Athens and Jerusalem
Lev Shestov Ohio University Press, 2016 Library of Congress BL51.S52273 2016 | Dewey Decimal 210
For more than two thousand years, philosophers and theologians have wrestled with the irreconcilable opposition between Greek rationality (Athens) and biblical revelation (Jerusalem). In Athens and Jersusalem, Lev Shestov—an inspiration for the French existentialists and the foremost interlocutor of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Martin Buber during the interwar years—makes the gripping confrontation between these symbolic poles of ancient wisdom his philosophical testament, an argumentative and stylistic tour de force.
Although the Russian-born Shestov is little known in the Anglophone world today, his writings influenced many twentieth-century European thinkers, such as Albert Camus, D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Mann, Czesław Miłosz, and Joseph Brodsky. Athens and Jerusalem is Shestov’s final, groundbreaking work on the philosophy of religion from an existential perspective. This new, annotated edition of Bernard Martin’s classic translation adds references to the cited works as well as glosses of passages from the original Greek, Latin, German, and French. Athens and Jerusalem is Shestov at his most profound and most eloquent and is the clearest expression of his thought that shaped the evolution of continental philosophy and European literature in the twentieth century.
Robert Zaretsky Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress B1302.E65Z37 2015 | Dewey Decimal 828.609
Throughout his life James Boswell struggled to fashion a clear account of himself, but try as he might he could not reconcile the truths of his era with those of his religious upbringing. Few periods better crystallize this turmoil than 1763–1765, the years of his Grand Tour and the focus of Robert Zaretsky’s thrilling intellectual adventure.
John Rawls never published anything about his own religious beliefs, but after his death two texts were discovered which shed extraordinary light on the subject. A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith is Rawls's undergraduate senior thesis, submitted in December 1942, just before he entered the army. The present volume includes these two texts, together with an Introduction by Joshua Cohen and Thomas Nagel, which discusses their relation to Rawls's published work, and an essay by Robert Merrihew Adams, which places the thesis in its theological context.
The Consolation of Philosophy
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius Harvard University Press, 2008 Library of Congress B659.D472E5 2008 | Dewey Decimal 100
Composed while its author was imprisoned, this book remains one of Western literature’s most eloquent meditations on the transitory nature of earthly belongings, and the superiority of things of the mind. Slavitt’s translation captures the energy and passion of the original. And in an introduction intended for the general reader, Seth Lerer places Boethius’s life and achievement in context.
Phenomenology has the strongest claim to the mantle of continental philosophy. Edward Baring shows that credit for its prodigious growth goes to a surprising group of early enthusiasts: Catholic intellectuals. Tracing debates in Europe from existentialism to speculative realism, he shows why European philosophy bears the mark of Catholicism.
The twelve letters that constitute this volume were exchanged by two of Russia's leading intellectuals, who, in the summer of 1920, weakened by the privations of the Civil War, were admitted to a municipal rest home outside Moscow. At the Sanatorium for Scientific and Literary Workers, they found themselves installed in opposite corners of the same room.
Day-long conversations having drawn them away from their literary tasks, the two then decided to converse in writing. Correspondence, the result, examines the condition and future of Western culture-whose values, according to the historian Gershenzon, have deteriorated into a deadly burden upon mankind, into mankind's ultimate prison. For the poet Ivanov, it is not the disavowal of a cultural heritage but the struggle to recover man's own unity with God that alone guarantees his true, his spiritual freedom.
Kant’s proclamation of humankind’s emergence from “self-incurred immaturity” left his contemporaries with a puzzle: What models should we use to sculpt ourselves if we no longer look to divine grace or received authorities? Deftly uncovering the roots of this question in Rhineland mysticism, Pietist introspection, and the rise of the bildungsroman, Jennifer A. Herdt reveals bildung, or ethical formation, as the key to post-Kantian thought. This was no simple process of secularization, in which human beings took responsibility for something they had earlier left in the hands of God. Rather, theorists of bildung, from Herder through Goethe to Hegel, championed human agency in self-determination while working out the social and political implications of our creation in the image of God. While bildung was invoked to justify racism and colonialism by stigmatizing those deemed resistant to self-cultivation, it also nourished ideals of dialogical encounter and mutual recognition. Herdt reveals how the project of forming humanity lives on in our ongoing efforts to grapple with this complicated legacy.
