Gazing through a Prism Darkly: Reflections on Merold Westphal's Hermeneutical Epistemology

Gazing through a Prism Darkly: Reflections on Merold Westphal's Hermeneutical Epistemology

Gazing through a Prism Darkly: Reflections on Merold Westphal's Hermeneutical Epistemology

Gazing through a Prism Darkly: Reflections on Merold Westphal's Hermeneutical Epistemology

Synopsis

Merold Westphal has been in the foremost ranks of philosophers who proclaim a new postsecular philosophy. By articulating an epistemology sensitive to the realities of cognitive finitude and moral weakness, he defends a wisdom that begins in both humility and commitment, one that always confesses that human beings can encounter meaning and truth only as human beings, never as gods.

The present volume focuses on this wisdom of humility that characterizes Westphal's thought and explores how that wisdom, expressed through the redemptive dynamic of doubt, can contribute to developing a postsecular apologetic for faith.

This book can function both as an accessible introduction to Westphal for those who have not read him extensively and also as an informed critical appreciation and extension of his work for those who are more experienced readers.

Excerpt

B. Keith Putt

In recent years, several scholars in the United States have exploited the implications of Continental philosophy for developing new and innovative approaches to religious and theological studies. These thinkers— including but not limited to Carl Raschke, Mark Taylor, Charles Winquist, Edith Wyschogrod, and John Caputo—have embraced various expressions of European philosophy, not in order to offer simple commentaries on those expressions but to utilize them as raw material for developing a uniquely American species of philosophical theology. These new American philosophical voices speak critically and constructively to the biblical paradigms lying behind Western theory, to the traditional religious and theological themes developing out of those paradigms, and to the cultural and social transformations that have changed how those paradigms are appropriated.

Merold Westphal, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University, certainly belongs in this chorus of voices proclaiming a new postsecular philosophical theology. He continues to add a provocative and, one might say, more conservative counterpoint to the new American Continentalist refrain by articulating an epistemology sensitive to the realities of cognitive finitude and moral weakness and by reminding his readers that wisdom begins only with the fear of the Lord. With a prophetically critical voice, he calls for humility and commitment, always confessing that human beings can encounter meaning and truth only as human beings, never as gods.

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