Archives For Philosophy

 

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…)

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The Faithful Artist: A Vision for Evangelicalism and the Arts

Cameron Anderson

Paperback, IVP Academic

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When We are Ready to Love
Rather Than to Be Loved

 
A Feature Review of 

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.

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A Prophet in His Hometown

 
A Review of

Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians
Mark Tietjen

Paperback: IVP Academic, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

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.

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Kierkegaard

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

Søren Kierkegaard

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.

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Today is the birthday of Jewish theologian Martin Buber, born 1878.

In honor of the occasion, here is an excerpt from his important book:

I and Thou
Martin Buber

First Translated to English, 1937
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]   [  Kindle ]

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Simone_Weil_06

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
Simone Weil

Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

*** Other Books by Simone Weil

 

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Alasdair_MacIntyre

 

Today (January 12) is the 87th birthday of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre.

 
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.
 

After Virtue: 3rd Edition
Alasdair MacIntyre

Paperback:  Notre Dame, 2006
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
 
Here are some helpful resources that introduce and guide you through this important book…

  1. Read Stanley Hauerwas’s brief introduction to MacIntyre:
    The Virtues of Alasdair MacIntyre  
    (First Things, October 2007)

  2. Continue Reading…

 

Rene-Girard

 

This week marked the death of one of the most important social and theological thinkers of the last century, Rene Girard.

Receiving his PhD in history, Girard began his academic career by teaching French literature, and it was his work in literary theory that would guide him into the study of scripture, theology and society.

At the core of Girard’s work is the concept of mimetic theory, i.e., that our human desires take shape by imitation, by desiring things that others desire. But these desires lead us into conflict and violence because there is a scarcity of the thing desired.

In remembrance of Girard, we offer the following introductory guide to his work (which focuses particularly on his theological work).

 

Introduction to Mimetic Theory:

This is a great, half-hour video in which Girard lays out the basic components of his mimetic theory. It is a good place to start engaging Girard’s work, as it is clear and relatively concise…

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Wholly Without Weapons

 
A review of

Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma: How Karl Barth and Alvin Plantinga Provide a Unified Response
Kevin Diller

InterVarsity Press Academic, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Joe Krall

 

“What are you doing, Joe?”

“I’m reading a book for my internship!”

“Oh, cool. What’s the book?”

[reads the title]

“Wow…Okay, have fun with that.”

 

I’ve had at least six versions of this conversation since starting Kevin Diller’s Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma this summer. So let me quickly assure you that this book, a volume of analytic theology, is one of the best things I’ve read all year.

A professor of philosophy at Taylor University, Diller attempts in this book to critically and clearly about God’s revelation and how we know God. This is no abstruse research project, but a task with practical implications for Christian doctrine and practice. If you’re looking for an academic review of analytic precision, this review may cause you to shake your head in disappointment. But I learned much reading Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma, and I wish to pass that on, however imperfectly, to the readers of The Englewood Review of Books.
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A Book You Can Sink Your Teeth Into?

 

A Feature Review of

Dracula and Philosophy: Dying to Know
(Popular Culture and Philosophy Series)
Edited by Nicolas Michaud and Janelle Pötzsch

Paperback: Open Court, 2015.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by John W. Morehead

 

Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula is one of the most influential books ever written. It has been featured in a number of different forums, including stage plays, films, television programs, graphic novels, and more. It has also led to a wealth of discussion over the years. One of the latest comes in Dracula and Philosophy, an exploration of philosophical issues that come by way of reflection on this classic novel’s horror story.

 

Dracula and Philosophy is comprised of five sections and twenty-four chapters. Section I is “The Downside of Undeath,” with five chapters. The second section is “A Vampire’s Values” that includes five chapters. Another five chapters make up Section III with “What’s It Like to Be Dracula?”.  The fourth section discusses “Why We’re Afraid” of the undead count in five chapters, while Section V explores “From the Dracula Files” through four chapters. This book also includes an introduction, a listing of references, contributor bios, and an index.

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