Studies in the History of Natural Theology

Studies in the History of Natural Theology

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Studies in the History of Natural Theology

Studies in the History of Natural Theology

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Excerpt

The following pages contain the substance of three courses of lectures delivered by the author as Wilde Lecturer on Natural and Comparative Religion in the University of Oxford during the academical years 1911-12 and 1912-13. They may be considered as contributions to the history of Natural Theology in Europe. The first is a general introduction to the subject, the second deals with the Natural Theology of Plato as expounded in the tenth book of the Laws, the third with mediaeval Natural Theology as represented by six writers, St. Anselm, Abelard, St. Thomas Aquinas, Raymond of Sebonde, Pietro Pomponazzi, and Lord Herbert of Cherbury. The inclusion of the thinker last named, who might at first seem to belong to the modern rather than to the mediaeval period, was suggested by the plan of Dr. Pfleiderer Religionsphilosophie auf geschichtlicher Grundlage. Dr. Pfleiderer takes Spinoza as the first representative of the Philosophy of Religion, which he regards, on grounds which I have ventured to criticize, as a branch of speculation unknown alike to antiquity and to the Middle Ages. I cannot for my own part draw so sharp a line between the Philosophy of Religion and the Natural Theology which admittedly existed in those earlier periods.

No one can be more conscious than myself of the superficiality of the treatment which is here accorded to a subject requiring and deserving a far more thorough investigation. I can only plead in my own excuse that an Oxford college tutor can only undertake work such as belongs to the Lectureship which I was privileged to hold from 1911 to 1914, if he is prepared to accomplish less than might reasonably be demanded from a lecturer able to devote the whole or even the major part of his time to the duties of the lectureship.

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