In God, the Flesh, and the Other, the philosopher Emmanuel Falque joins the ongoing debate about the role of theology in phenomenology. An important voice in the second generation of French philosophy’s “theological turn,” Falque examines philosophically the fathers of the Church and the medieval theologians on the nature of theology and the objects comprising it. Falque works phenomenology itself into the corpus of theology. Theological concepts thus translate into philosophical terms that phenomenology should legitimately question: concepts from contemporary phenomenology such as onto-theology, appearance, reduction, body/flesh, inter-corporeity, the genesis of community, intersubjectivity, and the singularity of the other find penetrating analogues in patristic and medieval thought forged through millennia of Christological and Trinitarian debate, mystical discourses, and speculative reflection. Through Falque’s wide-ranging interpretive path, phenomenology finds itself interrogated—and renewed.
This study pioneers the use of philosophy of religion in the study of the Hebrew Bible. After identifying the need for a legitimate philosophical approach to Israelite religion, the volume traces the history of interdisciplinary relations and shows how descriptive varieties of philosophy of religion can aid the clarification of the Hebrew Bible’s own metaphysical, epistemological, and moral assumptions. Two new interpretative methodologies are developed and subsequently applied through an introduction to what the biblical texts took for granted about the nature of religious language, the concept of deity, the properties of Yhwh, the existence of gods, religious epistemology, and the relation between religion and morality.
Although Martin Heidegger is nearly as notorious as Friedrich Nietzsche for embracing the death of God, the philosopher himself acknowledged that Christianity accompanied him at every stage of his career. In Heidegger's Confessions, Ryan Coyne isolates a crucially important player in this story: Saint Augustine. Uncovering the significance of Saint Augustine in Heidegger’s philosophy, he details the complex and conflicted ways in which Heidegger paradoxically sought to define himself against the Christian tradition while at the same time making use of its resources.
Coyne first examines the role of Augustine in Heidegger’s early period and the development of his magnum opus, Being and Time. He then goes on to show that Heidegger owed an abiding debt to Augustine even following his own rise as a secular philosopher, tracing his early encounters with theological texts through to his late thoughts and writings. Bringing a fresh and unexpected perspective to bear on Heidegger’s profoundly influential critique of modern metaphysics, Coyne traces a larger lineage between religious and theological discourse and continental philosophy.
Intellectual Sacrifice and Other Mimetic Paradoxes is an account of Paolo Diego Bubbio’s twenty-year intellectual journey through the twists and turns of Girard’s mimetic theory. The author analyzes philosophy and religion as “enemy sisters” engaged in an endless competitive struggle and identifies the intellectual space where this rivalry can either be perpetuated or come to a paradoxical resolution. He goes on to explore topics ranging from arguments for the existence of God to mimetic theory’s post-Kantian legacy, political implications, and capacity for identifying epochal phenomena, such as the crisis of the self, in popular culture. Bubbio concludes by advocating for an encounter between mimetic theory and contemporary philosophical hermeneutics—an encounter in which each approach benefits and is enriched by the resources of the other. The volume features a previously unpublished letter by René Girard on the relationship between philosophy and religion.
Interpretations is a collection of essays produced by the distinguished philosopher Jude Dougherty over the past decade, written to inform or to provide commentary on contemporary issues. In probing the past to interpret the present they draw upon a perspective that one may call classical, the perspective of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and their followers across the ages, notably Thomas Aquinas, and his modern disciples, such as Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain.
The first part of Interpretations is an attempt to understand modernity’s break with the past, the repudiation of Scholasticism and the classical tradition. Dougherty does this by referencing the dominant preoccupations of the Middle Ages, of the Renaissance, of the Reformation, of eighteenth-century British empiricism, and of nineteenth-century German philosophy, drawing upon the readings of Remi Brague, Pierre Manent, and others. What unifies these reflections is the role of religion (both in Christianity and Islam) in society and its impact on the culture, as well as looking at what is called “modernity” where this role becomes reduced or absent.
