Brand : Charles Taliaferro

Evidence and Faith: Philosophy and Religion since the Seventeenth Century (The Evolution of Modern Philosophy)

David c. cramer |

A must read (even if it's an assigned read!)

If this says anything by way of recommendation, let me say that this book is probably the first assigned reading that i have ever willingly and happily gone on to finish after the semester was officially over. it was that engaging. interestingly, taliaferro does not start where one might think--with descartes--but rather with a group of philosophers often overlooked today, the cambridge platonists. this group sounds a lot like the counterparts to the then prevailing puritans in much the same way contemporary arminianism is counterpart to the more-or-less prevailing reformed academia (in evangelical circles at least). taliaferro draws many interesting insights from this group that become one of the grids for his subsequent discussion of philosophy of religion. (i have heard that taliaferro is a committed evangelical, and my feeling from reading this book is that he may be quite sympathetic to many of the cambridgeplatonists' views). in the following chapters taliaferro works through the usual cycle, covering descartes, hume, and kant, followed by forays into the vast and diverse landscape of philosophy of religion: hegel and idealism (including that american idealist, jonathan edwards), william james and pragmatism, continental philosophy (heidegger, sartre, camus, ricoeur, derrida, etc), feminist philosophy, the vienna circle and the impact of logical positivism, wittgenstein, the contemporary renaissance in philosophy of religion (propelled by the likes of plantinga, swinburne, etc), pluralistic philosophy of religion (hick, etc), and finally some contemporary issues facing philosophy of religion: religion and science, the resurgence of theistic arguments and problems, the problem of evil, religion and politics, etc. more than in any survey i've read before, taliaferro seems completely comfortable and conversant with the whole range of topics covered in this book, often offering his own views on arguments or interpretations of various philosophers. while he seems more at home in the analytic tradition, he appears to effortlessly discuss and interpret the writings of kierkegaard, hegel, and others from the continental side as well. as mentioned above with the cambridge platonists, taliaferro also discusses many of those lesser known philosophers who have nonetheless made important contributions to the field. moreover, the footnotes themselves almost make this book worth buying (though perhaps not for the list price of $95!). though it becomes slightly distracting looking up and down the page at every note, they are packed with information on further reading on virtually every person and topic in philosophy of religion. one would do well to use this work as a reference tool. this book does tend to drag on toward the end (coming in a 429 pages) as the chapters have a bit less coherence than in the earlier parts. however, taliaferro should be credited for not trying to force these philosophers into artificial categories or meta-narratives. i would recommend evidence and faith for (1) the serious intellectual historian, (2) the budding young philosopher, or (3) anyone desiring to take a peek at what us crazy philosophers spend so much of our time discussing. [...]