Ratzlaff, Caleb(Institute for Christian Studies, 2015-08-31)
In retrospect this learning experience lead me to two conclusions. First, the way we hold someone responsible must reflect the openness and vulnerability of the actor and those to whom she relates. What we do when we hold someone responsible, administering a sentence, for example, must respond to the unending process of interaction and transformation that defines the human person in intersubjective life. This essentially describes the meaning and limits of holding someone responsible. The second lesson was more directly addressed in this thesis. It concerns the idea that the uncertain and vulnerable characteristics of the self that accompany our transformability, are not simply detriments to responsibility. Rather, the uncertain nature of a self as it exists in relationship with others is a condition of meaningfulness, responsibility, and love. As a condition of responsibility, our finitude calls for the sustaining ethical practices of promises and forgiveness. Uncertainty, even in its greatest manifestations as birth and death, is something we can embrace.
Vanderleek, Ethan P.(Institute for Christian Studies, 2016-04)
Michel Henry (1922-2002) was a leading 20th century French philosopher in the school of phenomenology. The final three books of his career focus on explicitly Christian themes and texts, and these books are now known as his “Christian trilogy”. This essay focuses on this trilogy in an exposition of Henry’s Christology, his concept of the Self, and how Christology and selfhood relate to each other. The exposition of Henry’s thought on this issue is stated in the following thesis, broken into three sections: 1) God always reveals himself as Christ 2) who reveals the Truth of the Self, 3) this revelation being identical with salvation. Said again, 1) God’s Revelation is always God’s self-revelation in Christ, and is never separate from 2) the human condition of the Self as a Son of God, and this condition is never separate from 3) salvation. Revelation, selfhood, and salvation. This essay is largely expository but several constructive attempts are made to apply Henry’s philosophy of Christianity to key theological themes, namely atonement, pneumatology, and ecclesiology.
Polce, Jonathon Emil(Institute for Christian Studies, 2016-05)
The concept of the gift has received ample philosophical attention in recent decades. Thinkers such as Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Marion have been major contributors to the conversation philosophically. However, their conclusions around the gift -- while generating many fruitful notions -- leave the gift impoverished from our ordinary experience. Further, their reflections make it difficult to predicated giftedness of existence. This thesis argues for a need to rethink the gift along different lines which seeks to widen the gift in order to be able to predicate it of existence. In order to make such an argument, the ideas of Kenneth Schmitz on the gift are recovered. Schmitz argues for an understanding of giftedness that includes a notion of reciprocity and receptivity -- contra Marion and Derrida. It is this notion of receptivity that makes Schmitz' framework able to be predicated of existence. Existence, understood as gifted, opens up fruitful avenues for anthropology and ethics, as well as argues for a certain disposition towards reality that is centered in wonder and gratitude.
Morrisey, Jeffrey James(Institute for Christian Studies, 2012-05)
Drawing on the ideas of J.G. Fichte and M. Merleau-Ponty, I argue that experience and freedom are intersubjective, linguistic, and bodily. In the first chapter, I take up Fichte's three "fundamental principles" from the Science of Knowledge alongside his ideas of embodiment and intersubjectivity from the Foundations of Natural Right to show that all experience is an indefinite mixture of self and not-self, and, therefore, that both the experiences of self-consciousness and its freedom must also be accomplished with reference to the not-self, and particularly others. The second chapter is an examination of Merleau-Ponty's account of expression in his Phenomenology of Perception. The key insight I pursue here is that the medium of expression, which makes possible all significance, is bodily and intersubjective, and that any expressive act is therefore both self-opaque and soliciting cooperation. In the end, I turn to how this cooperation, i.e. freedom, should be enacted.
Knibbe, Stefan(Institute for Christian Studies, 2015-05)
C.S. Lewis is perhaps as well known for his life story as his literary accomplishments. Central to that narrative is his shocking conversion from atheism to Christianity. Despite this Surprised by Joy, Lewis's primary work on the subject, has not been the centre of a focused study. This thesis reveals that, prior to writing Surprised by Joy, Lewis developed a growing appreciation for how experiences and story factored in religious belief. Rather than focusing on arguments, Surprised by Joy tells the story of how Lewis came to terms with his fundamental experiences of the world. Tension between these experiences and his worldview drove Lewis onward until they were reconciled by his acceptance of The True Myth. Using Vollenhoven's Reformed Philosophy, I show the implications of Surprised by Joy: that the stories we feel ourselves to be living in circumscribe our experiences and knowledge, and that conversion involves coming to inhabit the biblical story.
