Beyond Realism: Seeking the Divine Other [Hardback]


Beyond Realism: Seeking the Divine Other [Hardback]

A Study in Applied Metaphysics

  by Simon Smith
University of Surrey

Hardback | Price: $65 / €60 / £55
1st edition | Published on: June 2017
342pp |  236mmx160mm
Series: Vernon Series in Philosophy
Subject(s): Personalism, Philosophy - Metaphysics, Philosophy
ISBN: 9781622732258

Availability: In stock

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The meaning of “God-talk” remains the fundamental issue facing religious thinkers today. This study concerns the analogies needed to make sense of that talk. Embracing those analogies signals the application of Austin Farrer’s cutting-edge theology. Almost fifty years after his death, Farrer remains one of the twentieth century’s last great metaphysical minds, his grasp of faith and philosophy unequalled. Having defended religious thought against both Positivist and Process reduction, he pursued his own revision of scholastic tradition, ultimately developing the vital corrective to an overweening impersonalism, one which depersonalises the divine so severs the cosmological connection.
Following this course returns us to an earlier tradition, to a metaphysic of persons exemplified in the expressions of lived faith. This draws upon the logic of personal identity: what it means to be, or rather, to become, a person. Hence, journey’s end lies in a Feuerbachian anthropology of theology or ‘anthropotheism’. Like Farrer, Feuerbach used the believer’s language to relocate theology and philosophy within a framework that makes fertile use of anthropomorphic personifications to ‘think’ God.
Revisiting the personalist presuppositions of metaphysics in this way throws light on the most vital questions of personal identity. To answer them is to ‘draw’ reality on a grander scale than either realism or consequentialism is capable of. Most importantly, it is locate our place within that image.
Doing theology dynamically or psychologically informed – as both Farrer and Feuerbach insisted – means recognising the constitutive role such images play in self-construction. Without active participation in our ideals and aspirations, we cannot become persons at all; participation entails the enactment of our prospective selves. This returns us to the practice of piety: faith in a Godly person. Here we find the reconstruction of Feuerbach’s anthropology as applied theology and, by extension or amplification, the completion of Farrer’s personalist metaphysics.

Author biography

Simon Smith was awarded a D.Phil. in Philosophy by the University of Sussex in 2007. The philosophical theology of Austin Farrer was, and is, his primary subject matter; personalist metaphysics, his abiding interest. He is now the editor of Appraisal, journal of the British Personalist Forum. He is also co-editor of two volumes of essays on modern personalist thought. The first, with James Beauregard, is In the Sphere of the Personal: New Perspectives in the Philosophy of Persons (Vernon Press, 2016); the second, with Anna Castriota, is Looking at the sun: New Writings in Modern Personalism (Vernon Press, 2017). Having once taught philosophy at the University of Southampton in the UK and the Modern College of Business and Science in Oman, he now lives happily in the library at the University of Surrey, where he scavenges for food among the law periodicals. Buried deep in the Surrey Downs, he occasionally pursues a more perfect alignment of science and religion through the diverse forms of personal analogy at work in modern physics and modern metaphysics.

Table of contents

Abbreviations used in this work

Summary of the Argument

1. The Incoherence of Realism
1.1. Innocent Realism: Review and Overview
1.2. Language and Realism
1.3. Empiricism and Realism
1.4. Grace Jantzen and ‘Relativist Transcendence’
1.5. The Passive Observer
1.6. Theistical Realism and Theodicy

2. Process Theology: A Post-Modern Metaphysic
2.1. The Language of Process
2.2. The Ontology of Creativity and the Analogy of Consciousness
2.3. Equiprimordiality and Necessity
2.4. Behaviourism, Existentialism and Process Metaphysics
2.5. Process and Pragmatism

3. Prior Actuality and the Divine Playwright
3.1. High Transcendence and Prior Actuality
3.2. The Playwright Allegory
3.3. Theology and the Personal Analogy
3.4. The Trinity as Social Reality

The Story So Far

4. Gazing into the Glass of God
4.1. The Embodiment of Agency
4.2. In the Birthplace of Being
4.3. Anthropology and Anthropomorphism
4.4. A Psychology of Belief
4.5. Overcoming Abstractions
4.6. Reinvesting Consciousness, Reconstructing Theology

Page last updated on: June 20th 2017. All information correct at the time, but subject to change.