This is a marvelous book. Although billed as a Dogmatics, it is really a rambling and magnanimous presentation of the Christian faith-theology as well as practice. It is guided by the attempt to be systematic and comprehensive. It is filled with wonderful human insights into the nature of the Christian posture in a wayward world. It is part philosophical theology, part a theology of culture, and part practical theology. But it is more than all of its parts. What we have (...) is Hartt's mature ruminations on a vast number of subjects germane to Christian thinking. Hartt is a Barthian with humor, a neo-Reformation theologian with pizazz, a Methodist who has drunk deeply of American culture. Hartt divides his book into three parts: The Vocation of the Church as a Critic of Culture; The Dogmatic Content of Practical Theology; and Applications. The first part is an attempt to work the church into the role of a cultural interrogator, conscious on the one hand of its historic roots in that theological tradition known as the Christian faith, and on the other of its iconoclastic role, relativizing all absolutistic pretensions that civilization may attain, and in general, lose itself in the world, but not to the world. It is in this section that Hartt gives credence to the title of his book, A Christian Critique of American Culture. Part II emphasizes the "preachability" of the Gospel. Part III demonstrates what Hartt means by the applicability of the Gospel, its critique of art, politics, and mass culture. A chapter on "The Holy Spirit and 'Revolution'" concludes the work. There are no footnotes, no bibliography and no index. But none is needed. In the end what the reader has is Hartt and not a conglomeration and distillation of the thoughts of the theological luminaries of our day. Hartt's writing is the best among living theologians--and that fact alone ought to make anyone who is interested in great theologizing buy this book.--W. A. J. (shrink)
The author believes that it is impossible to resolve the crucial theological issues of our time without an appreciation of the historical roots of the development of theology itself. Congar does not attempt in this volume a systematic analysis of the content of theology, as it is expressed in history. He limits himself to the meaning of the discipline of theology as it expresses itself in six periods in the life of the church, The Patristic Age and St. Augustine, From (...) the Sixth Century to the Twelfth Century, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century, The Golden Age of Scholasticism, The Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, From the Seventeenth Century to the Present. The work begins with a definition of the word 'theology' from its early pre-Christian usage to its adoption by the Greek and Latin Christians. 'Theology', according to Congar, in its Christian and catholic sense, means a reasoned account about God; it is a "body of knowledge which rationally interprets, elaborates, and ordains the truths of revelation." Unlike the pagan philosophers who thought of theology in a speculative sense, the Christians who had received a revelation, conceived of God in concrete terms, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But the discipline of theology took many forms and shapes over the years of Christian history. The twelfth century seems to be a critical century, at least for the author, because it is in St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa that theology becomes "a defined discipline exposing a rational explanation of revelation." Theology in the sixteenth century is characterized by the growth of intellectual problems and new intellectual needs, the collapse of the synthesis and unity of the Middle Ages, the birth of new forms of intellectual activity and research. Luther's theological position is then characterized as "an enraged Augustinianism shorn of its Catholic ties." Luther interprets Christian theology as salvation, i.e., man's conversion to God through Christ. Luther is anti-ecclesiastical and anti-institutional, anti-scholastic, and anti-rational. But what permits Congar such a simplistic reductionism is that he begins the theological task at the wrong place. I do not think it is an adequate notion of the theological enterprise to ask the theologian what he considers to be the task of theology. Rather I think the theologian looks at the whole of the Christian faith and attempts some rapprochement between it and modern categories of thought. The theological enterprise is the dogmatic enterprise, but it is dogmatic as theology responds to the thought-forms of the modern world. Congar is too restrictive in his understanding of what theology ought to be doing--and what it actually does. This error becomes clear when we observe again and again a parodying of various theological positions.--W. A. J. (shrink)
