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Psychoanalysis, Mysticism, and the Culture of Modern Spirituality
"It is arguably the case," writes William Parsons, "that no two figures have had more influence on the course of Western introspective thought than Freud and Augustine." Yet it is commonly assumed that Freud and Augustine would have nothing to say to each other with regard to spirituality or mysticism, given the former's alleged antipathy to religion and the latter's not usually being considered a mystic.
Adopting an interdisciplinary, dialogical, and transformational framework for interpreting Augustine's spiritual journey in his Confessions, Parsons places a "mystical theology" at the heart of Augustine's narrative and argues that his mysticism has been misunderstood partly because of the limited nature of the psychological models applied to it. At the same time, he expands Freud's therapeutic legacy to incorporate the contemporary findings of physiology and neuroscience that have been influenced in part by modern spirituality.
Parsons develops a new psychological hermeneutic to account for Augustine's mysticism that will capture the imagination of contemporary readers who are both psychologically informed and interested in spirituality. The author intends this interpretive model not only to engage modern introspective concerns about developmental conflict and the power of the unconscious but also to reach a more nuanced level of insight into the origins and the nature of the self.
"Christian philosophy" is commonly regarded as an oxymoron, philosophy being thought incompatible with the assumptions and conclusions required by religious faith. According to this way of thinking, philosophy and theology must forever remain distinct.
In From Theology to Theological Thinking, Jean-Yves Lacoste takes a different approach. Stepping back from contemporary philosophical concerns, Lacoste—a leading figure in the philosophy of religion—looks at the relationship between philosophy and theology from the standpoint of the history of ideas. He notes in particular that theology and philosophy were not considered separate realms until the high Middle Ages, this distinction being a hallmark of the modern era that is coming to an end. Lacoste argues that the intellectual task before us now is to work in the frontier region between or beyond these domains, work he identifies as "the task of thinking."
With this argument, Lacoste resets our understanding of Western Christian thought, contending that a new way of thinking that is at once philosophical and theological will be the lasting discourse of Christianity.
Reflections on Merold Westphal's Hermeneutical Epistemology
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.
Tamsin Jones believes that locating Jean-Luc Marion solely within theological or phenomenological discourse undermines the coherence of his intellectual and philosophical enterprise. Through a comparative examination of Marion's interpretation and use of Dionysius the Areopagite and Gregory of Nyssa, Jones evaluates the interplay of the manifestation and hiddenness of phenomena. By placing Marion against the backdrop of these Greek fathers, Jones sharpens the tension between Marion's rigorous method and its intended purpose: a safeguard against idolatry. At once situated at the crossroads of the debate over the turn to religion in French phenomenology and an inquiry into the retrieval of early Christian writings within this discourse, A Genealogy of Marion's Philosophy of Religion opens up a new view of the phenomenology of religious experience.
Questions of Jean-Luc Marion
After the subject and beyond Heideggerian ontology,Marion suggests, there is the sheer givenness ofphenomena without condition. In theology, this liberationmeans rethinking God in terms of phenomena such aslove, gift, and excess. In addition to an important essayby Marion, The Reason of the Gift, and a dialoguebetween Marion and Richard Kearney, this book containsstimulating essays by ten other contributors: Lilian Alweiss,Eoin Cassidy, Mark Dooley, Brian Elliott, Ian Leask,Shane Mackinlay, Derek Morrow, John O'Donohue,Joseph S. O'Leary, and Felix a Murchadha. After the subject and beyond Heideggerian ontology, Marion suggests, there is the givenness of phenomena without condition. In theology, this liberation means rethinking God in terms of phenomena such as love, gift, and excess. In addition to an important essay by Marion, The Reason of the Gift, and a dialogue between Marion and Richard Kearney, this book contains stimulating essays by ten other contributors: Lilian Alweiss, Eoin Cassidy, Mark Dooley, Brian Elliott, Ian Leask, Shane Mackinlay, Derek Morrow, John O'Donohue, Joseph S. O'Leary, and Felix a Murchadha.
