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Philosophy and Theology (Horizons in Theology) Paperback – April 1, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John D. Caputo is Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Humanities at  Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.
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Product Details

  • Series: Horizons in Theology
  • Paperback: 84 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0687331269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0687331260
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John D. Caputo, the Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion Emeritus (Syracuse University) and the David R. Cook Professor of Philosophy Emeritus (Villanova University) is a hybrid philosopher/theologian who works in the area of radical theology. His most recent book, "The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps," is a sequel to The Weakness of God, which develops his concept of radical theology and engages in dialogue with Malabou, Zizek and Latour. He has also just published "Truth," a part of the Penguin "Philosophy in Transit" series, aimed a general audience. His interest is centered on a poetics of the "event" harbored in the name of God, a notion that depends upon a reworking of the notions of event in Derrida and Deleuze. His past books have attempted to persuade us that hermeneutics goes all the way down ("Radical Hermeneutics"), that Derrida is a thinker to be reckoned with by theology ("The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida"), and that theology is best served by getting over its love affair with power and authority and embracing what Caputo calls, following St. Paul, "The Weakness of God." His notion of the weakness of God, an expression that needs to be interpreted carefully by following what he means by "event," is reducible neither to an orthodox notion of kenosis nor to a death of God theology (Altizer, Zizek), although it bears comparison to both. He has also addressed wider-than-academic audiences in "On Religion," "Philosophy and Theology," and "What Would Jesus Deconstruct?" and has an interest in interacting with working church groups like Ikon and the Emergent Church. While at Syracuse, Professor Caputo specialized in continental philosophy of religion, which means both working on radical approaches to religion and theology in the light of contemporary phenomenology, hermeneutics and deconstruction, and tracking down the traces of radical religious and theological motifs in contemporary continental philosophy.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a short book of about 80 pages, divided into eight chapters. The aim of the author, John Caputo, is to propose a vision of how (Western) philosophical theology might look in our postmodern era.

The first six chapters go by quickly and enjoyably, mainly because Caputo is a masterful writer, about as good as any I've run across so far. He speaks with conversational directness and clarity while also maintaining philosophical rigor and precision. The key ideas I gleaned from these six chapters are as follows:

(1) Philosophy and theology are kindred quests because they're both concerned with the big questions, even if they (purportedly) come from different angles.

(2) In the premodern era, (religious) faith dominated reason, but there was still meaningful interaction between the two.

(3) During the modern era, reason became dominant and faith went into defensive retreat. Science likewise gradually managed to marginalize both philosophy and religion. Descartes delimited God to what can be understood through reason. Kant likewise limited our understanding to a rational natural and moral order, dismissing any other ideas about God as superstition. Hegel added a historical dimension, but still centered his model on reason.

(4) The Romantics reacted to Enlightenment rationalism and scientism by attacking its austere incompleteness. Kierkegaard asserted that rationalism can never catch up with faith.

(5) Postmodernism challenged the hegemony of reason and science by noting that all reasoning and even perception involves using a perspective (language game, paradigm, etc.), and that requires tacitly accepting all the presuppositions built into the perspective.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tony Jones on September 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Imagine a book in which Augustine of Hippo and Jaques Derrida are co-cupids, each aiming their arrows at your heart. Only in the hands of Jack Caputo would this be imaginable. This is a lyrical, incredible, impossible gem of a book. Caputo sings, preaches, waxes philosophic and theologic, and ultimately brings us to in the presence of two giants -- Augustine and Derrida -- each at prayer; what surprises us is that they're praying together. And, if we read carefully, we'll see that this little book is, in fact, Caputo's own prayer. I will read this volume many times.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Zach T. Roberts on March 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
Caputo takes the reader on a brief historical journey of the relationship between philosophy and theology. The reader moves from the pre-modern, to the modern, and then to the post modern interaction between these two disciplines.

The conversation certainly is not over at the end of the book. The postmodern relationship between philosophy and theology is in the early stages of being mined for all that is has to offer. This book is a welcome encouragement for those who are not afraid of what that may bring for people of faith and for those outside of the church.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By paulregent.blogspot on April 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
(I apologize in advance if I was too wordy). Caputo poses four major theses throughout Philosophy and Theology, his slim-volume treatment on a postmodernism that attempts to synthesize the two knowledge traditions contained in the title. In his first thesis, he argues both philosophy and theology are equally needed in the quest to answer life's questions (3). Both in history and generally in people individually, one discipline has taken precedence and been favored over the other. Caputo, however, stresses the "and" between them, preferring to think of the two subjects as "two different dimensions of a whole human life" (6). The differences between them unfortunately climaxed because of modernity, which Caputo explains through his second thesis (10).

Just before this period, the pre-modern era, faith was held supreme, with reason as her handmaid, but modernism reversed the hierarchy, essentially confining faith in the realm of irrelevance (11, 22). Modernity eventually ran into trouble however when the Romantics accused it of lacking emotion, failing to consider historical context, and over-aggrandizing the objectivity and ability of pure reason (38, 42-43). On this backdrop, postmodernism gained a foothold, and on this hold, Caputo rests his third thesis: the difference between philosophy and theology is "drawn between two kinds of faith," by which he means two kinds of "seeing as" (57).

Since neither subject is without fault, and considering that every human enterprise comes with a "complex web of presuppositional structures," the best philosophy and theology can do is illuminate within a context (57). What then is the point of pursuing these disciplines if they cannot give universal truths?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zachary Bailes on April 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
To say that the relationship between philosophy and theology has been tenuous might be an understatement. Throughout history the two have found common ground, while other times they stand intensely opposed to each other. Yet John D. Caputo suggests, and stands, upon the feeble ground of the "and" between philosophy and theology. Caputo states, "A lot of times when we say "and," it turns out we mean "against" or "versus," and we are trying to start a fight" (3). There exists much work to be done, and weaving a coherent narrative that describes an amicable relationship between the two seems quite difficult.

Caputo does not attempt to create a theory, or grand narrative of how the two areas of thought work together. He is simply interested in how they communicate with each other. What Caputo accomplishes, however, is an coherent engagement with theologians and philosophers that promotes the sense of awe found in both disciplines. His point is made repeatedly, but perhaps most pointedly when he says, "What matters is that if the account I have given is right, then the old boundaries and high walls that modernity tried to build around reason, science, and philosophy have come down. If that is so, then the language of faith has reacquired respectability, and if faith has been restored to its rightful place among the virtues, that gives theology, which turns on faith, a new opening" (68). Philosophers and theologians are, in Caputo's words, "fellow sailors on that ocean." That ocean, then, is the ocean of faith or opposition to a "cynical refusal to believe...any surpassing quality in things that leaves us wide-eyed and breathless" (68).

Skeptical philosophers and orthodox theologians alike should read Caputo's Philosophy and Theology.
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