The second part of the volume examines selected addresses by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from a philosophical point of view. Benedict, like others through the course of history, has recognized the role of religion in producing cultural unity. These essays are an appreciation primarily of the subtlety of the former pontiff’s thought.
The third part of Interpretations collects essays and addresses on the practice and nature of philosophy that Dean Dougherty has given throughout his career at The Catholic University of America, and reflects the trajectory of his career and the development of his thought.
Dale B. MARTIN Harvard University Press, 2004 Library of Congress B187.R46M37 2004 | Dewey Decimal 398.410901
The Roman author Pliny the Younger characterizes Christianity as "contagious superstition"; two centuries later the Christian writer Eusebius vigorously denounces Greek and Roman religions as vain and impotent "superstitions." The term of abuse is the same, yet the two writers suggest entirely different things by "superstition."
Dale Martin provides the first detailed genealogy of the idea of superstition, its history over eight centuries, from classical Greece to the Christianized Roman Empire of the fourth century C.E. With illuminating reference to the writings of philosophers, historians, and medical teachers he demonstrates that the concept of superstition was invented by Greek intellectuals to condemn popular religious practices and beliefs, especially the belief that gods or other superhuman beings would harm people or cause disease. Tracing the social, political, and cultural influences that informed classical thinking about piety and superstition, nature and the divine, Inventing Superstition exposes the manipulation of the label of superstition in arguments between Greek and Roman intellectuals on the one hand and Christians on the other, and the purposeful alteration of the idea by Neoplatonic philosophers and Christian apologists in late antiquity.
Inventing Superstition weaves a powerfully coherent argument that will transform our understanding of religion in Greek and Roman culture and the wider ancient Mediterranean world.
This volume presents a penetrating interview and sixteen essays that explore key intersections of medieval religion and philosophy. With characteristic erudition and insight, RémiBrague focuses less on individual Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thinkers than on their relationships with one another. Their disparate philosophical worlds, Brague shows, were grounded in different models of revelation that engendered divergent interpretations of the ancient Greek sources they held in common. So, despite striking similarities in their solutions for the philosophical problems they all faced, intellectuals in each theological tradition often viewed the others’ ideas with skepticism, if not disdain. Brague’s portrayal of this misunderstood age brings to life not only its philosophical and theological nuances, but also lessons for our own time.
The essays collected in Persecution and the Art of Writing all deal with one problem—the relation between philosophy and politics. Here, Strauss sets forth the thesis that many philosophers, especially political philosophers, have reacted to the threat of persecution by disguising their most controversial and heterodox ideas.
Heinrich Meier’s guiding insight in Political Philosophy and the Challenge of Revealed Religion is that philosophy must prove its right and its necessity in the face of the claim to truth and demand obedience of its most powerful opponent, revealed religion. Philosophy must rationally justify and politically defend its free and unreserved questioning, and, in doing so, turns decisively to political philosophy.
In the first of three chapters, Meier determines four intertwined moments constituting the concept of political philosophy as an articulated and internally dynamic whole. The following two chapters develop the concept through the interpretation of two masterpieces of political philosophy that have occupied Meier’s attention for more than thirty years: Leo Strauss’s Thoughts on Machiavelli and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract. Meier provides a detailed investigation of Thoughts on Machiavelli, with an appendix containing Strauss’s original manuscript headings for each of his paragraphs. Linking the problem of Socrates (the origin of political philosophy) with the problem of Machiavelli (the beginning of modern political philosophy), while placing between them the political and theological claims opposed to philosophy, Strauss’s most complex and controversial book proves to be, as Meier shows, the most astonishing treatise on the challenge of revealed religion. The final chapter, which offers a new interpretation of the Social Contract, demonstrates that Rousseau’s most famous work can be adequately understood only as a coherent political-philosophic response to theocracy in all its forms.
