Not only does this book reflect the clarity and acuity of thought that characterize Wolterstorff's work, it also reflects the humane sensibilities of someone who has thought and felt deeply about these matters for a long time.
The two great philosophical figures at the culminating point of the Enlightenment are Thomas Reid in Scotland and Immanuel Kant in Germany. Reid was by far the most influential across Europe and the United States well into the nineteenth century. Since that time his fame and influence have been eclipsed by his German contemporary. This important book by one of today's leading philosophers of knowledge and religion will do much to reestablish the significance of Reid for philosophy today. Nicholas Wolterstorff (...) has produced the first systematic account of Reid's epistemology. Relating Reid's philosophy to present-day epistemological discussions the author demonstrates how they are at once remarkably timely, relevant, and provocative. No other book both uncovers the deep pattern of Reid's thought and relates it to contemporary philosophical debate. This book should be read by historians of philosophy as well as all philosophers concerned with epistemology and the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Nicholas Wolterstorff discusses the ethics of belief which Locke developed in Book IV of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, where Locke finally argued his overarching aim: how we ought to govern our belief, especially on matters of religion and morality. Wolterstorff shows that this concern was instigated by the collapse, in Locke's day, of a once-unified moral and religious tradition in Europe into warring factions. His was thus a culturally and socially engaged epistemology. This view of Locke invites a new (...) interpretation of the origins of modern philosophy. He maintained that instead of following tradition we ought to let 'reason be our guide.' Accordingly, after discussing Hume's powerful attack on Locke's recommended practice, Wolterstorff argues for Locke's originality and emphasizes his contribution to the 'modernity' of post-sixteenth-century philosophy. (shrink)
This vigorous debate between two distinguished philosophers presents two views on a topic of worldwide importance: the role of religion in politics. Audi argues that citizens in a free democracy should distinguish religious and secular considerations and give them separate though related roles. Wolterstorff argues that religious elements are both appropriate in politics and indispensable to the vitality of a pluralistic democracy. Each philosopher first states his position in detail, then responds to and criticizes the opposing viewpoint.
Human beings engage works of the arts in many different ways: they sing songs while working, they kiss icons, they create and dedicate memorials. Yet almost all philosophers of art of the modern period have ignored this variety and focused entirely on just one mode of engagement, namely, disinterested attention. Nicholas Wolterstorff asks why this might be, and proposes that almost all philosophers have accepted the grand narrative concerning art in the modern world. It is generally agreed that in the (...) early modern period, members of the middle class in Western Europe increasingly engaged works of the arts as objects of disinterested attention. The grand narrative claims that this change represented the arts coming into their own, and that works of art, so engaged, are socially other and transcendent. Wolterstorff rejects this claim, and offers an alternative framework for thinking about the arts. Central to his alternative framework are the idea of the arts as social practices and the idea of works of the arts as having different meaning in different practices. (shrink)
Prominent in the canonical texts and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the claim that God speaks. Nicholas Wolterstorff argues that contemporary speech-action theory, when appropriately expanded, offers us a fascinating way of interpreting this claim and showing its intelligibility. He develops an innovative theory of double-hermeneutics - along the way opposing the current near-consensus led by Ricoeur and Derrida that there is something wrong-headed about interpreting a text to find out what its author said. Wolterstorff argues that at (...) least some of us are entitled to believe that God has spoken. Philosophers have never before, in any sustained fashion, reflected on these matters, mainly because they have mistakenly treated speech as revelation. (shrink)
All Christian theologians agree that God is without beginning and without end. The vast majority have held, in addition, that God is eternal, existing outside of time. Only a small minority have contended that God is everlasting, existing within time. In what follows I shall take up the cudgels for that minority, arguing that God as conceived and presented by the biblical writers is a being whose own life and existence is temporal.
Expanding on his 1976 study of the bearing of Christian faith on the practice of scholarship, Wolterstorff has added a substantial new section on the role of faith in the decisions scholars make about their choice of subject matter.
