Classical and Contemporary Readings in the Philosophy of Religion
Hick (John)
Source: Hick (John) - Classical and Contemporary Readings in the Philosophy of Religion
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Preface to the Second Edition

  1. This book is designed primarily for use in courses in the philosophy of religion. Because such courses are sometimes arranged historically and sometimes in terms of topics or problems the material is presented here in two different tables of contents adapted to these two uses. The readings themselves are printed in chronological sequence, mainly in order that discussions by the same writer of different but related topics may conveniently be studied together — for example, Kant's critique of the three traditional theistic proofs.
  2. Material written in other languages appears here in the best available English translation — for example, the versions of Augustine recently made by J. H. S. Burleigh and Albert Outler; a brilliant new translation of the Anselm material by A. C. McGill; Anton Pegis' Aquinas; the Kemp Smith version of Kant's first Critique and Lewis Beck's version of the second; and so on.
  3. Preparing a volume of readings like this is an enjoyable if sometimes an arduous task, involving much re-reading and new reading in a wide field. It has also involved many difficult decisions. At first the space available, in this case a quarter of a million words, seemed ample for everything that could be desired in a book of this kind. But presently the list of apparently basic and inevitable selections had grown to the point at which there was little room left for manoeuvre, and one was weighing and re-weighing one piece against another and experimenting with alternative plans for trying to achieve the desired result.
  4. But what result is to be desired? Even this is something that has to be chosen from among several possibilities. I have striven to achieve a balance between the two pedagogic interests indicated by the two tables of contents. One made me wish to include selections worthily representative of all of the succession of great thinkers whose work constitutes the long history of the discipline. The other made me desire to present as adequately as possible the main points of view on each of the chief problems encompassed within the subject, as well as important contemporary developments in the discussion of some of them. This has led to the inclusion of a certain proportion of material by living writers. A third concern was to use passages which will be reasonably readily comprehensible to the student, or best fitted to introduce him to the various facets of a new topic. This has led me to use, for instance, William James on mysticism even though James was not himself a mystic; for he discusses carefully chosen examples with sensitive appreciation and tries to make their significance clear to the science-orientated twentieth-century reader. A further subsidiary concern has been to use somewhat lengthy selections rather than a scattering of "snippets." (On the other hand an exception seemed called for in the case of the extraordinarily pregnant three final pages of Wittgenstein's Tractatus.) Sometimes one of these criteria has been in conflict with one or more of the others. Amid these divergent considerations I have always sought to bear the teaching situation firmly in mind and to treat its needs as paramount.
  5. Many legitimate questions might be raised about the selection of this or that passage or about the omission of some other passage or author. There is a reason for each choice, though whether the reasons are sufficient can only be decided over a period of time by fellow teachers of the subject and their classes.
  6. In order to devote as much space as possible to the main business of the book, which is transacted through the selections themselves, I have narrowly restricted my own editorial contributions. I have not, for example, written an Introduction telling the reader what the philosophy of religion is. In a book designed for use in courses on the subject this hardly seems necessary. Nor have I tried to supplant the living teacher by providing commentaries on the selections. There are brief notes to identify the writers and occasional footnotes, and insertions in square brackets to translate foreign language quotations or otherwise remove hindrances to ready comprehension. In addition I have written a series of short essays on the central topics, to each of which is appended a list of suggestions for further reading. These brief essays are built around the relevant selections and may be of help to some in focusing attention upon the most important points in them. In order not to obtrude them, these notes are printed together in an Appendix at the end of the book.
  7. A word should perhaps be said here about the scope and limitations of the work. It covers most of the topics which are usually discussed in books and courses under the heading of the philosophy of religion. Among the influential contemporary schools of thought which have their place in it are philosophical analysis (selections 28, 30, and 32), existentialism (selections 13 and 23), humanism (selections 17 and 29), and process thought (selections 25 and 26), as well as traditional Thomism selections 4-6), modem Protestantism (selections 18, 19, 33, and 34), atheism (selections 12 and 20), and many of the positions in between. The book does not cover comparative religion or the history of religions; the material is confined to the Judaic-Christian tradition, whether in exploration or support of it or in reaction against it. Nor does the book attempt to cover the psychology of religion (although selection 15 is concerned with this), or the sociology of religion, or ethics; for each demands and justifies equal treatment.