This is a study of "three metaphysical naturalists" who, although minor figures in their own right, nonetheless substantially influenced the direction and cast of American naturalism. The theme that unites them, according to Delaney, is their reaction to the bifurcation of mind and corporeal nature bequeathed to modern philosophy by Descartes and Locke. Morris R. Cohen, as a logician and philosopher of science, saw such a bifurcation as engendering conventionalism and a type of nominalism in science, and he reacted against (...) these with his own "logical realism." Frederick J. E. Woodbridge, working out of the Aristotelian and Spinozistic traditions, saw it as entailing subjectivism and attempted to counteract this by reasserting an "experiential realism." Roy Wood Sellars, himself an evolutionist, viewed the duality of mind and nature as a stimulus for the imaginative projection of idealism and the quietistic escapism of spiritualism, and countered these with a thorough-going "materialistic humanism." Delaney elaborates his thesis with clarity and cogency, using it as a vehicle to reconstruct the metaphysical views of the three men under study. He concludes with a critical comparison of the resulting "naturalistic reintegrations" of the mind-nature bifurcation: Cohen's through a more adequate philosophy of science, Woodbridge's by a realistic theory of experience, and Sellars' by an emergent theory of evolution. Delaney's critique focuses on the fundamental notions of existence, nature, and man, using these to expose essential differences between the "metaphysics" of the New York naturalists and that of Sellars. Woodbridge emerges from Delaney's analysis as the most substantial philosopher of the group. This is not a ponderous tome--it can be read practically at one sitting--but it succeeds in throwing new light on American naturalism in terms of its positive contributions to both the philosophy of nature and the philosophy of mind.--W. A. W. (shrink)
There have been many fine studies of Galileo in recent past, but practically all of these have been the work of historians of science who are not professionally trained as philosophers and yet who, by the very nature of the subject they are treating, get themselves involved in philosophical tangles. Shapere takes off from a number of these works and subjects them to close philosophical scrutiny; his resulting analyses are clever and incisive, and offer a prime example of how the (...) philosopher can come to the assistance of the historian, even though the latter may be unaware of his need for help. The burden of Shapere’s work consists in a critical examination of the preconceptions and presuppositions that underlie three common interpretations of Galileo’s contribution. (shrink)
The essay "Augustine's View of Reality" was originally delivered by Dr. Bourke at St. Louis University as the 1963 Saint Augustine Lecture. To it, he has added here seventy-five pages of bilingual texts from Augustine, in which various metaphysical matters are treated, and four "appendices" in which Dr. Bourke carries out in greater detail the ideas advanced in his lecture. Dr. Bourke intends to explore the specifically metaphysical aspects of Augustine's writings, and in effect compares Augustine's Christian Platonism with Thomistic (...) metaphysics. He discusses Augustine's conception of the relation between being and essence, and his conception of the being of God. In the appendices, Dr. Bourke considers Augustine's approach to the subjects of Participation, Causality, Analogy, and the idipsum of God. While Dr. Bourke acknowledges from the start the extraction of a metaphysical system from the specifically theological writings of St. Augustine cannot do the entirety of those writings justice, it remains doubtful that this comparison of St. Augustine's thought with Thomism on the ground of the latter, is at all a fruitful way of understanding the real religious insights of the bishop of Hippo.—A. W. W. (shrink)
In this volume, the author intends to "fill the gap" in scholarship on Francis Hutcheson, and to show the relevance of Hutcheson's theories to contemporary metaethical discussion. The book includes a short and appealing biographical study of Hutcheson, an outline and criticism of Hutcheson's theory of "moral sense" which had a profound effect on Hume, and an evaluation of Hutcheson's controversy with Richard Price and other rationalists of Hutcheson's time in light of contemporary discussions of ethical language. Finally, Mr. Blackstone (...) relates Hutcheson to such contemporary ethical theorists as Ayer and Stevenson, claiming that Hutcheson's "moral sense" theory, while an inadequate metaethic, nonetheless is the historical foundation for contemporary non-cognitive theories of ethical language. Mr. Blackstone undoubtedly makes his case for the historical importance of Hutchesons' theories, but their relevance to contemporary discussions is not so clearly demonstrated.—A. W. W. (shrink)
Sober and Wilson demonstrate convincingly the fallacies of arguments for fundamental biological and psychological selfishness and establish the plausibility of both biological and psychological altruism. However, I suggest that they are more generous to proponents of fundamental selfishness than they need be and that morality is closer to our evolved and learned capacities than they suggest. I am less generous toward advocates of fundamental selfishness than are our altruistic authors.
This translation of Heidegger's 1959 essay Gelassenheit is an appealing example of Heidegger's later thought. The introduction, though at points helpful, tends towards greater obscurity than Heidegger himself. Gelassenheit consists of a 1955 speech on the occasion of a gathering commemorating the German composer Conradin Kreutzer. In it, Heidegger discusses the difference between calculative thinking and meditative thinking, and advances a characterization of the latter as "releasement". Following the address, there is a prose-poetic dialogue between a teacher, scientist and scholar (...) which develops these ideas further and relates them to other themes in Heidegger's thought. The translators follow the "Robinson-Macquarrie" method, rendering each of Heidegger's important German terms by a single English word. Perhaps due to the fact that relatively few such terms are employed by Heidegger in Gelassenheit, this method here succeeds not only in presenting a terminologically clear translation, but also in capturing a certain amount of the extraordinary poetic appeal of the original.—A. W. W. (shrink)