Apophasis and Overcoming Theomania
This book explores the co-dependency of monotheism and idolatry by examining the thought of several prominent twentieth-century Jewish philosophers Cohen, Buber, Rosenzweig, and Levinas. While all of these thinkers were keenly aware of the pitfalls of scriptural theism, to differing degrees they each succumbed to the temptation to personify transcendence, even as they tried either to circumvent or to restrain it by apophatically purging kataphatic descriptions of the deity. Derrida and Wyschogrod, by contrast, carried the project of denegation one step further, embarking on a path that culminated in the aporetic suspension of belief and the consequent removal of all images from God, a move that seriously compromises the viability of devotional piety. The inquiry into apophasis, transcendence, and immanence in these Jewish thinkers is symptomatic of a larger question. Recent attempts to harness the apophatic tradition to construct a viable postmodern negative theology, a religion without religion, are not radical enough. Not only are these philosophies of transcendence guilty of a turn to theology that defies the phenomenological presupposition of an immanent phenomenality, but they fall short on their own terms, inasmuch as they persist in employing metaphorical language that personalizes transcendence and thereby runs the risk of undermining the irreducible alterity and invisibility attributed to the transcendent other. The logic of apophasis, if permitted to run its course fully, would exceed the need to posit some form of transcendence that is not ultimately a facet of immanence. Apophatic theologies, accordingly, must be supplanted by a more far-reaching apophasis that surpasses the theolatrous impulse lying coiled at the crux of theism, an apophasis of apophasis, based on accepting an absolute nothingness to be distinguished from the nothingness of an absolute that does not signify the unknowable One but rather the manifold that is the pleromatic abyss at being's core. Hence, the much-celebrated metaphor of the gift must give way to the more neutral and less theologically charged notion of an unconditional givenness in which the distinction between giver and given collapses. To think givenness in its most elemental, phenomenological sense is to allow the apparent to appear as given without presuming a causal agency that would turn that given into a gift.
Essays in Philosophical Theology
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.
Pushing past the constraints of postmodernism which cast "reason" and"religion" in opposition, God, the Gift, and Postmodernism, seizes the opportunity to question the authority of "the modern" and open the limits of possible experience, including the call to religious experience, as a new millennium approaches. Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, engages with Jean-Luc Marion and other religious philosophers to entertain
questions about intention, givenness, and possibility which reveal the extent to which deconstruction is structured like religion. New interpretations of Kant, Heidegger, Husserl, and Derrida emerge from essays and discussions with distinguished philosophers and theologians from the United States and Europe. The result is that God, the Gift, and Postmodernism elaborates a radical phenomenology that stretches the limits of its possibility and explores areas where philosophy and religion have become increasingly and surprisingly convergent.
Contributors include: John D. Caputo, John Dominic Crossan, Jacques Derrida, Robert Dodaro, Richard Kearney, Jean-Luc Marion, Frangoise Meltzer, Michael J. Scanlon, Mark C. Taylor, David Tracy, Merold Westphal
and Edith Wyschogrod.
Sovereignty and Subjectivity Between Freud, Bataille, and Derrida
No topic has caused more discussion in recent philosophy and political theory than sovereignty. From late Foucault to Agamben, and from Guantanamo Bay to the 'war on terror,' the issue of the extent and the nature of the sovereign has given theoretical debates their currency and urgency. New thinking on sovereignty has always imagined the styles of human selfhood that each regime involves. Each denomination of sovereignty requires a specific mode of subjectivity to explain its meaning and facilitate its operation. The aim of this book is to help outline Jacques Derrida's thinking on sovereignty - a theme which increasingly attracted Derrida towards the end of his career - in its relationship to subjectivity. It investigates the late work Rogues: Two Essays on Reason, as not only Derrida's fullest statement of his thinking on sovereignty, but also as the destination of his career-long interest in questions of politics and self-identity. The book argues that in Derrida's thinking of the relationship between sovereignty and subjectivity - and the related themes of unconditionality and ipseity - we can detect the outline of Bataille's adaptation of Freud. Freud completed his 'metapsychology,' by defining the 'economic' nature of subjectivity. In Bataille's hands, this economic theory became a key to the nature of inter-relationship in general, specifically the complex and shifting relationship between subjectivity and power. In playing with Bataille's legacy, Derrida connects not only with the irrepressibly outrageous thinking of philosophy's most self-consciously transgressive thinker, but with the early twentieth century scientific revolution through which 'energy' became ontology. As with so many of the forebears who influenced him, Derrida echoes and adapts Bataille's thinking while radically de-literalising it. The results are crucial for understanding Derrida's views on power, subjectivity and representation, as well as all of the other key themes in late Derrida: hospitality, justice, otherness and the gift.
A Hermeneutics of Religion
"Kearney is one of the most exciting thinkers in the English-speaking world of continental philosophy.... and [he] joins hands with its fundamental project, asking the question 'what'or who'comes after the God of metaphysics?'" -- John D. Caputo
Engaging some of the most urgent issues in the philosophy of religion today, in this lively book Richard Kearney proposes that instead of thinking of God as 'actual,' God might best be thought of as the possibility of the impossible. By pulling away from biblical perceptions of God and breaking with dominant theological traditions, Kearney draws on the work of Ricoeur, Levinas, Derrida, Heidegger, and others to provide a surprising and original answer to who or what God might be. For Kearney, the intersecting dimensions of impossibility propel religious experience and faith in new directions, notably toward views of God that are unforeseeable, unprogrammable, and uncertain. Important themes such as the phenomenology of the persona, the meaning of the unity of God, God and desire, notions of existence and différance, and faith in philosophy are taken up in this penetrating and original work.
Richard Kearney is Professor of Philosophy at Boston College and University College, Dublin. He is author of many books on modern philosophy and culture, including Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers, The Wake of Imagination, and The Poetics of Modernity.