Adherence to a religion, and participation therein, typically involve worship, the reading and interpretation of sacred scripture, prayer, meditation, self‐discipline, submission to instruction, acts of justice and charity. Typically they involve allowing certain metaphors and images to shape one's actions and perception of reality. They incorporate such propositional attitudes as hoping that certain things will come about, trusting that certain things will come about, regretting that certain things have come about, and accepting various things, in the sense of playing the (...) role of one who believes those things. And typically they involve believing various things – about God, about the sacred, about humanity, its past and future, glory and misery, and about the world. Sometimes what evokes and sustains adherence to, and participation in, a religion is religious experience of one sort and another – mystical experience, uncanny experience, a sense of cosmic security, the experience of something as created by God, usually this being something amazing in its minuteness, its immensity, or its intricate and improbable workings. The phrase Wittgenstein made famous is appropriate here: participation in a religion is a form of life. (shrink)
In this essay I develop the thesis that one way in which a person can come to know God is by learning to participate in Christian liturgical enactments. After analyzing some ordinary examples of practical knowledge yielding knowledge of things or substances, I turn to the knowledge of God yielded by the acquisition of practical liturgical knowledge. Pervasive in Christian liturgical enactments is address to God. So, while acknowledging that one can come to know God liturgically by listening to the (...) reading of Scripture and to the sermon, I focus on coming to know God by learning to address God in certain ways. I argue that it is especially by what one takes for granted when addressing God, and by the addressee-identification terms that one learns to employ, that one comes to know God by learning the Christian practice of addressing God. (shrink)
This work "collects the author's work at the intersection between political philosophy and religion. Alongside his influential earlier essays, it includes nine new essays in which Wolterstorff develops original lines of argument and stakes out novel positions regarding the nature of liberal democracy, human rights, and political authority. Taken together, these positions are an attractive alternative to the so-called public reason liberalism defended by thinkers such as John Rawls"--jacket.
Participation in religious liturgies and rituals is a pervasive and complex human activity. This book discusses the nature of liturgical activity and the various dimensions of such activity. Nicholas Wolterstorff focuses on understanding what liturgical agents actually do and shows religious practice as a rich area for philosophical reflection.
For a century or more political theology has been in decline. Recent years, however, have seen increasing interest not only in how church and state should be related, but in the relation between divine authority and political authority, and in what religion has to say about the limits of state authority and the grounds of political obedience. In this book, Nicholas Wolterstorff addresses this whole complex of issues. He takes account of traditional answers to these questions, but on every point (...) stakes out new positions. Wolterstorff offers a fresh theological defense of liberal democracy, argues that the traditional doctrine of 'two rules' should be rejected and offers a fresh exegesis of Romans 13, the canonical biblical passage for the tradition of Christian political theology. This book provides useful discussion for scholars and students of political theology, law and religion, philosophy of religion and social ethics. (shrink)
This volume presents influential work by Nicholas Wolterstorff at the intersection between political philosophy and religion, alongside nine new essays on the nature of liberal democracy, human rights, and political authority. These novel essays offer an attractive alternative to the public reason liberalism defended by thinkers such as John Rawls.
My aim in this essay is to understand why it is that we stomp on images of persons that we hate or dislike and kiss or light candles in front of images of persons that we love, honor, or admire. Far and away the most probing and intense discussion of the nature and significance of such actions was that which took place among the Byzantines in the so-called iconoclast controversy, from early in the eighth century until the middle of the (...) ninth century. The bulk of my essay consists of identifying and analyzing the arguments developed in this period for and against icon veneration. After concluding that the Byzantines did not succeed in developing a plausible account of what goes on in icon veneration, I offer my own account of what is going on when someone kisses an icon or stomps on a picture of her mother. (shrink)
In this article I review some of the more important developments in philosophy of the past fifty years with the aim of pointing out the contribution that the work of Alvin Plantinga has made to these developments. Along the way I also highlight the most important enduring themes in Plantinga’s work.
In this paper I discuss an issue concerning how faith ought to be held. Traditionally there have been those who contended that faith should be held with full certainty, with great firmness. John Calvin is an example. John Locke offered both epistemological and pragmatic considerations in favor of the view that faith should be held with distinctly less than maximal firmness. He proposed a Principle of Proportionality. I assess the tenability of Locke’s proposal-while also suggesting that Calvin’s position is different (...) from whaton first reading it would appear to be. It is not straightforwardly in conflict with Locke’s position. (shrink)
Il y a soixante ans, il y avait peu de philosophie de la religion et à peu près rien en ce qui concerne la théologie philosophique ; aujourd’hui, la philosophie de la religion en général, et la théologie philosophique en particulier, prospèrent dans la tradition analytique de la philosophie. Mon but est d’expliquer pourquoi la situation actuelle est si différente de celle d’il y a soixante ans.
After discussing at some length the nature of interpersonal forgiveness and its relation to punishment, the author addresses the main question of the essay: are states the sorts of entities that can forgive; and if they are, is it sometimes desirable that they forgive? The author argues that states can forgive and very often do; and that sometimes it is desirable that they do so. The essay closes by considering the complexities that arise when the state wants to forgive but (...) the victim does not, and conversely. (shrink)
After discussing the nature of toleration, giving a brief history of the emergence of religious toleration in the West, and presenting my understanding of religion, I develop what I call ‘the dignity argument’ for religious toleration: to fail to tolerate a person’s religion is to treat that person in a way that does not befit their dignity. And to treat them in a way that does not befit their dignity is to wrong them, to treat them unjustly.