Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Thursday, April 3, 2014

John Fyre's Review of "The Young, Restless, and No Longer Reformed," Parts 1-2

Young, Restless, and No Longer Reformed
Part 1

by John Frye
May 21, 2014

Young, Restless, and no longer Reformed: Black Holes, Love, and a Journey in and out of Calvinism caught my attention and I read it through in one sitting. I will do a two part review beginning with some observations and commentary. In Part 2 we will look closer at the book’s provocative content.

Monday, March 17, 2014, and many University of Michigan Wolverines’ fans are down in the dumps because the Michigan State Spartans won the Big Ten crown with the score 69 to 55 on March 16. Now imagine that a Young, Restless and Reformed neo-Calvinist is a rabid Wolverine fan and Austin Fischer, author of Young, Restless, and no longer Reformed, is a rabid Spartan fan. Believing as all evangelicals do that theology should inform and transform life, we would expect to see the YRR neo-Calvinist sitting motionless and silent as the Big Ten tournament game unfolds. His theology requires such a response. 

Meanwhile, Austin is beside himself with joy as the Michigan State Spartans continue play but gets very concerned when the Michigan Wolverines start a scoring streak. Similarly, the YRR guy knows that before God created anything, in the deeps of eternity past God willed an exhaustive, eternal decree so meticulous that all nano-particles do only what God’s decree contains. One nano-particle out of sync with God’s decree totally destroys (so he is taught) God’s sovereignty. The YRR cannot cheer for the Wolverines nor can he scream at the Spartans. Why? The final score (the end) and all the plays that lead to it (the means) are just as they are because God decreed them so. Did I write “God”?  The only proper response of the YRR guy is to say, no matter how the game turns out, “Glory to God.”

Watch out for Pelagianism! (sic, a follower of Pelaius who denied original sin and believed in freedom of the will)...


Wikipedia - Pelagianism

Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid. This theological theory is named after Pelagius (354 420 or 440), although he denied, at least at some point in his life, many of the doctrines associated with his name.

The teachings of Pelagius are generally associated with the rejection of original sin and the practise of infant baptism.[1] Although the writings of Pelagius are no longer extant, the eight canons of the Council of Carthage provided corrections to the perceived errors of the early Pelagians. These corrections include:

  • Death did not come to Adam from a physical necessity, but through sin.
  • New-born children must be baptized on account of original sin.
  • Justifying grace not only avails for the forgiveness of past sins, but also gives assistance for the avoidance of future sins.
  • The grace of Christ not only discloses the knowledge of God's commandments, but also imparts strength to will and execute them.
  • Without God's grace it is not merely more difficult, but absolutely impossible to perform good works.
  • Not out of humility, but in truth must we confess ourselves to be sinners.
  • The saints refer the petition of the Our Father, "Forgive us our trespasses", not only to others, but also to themselves.
  • The saints pronounce the same supplication not from mere humility, but from truthfulness.[2]

Some codices containing a ninth canon (Denzinger, loc. cit., note 3): Children dying without baptism do not go to a "middle place" (medius locus), since the non reception of baptism excludes both from the "kingdom of heaven" and from "eternal life". Pelagianism stands in contrast to the official hamartiological system of the Catholic Church that is based on the theology of Saint Augustine of Hippo. Semi-Pelagianism is a modified form of Pelagianism that was also condemned by the Catholic Church at the Second Council of Orange in 529.


... This is the most dreadful feature of human experience according to Calvinists. Not a nanoparticle of Pelagianism must contaminate the pure atmosphere of “sovereign grace.” A nanoparticle of Pelagianism is worse than the most massive and despicable evil. Yet, if all is decreed and the human will ultimately does not matter, Austin Fischer writes, “Are you are expected to act as though it [the will] does? You're supposed to run on the treadmill and pretend you’re running the race of faith. This forces you into the awkward position of seemingly suspending your theology in order to live faithfully—because living faithfully requires living with meaning - and living with meaning requires choice. You believe that God determines all things, and yet act as though your will is not completely determined” (97-98 emphasis his).

