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Archive for April, 2009

Below is the text of a paper that I wrote for my tutorial on St. Augustine last semester. It was in response to the question: to what extent did Augustine appropriate, adapt, and transform Neoplatonic notions of the problem of evil? I’m posting it for various reasons, which largely revolve around the fact that this topic (at least, evil) seems to keep coming up in discussions and classes recently. I think Augustine has a pretty nuanced understanding of evil, and I hope to get that across in my paper. However, lately, I find myself rethinking a lot of things.

I wonder what happens to this framework if we understand “God Without Being,” as Jean-Luc Marion and others influenced/a part of the theological turn in French phenomenology argue. I would guess that, at best, it needs some serious reconsideration. I’m not really familiar enough with these thinkers to say more, but it’s something I’d like to start reading more on.

I’m hesitant to want to admit evil as a being (“Satan”?), because it seems to inevitably set up a dualism that has to be untenable. I do not think that evil is some kind of problem which needs an intellectual solution; having said that, one of the most helpfully succinct statements that I’ve read, which I quote in the paper, is that “evil is a good thing run amok.”

Anyways, I’m really interested in discussing this, whether it is your own understanding of evil, thoughts/suggestions on the theological reading of someone like Marion, anything related to whether “Satan” is a being, or evil is a being, etc. I recently read a great piece in The Other Journal on hell which is worth discussing; please comment!  I’ve included the bibliography in order to also list helpful/important related readings in case people are interested (all credit for these sources goes to my tutor, Dr. Stan Rosenberg, who originally pointed me to all of them).

Edit: 12/21/09 – this post continues to get lots of hits for some reason. If any of the lurkers want to comment, feel free. I’ve updated the post to include the hopefully more readable Scribd version of my paper.

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Here is a very interesting interview with the UK philosopher Roger Scuton. I’m not familiar with his own works, but I have read his excellent short book on Kant, which is part of the Oxford Very Short Introduction Series. He accomplishes the very tough task of making Kant pretty accessible (at least for a somewhat philosophically literate reader).

I suspect I wouldn’t agree with him very much, because he’s pretty forward about being an ‘analytical thinker’ and rejecting all that ‘post-Heideggerian nonsense.’ But, it’s a well done interview and he has some interesting things to say on politics and aesthetics. I like that he rejects some of the more abstract lines of thought (he mentions Rawls on justice, who I am mostly unfamiliar with).

The trouble maker (continental philosopher?) in me wonders what the intersection between his kind of conservatism (pretty much Burkean) and all of that ‘post-Heideggerian nonsense’ there could be.

Here is the link in the philosopher’s magazine.

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Thought I’d pass this along, thanks to Jason at Per Crucem ad Lucem for first posting it. It’s a series of three lectures that Rowan Williams gave for Holy Week this year. I haven’t made the time to listen yet, but plan on it soon, and you should too. 

Lecture 1: ‘The Early Church’

Lecture 2: ‘Reformers, Catholic & Protestant’

Lecture 3: ‘The Quest for God in the Modern Age’

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Worldview Testing

I’m probably pretty late to the game on this one, but I recently took a test to determine whether or not I have a Christian worldview. The test is on a website called Worldview Weekend, and I am not going to link to it. It’s an interesting test, especially if you want to affirm whether or not you are committed to modernist epistemology and the religious right. To be fair, it’s more skewed towards whether or not you belong to the dying religious right (the links I found to this were from a 2004 article in the New Patagruel. On the other hand, to be polemical, you could easily take this test and answer the questions from the perspective of an American conservative position, but not self-consciously Christian (e.g. deny the Resurrection, Jesus was a good person, etc), and end up with a “moderate Biblical” worldview. 

My result was Secular Humanist Worldview, not to be confused with Socialist/Marxist/Secular Humanist Worldview, which is the lowest rank (it’s all one category). 

Nuance much?

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