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Classical Themes and Modern Developments
What is secularity? Might it yield or define a distinctive form of reasoning? If so, would that form of reasoning belong essentially to our modern age, or would it instead have a considerably older lineage? And what might be the relation of that form of reasoning, whatever its lineage, to the Christian thinking that is often said to oppose it? In the present volume, these and related questions are addressed by a distinguished group of scholars working primarily within the Roman Catholic theological tradition and from the perspectives of Continental philosophy. As a whole, the volume constitutes a conversation among thinkers who agree in their concerns but not necessarily their conclusions. Taken individually, each essay concentrates on a range of historical developments with close attention to their intellectual and sometimes pedagogical implications. Secular reason, they argue, is neither the antipode of Christian thought nor a stable and well-resolved component of it. Christian thinking may engage with secular reason as the site of profound difficulties, but on occasion will also learn from it as a source of new insight.
The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul
Lisa Kaaren Bailey’s Christianity’s Quiet Success: The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul is the first major study of the Eusebius Gallicanus collection of anonymous, multi-authored sermons from fifth- and sixth-century Gaul. Bailey sheds new light on these sermons, which were strikingly popular and influential from late antiquity to the High Middle Ages, as the large number of surviving manuscripts attests. They were used for centuries by clergy as a preaching guide and by monks and pious lay people as devotional reading. Bailey’s analysis demonstrates the extent to which these stylistically simple and straightforward sermons emphasize consensus, harmony, and mutuality as the central values of a congregation. Preachers encouraged tolerance among their congregants and promoted a model of leadership that placed themselves at the center of the community rather than above it. These sermons make clear the delicate balancing act required of late antique and warly medieval pastors as they attempted to explain the Christian faith and also maintain the clerical control considered necessary for a universal church. The Eusebius Gallicanus collection gives us fresh insight inyo the process by which the Catholic Church influenced the lives of Western Europeans.
The Church of the Holy Spirit, written by Russian priest and scholar Nicholas Afanasiev (1893–1966), is one of the most important works of twentieth-century Orthodox theology. Afanasiev was a member of the “Paris School” of émigré intellectuals who gathered in Paris after the Russian revolution, where he became a member of the faculty of St. Sergius Orthodox Seminary. The Church of the Holy Spirit, which offers a rediscovery of the eucharistic and communal nature of the church in the first several centuries, was written over a number of years beginning in the 1940s and continuously revised until its posthumous publication in French in 1971. Vitaly Permiakov's lucid translation and Michael Plekon's careful editing and substantive introduction make this important work available for the first time to an English-speaking audience.
Cicero’s Practical Philosophy marks a revival over the last two generations of serious scholarly interest in Cicero’s political thought. Its nine original essays by a multidisciplinary group of distinguished international scholars manifest close study of Cicero’s philosophical writings and great appreciation for him as a creative thinker, one from whom we can continue to learn. This collection focuses initially on Cicero’s major work of political theory, his De Re Publica, and the key moral virtues that shape his ethics, but the contributors attend to all of Cicero’s primary writings on political community, law, the ultimate good, and moral duties. Room is also made for Cicero’s extensive writings on the art of rhetoric, which he explicitly draws into the orbit of his philosophical writings. Cicero’s concern with the divine, with epistemological issues, and with competing analyses of the human soul are among the matters necessarily encountered in pursuing, with Cicero, the large questions of moral and political philosophy, namely, what is the good and genuinely happy life and how are our communities to be rightly ordered.
"There is nothing wiser than the circle," Rilke says in his Stories of God. John Dunne's new book explores the wisdom of the circle. He uses the metaphor of the circle dance, a folk dance in which the women form an inner circle, holding hands and moving clockwise; the men form an outer circle, moving counterclockwise. When the music stops the person opposite you is your partner for the next dance. Dunne interprets the circle as the great circle of life and light and love that comes from God and returns to God. Dunne emphasizes the far point on the circle, farthest away from God, and uses that to discuss the difficulties of our secular age. In the individual life, the far point is a dark night of the soul. Yet Dunne sees that far point of loneliness and darkness as a point as well, marking the return to love and light. So the theme of the book is like the words of an old Bedouin to Lawrence of Arabia, "The love is from God, and of God, and towards God." The book concludes with the words of twenty-one "Circle Songs," composed by the author.
Literature, Culture, and Ideology in Late Medieval England
In The Claims of Poverty, Kate Crassons explores a widespread ideological crisis concerning poverty that emerged in the aftermath of the plague in late medieval England. She identifies poverty as a central preoccupation in texts ranging from Piers Plowman and Wycliffite writings to The Book of Margery Kempe and the York cycle plays. Crassons shows that these and other works form a complex body of writing in which poets, dramatists, and preachers anxiously wrestled with the status of poverty as a force that is at once a sacred imitation of Christ and a social stigma; a voluntary form of life and an unwelcome hardship; an economic reality and a spiritual disposition. Crassons argues that literary texts significantly influenced the cultural conversation about poverty, deepening our understanding of its urgency as a social, economic, and religious issue. These texts not only record debates about the nature of poverty as a form of either vice or virtue, but explore epistemological and ethical aspects of the debates. When faced with a claim of poverty, people effectively become readers interpreting the signs of need in the body and speech of their fellow human beings. The literary and dramatic texts of late medieval England embodied the complexity of such interaction with particular acuteness, revealing the ethical stakes of interpretation as an act with direct material consequences. As The Claims of Poverty demonstrates, medieval literature shaped perceptions about who is defined as "poor," and in so doing it emerged as a powerful cultural force that promoted competing models of community, sanctity, and justice.