So the YRR cheers for the Wolverines. Does God really decree people to be happy and to love? This produces theological schizophrenia in the minds of Calvinists because the Trinity they worship is schizophrenic (Fischer, 47; a point made also by Gregory Boyd in God at War, see, e.g., 231-237).

I know this tension myself because like Scot McKnight, who wrote the Foreword, Austin Fischer, and I myself, were once glowing, convinced Calvinists. Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology was my devotional material. I was a mixed up Calvinist, however, because while theologically a Calvinist, I was a peddler of the Four Spiritual Laws (a dreadful Arminian document). I got so frustrated once with a person I was “witnessing to” on a Chicago commuter train that when he resisted my “gospel presentation,” I told him, “The reason you don’t believe is because you’re not one of the elect!” I shudder at having to give an account to Christ for that outburst.

Calvinists must contemplate the implications of their theology. I do not see how it does not drive them nuts. A wise theologian and excellent preacher once told me that “neurotic” is the only word he could find to describe the esteemed David Brainerd as he wrote his journal entries struggling to know if he was elect or not.

It seems one would have to hold Calvinism in suspension while going about daily life. That is, until you need to teach or debate it. The heart of Calvinism’s gospel is a view of God’s sovereignty that is not shaped enough by the mangled-lamb Savior, Jesus the Christ, and the love of God.

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Young, Restless, and No Longer Reformed
Part 2

by John Frye
May 28, 2014

We are reviewing Austin Fischer’s Young, Restless, and no longer Reformed: Black Holes, Love, and a Journey In and Out of Calvinism. I agree with Fischer’s take on the biblical and pastoral weaknesses of Calvinism. I want to focus on four of his many excellent and provocative observations.

First, no one becomes a Calvinist from just reading the Bible. To the YRRs who say, “Calvinism is on every page of the Bible,” I would like to see the concordance on that. On the other hand, the relational interplay between God (divine will) and people (human will) is almost on every page of the Bible. People have to be taught an interpretive, systematic grid based on a handful of beloved Calvinist texts that, like Kool-Aid in water, color the whole Bible. No one doubts that the Calvinist system is pristine, even intoxicating. It’s like a theological creation of Lego pieces, so intricately interlocked. I do remember as a new Calvinist being deeply humbled by the system’s definition of “sovereign grace.”

Second, when you take away the Calvinist fig leaf which is woven with terms like “mystery,” “passing over,” and “antinomy,” the naked God of the eternal, meticulous decree is not a God Who loves everyone; he  [loves] / selects only his elect.

I like the way Austin dismantles the Calvinist two kinds of love (24-25). My opinion is that the game of arranging the ordo salutis is a task of presumptive humans trying to read the mind of God in eternity past.

Many people are waking up to the “unblinking cosmic stare” (Dallas Willard) God created by any version of TULIP.

I remember riding a tour bus in Mumbai, India, and seeing literally thousands of people up and down every street. I was in a city of millions of people who in the minds of many are reprobate, eternally damned to hell; decreed so by the God I worship; predestined to hell for God’s glory. If that’s so, then glory sounds like a treacherous word.  Fischer suggests the God of Calvinism becomes One Who is so turned in on himself for his own glory that he becomes the cosmic Black Hole (14-15).

Third, many texts used to create systematic Calvinism have been shown to be misused. I think Fischer does a good job poking back at the Calvinist misuse of Romans 9 (and Gregory Boyd reclaims many misused texts in God at War). Austin’s section on the Bible made impossible is provocative (33-35). The hermeneutical and theological gymnastics that Calvinists use to diffuse “the plain reading of Scripture” is laughable, if not so seriously twisting the sacred text. Fischer suggests that these differing views of the same texts are traceable to bliks (or theologoumenon - a theological statement deriving from an individual opinion and not doctrine) - interpretive lenses through which everything is understood (81-82).

