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Prospects for Ultimate Meaning
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.
Revising a Classical Ideal
Augustine and the Cure of Souls situates Augustine within the ancient philosophical tradition of using words to order emotions. Paul Kolbet uncovers a profound continuity in Augustine’s thought, from his earliest pre-baptismal writings to his final acts as bishop, revealing a man deeply indebted to the Roman past and yet distinctly Christian. Rather than supplanting his classical learning, Augustine’s Christianity reinvigorated precisely those elements of Roman wisdom that he believed were slipping into decadence. In particular, Kolbet addresses the manner in which Augustine not only used classical rhetorical theory to express his theological vision, but also infused it with theological content. This book offers a fresh reading of Augustine’s writings—particularly his numerous, though often neglected, sermons—and provides an accessible point of entry into the great North African bishop’s life and thought.
The Rhetor of Hippo, the Confessions, and the Continentals
St. Augustine of Hippo, largely considered the greatest thinker of Christian antiquity, has long dominated theological conversations. Augustine’s legacy as a theologian endures. However, Augustine’s contributions to rhetoric and the philosophy of communication remain relatively uncharted. Augustine for the Philosophers recovers these contributions, revisiting Augustine's prominence in the work of continental philosophers who shaped rhetoric and the philosophy of communication in the twentieth century. Hannah Arendt, Albert Camus, Jacques Ellul, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, Jean-François Lyotard, and Paul Ricoeur are paired with Augustine in significant conversations close to the center of their work. Augustine for the Philosophers dares to hold Augustine’s rhetoric and philosophy in dynamic tension with his Christianity, provoking serious reconsideration of Augustine, his presence in twentieth-century continental thought, and his influence upon modern rhetoric and communication studies.
A Quotable Maritain Reader
The work of the lay Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) continues to provoke and inspire readers to engage in a Thomistic approach to many of the questions facing the world today. Maritain’s wide-ranging thought touched on many fields, including aesthetics, anthropology, educational theory, moral philosophy, and ethics, as well as Thomism and its relationship to other philosophical stances. In Being in the World: A Quotable Maritain Reader, Mario O. D’Souza, C.S.B., has selected seven hundred and fifty of the most salient quotations found in the English translations of fifty-four works by Jacques Maritain. Organized into forty thematic chapters, ordered alphabetically, the book serves as an overview of the areas that Maritain's writings addressed. By referring to entries in Being in the World, readers can quickly locate key passages in Maritain’s writing on a given topic and then turn elsewhere to the full texts for more in-depth study. Complete with a detailed index of key terms, the Reader will be an essential reference tool for the study of Maritain in English.
Reading Scandalous Texts
Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss's Early Thought
Examines the early works of German-Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973). Praised as a major political thinker of the twentieth century and vilified as the putative godfather of contemporary neoconservatism, Leo Strauss (1899–1973) has been the object of heated controversy both in the United States and abroad. This book offers a more balanced appraisal by focusing on Strauss’s early writings. By means of a close and comprehensive study of these texts, David Janssens reconstructs the genesis of Strauss’s thought from its earliest beginnings until his emigration to the United States in 1937. He discusses the first stages in Strauss’s grappling with the “theological-political problem,” from his doctoral dissertation on Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi to his contributions to Zionist periodicals, from his groundbreaking study of Spinoza’s critique of religion to his research on Moses Mendelssohn, and from his rediscovery of medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy to his research on Hobbes. Throughout, Janssens traces Strauss’s rediscovery of the Socratic way of life as a viable alternative to both modern philosophy and revealed religion.
Metaphor's Metaphysical Neighborhood
Plato's chora as developed in the Timaeus is a creative matrix in which things arise and stand out in response to the lure of the Good. Chora is paired with the Good, its polar opposite; both are beyond beingand the metaphors hitherto thought to disclose the transcendent. They underlie Plato's distinction of a procreative gap between being and becoming. The chiasmus between the Good and chora makes possible their mutual participation in one another. This gap makes possible both phenomenological and cosmological interpretations of Plato. Metaphor is restricted to beings as they appear in this gap through the crossing of metaphor's terms, terms that dwell with, rather than subulate, one another. Hermeneutically, through its iswe can see something being engendered or determined by that crossing.Bigger's larger goal is to align the primacy of the Good in Plato and Christian Neoplatonism with the creator God of Genesis and the God of love in the New Testament.
The Practice of Religious Studies
This book provides philosophical grounds for an emerging area of scholarship: the study of religion and dance. In the first part, LaMothe investigates why scholars in religious studies have tended to overlook dance, or rhythmic bodily movement, in favor of textual expressions of religious life. In close readings of Descartes, Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, LaMothe traces this attitude to formative moments of the field in which philosophers relied upon the practice of writing to mediate between the study of religion,on the one hand, and theology,on the other.In the second part, LaMothe revives the work of theologian, phenomenologist, and historian of religion Gerardus van der Leeuw for help in interpreting how dancing can serve as a medium of religious experience and expression. In so doing, LaMothe opens new perspectives on the role of bodily being in religious life, and on the place of theology in the study of religion.
The Sacred Quest for Confusion
Why do we travel? Ostensibly an act of leisure, travel finds us thrusting ourselves into jets flying miles above the earth, only to endure dislocations of time and space, foods and languages foreign to our body and mind, and encounters with strangers on whom we must suddenly depend. Travel is not merely a break from routine; it is its antithesis, a voluntary trading in of the security one feels at home for unpredictability and confusion. In Bewildered Travel Frederick Ruf argues that this confusion, which we might think of simply as a necessary evil, is in fact the very thing we are seeking when we leave home.
Ruf relates this quest for confusion to our religious behavior. Citing William James, who defined the religious as what enables us to "front life," Ruf contends that the search for bewilderment allows us to point our craft into the wind and sail headlong into the storm rather than flee from it. This view challenges the Eliadean tradition that stresses religious ritual as a shield against the world’s chaos. Ruf sees our departures from the familiar as a crucial component in a spiritual life, reminding us of the central role of pilgrimage in religion.
In addition to his own revealing experiences as a traveler, Ruf presents the reader with the journeys of a large and diverse assortment of notable Americans, including Henry Miller, Paul Bowles, Mark Twain, Mary Oliver, and Walt Whitman. These accounts take us from the Middle East to the Philippines, India to Nicaragua, Mexico to Morocco--and, in one threatening instance, simply to the edge of the author’s own neighborhood. "What gives value to travel is fear," wrote Camus. This book illustrates the truth of that statement.