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Continental Philosophy and Natural Theology

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  • Continental Philosophy and Natural Theology

    I am interested: how many contemporary Continental Philosophers of Religion actually focus on Natural Theology e.g. arguments for God's existence? The impression I get is that they focus almost exclusively on hermeneutics and phenomenology of religious praxis. The Deideggerian/Deconstructionist legacy appears to have entrenched against metaphysical argument, so one would think the only theistic proof that might get a hearing are Dostoevskian moral arguments.

  • #2
    My experience is the same as your impression. I took a class in graduate school called "philosophical study of religion" that I assumed was a typical philosophy of religion class. Instead we read Derrida's followers and ultra-liberal theologians doing scriptural hermeneutics. Most of the authors started with assumptions so at odds with common sense or traditional philosophical methodolgies that the classic questions of natural theology didn't appear as genuine problems to them, and thus weren't addressed.

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    • #3
      Continental philosophy is mostly garbage. It needs to be said and it needs to be said harshly. Much of continental philosophy is sheer garbage, intentionally obscure and idyosincratic (I recall Foucault sayig that if someone wrote clearly, he wouldn't be seen as a "deep thinker" in France), and built upon false or ridiculous theses. And that's me being polite. Most of continental "philosophy" doesn't even go beyond the level of agitprop trash.

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      • #4
        I'm more inclined to say that, with the exception of Foucault, Sartre and a couple others, a lot of French philosophy is garbage. The Germans have produced and produce all sorts of deep, insightful stuff that analytic philosophy hasn't even started talking about and probably can't. (On the other hand, there has been a theological turn in French phenomenology that might be worth looking into in more depth.)

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        • #5
          I'm not even sure about Dostoevskian moral arguments.

          John West

          Even Descartes? And do you include french analytic philosophers? They exists ofc, and some do good works. Paul Clavier and Roger Pouivet are the ones that come to my mind first. Both of them are theists by the way.
          When you are speaking about a theological turn in French phenomenology, who are you thinking about? The only modern french phenomenologist I know is Jean-Luc Marion. (Shame on me, maybe.)

          It would be great if you could show what german works you're speaking about.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ouros
            Even Descartes? And do you include french analytic philosophers? They exists ofc, and some do good works. Paul Clavier and Roger Pouivet are the ones that come to my mind first. Both of them are theists by the way.
            I was talking about contemporary French philosophy. I have great respect for early modern French philosophy—Montaigne, Charron, Descartes, Bayle, etc.

            I haven't been very impressed with the French analytic work I've seen, which is typically dated or derivative. I don't think it's garbage.

            I was talking about people like Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Alain Badiou, etc.

            When you are speaking about a theological turn in French phenomenology, who are you thinking about? The only modern french phenomenologist I know is Jean-Luc Marion. (Shame on me, maybe.)
            Well, “theological” might be getting used as a pejorative. I'm thinking of Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Luc Marion, Michel Henry, and Jean-Louis Chrétien. Like I implied though, I don't know much about the theological turn in French phenomenology.
            Last edited by John West; 03-18-2019, 11:22 PM.

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            • #7
              It would be great if you could show what german works you're speaking about.
              To name a few, Fichte's, Hegel's, Schelling's, Nietzsche's, Brentano's, Meinong's, Husserl's, Adolf Reinach's, Stein's, Ingarden's (technically Polish, but he mostly published in German), Max Scheler's, Heidegger's, Nicolai Hartmann's, Frege's, Wittgenstein's. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that every major contemporary philosophical movement has German roots.
              Last edited by John West; 03-18-2019, 11:16 PM.

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              • #8
                Gabriel Marcel, Maurice Blondel, Louis Lavelle, René Le Senne, etc., can't be compared to trash like Badiou and Derrida. But yeah, contemporary French philosophy is embarrassing in general.

                And I don't think the REAL phenomenologists (Husserl, Stein, Scheler, etc) are the kind of philosophers people think about when they talk about continental philosophy. Some of those actually engage with Natural Theology (Stein for instance defends a kind of phenomenological contingency argument). Frege and Wittgenstein are very important figures of analytic philosophy, and their biggest influence was in the English speaking world, so if Ingarden can be classified as a "German" philosopher maybe someone could argue Witt was British.

                Daniel is also interested in contemporary continental philosophers. And in this case I think the disparity of quality between analytic philosophers and continental philosophers gets even greater. Much greater, in fact. Even if you count German philosophers. The German greats are almost all dead.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Atno
                  And I don't think the REAL phenomenologists (Husserl, Stein, Scheler, etc) are the kind of philosophers people think about when they talk about continental philosophy.
                  I disagree that people don't think of Husserl when they think of continental philosophy. I'm almost certain you're right about Stein (who people simply don't think about that much). I'm not sure about Scheler. I think people in general consider phenomenologists part of continental philosophy. (Just as an aside, I'm not sure anyone but Husserl counts as a real phenomenologist, haha.)

                  Frege and Wittgenstein are very important figures of analytic philosophy, and their biggest influence was in the English speaking world, so if Ingarden can be classified as a "German" philosopher maybe someone could argue Witt was British.
                  Well, I was asked about "German works". I consider all works originally written in German German works.

                  (I've played along with the distinction between continental and anglo philosophy for the sake of the thread and because I think self-proclaimed continental philosophers do tend to pay more attention to certain movements (e.g. phenomenology, existentialism, etc.) than anglo philosophers, but actually I'm not sure the distinction holds up.)

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                  • #10
                    Daniel is also interested in contemporary continental philosophers. And in this case I think the disparity of quality between analytic philosophers and continental philosophers gets even greater. Much greater, in fact.
                    I think Dan would probably be fine hearing about slightly older continental philosophers in natural theology as well. But I was replying to your comments about continental philosophy and Ouros's follow-up questions, not Dan's original post.

                    I think part of the problem is that the crazy, controversial, politicized stuff tends to be what gets translated into English. I'm not sure about the disparity of quality. I've become rather intoxicated with the grandeur of German philosophy in the last couple years. I find analytic works clever but piddling. (I think a lot of contemporary continentals could stand to be beaten with the logic and clarity stick, but a lot of analytic philosophers could stand to take a step back.)

                    Even if you count German philosophers. The German greats are almost all dead.
                    I'm not sure analytic philosophy is in that much better shape. For instance, a lot of the great analytic ontologists died in the last twenty years (e.g. Quine, Lowe, Lewis, Armstrong, etc.). I know you really like Pruss and Leftow and they do have some clever work, but it's a bit of a stretch to call them greats. I think analytic philosophy probably does have a few more notable greyhairs that haven't quite died yet (e.g. Kripke is getting pretty old), but I'd be wary of overselling the situation.
                    Last edited by John West; 03-19-2019, 04:20 AM. Reason: To change the final paragraph.

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                    • #11
                      I think it will be best here to stick to the topic of continental philosophy of religion and steer away from arguing over which tradition is better.

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                      • #12
                        I agree. I have moved Atno's last post to a new thread for anyone who wants to continue that discussion.

                        http://classicaltheismforum.com/foru...vs-continental

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                        • Ouros
                          Ouros commented
                          Editing a comment
                          By the way, who is/are the users behind this account? Stupid question, but I would prefer to not stay in my ignorance.

                      • #13
                        Ouros,

                        All of the moderators have access to it.

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