similarly, one may know how to do certain things, like ride a bicycle, without being able to articulate in words what that knowledge is. These are examples of what Alexis Shotwell discusses in Knowing Otherwise as phenomena of “implicit understanding.” Presenting a systematic analysis of this concept, she highlights how this kind of understanding may be used to ground positive political and social change, such as combating racism in its less overt and more deep-rooted forms. Shotwell begins by distinguishing four basic types of implicit understanding: nonpropositional, skill-based, or practical knowledge; embodied knowledge; potentially propositional knowledge; and affective knowledge. She then develops the notion of a racialized and gendered “common sense,” drawing on Gramsci and critical race theorists, and clarifies the idea of embodied knowledge by showing how it operates in the realm of aesthetics. She also examines the role that both negative affects, like shame, and positive affects, like sympathy, can play in moving us away from racism and toward political solidarity and social justice. Finally, Shotwell looks at the politicized experience of one’s body in feminist and transgender theories of liberation in order to elucidate the role of situated sensuous knowledge in bringing about social change and political transformation.

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Knowledge and Computing

Computer Epistemology and Constructive Skepticism

Tibor Vamos

The result of the author’s extensive practical experience: a decade in computer process control using large scale systems, another decade in machine pattern-recognition for vision systems, and nearly a decade dealing with artificial intelligence and expert systems. These real-life projects have taught Vámos a critical appreciation of, and respect for, both abstract theory and the practical methodology that grows out of—and, in turn, shapes—those theories. Machine representation means a level of formalization that can be expressed by the instruments of mathematics, whereas programming is not more and not less than a special linguistic translation of these mathematical formulae. How these all are related and controlled is a most practical philosophical and computation professional task. Wide experience in the practical fields of computer science, and the research of the underlying theoretical issues have led Vámos to the development of the attitude and activity of constructive skepticism.

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