Philosophy in the Narratives of Maurice Blanchot
Maurice Blanchot is perhaps best known as a major French intellectual of the twentieth century: the man who countered Sartre’s views on literature, who affirmed the work of Sade and Lautréamont, who gave eloquent voice to the generation of ’68, and whose philosophical and literary work influenced the writing of, among others, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and Michel Foucault. He is also regarded as one of the most acute narrative writers in France since Marcel Proust. In Clandestine Encounters, Kevin Hart has gathered together major literary critics in Britain, France, and the United States to engage with Blanchot’s immense, fascinating, and difficult body of creative work. Hart’s substantial introduction usefully places Blanchot as a significant contributor to the tradition of the French philosophical novel, beginning with Voltaire’s Candide in 1759, and best known through the works of Sartre. Clandestine Encounters considers a selection of Blanchot’s narrative writings over the course of almost sixty years, from stories written in the mid-1930s to L’instant de ma mort (1994). Collectively, the contributors’ close readings of Blanchot’s novels, récits, and stories illuminate the close relationship between philosophy and narrative in his work while underscoring the variety and complexity of these narratives.
A Companion to Early Irish Saga
Coire Sois, The Cauldron of Knowledge: A Companion to Early Irish Saga offers thirty-one previously published essays by Tomás Ó Cathasaigh, which together constitute a magisterial survey of early Irish narrative literature in the vernacular. Ó Cathasaigh has been called “the father of early Irish literary criticism,” with writings among the most influential in the field. He pioneered the analysis of the classic early Irish tales as literary texts, a breakthrough at a time when they were valued mainly as repositories of grammatical forms, historical data, and mythological debris. All four of the Mythological, Ulster, King, and Finn Cycles are represented here in readings of richness, complexity, and sophistication, supported by absolute philological rigor and yet easy for the non-specialist to follow. The book covers key terms, important characters, recurring themes, rhetorical strategies, and the narrative logic of this literature. It also surveys the work of the many others whose explorations were launched by Ó Cathasaigh's first encounters with the literature. As the most authoritative single volume on the essential texts and themes of early Irish saga, this collection will be an indispensable resource for established scholars, and an ideal introduction for newcomers to one of the richest and most under-studied literatures of medieval Europe.
Essays on Race, Family, and History
In 1991, acclaimed poet Kenneth A. McClane published Walls: Essays, 1985-1990, a volume of essays dealing with life in Harlem, the death of his alcoholic brother, and the complexities of being black and middle-class in America. Now, in Color: Essays on Race, Family, and History, McClane contributes further to his self-described “autobiographical sojourn” with a second collection of interconnected essays. In McClane’s words, “All concern race, although they, like the human spirit, wildly sweep and yaw.” A timely installment in our national narrative, Color is a chronicle of the black middle class, a group rarely written about with sensitivity and charity. In evocative, trenchant, and poetic prose, McClane employs the art of the memoirist to explore the political and the personal. He details the poignant narrative of racial progress as witnessed by his family during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. We learn of his parents’ difficult upbringing in Boston, where they confronted much racism; of the struggles they and McClane encountered as they became the first blacks to enter previously all-white institutions, including the oldest independent school in the United States; and of the part his parents played in the civil rights movement, working with Dr. King and others. The book ends with a tender account of his parents in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease, which claimed both their lives.
Perspectives on the Ethics of K. E. Logstrup
The Danish philosopher K. E. Løgstrup is best known in the Anglo-American world for his original work in ethics, primarily in The Ethical Demand (original Danish edition, 1956). Løgstrup continued to write extensively on issues in ethics and phenomenology throughout his life, and extracts from some of his later writings are now also available in translation in Beyond the Ethical Demand. In Concern for the Other: The Ethics of K. E. Løgstrup, eleven scholars examine the structure, intention, and originality of Løgstrup's ethics as a whole. This collection of essays is a companion to Beyond the Ethical Demand, as well as to The Ethical Demand. The essays examine Løgstrup’s crucial concept of the “sovereign expressions of life”; his view of moral principles as a substitute for, or inferior form of, ethics; his relationships to other philosophers, including the twentieth-century British moral philosophers; and the role of his Lutheran background in his ethics. Løgstrup also firmly advanced the controversial thesis, examined by several essays in this volume, that the demand for “other-concern” central to his ethics does not depend on religious faith.