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The Justification of Religious Faith in Soren Kierkegaard, John Henry Newman, and William James


This book examines the religious epistemologies of Søren Kierkegaard, John Henry Newman, and William James in the light of contemporary challenges to religious faith. They defended the right of persons to embrace religious beliefs that are not strictly warranted by empirical evidence and logical argumentation. Faith must not be hampered, they argued, by the demands of reason narrowly conceived. Paul Sands notes, however, important differences in the way each relates faith to reason. Sands examines the religious epistemologies of Kierkegaard, Newman, and James in the context of two "givens" characteristic of early twenty-first century culture, namely, the intellectual hegemony of probabilism and the pluralization of the Western mind.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0401-3
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jul 14,2014
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 307
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0401-3
$104.00

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), John Henry Newman (1801-1890), and William James (1842-1910) all defended the right of persons to embrace religious beliefs that are not strictly warranted by empirical evidence and logical argumentation. Faith must not be hampered, they argued, by the demands of reason narrowly conceived. Paul Sands notes, however, important differences in the way each relates faith to reason. Kierkegaard emphasizes discontinuity: faith is a divine gift that opens a sphere of truth inaccessible to objectifying rationality. John Henry Newman stresses continuity: faith ventures beyond evidence, but only as the mind itself bridges the gap between proof and certitude by a subtle and flexible exercise of the "illative sense." William James also emphasizes continuity, but he goes much further than Newman in relativizing reason by exposing its passional nature. Sands examines the religious epistemologies of Kierkegaard, Newman, and James in the context of two "givens" characteristic of early twenty-first century culture, namely, the intellectual hegemony of probabilism and the pluralization of the Western mind. He probes the writings of each author in three key areas: the role of evidence in religious faith, the nature and legitimacy of the so-called "venture" of faith, and the question of how best to adjudicate disputed religious truth claims. In the end, Sands concludes that William James incorporates and transcends the best insights of Kierkegaard and Newman while offering a pragmatic method of verification that provides a modest, but workable approach to the rational adjudication of religious truth claims.

Paul F. Sands is Assistant Professor of Religion at Baylor University. Before joining Baylor, he taught philosophy of religion at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), John Henry Newman (1801-1890), and William James (1842-1910) all defended the right of persons to embrace religious beliefs that are not strictly warranted by empirical evidence and logical argumentation. Faith must not be hampered, they argued, by the demands of reason narrowly conceived. Paul Sands notes, however, important differences in the way each relates faith to reason. Kierkegaard emphasizes discontinuity: faith is a divine gift that opens a sphere of truth inaccessible to objectifying rationality. John Henry Newman stresses continuity: faith ventures beyond evidence, but only as the mind itself bridges the gap between proof and certitude by a subtle and flexible exercise of the "illative sense." William James also emphasizes continuity, but he goes much further than Newman in relativizing reason by exposing its passional nature. Sands examines the religious epistemologies of Kierkegaard, Newman, and James in the context of two "givens" characteristic of early twenty-first century culture, namely, the intellectual hegemony of probabilism and the pluralization of the Western mind. He probes the writings of each author in three key areas: the role of evidence in religious faith, the nature and legitimacy of the so-called "venture" of faith, and the question of how best to adjudicate disputed religious truth claims. In the end, Sands concludes that William James incorporates and transcends the best insights of Kierkegaard and Newman while offering a pragmatic method of verification that provides a modest, but workable approach to the rational adjudication of religious truth claims.

Paul F. Sands is Assistant Professor of Religion at Baylor University. Before joining Baylor, he taught philosophy of religion at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

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Contributor

Paul Sands

  • Acknowledgements (page 5)
  • Contents (page 7)
  • List of Abbreviations (page 9)
  • Introduction (page 15)
  • Soren Kierkegaard and the Venture of Faith (page 33)
  • John Henry Newman and the Divinatory Mind (page 117)
  • William James and the Will to Believe (page 179)
  • Conclusions (page 267)
  • Bibliography (page 273)
  • Index (page 303)
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