Archives For Philosophy
This week marked the anniversary of the death of philosopher Michael Polanyi, one of the most significant philosophers for understanding the roots of theology in the twenty-first century.
To mark the occasion, we offer the following introductory reading guide to his most significant works.
We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and offered a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve also included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.
Kierkegaard: A Single Life
In an entry of less than 300 words, the then peerless Encylopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, calls young Søren Aaby[e] Kierkegaard “delicate, precocious and morbid in temperament” (vol. 15, 788). One hundred five years later, I am sure that Kiekegaard maven Stephen Backhouse would agree, probably extending Britannica’s estimation to the maverick philosopher’s entire life.
Dying after a series of seizures in 1855 at age 42, Søren—as Backhouse calls him throughout this concise, yet full biography—was not merely precocious, but enormously productive and often acerbic in in his writing. As well, he was beset with intractable paradoxes that both attracted and repelled friends, family and colleagues. During his life he reaped few accolades and much scorn for his relentless, often slashing criticism of leading Danish literati (among them Denmark’s hitherto untouchable Hans Christian Andersen) academics, political theorists and state church leaders. After being ignored by his family pastor and erstwhile mentor, Bishop Jakob Peter Mynster, Kierkegaard added him to his phalanxes of targets. Calling Mynster a “poisonous plant . . . a colossus,” he concluded, “Great strength was required to topple him, and the person who did it also had to pay for it” (148).
Over the course of last year, I set aside a number of books that I wanted to read because I knew that they would make significant contributions to public conversations, but I knew that they would require some time and effort to read carefully and well.
I’m hoping to read a number of these 10 books over the coming year…
By ERB Editor, C. Christopher Smith
(In alphabetical order by author’s last name…)
PAGE 1 OF 5
Paperback, IVP Academic
The Course of Love: A Novel
Alain de Botton
Hardback: Simon & Schuster, 2016.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Alden Bass
This is not Alain de Botton’s first attempt to write a book about love. Twenty years ago he wrote his debut novel Essays in Love, a story about a boy and a girl who meet on a plane and – you guessed it – fall in love. An essay is an attempt, a beginning, and in this more mature reflection on love de Botton determines to see love through to its end. Along the way, he speculates on what precisely is the end of love in a series of philosophical narratorial asides.
Rather unromantically, The Course of Love is a story about marriage. Specifically, two very average Edinburghers named Rabih and Kirsten who date, get engaged, marry, settle down, have kids, have affairs, and go to counseling. Their marriage is the Everymarriage. Which is precisely the kind of story de Botton needs to develop his thesis. (Yes, this is a novel with a thesis.) Namely, love is a sort of existential rootedness, a sense of security and familiarity which grounds one to love and serve others.
A Review of
Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians
Reviewed by Michial Farmer
If it’s true that we become like what we worship, readers of Søren Kierkegaard must always keep in mind that his God was inscrutable, labyrinthine-minded, confounding, terrifying—but ultimately loving. So, too, is Kierkegaard’s jungle of writings. Producing two or three treatises simultaneously, under different (though equally ridiculous) pseudonyms, he was not afraid of self-contradiction and sought controversy more than agreement. If he could find no one else to disagree with him, he’d do it himself. It’s the rare reader indeed who can open the puzzle box of his thought without an instruction manual. And yet, as Mark Tietjen shows in his latest book, Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians, Kierkegaard wrote what he wrote (and wrote it the way he wrote it) as an act of service.
Yesterday marked the birthday of Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (b. 1813).
In honor of the occasion, here is one of his renowned essays:
The Crowd is Untruth
Translated by Charles K. Bellinger
My dear, accept this dedication; it is given over, as it were, blindfolded, but therefore undisturbed by any consideration, in sincerity. Who you are, I know not; where you are, I know not; what your name is, I know not. Yet you are my hope, my joy, my pride, and my unknown honor.
It comforts me, that the right occasion is now there for you; which I have honestly intended during my labor and in my labor. For if it were possible that reading what I write became worldly custom, or even to give oneself out as having read it, in the hope of thereby winning something in the world, that then would not be the right occasion, since, on the contrary, misunderstanding would have triumphed, and it would have also deceived me, if I had not striven to prevent such a thing from happening.
Today is the birthday of twentieth-century French philosopher Simone Weil, born 1909.
Here’s a wonderful and concise overview of why Weil’s work matters, and especially to Christians.
This is Leslie Fiedler’s introduction to Weil’s book:
Waiting For God
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
MacIntyre’s book, After Virtue, is arguably the most important work of contemporary philosophy for Christians today, and this book has greatly shaped theological discourse since its release in 1981.