Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism


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Exploring the various ways in which philosophy can relate to the monotheistic religions, the author tracks five key approaches in a carefully structured and accessible manner. Following a chronological pattern, these five chapters consider both major and less well-known philosophers, and feature detailed coverage of: Plato, Aristotle and the Ancient Greeks Philosophy and theology in St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas reason, agnosticism and the works of Kant and Kierkegaard Linguistic Analysis, religion and Wittgenstein Postmodernism and religion: Heidegger, Derrida and Rorty Accompanied by full reference notes, this thorough and up to date text is essential reading for all students and thinkers who wish to know more about philosophy,religion and the diverse ways in which these two fields have come together over the centures.

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The first 3 chapters are quite strong and provide a good picture of the various ancient and medieval relationships between Religion and Philosophy including, Plato, Plotinus, Acquinas, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard etc. The truth of reason is found when madness comes to stand in the place of non-reason, when the difference between them is inscribed in their opposition, but is not identical to its dominant side. In other words, the reason that stands in opposition to madness is not identical to the reason that inscribes their difference.

The latter would be reason without an opposite, a free-floating power without definite shape. As Foucault suggests, this free-floating mystery might be represented in the ship of fools motif, which, in medieval times, represented madness. Such is the paradoxical structure of historical transformation. In his later writings, most notably in The Use of Pleasure Foucault [] , Foucault employs historical research to open possibilities for experimenting with subjectivity, by showing that subjectivation is a formative power of the self, surpassing the structures of knowledge and power from out of which it emerges.

This is a power of thought, which Foucault says is the ability of human beings to problematize the conditions under which they live. He thus joins Lyotard in promoting creative experimentation as a leading power of thought, a power that surpasses reason, narrowly defined, and without which thought would be inert.

In this regard, Foucault stands in league with others who profess a postmodern sensibility in regard to contemporary science, art, and society. We should note, as well, that Foucault's writings are a hybrid of philosophy and historical research, just as Lyotard combines the language games of the expert and the philosopher in The Postmodern Condition.

This mixing of philosophy with concepts and methods from other disciplines is characteristic of postmodernism in its broadest sense. The concept of difference as a productive mechanism, rather than a negation of identity, is also a hallmark of postmodernism in philosophy.

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Postmodernism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Gilles Deleuze deploys this concept throughout his work, beginning with Nietzsche and Philosophy , in English , where he sets Nietzsche against the models of thinking at work in Kant and Hegel. Here, he proposes to think against reason in resistance to Kant's assertion of the self-justifying authority of reason alone Deleuze [], Philosophical critique, he declares, is an encounter between thought and what forces it into action: it is a matter of sensibility rather than a tribunal where reason judges itself by its own laws see Kant , 9.

Since thought cannot activate itself as thinking , Deleuze says it must suffer violence if it is to awaken and move.

Art, science, and philosophy deploy such violence insofar as they are transformative and experimental. Opposition occurs on the same logical plane, but difference moves across planes and levels, and not only in one direction. Furthermore, where Hegel takes the work of the negative to be dialectic's driving power, Deleuze declares that difference is thinkable only as repetition repeating itself as in Nietzsche's eternal return , where difference affirms itself in eternally differing from itself. Its movement is productive, but without logical opposition, negation, or necessity.

Instead, chance and multiplicity are repeated, just as a dice-throw repeats the randomness of the throw along with every number. On the other hand, dialectic cancels out chance and affirms the movement of the negative as a working out of identity, as in the Science of Logic where being in its immediacy is posited as equal only to itself Hegel , For Deleuze, however, sensibility introduces an aleatory moment into thought's development, making accidentality and contingency conditions for thinking.

These conditions upset logical identity and opposition, and place the limit of thinking beyond any dialectical system. In Difference and Repetition , in English , Deleuze develops his project in multiple directions. His work, he says, stems from the convergence of two lines of research: the concept of difference without negation, and the concept of repetition, in which physical and mechanical repetitions are masks for a hidden differential that is disguised and displaced. His major focus is a thoroughgoing critique of representational thinking, including identity, opposition, analogy, and resemblance Deleuze [], Furthermore, any move against representational thinking impinges upon the identity of the subject.

