Tag Archives: analytic philosophy

The Philosophy of the Hebrew Bible

I no longer find myself sitting in the bright, sunny, and (awfully) hot Mediterranean climate of Pasadena, rather I find myself sitting in the bright, sunny, and (awfully) hot Mediterranean climate of Jerusalem. So why am I here? To engage with a similar sort of project that the AT project is engaged with at Fuller Seminary; I am here to think through the relationship between Scripture, analytic philosophy, and the life of faith.

Jerusalem

On June 12th-23rd a group of Christian and Jewish scholars whose expertise range from biblical studies, to political philosophy, to analytic theology gathered to discuss Yoram Hazony’s book, The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture.

In this book Hazony contends that western culture has made a major mistake in not seeing the Hebrew Bible as a significant philosophical work. Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and Plotinus’s Enneads are all part of the Western philosophical cannon, but why isn’t the Hebrew bible? Hazony argues the reason this is so is because the Hebrew Bible has been deemed a “work of revelation” as opposed to a “work of reason.”

 

YSSAccording to Hazony the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures are “in fact closer to being works of reason than anything else.” (Hazony, 3) He laments the fact that Western culture, due to Christian influence, has read the reason-revelation-dichotomy into the Hebrew scriptures. This dichotomy, in turn, has affected the standing of Hebrew Scriptures within public spheres. By turning back to conceiving the Hebrew Scriptures as a work of reason, Hazony hopes to restore its standing in public dialogue. Not only does Hazony argue that the Hebrew Scriptures are works of reason, rather he argues that “Hebrew Scriptures can (and should) be read as works of philosophy, with an aim to discovering what they have to say to the broader discourse concerning the nature of the world and the just life for man.” (4)

Hazony’s attempt at constructing a philosophy of Hebrew Scriptures has two major parts, which respectively, make up the structure of his work as an introduction to the philosophy of Hebrew Scripture. First, Hazony provides a methodological framework by which we can begin to read the Hebrew Scriptures as works of philosophy. He then proceeds to provide some examples of how the authors of scripture were engaging philosophical discourse. This latter part addresses topics like metaphysics, epistemology, and political philosophy. In addressing such topics, he provides plenty of fodder for further reflection by philosophers and analytic theologians.

Dome of the Rock

Over the next few days I hope to write a bit more about the sort of project Hazony is engaged in, so you can expect a few blogs either on the ideas in the book, or ideas that have come out of this workshop and the conference following the workshop.

Love: Creaturely and Divine

On the fifth week of the AT Seminar Series Sameer Yadav, Assistant Professor of Religious

sameeryadav
Sameer Yadav

Studies at Westmont University, delivered a paper titled “Love: Creaturely and Divine.” In his paper Yadav dealt with Schellenberg’s divine hiddenness argument by providing what could be called a “Plantingian Divine Imaging Defense.”

An Overview of “Love: Creaturely and Divine”

Although not new, the problem of Divine Hiddenness (DH) became the subject of extensive philosophical discussion when J.L. Schellenberg published his book, Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, in 1993. Schellenberg and others who put forth this argument appeal to existence of non-resistant non-believers as evidence for the non-existence of a perfectly loving God. We can summarize the main idea of DH as:

If God is perfectly Loving, then non-resistant non-belief does not exist. But it seems as though non-resistant non-belief does exist. Therefore, a perfectly loving God does not exist.

You can read the rest of this post over at Fuller Seminary’s Analytic Theology Blog.

When We Think About God

“When we’re talking about God we can’t afford to be sloppy.” As you probably know I am studying in a new field that seeks to revive an ancient form of theological reflection: analytic theology. This discipline that combines the rigor of philosophy with the wonder of theology, I work with Dr. Oliver Crisp, professor of systematic theology, and a team of visiting scholars to reflect carefully on prayer, love, and human nature. In the following video – directed and produced by Fuller Studio – I share my passion for theology, the dangers of muddled thinking, and my hopes for the church to be informed by good theology.

“Theology done well not only impacts people’s lives, says something to the world about who God actually is.”

You can see the original post on Fuller’s Analytic Theology Website.

On Religious Worth of Bodily Liturgical Action – Terence Cuneo

Earlier this year (I forgot I wrote this post, its been sitting in my drafts) Terence Cuneo the philosopher from The University of Vermont, best known for his work in metaethics and early modern philosophy, especially the work of Thomas Reid, came in to our Analytic Theology Seminar to give a paper on liturgical theology…..

