This book is an important, fascinating set of essays that delineate the notion of the religion of conscience in Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant. Pacini (Emory Univ.) uses this narrative to engage Wittgenstein, Freud, and Karl Barth. His history demonstrates the loss of an understanding of God as wholly other in the wake of Enlightenment beliefs that an autonomous subject could determine what was good and moral on the basis of rationality alone. This shift led to the loss of an understanding of God as being outside the human subject. The celebration of autonomy and the self-legislating subject made certain issues in ethics, self-understanding, and moral formation problematic. Pacini's conclusion introduces Freud and Barth to provide psychological and theological critiques of the Enlightenment conscience. The author's ability to make philosophical and psychoanalytic debates integral to a theological narrative is a rare achievement.
Focuses on writings by Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant in a study of the concept of conscience in modern philosophical theology.
Pacini's book provides a very original, lively, and well-informed accountof difficulties in the modern notion of conscience, which came to dominatephilosophical perspectives on Christianity in the period from Hobbes throughRousseau and Kant. The volume is an excellent general study of a key topic inthe development of modernity, and it provides insightful criticisms of Kant'sphilosophy of religion in particular.-Karl Ameriks
About the Author
DAVID S. PACINI is Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Emory University.