Fourth, and for me most convincingly, Fischer makes clear that the Calvinist God is not the God we see in the face of Jesus Christ. Fischer writes, “… [T]he crucified Jesus is both the foundation and criticism of all Christian theology. … And so, plainly, does the God on the cross look like the God of Calvinism” (45)? 

Fischer makes a good case for the answer “no.” When we start with Jesus on the cross and work back and forward through the Bible, we do not meet the Platonic-concept-of-perfection-God espoused by Calvinism.

Are there godly, kind Calvinists? Yes, I know many. Are there pesky Arminians and irritating open theists? I imagine there are. I like this from Fischer, “I think Calvinists are right on some things, kind of wrong on some things, and really wrong on some things” (90-91).

Some years ago the senior pastor of a large Assembly of God Church told me this story. He met with the denominational leaders of the Christian Reformed Church to discuss church growth in West Michigan. The Assembly’s pastor thanked the Reformed leaders for filling his church and many other Assemblies churches. The Reformed leaders were a little taken back, asking, “How did we do that?” The pastor said, “By preaching your view of God so faithfully. Thank you. People from your churches flock to ours to escape a wrathful, unpleasable God and they find in our churches a God who so ravishingly loves them that he chases them down with passionate desire.”

We can argue Pelagianism, Arminianism, semi-Pelagianism, Open theism, and Calvinism ad infinitum. Yet, people, ordinary people, just want to know “What kind of God is at the center of the universe?” At the center of reality is there a meticulously determined decree or a “Lamb, looking as it if had been slain”?

I appreciate Austin Fischer and his book for sparking a fair and amiable conversation on such a vital topic: what is the nature and purpose of God?

Select Comments

messytheologyComing from a strong Calvinist background, I would and still do answer that question with the Westminster catechism's "for His glory!" However, having been beaten up by life and having wrestled with the Word, my understanding of what brings Him glory has radically changed from subservient worship to relational delight. I deeply appreciate Calvinism's emphasis on His total sovereignty and His supremacy over all, but I secretly suspect that Calvinism's image of an aloof, severe, meticulous schoolmaster is more the product of left-brained, middle-class, northern European values than one of Scripture. Try reading the Bible as an untouchable Eastern woman would. There's a reason that reformed churches are packed with white, middle class engineers and philosophers, while charismatic churches attract the socially marginalized, wounded, and spiritually sensitive.

deanI would like to add something that I think I heard Austin say in his debate with James White, which is that "people have no reason to trust the Calvinist God. If all God cares about is his glory, and he is willing to create billions of people in his own image to suffer eternally for the express purpose of revealing his glory to a certain select few, how can you trust him to ever look out for your interests?"

This kind of God, as Calvinists like to say, thinks of human beings as fungi, we're completely dispensable and subject to his sovereign whims. This God can do anything he wants, even to cause people to do evil, is not bound by any moral duty, and in fact, we can never even understand the rules by which he might interact with us.

The Calvinist will respond that you look to the Bible for revelation of God's love, but that really applies only to the Elect, the reprobate are god-forsaken in every sense of the word, and if he can treat the reprobate like trash, how can anyone be certain that they will always be in his good graces?

In real life, no one trusts people like that, we look to how people treat others to determine their character and whether or not we think they are trustworthy. The arbitrariness and capriciousness of the Calvinist God is not trustworthy in any sense of the word, you placate this kind of God, you don't worship him.

I find it hard to understand how Calvinists can be so flippant about the fate of the reprobate, if there is one message that the Bible teaches about the heart of the Christian God it is that he consistently sides with the marginalized, the outcast, the downtrodden, the poor, basically the dregs of societyHow ironic is it that there would be followers of Jesus who would embrace a theology that fundamentally rests on a caste system foreordained by God where they happen to be the ones who are "in" and everyone else is "out"?

continue to -


The Differences Between Analytic v. Continental Philosophy

Analytic v. Continental Philosophy

The Philosopher's Beard, Essays in philosophy, politics, and economics
September 20, 2010

Analytic philosophy is rationalistic: rigorous, systematic, literal-minded, formal (logical), dry, and detached. It is modeled on physics and maths and is particularly popular in the Anglo-Saxon world.

