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Metaphysics: Constructing a World View (Contours of Christian Philosophy) Paperback – September 16, 1983
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"Christians who want to love God with their minds will welcome Hasker's lucid introduction to the nature of metaphysical thinking." (Clark H. Pinnock, McMaster Divinity College)
"A fine introduction to both the subject matter and the process of doing philosophy as a Christian. It offers a blend of the analytic and personal which is too rarely found in contemporary philosophy." (Don C. Postema, Bethel College)
"Professor Hasker has produced an excellent introduction to metaphysics which avoids oversimplification and dognmatism, assesses major positions, takes some controversial stances, and is alert to the theological implications of metaphysical viewpoints." (Keith E. Yandell, University of Wisconsin)
About the Author
William Hasker (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is professor emeritus of philosophy at Huntington College in Huntington, Indiana. His books include Metaphysics: Constructing a World View; God, Time, and Knowledge; Reason and Religious Belief (with Michael Peterson, David Basinger and Bruce Reichenbach); The Openness of God (with Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders and David Basinger); Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings (edited with Michael Peterson, David Basinger and Bruce Reichenbach); The Emergent Self; Middle Knowledge: Theory and Applications (edited with David Basinger and Eef Dekker) and Providence, Evil and the Openness of God.
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Top Customer Reviews
emergentism: The mind is distinct from the brain (73). Like magnetic fields are produced by objects, the mind is produced by the brain. Or better: soul-field.
Speculative criticisms of free will: Hasker asserts that libertarianism is not “Pure chance” (44). Okay. I still ask, “is man’s decision to act floating in a realm of contingency?” I have not seen Hasker offer anything like God’s Providence to challenge this question. I can only assume the answer is yes.
Cons and Pros
Uneasy relationship between philosophy and theology. I agree with Hasker that we shouldn’t dismiss philosophy ala Karl Barth. It’s not clear, though, whom Hasker would allow to adjudicate competing claims. He wants philosophy to be “Free” (23) from theology. This unwittingly justified Van Til’s (and even Schaeffer’s, yikes!) charges of autonomy.
His opening chapter seemed to endorse a form of classical foundationalism. I say “seemed” because he hinted at something like it but didn’t develop it (a recurring problem in this book).
If he is a foundationalist, and his project rests upon foundationalist’s assumptions, and if foundationalism is proved wanting, does his project necessarily fall as well? Maybe.
While he gives a lucid discussion of libertarian free will, it’s hard to see how God’s providence factors in. In fact, he seems to rule it out: “he [the determinist] regards his efforts, choices, and actions as inevitable parts of the necessary and unalterable order of things” (38). If I then add the verse, “Declaring the end from the beginning” (Is. 46:10), it’s hard to see how Hasker can give that verse anything but poetic exaggeration. He does deal with predestination, but dismisses it (and divine foreknowledge) outright (51).
Hasker at this point in his career (1983) does not accept open theism, but he is pretty close (He denies that God knows future contingencies, p.53. Hasker holds that, but offers another argument: Divine Timelessness. God doesn’t know my future actions because there is no future for God. This is hard for the reader of Paul to accept, “chosen before the foundation of the world”).
The book is outdated beyond repair. The bibliography has few works past 1979. I don’t want to be a chronological snob, but it’s hard to do philosophy of religion without interacting with Plantinga or the a-theologians (Dawkins, Dennet).
While his brevity is fatal to his work in some areas, it does make it relatively easy to read. In this sense the book is a good intro to the subject--but only that. The book is decently written and accessible, something few--if any--books on metaphysics can say.
I found his take on emergentism as a solution to the mind-body problem interesting. I think there are difficulties, and I suspect that communicative categories are superior, but I won’t dismiss it outright.
He gives a number of interesting criticisms of pan(en)theism and process theology that I hadn’t thought of (if we are part of God and we get saved, is God saving himself? If not everyone is saved, then is part of God damned?)
Should you get the book? Sure, Why not? It is cheap, well-written, and accessible. However, it is woefully inadequate.
I would, however, agree that the use of a little more scripture would increase my appreciation of this book. I understand that philosophers do not appeal to the Bible as a source of truth in their discipline; however, I'd like to see, in a Christian book, the use of scripture to back up the philosophy.
Overall, excellent introductory book to Metaphysics.