Volume 3 (1998): Modernity

(Published Dec. 1, 1998. ISSN 1209-0689)


Paul Epstein (Oklahoma State), Floy Andrews Doull (Memorial), D. Vance Maxwell (Memorial), Neil Robertson (King's College)


Preface (click to download)

Paul Epstein, The Purgation of the Hero in Shakespearean Tragedy

This paper seeks to show that the career of the hero in the great Shakespearean tragedies defines the nature of human individuality. First, the hero, either a king or other high official of state, attempts to make his honor, ambition, love, or like passion the measure of the Commonwealth and the communities that fall within it. Then, the failure of this attempt shows the nullity of the hero's particularity in itself, and the dependence of all finite subjects on an absolute Good. The hero then takes one of two paths. Like Hamlet or Lear, he rediscovers his individuality by affirming the instantiations of that Good, the ethical institutions of family and state, and then in death rising to the Good. Macbeth and Othello follow a contrary path: unable to live in these institutions, they suffer utter destruction in death.

Torrance Kirby, Richard Hooker's Discourse on Natural Law in the Context of the Magisterial Reformation

For many years critical scholarship has been inclined to view Richard Hooker's account of natural law as compelling evidence of his tendency towards an Erasmian humanism at odds with the basic teaching of the Magisterial Protestant Reformers. In addition, features of Hooker's argument which reflect the explicit influence of Aquinas and Aristotle have been cited in support of the theory that Hooker represents a theological middle way between Rome and continental protestantism - sometimes referred to as the Anglican" via media." Based upon recognition that Hooker's main apologetic intent was to demonstrate the consistency of the Elizabethan Settlement with protestant orthodoxy, a revision of the received interpretation of Hooker's theory of natural law is proposed here. This essay seeks to demonstrate that Hooker's appeals to the authority of natural law are in actuality thoroughly consistent with similar appeals made by such magisterial reformers as Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin and Bullinger.

Floy E. Andrews, God, the Evil Genius and Eternal Truths: The Structure of the Understanding in the Cartesian Philosophy

In order to evaluate the Cartesian Meditations it is absolutely necessary first to understand the work on its own terms, to think Descartes' thoughts with him. This essay takes the argument of the work as the culmination of the history of his thought, as therefore canonical. The author finds there a remarkable coherence, an answer to the chief objections brought against the work, and the elements of a foundation for truth in human understanding. Alternative views of the Meditations are analyzed where appropriate as coming to the argument from standpoints outside the work itself.

David Scott, Leibniz's Model of Creation and His Doctrine of Substance

It is well known that Leibniz's advances metaphysical, logical and moral reasons why monads possess their own force of action; but what is not well known is that he also advances an account of the divine creative act in explicit support of force-endowed monads. This paper's goal is to highlight and critically examine this doctrine of creation, and to contrast it with the doctrine of creation underlying the occasionalist denial that substances possess their own force of action.

Vance Maxwell, The Great Connexion: Hume's Metaphysical Logic of Belief-Constructed Causation

This paper argues that, as original causation a priori, the impression-idea relation in Hume mediates the otherwise indeterminate relation between Custom and belief-causation as itself thought to arise from psychological association alone. In so doing, the paper argues against the scholarly reduction of Hume to an unqualified scepticism, and deals critically with both scholars who continue that reduction, and those who try on other grounds to overcome that reduction, but fail. Accordingly, the paper would establish and clarify Hume as a serious metaphysician.

David Peddle, Puritanism, Enlightenment and the U.S. Constitution

Against the contemporary view which portrays the roots of modern political philosophy as fundamentally areligious, Peddle's essay shows how Puritanism and Enlightenment converge in the U.S. Constitution. In light of reflections on the logic of this convergence, an interpretation of the religious clauses of the first amendment is advanced.

Antoinette Stafford, Kant and Kierkegaard: the Subjectivization of Faith

This essay explores the relationship between Kant's and Kierkegaard's treatment of morality and religious faith. In Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone Kant invokes Christian categories in an effort to resolve certain contradictions which arise in consequence of the introduction of the notion of radical evil. I initially argue that Kant's Enlightenment confidence in the autonomy of ethical selfhood ultimately entails the subordination of these categories to the demands of rational ethical subjectivity. I then suggest that Kierkegaard's defence of the independence of Christian faith, against the encroachments of Kantian Enlightenment humanism, largely proceeds on a foundation of shared epistemological principles, such that the Kierkegaardian existential individual's paradoxical Christian faith offers no genuine alternative, but rather a radically subjectivized extension of Kant's demythologized version of orthodox Christian principles.

Wayne J. Hankey, Stephen Menn's Cartesian Augustine: Metaphysical and Ahistorically Modern

This review article devoted to Stephen Menn's Descartes and Augustine, finds that his treatment of Augustine which includes him within the metaphysical tradition bridging antiquity and modernity balances the historicist, anti-metaphysical and anti-theoretical readings of Augustine coming from postmodern philosophy and theology. By looking at the two readings together, Wayne Hankey attempts to come closer to an understanding of Augustine especially in his relation to Plotinus. Hankey finds that Augustine's De Trinitate is better understood from within Menn's stance, where Augustine is placed together with Plotinus and Descartes. Within that view, we are better able to understand Augustine's difference from Plotinus than from the alternative postmodern perspective. However he judges that Menn does not draw Augustine's theology closely enough together with philosophy. When that is done, what in Augustine lays the foundations for autonomous philosophy will be more fully known.

Neil Robertson, The Closing of the Early Modern Mind: Leo Strauss and Early Modern Political Thought

This paper argues that underlying Leo Strauss's interpretation of Early Modern political thought as premised on a break with nature as a moral standard is a contemporary moral and political phenomenology which inhibits the understanding of that period in its own terms.



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