Continental philosophy is humanistic: reflexive, literary, essayistic, charismatic. It is modeled on literature and art and is particularly popular in France, Germany, and Latin America.

These two traditions dominate contemporary philosophy, and they are largely mutually incomprehensible. This is unfortunate since their strengths and weaknesses are somewhat complementary.


The strengths of analytic philosophy are its universal scope, clarity and public accountability. It is concerned with universal principles and their interactions and implications. It tries to explain as much as possible with as little as possible in the way of assumptions. This is basically the scientific model, and incidentally also explains why analytic philosophy has much in common with neoclassical economics in its formal modelling approach - both are modelled on physics. It tries to systematise knowledge: setting each contribution within a framework that acts as scaffolding and allows others to easily comprehend it and build on it (or identify the design flaws and tear it down). It aspires to a model of public reasoning in making clear claims of universal validity based on an explicit and systematic rational justification that are in principle comprehensible and acceptable to all, and to which anyone may raise an objection in the same way and be assured a fair hearing.

But its weaknesses are in its lack of self-reflection. There is an assumption of progress and of an efficient 'market for ideas' (the current conversation incorporates everything of any importance, so why bother reading anything from more than 5 years ago). There is an assumption that philosophical analysis consists only in the efficient transmission of arguments, in language that should be as transparent as a 'window pane' (as Orwell put it). There is an assumption that ideas can be analysed independently of their context, of who made them and what they intended - the impulse to abstract, which can easily become an impulse to superficiality. There is an assumption that logical validity is sufficient for actual significance, that producing yet another finely turned distinction is a real contribution to human knowledge.


The strengths of continental philosophy are its direct concern with the human condition, its ambition, its reflexivity, its concern with the media as well as the message. Unlike analytical philosophy it does not assume that people are rational and then move on from there. It directs itself inward, to trying to understand how people work and why, and it does so with reference to traditions in the social sciences (particularly sociology, and anthropology) and the humanities (psychoanalysis, literature, art). It asks big and impossible but thrilling questions, like why is there something rather than nothing (hence its alternative name 'metaphysical philosophy'), but the answers usually relate insightfully to us, not physics. It is alert to the place of the author and his or her interests in the questions s/he asks and the way s/he answers. The text is never detached from the author as a contribution to knowledge in the abstract. It pays attention to the construction of the texts themselves, to how rhetorical elements are employed in the business of persuading particular people rather than providing neutral arguments that anyone, even Martians, would see the same way.

Its weaknesses are its insularity, arrogance, and lack of perspective. Because it lacks a common framework continental philosophy is fragmented between different traditions requiring long apprenticeships to master (similarly to the social sciences and humanities). Texts in continental philosophy have the same problem as in the disciplines they model themselves on: by deliberately incorporating the difficulties of their subject into the manner of their presentation they require particular effort from the reader to understand. They can be dazzling tours de force in which every element seamlessly links with every other and the whole conveys multiple levels of meaning. Or, much more frequently, every sentence is a turgid jargon filled ordeal written at German length and apparently in German grammar, that seems to deliberately insult the reader with its elaborate opacity that one always suspects may be hiding nothing but bullshit.

There is a prima donnaish quality to many continental philosophers (in contrast to the pettifogging bureaucrat tendency of the analytic), as if they understand themselves as 'artists' who should behave, as the Romantics taught us by example, as natural geniuses unconstrained by normal conventions of etiquette and morality. At all costs one must avoid the 'iron cage of rationality'. Despite claiming that interpretation is everything, continental philosophers are notoriously bad at appreciating criticism - at submitting to interpretation by others - because they see the exercise of power everywhere. They are often overcommitted to the truth of their own approach and exhibit impatience with other perspectives and traditions and decline to take them seriously. They often seem to talk past each other, and not merely the analytic philosopher.