    [… acknowledgements …]
    John Hick, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England
Topical Contents
  1. The Theistic Arguments – The Ontological Argument
    • Introductory note (I) – 523
    • Anselm’s formulation, and controversy with Gaunilo (3) – 28
    • Thomas Aquinas' criticism (4) – 38
    • Descartes' restatement (7) – 66
    • Kant's critique (10) – 128
    • The ontological and cosmological approaches: Paul Tillich (22) – 308
    • The second form of the argument: Norman Malcolm (31) – 446
  2. The Theistic Arguments – The Cosmological Argument
    • Introductory note (11) – 526
    • Thomas Aquinas formulation (4) – 38
    • Kant's critique (10) – 134
    • Evil and a finite God: J. S. Mill (14) – 180
    • The cosmological and ontological approaches: Paul Tillich (22) – 308
    • Debate on the validity of the argument: Russell and Copleston (20) – 282
  3. The Theistic Arguments – The Design Argument
    • Introductory note (III) – 528
    • Hume's critical discussion (8) – 71
    • Kant's critique (10) – 128
    • A modern reformulation: F. R. Tennant (18) 247
    • Evil and a finite God: J. S. Mill (14) 180
  4. The Theistic Arguments – The Moral Argument
    • Introductory note (IV) – 530
    • The existence of God as a postulate of practical reason: Immanuel Kant (11) – 149
    • Debate on the validity of the argument: Russell and Copleston (20) – 282
  5. Religious Experience, Faith, Revelation, and Miracle
    • Introductory notes:
      … Religious experience and knowledge (VII) – 537
      … The religious rejection of the theistic proofs (V) – 533
      … Miracle (VI) – 534
    • Mysticism: William James (15) – 186
    • The argument from religious experience debated: Russell and Copleston (20) – 291
    • The eternal Thou: Martin Buber (21) – 302
    • Wittgenstein on the mystical (24) – 333
    • A form of religious naturalism (religious and aesthetic experience): J. H. Randall, Jr. (29) – 406
    • The Thomist doctrine of revelation and faith (6) – 54
    • Against proofs in theology: Kierkegaard (13) – 175
    • A non-propositional conception of revelation: William Temple (19) – 271
    • A voluntarist conception of faith: William James (16) – 214
    • Faith as the interpretative element in religious experience: John Hick (33) – 490
    • Hume's attack on the idea of miracle (9) – 112
  6. The Problem of Evil
    • Introductory note (VIII) – 540
    • St. Augustine on evil as privation of being and on the aesthetic conception of evil (2) – 19
    • The Irenaean theodicy: John Hick (34) – 506
  7. Human Destiny
    • Introductory note (IX) – 543
    • Plato's proofs of immortality (1) – 1
    • Immortality as a postulate of practical reason: Immanuel Kant (11) – 149
    • Personal immortality and the idea of another world: H. H. Price (27) – 370
    • Wittgenstein on death (24) – 333
    • Time, death and everlasting life: Charles Hartshorne (26) – 357
  8. The Rejection of Theism and New Forms of Religious Naturalism
    • Introductory note (X) – 546
    • God as a projection of the human mind: Feuerbach (12) – 158
    • Against theological proofs: Kierkegaard (13) – 175
    • Religion versus the religious: John Dewey (17) – 232
    • The formally possible doctrines of God: Charles Hartshorne (25) – 336
    • A form of religious naturalism: J. H. Randall, Jr. (29) – 406
  9. Religious Language
    • Introductory note (XI) – 549
    • The doctrine of analogy: Aquinas (5) – 44
    • Religious symbols: Paul Tillich (23) – 321
    • Religious and aesthetic language: J. H. Randall, Jr. (29) – 406
    • The special function of religious language: John Wisdom (30) – 429
    • Religious and ethical language: R. B. Braithwaite (28) – 394
    • Verification and falsification in theology (32) – 464

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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