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A Short Book on the Secular and the Sacred
The title of Charles Taliaferro’s book is derived from poems and stories in which a person in peril or on a quest must follow a cord or string in order to find the way to happiness, safety, or home. In one of the most famous of such tales, the ancient Greek hero Theseus follows the string given him by Ariadne to mark his way in and out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. William Blake's poem “Jerusalem” uses the metaphor of a golden string, which, if followed, will lead one to heaven itself. Taliaferro extends Blake’s metaphor to illustrate the ways we can link what we see, feel, and do with deep spiritual realities. Taliaferro offers a foundational case for the recognition of the experience of the eternal God of Christianity, in which God is understood as the fount of all goodness and the subject and object of our best love, revealed through scripture, tradition, philosophical reflection, and encountered in everyday events. He addresses philosophical obstacles to the recognition of such experiences, especially objections from the “new atheists,” and explores the values involved in thinking and experiencing God as eternal. These include the belief that the eternal goodness of God subordinates temporal goods, such as the pursuit of fame and earthly glory; that God is the essence of life; and that the eternal God hallows domestic goods, blessing the everyday goods of ordinary life. An exploration of the moral and spiritual riches of the Christian tradition as an alternative to materialism and naturalism, The Golden Cord brings an originality and depth to the debate in accessible and engaging prose.
The Berlin Lectures
The Berlin lectures in The Grounding of Positive Philosophy, appearing here for the first time in English, advance Schelling’s final “existential system” as an alternative to modernity’s reduction of philosophy to a purely formal science of reason. The onetime protégé of Fichte and benefactor of Hegel, Schelling accuses German Idealism of dealing “with the world of lived experience just as a surgeon who promises to cure your ailing leg by amputating it.” Schelling’s appeal in Berlin for a positive, existential philosophy found an interested audience in Kierkegaard, Engels, Feuerbach, Marx, and Bakunin. His account of the ecstatic nature of existence and reason proved to be decisive for the work of Paul Tillich and Martin Heidegger. Also, Schelling’s critique of reason’s quixotic attempt at self-grounding anticipates similar criticisms leveled by poststructuralism, but without sacrificing philosophy’s power to provide a positive account of truth and meaning. The Berlin lectures provide fascinating insight into the thought processes of one of the most provocative yet least understood thinkers of nineteenth-century German philosophy.
Hindu Mythology and the Critique of Sacrifice
From God to the Gods
In various texts, Martin Heidegger speaks of god and the gods, but the question of how exactly Heidegger’s thought relates to theology and religion in a broad sense—and to God in a specific sense—remains unclear and in need of careful, philosophical excavation. Ben Vedder provides the first book-length study on Heidegger’s relation to the philosophy of religion, offering greater accessibility into an area that continues to fascinate philosophers, theologians, and all those interested in the philosophy of religion. Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion: From God to the Gods deals intimately with hotly debated topics such as Heidegger’s interpretation of Saint Paul, Nietzsche and the death of God, ontotheology, and Heidegger’s discussion of the “last god,” taking into account the early, middle, and later texts of Heidegger. Significantly, Vedder draws heavily on Heidegger’s The Phenomenology of Religious Life, long available in German, but only recently available to English readers. Vedder describes the tension between religion and philosophy, on the one hand, and religion and poetic expression, on the other. If we grasp religion completely from a philosophical point of view, we tend to neutralize it; but if we conceive it in a simply poetic way, we tend to be philosophically indifferent to it. Vedder demonstrates how Heidegger speaks a “poetry of religion,” a description of humanity’s relationship to the divine, and why Heidegger’s thinking is ultimately a theological thinking. Clearly written and comprehensive in scope, Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion: From God to the Gods represents a major step forward in Heidegger scholarship.
Translated here into English for the first time, F. W. J. Schelling’s 1842 lectures on the Philosophy of Mythology are an early example of interdisciplinary thinking. In seeking to show the development of the concept of the divine Godhead in and through various mythological systems (particularly of ancient Greece, Egypt, and the Near East), Schelling develops the idea that many philosophical concepts are born of religious-mythological notions. In so doing, he brings together the essential relatedness of the development of philosophical systems, human language, history, ancient art forms, and religious thought. Along the way, he engages in analyses of modern philosophical views about the origins of philosophy’s conceptual abstractions, as well as literary and philological analyses of ancient literature and poetry.
One cannot enter the medieval world of the 13th century wearing 21st century glasses. The authors writing in the volume make every effort to see what the Franciscan Schoolmen saw; to hear what they heard; to think as they thought. Thus foundational Franciscan insights and intuitions are offered for consideration in the contemporary search for meaning.
Confessions of a Postmodern Pilgrim
John D. Caputo has a long career as one of the preeminent postmodern philosophers in America. The author of such books as Radical Hermeneutics, The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida, and The Weakness of God, Caputo now reflects on his spiritual journey from a Catholic altar boy in 1950s Philadelphia to a philosopher after the death of God. Part spiritual autobiography, part homily on what he calls the “nihilism of grace,” Hoping Against Hope calls believers and nonbelievers alike to participate in the “praxis of the kingdom of God,” which Caputo says we must pursue “without why.”
Caputo’s conversation partners in this volume include Lyotard, Derrida, and Hegel, but also earlier versions of himself: Jackie, a young altar boy, and Brother Paul, a novice in a religious order. Caputo traces his own journey from faith through skepticism to hope, after the “death of God.” In the end, Caputo doesn’t want to do away with religion; he wants to redeem religion and to reinvent religion for a postmodern time.
This book sets out a thematic presentation of human action, especially as it relates to morality, in the three most significant figures in Medieval Scholastic thought: Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham
Philosophical Essays in Memory of Gerald Hanratty
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).