Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Carts and Horses in John Haldane

The Philosophical Quarterly has just published my review of John Haldane's Reasonable Faith; they kindly inform me that I can make it available to all on-line if I pay them £3,000. Thanks, but no thanks.

Here, nevertheless, is a teaser quote.

Haldane notes the description of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, as suggesting that we should look again at notions of personal identity and post-mortem survival which allow temporal gaps in existence (p7). Haldane goes on to explore these issues in Chapter 11 (pp145-159). What is puzzling is the suggestion that we take as a starting point in philosophy a datum—if it is a datum—of Revelation. The standard Thomist approach is that philosophy deals with matters of Natural Reason, leaving Revelation to Theology: Philosophy is by definition the exercise of reason without the explicit aid of Revelation, and its role is to establish the conceptual ‘Nature’ which is perfected by Grace. Christian Philosophers have the task of showing the coherence of Christian beliefs without appeal to their supernatural origins, for the benefit of critics who do not accept those origins, and in areas such as Metaphysics and Mind it engages at ground level with non-Christian thought. Thomists might add further that the correct understanding of Scripture requires a complete theological education and the supernatural virtue of Faith. From this perspective, the argument that, since in contemporary philosophy more or less anything can spark a philosophically fruitful debate, we might as well raid the pages of the Christian Scriptures, is not altogether flattering, and may be imprudent. For those who take the Christian contribution to Philosophy seriously, Scripture is not just one more possible source of interesting ideas, along with Dostoyevsky or the study of the neurology of autism.

"Reasonable Faith. By JOHN HALDANE. (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010. Ppx + 197. Price £25.99.)"
Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 63, Issue 253, start page 830 

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