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Loving to Know: Covenant Epistemology Paperback – June 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Nobody acquainted with philosophical epistemology would associate it with eloquence or passion. So Loving to Know is extraordinary, because this is epistemology presented with both eloquence and passion, addressed to the person 'on the street' but at the same time raising issues that professional philosophers should take account of. In a most creative way, Professor Meeks takes Michael Polanyi's epistemology, which she perceptively and lucidly summarizes, into new terrain. She argues that to come to know as we ought to come to know is to keep covenant. It is to be faithful both to the known and to oneself, the knower. So take and read. And when you do, you will learn that how the book came about is itself an example of the theory, as is the innovative structure of the discussion. The formation and presentation of the theory display the theory."
--Nicholas Wolterstorff
Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology
Yale University

"Esther Meek has given a good gift in Loving to Know, continuing her lifelong reflections on a more human and truthful understanding of knowledge. Drawing on the best of scholarship, she is her own scholar too, offering a unique vision of a covenant epistemology, a way of knowing that is deeply personal and responsible, because it is profoundly relational. A book for every one of us, as we take up the most perennial of human questions, viz. what will we do with what we know?"
--Steven Garber
The Washington Institute

"This book is a tour de force of clarity, depth, and compelling wisdom. Esther Meek argues that we become what we love and that if we love truth then we must love to engage in the interpersonal dialogue of seeing the world well through the prism of another's heart. Her premise is lived out through dialogue with a range of authors that makes my head spin. She seizes their wisdom and yet pursues it further to the person of Christ than any I have read. This is an epistemologically therapeutic embrace of how to live well in the world of divergent thought that nevertheless longs to reveal Jesus as the center of all true wisdom. It is a breathtaking and beautiful labor."
--Dan B. Allender
Professor of Counseling Psychology and Founding President
Mars Hill Graduate School

"Loving to Know is a marvelous follow-up to Meek's Longing to Know. Like her earlier work, this is clearly the work of a masterful, compassionate teacher inviting a wide audience to reflect on the nature of knowledge. Here is epistemology for the people, so to speak. In the process, through a rich set of conversation partners, Meek puts her own stamp on a Reformed epistemology that makes love and covenant central to our account of knowing. An excellent achievement."
--James K.A. Smith
Professor of Philosophy
Calvin College --Wipf and Stock Publishers

About the Author

Esther Lightcap Meek is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Geneva College in Western P.A. . She is also the author of Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People (2003).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 534 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608999289
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608999286
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Dancing through Esther Meek's Loving to Know is what we all need to do, right now. Wherever she pushes you, stop and ponder. Take courage to hope again, that there really is a there there after all, and that you can move ahead in knowing it, since you already do! Yes, you do know and you are knowing. Yes, you are known too. Against the complexities of philosophical jargon, Meek displays hope for living in the real world, and challenges you to flourish in that confidence.
Follow her in giving an enthusiastic burial to the old dream of a world of facts, standing all alone in splendid isolation. With her, be also radically discontent with today's relativistic vacuums. Could there be a third way, Meek's way? That she learned from Michael Polyani: scientists truly make discoveries, and they know that they will. They already know where they are going before they get there! Could we do that too, and enjoy that we know where we want to go? Could we employ in that quest all we have: our bodies, our skills, our friends, our being loved and loving?
Meek showed us that in her earlier Longing to Know. Loving builds upon it, passionately and oh-so-comprehensively. Polyani science is not the only game in town; there are also 'conversations' with: philosopher of religion John Macmurray, psychologist and theologian James Loder, marriage counselor David Schnarch, theologians Colin Gunton and Philip Rolnick, and especially education guru Parker Palmer.
As I am a theologian, I find the interactions with Calvinist theologians John Frame and Mike Willams especially provocative. Meek honors Calvinist comprehensiveness, where knowledge of God relates to knowledge of anything.
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Format: Paperback
Academia, take note! Let all teachers, philosophers, pundits, etc. learn meekness and be blessed! One of my favorite phrases from the book: "All knowing is knowing with" ... Let's all ruminate that!

Here is the Publisher's review which is sadly missing from the Amazon webpage:
"This radical book develops the notion of covenant epistemology--an innovative, biblically compatible, holistic, embodied, life-shaping epistemological vision in which all knowing takes the shape of interpersonal, covenantal relationship. Rather than knowing in order to love, we love in order to know. Meek argues that all knowing is best understood as transformative encounter. Creatively blending insights from a diverse range of conversation partners--including Michael Polanyi, Michael D. Williams, Lesslie Newbigin, Parker Palmer, John Macmurray, Martin Buber, and James Loder--Meek offers critically needed "epistemological therapy" in response to the pervasive and damaging presumptions that those in Western culture continue to bring to efforts to know. The book's innovative approach itself subverts standard epistemological presumptions of timeless linearity. While it offers a sustained and sophisticated philosophical argument, Loving to Know's texts and textures interweave loosely to effect therapeutic epistemic transformation in the reader."
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What a book! Fairly deep waters for a layperson like myself though certainly doable. Years ago I read some of the source works that Professor Meek engages here, and I love the way she ties it all together. I'm still struggling to process and integrate (be transformed by) some of it. But it's well worth the effort. The chapters entitled A Sense of Personal Beauty and Inviting the Real are brilliant! Highly recommended.
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Esther Lightcap Meek challenges the 'default' way of knowing common to western civilization since the dawn of the Enlightenment. This default, attributed chiefly to Descartes, seeks knowledge by reasoning through various facts using laws of logic to reach conclusions that are 'certain'. Meek shows how this is all wrong. She's not a relativist. She maintains there is absolute truth but that we cannot know it with absolute certainty. She urges a better way of knowing - an epistemology that we all commonly use that is intuitive and bears a resemblance to personal relationships. Though the path to 'certainty' is unavailable, she shows how we can have great 'confidence' in what we know.

Meek begins by detailing the flaws in the Cartesian mindset, which we recognize by numerous sets of irreconcilable dichotomies. She then counsels a more personal way of knowing which Michael Polanyi described - a method of clues and pattern, or more technically 'subsidiary-focal integration'. Various 'clues' (or facts) are observed, or even better 'indwelt', until a 'pattern grabs you'. In the process, you the knower are transformed in some way, large or small. This 'grabbing' process, Meek shows, is a good deal like a personal response. The pattern is more than than an arrangement of the clues - it's more like a relationship you have with the clues and the pattern. A committment akin to 'love' prompts us to embrace the pattern.

With this Polanyian insight as her foundation, Meek takes the reader on a tour of other 20th century philosophers. She convincingly shows how many of these other philosophers have discovered facets of this clue/pattern relationship, though calling them different names and in some ways going beyond Polanyi's insight.
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