Monday, August 09, 2010

McCarthy, John. Review of Christopher Ben Simpson, RELIGION, METAPHYSICS, AND THE POSTMODERN. NDPR (August 2010).

Simpson, Christopher Ben.  Religion, Metaphysics, and the Postmodern: William Desmond and John D. Caputo.  Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2009.

Christopher Ben Simpson identifies the very large horizon of the concerns addressed in his book, Religion, Metaphysics, and the Postmodern: William Desmond and John D. Caputo, early in the introduction:
The broad issue addressed is the state of religion and/or God-talk in the context of "postmodernity." It attends to the question: how should we think of religion and God today? How now -- in the context of recent continental ('postmodern') philosophy -- God? Within the broad outlines of this question, I wish to address the more particular issue of the relationship between religion and metaphysics -- and, secondarily, ethics.  (p. 1)
How Simpson "addresses" and "attends" to this large horizon is by placing the thought of two authors in relation to each other on the topics of metaphysics, ethics, and religion. John Caputo becomes the emblematic figure for "postmodern" (anti-metaphysical) thinking, and William Desmond becomes the emblematic figure for metaphysical/theistic thinking. The thesis argued regarding the relationship between the figures, and consequently, between the emblematic forms of thinking, "is that William Desmond's approach to thinking about religion and God in relation to the domains of metaphysics and ethics provides a viable and preferable alternative to the like position represented in the work of John D. Caputo" (p. 3). The book, published by Indiana University Press in its series on Philosophy of Religion (series editor, Merold Westphal), is a very minimally revised Ph.D. thesis titled, Divine Hyperbolics: Desmond, Religion, Metaphysics and the Postmodern, completed in 2008 under the supervision of John Milbank at the University of Nottingham.

How we should think of religion and God today, or in any day, has proven to be an enduring, controversial issue for Western thought. The "today" location of this issue places the thinking at a particularly congested intersection of professional discourses: philosophy of religion, epistemology, critical theory, fundamental theology, neuro-theology, metaphysics, and phenomenology, to name a few. And at this congested intersection several discussions converge, some with quite a long history, others with a more recent vintage: the relation of faith/reason; how to describe "the modern" and its many adjectival children; the possibility of a philosophical apologetics for religion in an age of critical thought; the relation of "thinking" to "rationality"; the ubiquitous issues with language; and the relation of academic discourse about religion and God to religious life. To be sure, Simpson's book addresses a large matrix of issues that are both important in the tradition of Western thought about religion and God and of current concern given the rapidly changing discourses involved in the discussion.

So the question then becomes, "Can and does the book achieve its goal through this strategy of juxtaposing the thought of Caputo and Desmond, the goal understood not only as the viability and preferability of Desmond's metaphysical approach to philosophy of religion, ethics, and God, over that of Caputo, but also the viability and preferability of metaphysical theism over and against a postmodern radical hermeneutics?" This is not a book that can be understood as dealing only with the extensive corpus of two living philosophers, Desmond and Caputo; it is a book about a form of thinking appropriate to ethics, religion, and the understanding of God for contemporary Western Christian theism. . . .

Read the rest here:

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I am from Australia. I have posted here before.

    Please find a completely different Understanding of religion, metaphysics and postmodernism via these related essays.

    On metaphysics (Reality & the Middle) via:

    On religion scientism and culture



    Reference # 1 is from a book (UP?) which also provides a radical critique of Christian-ISM altogether/

    Essays on the above authors relation to both modernism and postmodernism