Dettloff, Dean(Institute for Christian Studies, 2015)
This thesis explores the cultural ideology of cynicism as identified and critiqued by Peter Sloterdijk, who describes cynicism as an "enlightened false consciousness" that is "universal and diffuse." As an ideology, cynicism perpetuates the conditions of unjust society, but it is impervious to criticism. Instead of further critique, the thesis suggests religious traditions can offer means of overcoming the enclosure of cynical consciousness. Chapter one outlines Sloterdijk's approach to cynicism, including its historical development. Chapter two considers cynicism as a problem of self-understanding and proposes religion reveals that human beings are malleable through practices and techniques. Chapter three looks at three such techniques--awareness, compassion, and creativity--and offers them as solutions to cynical consciousness. The thesis aims, overall, to offer a way of considering the continued relevance and possibility of religious traditions, practices, and techniques to a cynical society such that alternative self-understandings and alternative social configurations might be made possible.
Hanna, Eric James John(Institute for Christian Studies, 2013-07)
An interpretation and application of the key insights about the I and the other from Emmanuel Levinas' book: Totality and Infinity. The first chapter interprets Levinas' terminology, specifically his notions of the I and the other, and shows how he describes human experience. The second chapter explores how the other is transcendent to the I as a site of ongoing possibility for the significance of experience, how the other founds the I during human development in the person of the caregiver, and how the I's basic relationship to the other has an ethical character. The third chapter applies these insights to show how they can lead to a more authentic living out of interpersonal relationships and to better ways of thinking about human living in social and political contexts.
Van't Land, Andrew R.(Institute for Christian Studies, 2013-08-21)
This thesis engages the controversial work of political theologian John Milbank in light of the conceptual tools developed by the classical rhetorical tradition (particularly Augustine, Cicero, and Aristotle). I respond to three key criticisms of Milbank's anti-foundationalist metaphysics by re-describing his project as philosophical rhetoric. Firstly, while Milbank's polemical stance is often criticized as being primarily negative, I argue instead that it serve his larger goal of positively identifying with two traditions: orthodox Christianity and Continental post-structuralism. Secondly, while Milbank's metaphysics is critiqued as undermining his metarhetorical anti-foundationalism, I argue that both discursive modes (and their epistemological, political, and aesthetic implications) account for one another in his work. Thirdly, while the aggressive style of Milbank's scholarship is often criticized as contradicting the content of his ontology of peace, I propose instead that Milbank attempts to use the power of discourse to promote the peaceful Christian mythos.
Sheridan, Joanna(Institute for Christian Studies, 2015-05)
This thesis attempts to resolve the learner's paradox on the basis of Merleau-Ponty's insights in the Phenomenology of Perception by showing that the paradox is misleading in at least two important ways: it presumes that our "knowing" relation to the world operates in the form of explicit knowledge, whereas really we mainly operate on the basis of a pre-reflective familiarity with various things; and, it presumes that we are "in charge" of our learning, whereas really learning is part of the ongoing coupling of self and world. The first chapter offers a reading of Plato's Meno that argues that Plato implicitly offers a solution to the paradox that is compatible with Merleau-Ponty's. The second chapter explicates Merleau-Ponty's own version of the learner's paradox. The third chapter criticizes the learner's paradox from the Meno using Merleau-Ponty's insights. The conclusion offers a few ideas on what shape teaching should take, given the foregoing account of learning, that are drawn from John Locke's "Some Thoughts Concerning Education."
Tebbutt, Andrew(Institute for Christian Studies, 2013-03-21)
In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt identifies the central principle that has defined Christian communities since their earliest appearance as “worldlessness.” On Arendt’s analysis, Christianity has always tended to found relations between people on charity, a virtue that, due to its affiliation with the anti-political experience of passionate love, is incapable of serving as the basis of any public realm or common political world. This thesis aims to reconcile the virtue of charity to Arendt’s political vision on the basis of a reconsideration of love’s “worldlessness.” In the first two chapters, I characterize Arendt as a political thinker and provide an account of her ideas of political action and the common world. In the third chapter, I place Arendt’s understanding of the world in dialogue with Jean-Luc Marion’s phenomenological account of charity, which dissociates charity from the idea of passion and presents it as an act of will through which one resolves to see past the simple objectivity of the world and to perceive the invisible “flesh” or personhood of others. Charity is “worldless”—and thus crucial to an Arendtian understanding of politics—in the sense that it looks beyond what the world automatically makes present in order to “see” the other person and to invite her voice into the common world of speech and action.
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