  • Scripted movement-touching sequences: involve participant in the liturgy moving through space to approach some person or thing for the purpose of bodily engaging that person or thing by their touching it or touching some person or thing in its near vicinity
  • Why do these SMTS play such a prominent role in the performance of Eastern liturgies?
    • SMTS have religious worth
      • Instrumentalist view vs. non-instrumentalist view
    • Defends a variant of non-instrumetnalist view: Authorization-appropriation model
      • God authorized the composition of and appropriated the scripts that perescribe the performance of such actions

 

Against Instrumentalism

  • Two primary commitments of instrumentalist view
    • Proper role of scripted bodily liturgical action is for an agent who performs these actions to stand in some instrumental relation to religious attitudes
    • Religious worth lies wholly in the fact that the performance has ability o instill, evoke, express religious attitudes that are fitting in how we relate to God.
  • Concerns
    • Doesn’t fit so well with the text we have in the liturgies
    • Doesn’t handle some cases well – i.e. child who dies young, the performance of these bodily actions would not have any religious worth because they would fail to play the role that they were meant to play had the child grown up.
    • Paul on illicitly sexual activity – makes reference to the body as the temple

 

The Authorization- Appropriation Model

  • Task of the approach: ID a relation that God bears to liturgical participants such that their performing scripted movement has religious worth in virtue of their bearing this relation to God.
  • Proposal: having authorized and appropriated the liturgical scripts that prescribe these actions to these participants
  • Two parts to the model:
    • Authorization: Deputization and Delegation
      • The authorization to compose the church’s liturgies is a blend of the two
      • Three types of decisions: 1) scope, 2) which actions to prescribe, and 3) scope and normative force of the prescriptions
      • Criteria for selection: divinely required and fitting
    • Divine Appropriation
      • God doesn’t simply authorize, but appropriates the scripts as his own
      • In eastern tradition – there is a synergistic relationship between the church and God in the composition of liturgy
      • But this is not enough- appropriation and authorization must take place

 

Applying the Model

  • Most things in the liturgy are “fitting” not “required”
    • They are cultural expressions of love, awe, wonder, among other attitudes, etc.
  • Difference between an action expressing an attitude vs. an action which is expressive of an attitude
  • Prima Facie worth worth on the whole
    • Some actions have prima facie interpersonal worth, but they are easily defeated
    • Acts can be expressive of attitudes that are apt in one sense but lack interpersonal worth because they lack something
    • The authorization-appropriation model explains why MTS can have stable non-easily defeasible religious worth.

 

Conclusion

  • MTS have religious worth because they fittingly relate us to God. Being fittingly related to God consists not simply in mental states but in the way we use our bodies. Worth of MTS is not wholly determined by the attitudes agents are in, but by the attitude that God has to their performance.  This addresses the issue that there is supposedly something defective about ritualized activity which is by its nature “dead” – and says this objection is off because there may be things in which God delights in the way we use our bodies in worship.

 

Questions

How do you go about figuring out which actions are “authorized” or “fitting?”

  • Come up with some story for how taking communion with chocolate chip cookies and mountain dew expresses in some cultural form attitudes which are appropriate towards God?

 

Who is “authorized?”

  • Its clear on the story of President sending secretary of state, or a ceo having her secretary write a memo and send it out to the company.

My Paper on EFS is Now up on the Evangelical Philosophical Society Website

An Examination of Recent Philosophical Responses to Thomas McCall’s Argument Against Eternal Functional Subordination

by Christopher G. Woznicki

Since Thomas McCall first published Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of the Trinity in 2010 numerous papers have been written responding to his philosophical arguments against eternal functional subordination.

Among recent philosophical responses to McCall’s position a paper co-written by Philip Gons and Andrew Naselli and another by Bruce Ware stand out as the most significant. Gons and Naselli argue that McCall’s argument conflates the term “essentially” with “belonging to the essence.” Ware puts forth a reductio ad absurdum argument against McCall and shows McCall’s logic entails a denial of homoousios.

This paper enters into this debate by examining Gons and Naselli’s argument. It engages with recent philosophical literature dealing with the meaning of the term “essence” in order to show that their argument against McCall is unfounded.

The paper then turns to Ware’s argument to show that he has made a category mistake in comparing the property of being eternally begotten and the property of being functionally subordinate in all time segments in all possible worlds. Having critically examined these recent philosophical responses to McCall we see that McCall’s argument still holds up against its objectors.

The full-text of this paper is available for FREE by clicking here.

6th Annual California Metaphysics Conference: Philosophy of Religion & Metaphysics

The University of Southern California will be hosting the 6th annual California Metaphysics Conference, January 20th-22nd, 2017.  This year’s topic is Philosophy of Religion and Metaphysics!

Speakers:

Attendance is open (and free) to all who would like to come, but you must register by emailing kleinsch [at] usc [dot] edu no later than December 15th, 2016.  Please include your full name and university affiliation in the email.  You will not receive a confirmation email, but your name should appear on the list of participants within 30 days.  Also, let Professor Kleinschmit know if you are a graduate student from outside CA and you are interested in being an assistant organizer!

dornsife

Note: This conference lineup looks so good that I can get set aside the UCLA vs. USC for a weekend. I guess….