The focus on the particular comes at the expense of the universal, but this also leads to a lack of perspective: they can miss the forest for the trees. They can overattend to the construction of a text for example, and miss the argument (Why does the author say 'man' and not 'person'?). Insight is not a substitute for balanced argument, but this is often forgotten when for example education is considered only through the lens of power (conclusion: education is oppressive).The microscope of interpretation can reveal much detail but seems arbitrarily employed and no-one seems interested in putting the resulting jigsaw together.


Philosophy needs insight as well as clear argument, the universal as well as the particular. No-one should wish for philosophy to be 'healed' into one unified approach, but we would certainly benefit from trying a bit harder to understand each other, at least sometimes.

Check out the excellent discussion of the analytical-continental split on BBC radio's

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A defective analytical division

January 24, 2011

The Analytic vs. Continental divide of Philosophy is analytically imprecise (category conflation) and unilateral (the distinction is a product of the auto-entitled Analytic, not of the so called Continental philosophy).

The term “Continental” applied to a philosophical branch is found at least as early as 1840, in John Stuart Mill’s essay “On Bentham and Coleridge”, where he contrasts the Kantian-influenced thought of «Continental philosophers» with the English empiricism of Bentham:

«The father of English innovation both in doctrines and in institutions, is Bentham: he is the great subversive, or, in the language of continental philosophers, the great critical, thinker of his age and country. (…)» – Mill, John Stuart (1950), “On Bentham and Coleridge“, pp. 104, 133, 155.

In 1945, Bertrand Russell legitimates «two schools of philosophy, which may be broadly distinguished as the Continental and the British respectively», a division he saw as operative «from the time of Locke» [Bertrand Russell, "A History of Western Philosophy", p. 643-647] .

Russell is, perhaps, the first to systematize the points of divergence between the these two types of philosophy – Continental vs. British:

(1) in method, deductive system-building vs. piecemeal induction;
(2) in metaphysics, rationalist theology vs. metaphysical agnosticism;
(3) in ethics, non-naturalist deontology vs. naturalist hedonism;
(4) in politics, authoritarianism vs. liberalism.

Several reviewers considered that book defective, full of simplifications, overgeneralizations and omissions, showing that Russell had no tolerance for systems of thought that do not conform to his preferences.

For instance, Russell carelessly misrepresents Nietzsche, who he labels (and libels) and dismisses as a proto-Nazi:

«I shall therefore assume that he [Nietzsche] regards conquering aristocracies and their descendants as biologically superior to their subjects, as men are superior to domestic animals, though in a lesser degree. What shall we mean by “biologically superior”? We shall mean when interpreting Nietzsche, that individuals of the superior race and their descendants are more likely to be “noble” in Nietzsche’s sense: they will have more strength of will, more courage, more impulse towards power, less sympathy, less fear, and less gentleness. (…) Suppose we wish—as I certainly do—to find arguments against Nietzsche’s ethics and politics, what arguments can we find? There are weighty practical arguments, showing that the attempt to secure his ends will in fact secure something quite different. Aristocracies of birth are nowadays discredited; the only practicable form of aristocracy is an organization like the Fascist or the Nazi party.» - Russell, “History of Western Philosophy“, chapter about Nietzsche.

Russell himself admits to not being an expert on any of the philosophers with the possible exception (he immodestly adds) of Leibniz; also, he sets for himself an individualistic and historicist purpose:

«A few words of apology and explanation are called for if this book is to escape even more severe censure than it doubtless deserves. Apology is due to the specialists on various schools and individual philosophers. With the possible exception of Leibniz, every philosopher of whom I treat is better known to some others than to me. If, however, books covering a wide field are to be written at all, it is inevitable, since we are not immortal, that those who write such books should spend less time on any one part than can be spent by a man who concentrates on a single author or a brief period. Some, whose scholarly austerity is unbending, will conclude that books covering a wide field should not be written at all, or, if written, should consist of monographs by a multitude of authors. There is, however, something lost when many authors co-operate. If there is any unity in the movement of history, if there is any intimate relation between what goes before and what comes later, it is necessary, for setting this forth, that earlier and later periods should be synthesized in a single mind. The student of Rousseau may have difficulty in doing justice to his connection with the Sparta of Plato and Plutarch; the historian of Sparta may not be prophetically conscious of Hobbes and Fichte and Lenin. To bring out such relations is one of the purposes of this book, and it is a purpose which only a wide survey can fulfil. There are many histories of philosophy, but none of them, so far as I know, has quite the purpose that I have set myself. Philosophers are both effects and causes: effects of their social circumstances and of the politics and institutions of their time; causes (if they are fortunate) of beliefs which mould the politics and institutions of later ages. In most histories of philosophy, each philosopher appears as in a vacuum; his opinions are set forth unrelated except, at most, to those of earlier philosophers. I have tried, on the contrary, to exhibit each philosopher, as far as truth permits, as an outcome of his milieu, a man in whom were crystallized and concentrated thoughts and feelings which, in a vague and diffused form, were common to the community of which he was a part. This has required the insertion of certain chapters of purely social history. No one can understand the Stoics and Epicureans without some knowledge of the Hellenistic age, or the scholastics without a modicum of understanding of the growth of the Church from the fifth to the thirteenth centuries. I have therefore set forth briefly those parts of the main historical outlines that seemed to me to have had most influence on philosophical thought, and I have done this with most fullness where the history may be expected to be unfamiliar to some readers-for example, in regard to the early Middle Ages. But in these historical chapters I have rigidly excluded whatever seemed to have little or no bearing on contemporary or subsequent philosophy. The problem of selection, in such a book as the present, is very difficult. Without detail, a book becomes jejune and uninteresting; with detail, it is in danger of becoming intolerably lengthy. I have sought a compromise, by treating only those philosophers who seem to me to have considerable importance, and mentioning, in connection with them, such details as, even if not of fundamental importance, have value on account of some illustrative or vivifying quality. Philosophy, from the earliest times, has been not merely an affair of the schools, or of disputation between a handful of learned men. It has been an integral part of the life of the community, and as such I have tried to consider it. If there is any merit in this book, it is from this point of view that it is derived.» - Russell, “History of Western Philosophy”, foreword.

Later, in his autobiography, Russell described his “History of Western Philosophy” as a work of social history, asking that it be treated in such a manner.

In “Short History of Modern Philosophy “, Roger Scruton analyses it:

«Bertrand Russell’s “History of Western Philosophy” is amusing, but suffers from defects… First, it deals largely with ancient philosophy, and is curt and selective in its treatment of the post-Cartesian tradition. Secondly, it is dismissive towards all those philosophers with whom Russell felt no personal affinity. Thirdly, it shows no understanding of Kant and post-Kantian idealism.»

In spite of that, the statements of that book were taken too seriously by some followers and, nowadays, traces of such a russellian division remain truth or dogma for many philosophers….

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Analytic philosophy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Analytic philosophy (sometimes analytical philosophy) is a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century. In the United Kingdom, United States, Canada,Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand, the vast majority of university philosophy departments identify themselves as "analytic" departments.[1]

The term "analytic philosophy" can refer to:
In this latter, narrower sense, analytic philosophy is identified with specific philosophical commitments (many of which are rejected by contemporary analytic philosophers), such as:
  • The logical positivist principle that there are no specifically philosophical truths and that the object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts. This may be contrasted with the traditionalfoundationalism, which considers philosophy to be a special science (i.e. discipline of knowledge) that investigates the fundamental reasons and principles of everything.[7] Consequently, many analytic philosophers have considered their inquiries as continuous with, or subordinate to, those of the natural sciences.[8]
  • The principle that the logical clarification of thoughts can only be achieved by analysis of the logical form of philosophical propositions.[9] The logical form of a proposition is a way of representing it (often using the formal grammar and symbolism of a logical system) to display its similarity with all other propositions of the same type. However, analytic philosophers disagree widely about the correct logical form of ordinary language.[10]
  • The rejection of sweeping philosophical systems in favour of attention to detail,[11] or ordinary language.[12]
According to a characteristic paragraph by Bertrand Russell:

