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Philosophers Speak of God [Paperback]

By Charles Hartshorne (Editor) & William L. Reese (Author)
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Item description for Philosophers Speak of God by Charles Hartshorne & William L. Reese...

This wide-ranging anthology of philosophical writings on the concept of God presents a systematic overview of the chief conceptions of deity as well as skeptical and atheistic critiques of theological ideas. The selections cover key philosophic developments in this subject area from ancient times to modern in both the East and West. Editors Hartshorne and Reese-two of the most highly respected scholars in the philosophy of religion-have not only selected many arresting passages from the world's great thinkers but have also analyzed and evaluated the underlying ideas, showing how they fit into major, overarching systems of thought.
Part One, "Classical Views," includes passages from ancient Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, and Judeo-Christian scriptures as well as philosophical writings from ancient Greece, the medieval church, and the Enlightenment. Part Two, "Modern Views," considers the ideas of more recent influential thinkers from diverse cultures and philosophical schools: Schelling, Peirce, Whitehead, Schweitzer, Buber, Radhakrishnan, and Watts, among others, are represented and discussed. Part Three, "Skeptical or Atheistic Views: Ancient and Modern," examines various kinds of skepticism and includes selections from Carneades, Buddha, Hume, Schopenhauer, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Dennes, and Freud. Throughout their presentation the editors analyze and contrast theistic, atheistic, pantheistic, and panentheistic systems of thought.
Philosophers Speak of God is a richly varied selection of high-quality writing on a perennial subject that will provide the serious student a thorough foundation in the philosophy of religion.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Humanity Books
Pages   535
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.34" Width: 5.41" Height: 1.18"
Weight:   1.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2000
Publisher   Humanity Books
ISBN  1573928151  
ISBN13  9781573928151  

Availability  0 units.

More About Charles Hartshorne & William L. Reese

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Charles Hartshorne had a long and distinguished career at the University of Chicago and was one of America's leading philosophers of religion, with dozens of books and hundreds of articles to his credit.
William L. Reese, a student of Hartshorne's and the author or editor of a dozen books and scores of articles on philosophy and the philosophy of religion, is professor of philosophy at the State University of New York at Albany.

Charles Hartshorne was born in 1897 and died in 2000.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Philosophy

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Reviews - What do customers think about Philosophers Speak of God?

An Important Reissue on Panentheism  Feb 24, 2005
This popular book, which was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1953, is reissued by Humanity Books. This reissue is timely because Hartshorne passed on in 2000. The reissue is also timely because Americans still do not understand dialectical thinking, the early dialecticians such as Plato and Nicholas of Cusa, the modern thinking in Germany today, modern panentheism, and modern dialecticians such as Charles Hartshorne. The Marxists also became dialecticians. But, they end up with a one-sided world because they turned away from God. Far East thinkers also became dialecticians. But, they turned to a mechanistic whole for the world and miss the spiritual activity of God through Christ.

However, Americans will not gain this understanding until they limit the use of Aristotle's logic to subjects of Nature and stop using logic to describe God. This limit and stoppage is a complex language transformation and could take a few generations because Aristotle and British empiricism dominated the English language for many centuries. However, the material in this book will accelerate this transformation, especially if the reader reads the book several times and changes the color of underlines, marks, etc. with each readings. Multiple readings are important for any new material. Obviously, readings of Plato and Nicholas of Cusa will also help one understand the messages in this book by Hartshorne and Reese.

Panentheism and this book can expect to increase our knowledge of the God who appears in our world.
Talk and Talk...  Jul 10, 2003
Charles Hartshorne is one of the modern founders of process theology. A protege of Alfred North Whitehead, who plays a pivotal role in the foundation of process thought with his book Process and Reality. The particular subject here, Philosophers Speak of God, developed in partnership with William Reese, professor of philosophy at SUNY-Albany, is an anthology of philosophical writings from Western and Eastern sources. They span the almost the full span of human intellectual history. Hartshorne and Reese analyse and categorise the various writings, looking at underlying principles and commonalities, and overall patterns or systems. From the preface, the authors state: `this work aims to present -- by selections from some fifty writers ranging in time and space from Lao-tse, Plato, and Sankara to Whitehead, Berdyaev, and Radhakrishnan -- the chief philosophical conceptions of deity. It also aims to aid readers in estimating the validity of these conceptions. The work is thus two things: (1) a book of readings in philosophical theology -- the first of its kind -- and (2) a systematic analysis and evaluation of theistic (and atheistic) idea.'

