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5. Two Types of Continental Philosophy of Religion

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub



Kierkegaard's Johannes Climacus reports the case of one Dr. Hjortespring, who was converted to Hegelianism by a miracle on Easter morning at the Hotel Streit in Hamburg.1 My own story is not as dramatic. Still, if truth be told, in the present work I fear I will shock my friends by declaring myself a born-again Hegelian, and this in order to distinguish myself from the Kantians. My reasoning is as follows. The event is an event of truth. The insistence of the event may also be called its insistent “truth.” The “democracy to come” means the truth that insists on coming (true) in democracy, that is trying to come (true) as democracy. Just so, the name of God is the name of an event that is trying to come true in and under that name. It is at this point—truth—that I call upon the approach to religion and religious truth taken by Hegel, who is, by my lights, the father or (if Tillich is the father) the grandfather of radical theology and the predecessor of the new species of theologians for which I am calling. Hegel offers a new analysis of Christian theology and a new paradigm for the philosophy of religion by formulating a new idea of religious truth that constitutes for me a predecessor form of the theology of “perhaps” and consequently of theopoetics.

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Medium 9780856833656

Summary of Alcibiades II, Concerning Prayer

Ficino Ficino Shepheard Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd ePub

SINCE ALCIBIADES II, a most holy book, is entitled concerning Prayer, one may briefly gather the nature of prayer, as well as what is to be asked for in prayer, when, and how.

The following definition of prayer is taken partly from Orpheus and partly from Plato: prayer is the ardent disposition of the pure soul, a disposition devoted to God and desirous of what is seen to be good. To this disposition Zoroaster and Orpheus added fumes from under the earth and symbols whenever prayers were directed to the secondary deities. When Hermes and Plato worshipped the majesty of the supreme godhead, they removed all external rituals, leaving only the pure fragrance of the soul. But we have written more fully on all these matters in our commentaries.

As to what should be asked for in prayer, Plato declares it to be the Good, and this is clear from the fact that, on the evidence of the Poet and of the Spartans, he approves of this prayer and he thinks that it is safe for the prudent man and for the imprudent man, and that a prayer of this kind can be made by anyone at any time. But a request for any particular individual good is safe only when the person has followed prudence; otherwise it is dangerous. Here he speaks many words about prudence, which I beseech you, Cosimo, the most prudent of all men, to read carefully, that you may understand directly how much he values prudence.

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Moral Judgment and Knowledge from Ethics (1932)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

That reflective morality, since it is reflective, involves thought and knowledge is a truism. The truism raises, however, important problems of theory. What is the nature of knowledge in its moral sense? What is its function? How does it originate and operate? To these questions, writers upon morals have given different answers. Those, for example, who have dwelt upon approval and resentment as the fundamental ethical factor have emphasized its spontaneous and “instinctive” character—that is, its non-reflective nature—and have assigned a subordinate position to the intellectual factor in morals. Those who, like Kant, have made the authority of duty supreme, have marked off Moral Reason from thought and reasoning as they show themselves in ordinary life and in science. They have erected a unique faculty whose sole office is to make us aware of duty and of its imperatively rightful authority over conduct. The moralists who have insisted upon the identity of the Good with ends of desire have, on the contrary, made knowledge, in the sense of in sight into the ends which bring enduring satisfaction, the supreme thing in conduct; ignorance, as Plato said, is the root of all evil. And yet, according to Plato, this assured insight into the true End and Good implies a kind of rationality which is radically different from that involved in the ordinary affairs of life. It can be directly attained only by the few who are gifted with those peculiar qualities which enable them to rise to metaphysical understanding of the ultimate constitution of the universe; others must take it on faith or as it is embodied, in a derived way, in laws and institutions. Without going into all the recondite problems associated with the conflict of views, we may say that two significant questions emerge. First, are thought and knowledge mere servants and attendants of emotion, or do they exercise a positive and transforming influence? Secondly, are the thought and judgment employed in connection with moral matters the same that are used in ordinary practical affairs, or are they something separate, having an exclusively moral significance? Putting the question in the form which it assumed in discussion during the nineteenth century: Is conscience a faculty of intuition independent of human experience, or is it a product and expression of experience?

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Emerson—The Philosopher of Democracy (1903) (on Ralph Waldo Emerson)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

It is said that Emerson is not a philosopher. I find this denegation false or true according as it is said in blame or praise—according to the reasons proffered. When the critic writes of lack of method, of the absence of continuity, of coherent logic, and, with the old story of the string of pearls loosely strung, puts Emerson away as a writer of maxims and proverbs, a recorder of brilliant insights and abrupt aphorisms, the critic, to my mind, but writes down his own incapacity to follow a logic that is finely wrought. “We want in every man a long logic; we cannot pardon the absence of it, but it must not be spoken. Logic is the procession or proportionate unfolding of the intuition; but its virtue is as silent method; the moment it would appear as propositions and have a separate value, it is worthless.” Emerson fulfills his own requisition. The critic needs the method separately propounded, and not finding his wonted leading-string is all lost. Again, says Emerson, “There is no compliment like the addressing to the human being thoughts out of certain heights and presupposing his intelligence”—a compliment which Emerson’s critics have mostly hastened to avert. But to make this short, I am not acquainted with any writer, no matter how assured his position in treatises upon the history of philosophy, whose movement of thought is more compact and unified, nor one who combines more adequately diversity of intellectual attack with concentration of form and effect. I recently read a letter from a gentleman, himself a distinguished writer of philosophy, in which he remarked that philosophers are a stupid class, since they want every reason carefully pointed out and labelled, and are incapable of taking anything for granted. The condescending patronage by literary critics of Emerson’s lack of cohesiveness may remind us that philosophers have no monopoly of this particular form of stupidity.

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Chapter 1: The Ways of the Land

Kent Nerburn New World Library ePub

“All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.”

Chief Seattle

Suqwamish and Duwamish

I was born in Nature’s wide domain! The trees were all that sheltered my infant limbs, the blue heavens all that covered me. I am one of Nature’s children. I have always admired her. She shall be my glory: her features, her robes, and the wreath about her brow, the seasons, her stately oaks, and the evergreen—her hair, ringlets over the earth—all contribute to my enduring love of her.

And wherever I see her, emotions of pleasure roll in my breast, and swell and burst like waves on the shores of the ocean, in prayer and praise to Him who has placed me in her hand. It is thought great to be born in palaces, surrounded with wealth—but to be born in Nature’s wide domain is greater still !

I would much more glory in this birthplace, with the broad canopy of heaven above me, and the giant arms of the forest trees for my shelter, than to be born in palaces of marble, studded with pillars of gold! Nature will be Nature still, while palaces shall decay and fall in ruins.

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