Where Kant founds the representational unity of space and time upon the formal unity of consciousness Kant , , difference re-distributes intuitions of past, present, and future, fracturing consciousness into multiple states not predicable of a single subject. Intensive qualities are individuating by themselves, says Deleuze, and individuality is not characteristic of a self or an ego, but of a differential forever dividing itself and changing its configuration Deleuze [], , , This leads Deleuze to postulate multiple faculties for subjectivity, which are correlates of the sensible insofar as it gives rise to feeling, thought, and action.

Subjectively, the paradox of the differential breaks up the faculties' common function and places them before their own limits: thought before the unthinkable, memory before the immemorial, sensibility before the imperceptible, etc. Deleuze , The book, in large part, is written against an established intellectual orthodoxy of the political Left in France during the s and s, an orthodoxy consisting of Marx, Freud, and structuralist concepts applied to them by Louis Althusser and Jacques Lacan. Deleuze and Guattari argue that this mixture is still limited by representational thinking, including concepts of production based upon lack, and concepts of alienation based upon identity and negation.

Furthermore, the Oedipus concept in psychoanalysis, they say, institutes a theater of desire in which the psyche is embedded in a family drama closed off from the extra-familial and extra-psychic forces at work in society. The first inscriptions are relations of kinship and filiation structuring primitive societies, often involving the marking and scarring of human bodies. The full body of society is the sacred earth, which appropriates to itself all social products as their natural or divine precondition, and to whom all members of society are bound by direct filiation Deleuze [], Finally, capitalism de-territorializes the inscriptions of the despotic machine and re-codes all relations of alliance and filiation into flows of money Deleuze [], The organs of society and the state are appropriated into the functioning of capital, and humans become secondary to the filiation of money with itself.

However, because capital also re-territorializes all flows into money, schizophrenia remains capitalism's external limit. Nevertheless, it is precisely that limit against which thinking can subject capitalism to philosophical critique. However, the Oedipal triangle is merely a representational simulacrum of kinship and filiation, re-coded within a system of debt and payment.

Philosophy and Religion: From Plato to Postmodernism

In this system, they insist, flows of desire have become mere representations of desire, cut off from the body without organs and the extra-familial mechanisms of society. In this revolutionary aspect, Anti-Oedipus reads as a statement of the desire that took to the streets of Paris in May of , and which continues, even now, to make itself felt in intellectual life. However, in philosophy, it signifies certain strategies for reading and writing texts. The term was introduced into philosophical literature in , with the publication of three texts by Jacques Derrida: Of Grammatology in English , Writing and Difference in English , and Speech and Phenomena in English Of the three books from , Of Grammatology is the more comprehensive in laying out the background for deconstruction as a way of reading modern theories of language, especially structuralism, and Heidegger's meditations on the non-presence of being.

It also sets out Derrida's difference with Heidegger over Nietzsche. This closure has emerged, says Derrida, with the latest developments in linguistics, the human sciences, mathematics, and cybernetics, where the written mark or signifier is purely technical, that is, a matter of function rather than meaning. Precisely the liberation of function over meaning indicates that the epoch of what Heidegger calls the metaphysics of presence has come to closure, although this closure does not mean its termination.

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Instead, there is only the marking of the trace of difference, that is, deconstruction. Because at its functional level all language is a system of differences, says Derrida, all language, even when spoken, is writing, and this truth is suppressed when meaning is taken as an origin, present and complete unto itself.

Texts that take meaning or being as their theme are therefore particularly susceptible to deconstruction, as are all other texts insofar as they are conjoined with these. For Derrida, written marks or signifiers do not arrange themselves within natural limits, but form chains of signification that radiate in all directions.

On the contrary, the name of the author is a signifier linked with others, and there is no master signifier such as the phallus in Lacan present or even absent in a text. Instead, it can only be marked as a wandering play of differences that is both a spacing of signifiers in relation to one another and a deferral of meaning or presence when they are read. Deconstruction, then, traces the repetitions of the supplement. While there is a certain arbitrariness in the play of differences that result, it is not the arbitrariness of a reader getting the text to mean whatever he or she wants.

It is a question of function rather than meaning, if meaning is understood as a terminal presence, and the signifying connections traced in deconstruction are first offered by the text itself. A deconstructive reading, then, does not assert or impose meaning, but marks out places where the function of the text works against its apparent meaning, or against the history of its interpretation. Hyperreality is closely related to the concept of the simulacrum: a copy or image without reference to an original.

Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism
Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism
Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism
Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism
Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism Philosophy and Religion from Plato to Postmodernism

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