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God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God (Cornell Paperbacks) Paperback – May 8, 1990

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Alvin Plantinga is John A. O'Brien Professor Emeritus ofPhilosophy at the University of Notre Dame. His other booksinclude Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism and Warranted ChristianBelief.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cornell Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (May 8, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801497353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801497353
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Truly excellent. This work contains what is perhaps the best discussion of the cosmological argument in print. His treatments of the design argument and of the verificationist challenge to religious language are also first rate. While I find his conclusion--that belief in God is in the same epistemic boat as belief in other minds--less than convincing, his brillant discussion of the topic is still well worth reading. Plantinga isn't always easy to follow, but he repays careful study. Moreover, while he has written much since, this work is still an absolute must read for anyone seriously interested in the philosophy of religion.--Greg Klebanoff
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alvin Plantinga's "God and Other Minds" examines leading arguments for and against the existence of God. Plantinga is arguably the pre-eminent contemporary philosopher of religion. Originally published in the 1960s this edition was re-released in 1991with a new preface.

The first part of the book discusses the classic arguments for and against the existence of God: cosmological, ontological, teleological, existence of evil and divine hiddeness. Whereas the latter part of the text argues that belief in God is rational along the lines that belief in other minds is rational. I offer a few comments.

This is an important work in the philosophy of religion and Plantinga is an important thinker in this area. That said, however, I would not recommend this as an entry point into his work. This is one of his earliest works - he has written a tremendous amount of more concise and accessible material in the interim. For students of the philosophy of religion, however, this remains an essential read. This is classic Plantinga - some clear brilliance and exhaustive examination (at times bordering on the tedious). Readers not accustomed to rigorous philosophical analysis may find it a particularly tough slog at times.

Overall this is an important work by a leading philosopher. For those starting out in this area I might suggest something by Craig (theist) or Mackie (atheist) before engaging Plantinga.
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Format: Paperback
If this book has a real defect, it is simply the extraordinary level of logical rigor. Rigor past a certain point is rigor mortis. It may be the most exacting discussion of arguments from other minds and from design ever written, and shows in detail (and, to my mind, pretty conclusively) that the usual forms of these arguments do not work. Whoever calls it a "survey" is talking through his hat; it is one of the most original pieces of destructive philosophical criticism since Hume's dialogues on natural religion.

The fellow who calls it a survey tells us that, while reason is powerless to justify belief in other minds, it is false that this means belief in God is just as rational as belief in other minds, because "we are compelled by experience to believe" in other minds. This is a howlingly bad argument. First of all, it is not at all obvious that we are so compelled, since there have been solipsists, Absolute Idealists, monistic pantheists, and skeptics of several varieties. The most that is obvious is that we are compelled to *act as if* there are other minds in ordinary life (ordinary American life, as opposed, say, to an ascetic in a cave)--which is not clearly the same as believing in them. Second, and more importantly, a universal compulsion to believe is not a *reason* to believe, in the sense relevant to traditional epistemology. The mere fact, if it is a fact, that we are naturally inclined (even irresistibly) to believe something doesn't mean our belief is *true*, nor does it constitute any reason to think that it's true. So to point to such a compulsion, even if it exists, is to give no justification at all for the belief.
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Format: Paperback
Plantinga is the greatest Christian philosopher of the 20th century, and probably one of the top Christian philosophers of all time given the originality and impact of his arguments. This is one of his first books, but it is well written and argued. Plantinga is careful to define terms, redefine terms, write arguments as clear cut syllogisms, and reevaluate each step of the syllogism with precision. This book needs to be read slowly and carefully.

It is a very interesting read because in the first section, he goes through all the classical arguments for the existence of God and shows why they fail. In the second chapter, he goes through all the arguments for the non-existence of God and shows why they fail. In the third chapter, he goes through the question of "how do we know that other minds exist" and gives what seems to be a satisfactory answer until almost the very end where he shows it fails. So interestingly enough, with only about 3 pages left, all Plantinga has done is shown that everything fails. Then in the last few pages, he shows why the rejection of the argument for other minds is equivalent to a rejection of the teleological argument for God's existence. So all in all, even though we have no arguments that work to prove God's existence, a belief in the existence of God is equivalent to a belief in other minds (epistemological speaking). I don't think I am even close to understanding the brilliance of this. It's just very fascinating, a totally different flavor than anything I have ever read.
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