In readings of Walter Benjamin's work, religion often marks a boundary between scholarly camps, but it rarely receives close and sustained scrutiny. Benjamin's most influential writings pertain to modern art and culture, but he frequently used religious language while rejecting both secularism and religious revival. Benjamin was, in today's terms, postsecular. Postsecular Benjamin explicates Benjamin's engagements with religious traditions as resources for contemporary debates on secularism, conflict, and identity. Brian Britt argues that what animates this work on tradition is the question of human agency, which he pursues through lively and sustained experimentation with ways of thinking, reading, and writing.
The book first argues that religious feeling persists in the secular western mind; that it has taken refuge in the unlikeliest of camps, indeed with the supposed debunker of religious creed: the rationalist existential ego.
Exposing the religious roots of our ostensibly godless age, Michael Allen Gillespie reveals in this landmark study that modernity is much less secular than conventional wisdom suggests. Taking as his starting point the collapse of the medieval world, Gillespie argues that from the very beginning moderns sought not to eliminate religion but to support a new view of religion and its place in human life. He goes on to explore the ideas of such figures as William of Ockham, Petrarch, Erasmus, Luther, Descartes, and Hobbes, showing that modernity is best understood as a series of attempts to formulate a new and coherent metaphysics or theology.
“Bringing the history of political thought up to date and situating it against the backdrop of contemporary events, Gillespie’s analyses provide us a way to begin to have conversations with the Islamic world about what is perhaps the central question within each of the three monotheistic religions: if God is omnipotent, then what is the place of human freedom?”—Joshua Mitchell, Georgetown University
Thinking Through Revelation
Robert J. Dobie Catholic University of America Press, 2019 Library of Congress BL728.D63 2019 | Dewey Decimal 202.117
Navigating the seemingly competing claims of human reason and divine revelation to truth is without a doubt one of the central problems of medieval philosophy. Medieval thinkers argued a whole gamut of positions on the proper relation of religious faith to human reason. Thinking Through Revelation attempts to ask deeper questions: what possibilities for philosophical thought did divine revelation open up for medieval thinkers? How did the contents of the sacred scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam put into question established philosophical assumptions? But most fundamentally, how did not merely the content of the sacred books but the very mode in which revelation itself is understood to come to us – as a book “sent down” from on high, as a covenant between God and his people, or as incarnate person - create or foreclose possibilities for the resolution of the philosophical problems that the Abrahamic revelations themselves raised?
Long before philosophers started making the case for atheism, powerful, affectively laden cultural currents were sowing doubt in Europe. Alec Ryrie looks to the history of the Reformation and argues that emotions—anger at priestly corruption and anxieties attending the erosion of time-honored certainties—were the handmaidens of atheism.
When worldviews clash, the world reverberates. Now a distinguished scholar who has written widely on thinkers ranging from Samuel Beckett to Eric Voegelin inquires into the sources of religious conflict—and into ways of being religious that might diminish that conflict.
Worldview and Mind covers a wide range of thinkers and movements to explore the relation between religion and modernity in all its complexity. Eugene Webb invokes a number of topical issues, including religious terrorism, as he unfolds the phenomenon of religion in all its complications, from the difference between faith and belief to the diversities among—and within—religions.
Building on Karl Jaspers’s psychology of worldviews and Jean Piaget’s developmental psychology, Webb looks at a broad spectrum of religions—especially the history of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in their various forms—to explore the subjective factors that sometimes render religions conflictual and aggressive and to consider conditions that might foster more helpful and reconciling forms of religiousness. He explores what psychological analysis reveals about the relationship between stages of psychological development and ways of being religious—ways that range from closed-minded literalism to open-minded tolerance. He also identifies unconscious and developmental obstacles to religious maturity and depicts the mature person as one who participates in the mystery of self-transcending love.
Webb argues that authentic religion need not succumb to dogmatism, or support fanaticism, or be consigned to the stages of immature culture. Responding to critics of religion, from Sigmund Freud to Daniel Dennett, he demonstrates that religious traditions have more spiritual depth than these critics have granted and a greater potential for development than they believe, along lines they might even favor. His insightful book proposes that, if religious people can step back from their traditions and consider them as partial ways of relating to transcendent ultimacy, the world’s religions might manage to develop a way of living together with mutual appreciation and respect.