Manchester, Peter. Temporality and Trinity

By Spiering, Jamie | The Review of Metaphysics, March 2017 | Go to article overview

Manchester, Peter. Temporality and Trinity


Spiering, Jamie, The Review of Metaphysics


MANCHESTER, Peter. Temporality and Trinity. New York: Fordham University Press, 2015. Vii + 153pp. Cloth, $50.00--A very earnest student once collared me in the hallway to ask, "Don't you think that Christianity requires that we view the entire world through a Trinitarian metaphysics?" I struggled to find a tactful way to say that I found a unitarian metaphysics quite demanding enough. Having read Peter Manchester's book, however, I would now have a resource to recommend to this student, for Manchester is engaged in just this type of Trinitarian lensing--or, at least, he has found a sort of temporal trinity in Heidegger's Being and Time which, he thinks, can be used to understand more deeply Augustine's account of the soul as the image of God in De Trinitate.

It must be admitted that Manchester's connection of ideas seems somewhat tenuous: Heidegger talks about time and connects it to Dasein, while Augustine talks about time and connects it to the trinity in the human soul, which is an image of the Trinity in God. Therefore, he concludes, Heidegger is helpful in reading Augustine and other Christian texts about God, including the gospels. Whether this assertion is any more grounded than a purely arbitrary sketch based on a coincidence of concepts (for example, Nietzsche talks about will, Anselm talks about will, therefore Anselm can be read in the light of Nietzsche, and so can the New Testament) depends entirely on the amount of detail an author is willing to provide in support of the connection; and, in fact, Manchester provides the requisite detail with great earnestness and broad knowledge of Heidegger's writings, as well as of many other authors and the relevant languages. In doing so, he has produced a serious scholarly work, and he ignores all temptation to oversimplify the insights of his authors or their context.

In the first section, "The Temporal Problematic of Being and Time," Manchester sketches his understanding of the Heideggerean idea of temporality as the horizon and ground of Dasein, with some emphasis on Heidegger's responses to treatments of time by Kierkegaard and Aristotle. He includes some criticism in the section; Manchester thinks that Heidegger does not completely understand his interlocutors, or where his distinctions about temporality should have led him. …

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