"Modern analytical empiricism [...] differs from that of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume by its incorporation of mathematics and its development of a powerful logical technique. It is thus able, in regard to certain problems, to achieve definite answers, which have the quality of science rather than of philosophy. It has the advantage, in comparison with the philosophies of the system-builders, of being able to tackle its problems one at a time, instead of having to invent at one stroke a block theory of the whole universe. Its methods, in this respect, resemble those of science. I have no doubt that, in so far as philosophical knowledge is possible, it is by such methods that it must be sought; I have also no doubt that, by these methods, many ancient problems are completely soluble."[13]

Analytic philosophy is often understood in contrast to other philosophical traditions, most notably continental philosophy, and also Indian philosophy, Thomism, and Marxism.[14]

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Continental philosophy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe.[1][2] This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes the following movements: German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism (and its antecedents, such as the thought of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche), hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism.[3]

It is difficult to identify non-trivial claims that would be common to all the preceding philosophical movements. The term "continental philosophy", like "analytic philosophy", lacks clear definition and may mark merely a family resemblance across disparate philosophical views. Simon Glendinning has suggested that the term was originally more pejorative than descriptive, functioning as a label for types of western philosophy rejected or disliked by analytic philosophers.[4] Babette Babich emphasizes the political basis of the distinction, still an issue when it comes to appointments and book contracts.[5] Nonetheless,Michael E. Rosen has ventured to identify common themes that typically characterize continental philosophy.[6]

First, continental philosophers generally reject scientism, the view that the natural sciences are the only or most accurate way of understanding phenomena. This contrasts with many analytic philosophers who consider their inquiries as continuous with, or subordinate to, those of the natural sciences. Continental philosophers often argue that science depends upon a "pre-theoretical substrate of experience" (a version of Kantian conditions of possible experience or the phenomenological "lifeworld") and that scientific methods are inadequate to fully understand such conditions of intelligibility.[7]

Second, continental philosophy usually considers these conditions of possible experience as variable: determined at least partly by factors such as context, space and time, language, culture, or history. Thus continental philosophy tends toward historicism. Where analytic philosophy tends to treat philosophy in terms of discrete problems, capable of being analyzed apart from their historical origins (much as scientists consider the history of science inessential to scientific inquiry), continental philosophy typically suggests that "philosophical argument cannot be divorced from the textual and contextual conditions of its historical emergence".[8]

Third, continental philosophy typically holds that human agency can change these conditions of possible experience: "if human experience is a contingent creation, then it can be recreated in other ways".[9]Thus continental philosophers tend to take a strong interest in the unity of theory and practice, and often see their philosophical inquiries as closely related to personal, moral, or political transformation. This tendency is very clear in the Marxist tradition ("philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it"), but is also central in existentialism and post-structuralism.

A final characteristic trait of continental philosophy is an emphasis on metaphilosophy. In the wake of the development and success of the natural sciences, continental philosophers have often sought to redefine the method and nature of philosophy.[10] In some cases (such as German idealism or phenomenology), this manifests as a renovation of the traditional view that philosophy is the first, foundational, a priori science. In other cases (such as hermeneutics, critical theory, or structuralism), it is held that philosophy investigates a domain that is irreducibly cultural or practical. And some continental philosophers (such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, the later Heidegger, or Derrida) doubt whether any conception of philosophy can coherently achieve its stated goals.

Ultimately, the foregoing themes derive from a broadly Kantian thesis that knowledge, experience, and reality are bound and shaped by conditions best understood through philosophical reflection rather than exclusively empirical inquiry.[11]