One of the real values of this book comes in the introduction, in the classification system Hartshorne and Reese set up for identifying the philosophical attributes of the worlds religious and theological systems of thought. This classification system shows both historical and systematic significance in the frameworks investigated. The system rests on five key elements:

E is for Eternal
Is God seen as eternal in some or all aspects of God's own reality, unchanging?

T is for Temporal
Does God change in some or all aspects? Is God capable of change?

C is for Consciousness
Is God conscious and self-aware?

K is for Knowing
Is God aware of the world? Does God know all there is?

W is for World-inclusive
Do all things have their being in God? Are all things God?

These are not all-for-once questions in the framework of this book. Rather, each will participate in different ways in looking at the theological texts provided. There are certain rules -- for instance, every combination will begin with E or T or ET, where the eternal and the temporal apply toward different aspects of God.

Panentheism, where Hartshorne places Whitehead (and hence, himself) involves all five elements. Placing different theologies becomes an interesting exercise: Aquinas belongs in a framework of ECK, for instance -- Aquinas doesn't allow for change or inclusion of the world in God, which is heavily influenced by Aristotle, whose classification is as EC. For those interested in philosophy of religion, this classification system alone would make the book worthwhile.

However, the substance of the book rests in the anthology section. Divided into three sections -- Classical views, Modern Views, and Skeptical or Atheistic Views -- the book covers theologians and theological families using the classification system set up.

One of the positive elements of this book is that each item is introduced by a sympathetic description and analysis from which criticism is largely absent. Critical commentary follows the selections. Another positive element is that items are grouped together for easy cross-reference -- for the religion scholar, to know such a wide range of similar viewpoints and the commonalities between them can be an invaluable aid; likewise, to know the dissimilarities between different schools of thought can be enlightening and useful for study, research, writing and reflection.

Certainly Whitehead's maxim -- 'Seek simplicity, and mistrust it' -- is not the operative feature here in the formation of the text. However, it is useful in the practical use of the text -- whenever there are simple connections, beware. Whenever there are simple solutions, beware.

Hartshorne and Reese's bias pokes through, nonetheless. When writing on Whitehead (who, while not having the longest section in the book, certainly has a generous number of pages), they make their bias clear: `It is impossible to avoid a feeling of impertinence in attempting to comment on thinking so great as this.'

The preference of Hartshorne and Reese for panentheistic ways of thinking are present from the essays at the beginning and the end of the texts. In the introduction, the law of polarity is introduced as a standpoint of panentheism; the epilogue to the text is on the logic of panentheism. Taking a cue from mathematics, striving for precision in definition and method, Hartshorne and Reese argue for a modern panentheism in a process reality. Setting up yet another framework for consideration, the authors conclude the most likely case for God being in a process system.

To the extent that this preference influences the critical commentary and analysis of each of the texts presented here, some may find this a difficult text. However, every theological or philosophical analysis for critical commentary must begin somewhere. Objectivity at this level is a fiction -- the very act of choosing to do critical scholarship implies much. The framework selected here works well, admittedly better for those process theologians and philosophers than for those who aren't.

But regardless of this, the questions raised are valuable questions to be asked, no matter the underlying system of thought. For example, under the entry on Augustine, the authors identify the problem of how can an unchanging God, particularly one who is non-temporal, have been responsible for creation, which is a mutable and temporal reality.

Questions such as this one abound in each section, and with each text selection, key questions for consideration and critical reflection are raised, and an answer is attempted.

In all, Hartshorne and Reese have produced an invaluable volume and classification system for the consideration of religions, philosophies and theological frameworks. A must for any serious scholar of religion, philosophy or theology, it will also be appreciated by educated laypersons.

Excellent intro to process philosophy  Oct 26, 2000
Lucid, comprehensive and inexorable in its logic, "Philosophers Speak of God" remains one of the best summations of the philosophy of Charles Hartshorne and Alfred North Whitehead. I first read it in Dr. Hartshorne's last official university class, more than two decades ago, and it is still the one I turn to for a clear and concise explanation of Hartshorne's take on the classical philosophers. Hartshorne and Reese cover most of the major Western and a good number of the major Eastern philosophers in this wide-ranging analysis of the primary tenets of theology. I recommend this for anyone who is first reading about process philosophy, and wishes to understand the differences between classical thought and the panentheist approach.

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