• Natality From Chaos: Hannah Arendt and Democratic Education

      Zuidervaart, Lambert; Van Dyk, Tricia K.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2006-08)
      This thesis considers contemporary education from a philosophical angle via the work of Hannah Arendt in light of education's key place a the intersection of responsibility for the past, empowerment to effect change in the present, and hope for the future. Chapter 1 sets out an understanding of human community as a chaotic system in the technical sense via Arendt's concept of natality, applying this understanding to the project of education as a way of helping educators facilitate students' ability to contribute something new without controlling students' potentially unique contributions. Chapter 2 questions in more detail the applicability of some of Arendt's philosophical and political ideas to multicultural education, addressing also the need for setting goals for action without assuming a deterministic, mathematically linear process. Chapter 3 examines Arendt's firm distinction between education and politics in the context of globalization and the possibility of continual renewal and transformation of our world.
    • A 'Sex'tet on Love: New Visions for Female Subjectivity and Mutuality

      Olthuis, James H.; Neufeld, Jennifer; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2006-05)
      A love ethic is the ground of agency and subjectivity for both men and women, and mutuality is the heart of love. Many feminist scholars are working to articulate and understand love by examining women's identity and language. In this thesis, I explore a language used for love and desire through theoretical examination and poetic expression. Using a dialectical relationship between the text and the reader, this project demonstrates that mutual love depends on access to language that can express love and sexuality. Three central texts are used: 'All About Love: New Visions' by bell hooks, 'I Love to You: Sketch of a Possible Felicity in History' by Luce Irigaray and 'Love Lyrics from the Bible: The Song of Songs, a New Translation' by Marcia Falk. In six sections of theoretic analysis and poetry, I show that female subjectivity and agency are conditions for mutuality in both love and sexuality.
    • Truth in Art: a Dialogue With Gadamer

      Dengerink-Chaplin, Adrienne; Dziedzic, Allyson Ann; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2006-03)
      "One of the most contentious issues in aesthetics is whether or not there can be truth in art. This is so because the question of the possibility of truth in art implicitly assumes two other fundamental questions: the nature of truth and the nature of human understanding. In his treatment of truth in art, Gadamer comes down roundly on the side of the possiblity of truth in art. In this thesis, I show how Gadamer's approval of truth in art hinges on his notion of hermeneutics and his belief in art's transformative power, and propose that his account of truth in art is still a viable and creative approach to the question today. After taking a look at the Kantian, Heideggerian, and Aristotelian background with which Gadamer is operating in his treatment of truth and art, I trace where this led Gadamer, specifically in the sense of his move to have aesthetics so closely connected to hermeneutics. Through interaction with work by Mary Devereaux, I highlight some concerns over Gadamer's use of tradition and of order as a fundamental feature of the artwork, and give an account of how those concerns may be addressed."
    • Excess, Sex & Elevation

      Zuidervaart, Lambert; Shuker, Ronald Kurt; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2006-01)
      Excess, Sex & Elevation is an attempt to understand the desire for truth in the work of Emmanuel Levinas, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Nothing is said about what truth is, but rather why it is wanted and how it is sought. Despite their different religious beliefs (Levinas a Jew, Nietzsche an atheist, Dostoevsky a Christian), the three thinkers hold remarkably similar conceptions of truth. Truth is an individual pursuit -- upwards. The self experiences a crisis of conscience upon discovering its originary excess, which is sex. The self suffers spiritually for what it is physically through the art of ascesis, turning the lust for sex into the desire for truth. And therein begins the self's elevation to the heights of truth.
    • Religion and Democracy: an Institutional Response to Robert Audi

      Chaplin, Jonathan; Dam, Ken; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2006)
      This thesis will enter into the discussion about the relationship between religion and politics to examine the proposals made by Robert Audi attempting to resolve perceived incompatible and incongruous tensions arising from politically active religion. Utilizing the work of Paul Weithman, Christopher Eberle, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Jeffrey Stout, and others, this essay examines Audi's epistemological and empirical arguments for justifying restraints upon religiously-based political advocacy. Contesting the viability of Audi's notion of a "secular reason," and his generalization that religiously-based political advocacy threatens the health and strength of a free and democratic society, I conclude that the types of restraints being put forward by Audi will likely hinder rather than help bring about more healthy and just societies. Nonetheless, Audi has helped identify a key lacuna within the arguments of those advocating the legitimacy of religiously-based and religiously motivated political advocacy and action. As such, this essay aims to provide a 'complementary' approach - one which works to clarify and situate concerns expressed by Audi regarding unrestrained religiously-based political advocacy and those of his critics desiring a more religiously-inclusive public political sphere.Ascribing to the political community the task of discerning the common good or some variant thereof (Audi speaks briefly of "political justice"; this essay proposes "public justice") is widespread within the academic literature. Few theorists, however, have allowed substantive reflection on what the political common good entails to significantly shape their considerations of and proposals regarding democratic legitimacy, appropriate restraints and guidelines for public-political dialogue, and ideals of citizenship. To that end, the thrust of the complementary approach will involve grounding and framing a religiously inclusive conception of the public-political sphere within what is being called the "institutional imperative" of the political community to pursue "public justice." Part and parcel of this institutional grounding involves re-examining concerns for civic respect, restraint, and dialogue in light of the guiding institutional norm of "public justice."
    • Sexually Transforming Salvation: a Reading of Luce Irigaray's Insistence on Sexual Difference

      Olthuis, James H.; VanderBerg, Natasja; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2005-12)
      This thesis suggests that Luce Irigaray's recent focus on spirituality in 'Luce Irigaray: key writings' makes explicit themes already suggested by her career-long insistence on the importance of sexual difference. It traces Irigaray's imagination of a dynamic, life-giving duality of sexual difference, suggesting that Irigaray's sexual difference displaces western philosophy's division between the natural and the spiritual; the earth and the sky; and mortals and the divine. In Irigaray's philosophy, cultivating sexual difference between men and women is the key to relinking the natural and the spiritual. This thesis calls this re-linking a religious task.Within this broad project, emphasis is placed on Irigaray's insistence that in order for sexual difference to be our redemption, women need to attend to creating a spiritual world appropriate to our own natural world. Indispensable to this project is the cultivation of a genealogy of mother-daughter relationships. This thesis explores this theme in Irigaray by discussing Drucilla Cornell's book, 'Legacies of dignity: between women and generations', as an Irigarayan genealogical exercise.This thesis also explores Irigaray's demand that western culture rethink its understanding of God. She suggests that we cultivate a sense of the divine as 'sensibly transcendent.' In order to highlight the distinction between Irigaray's divine and a monotheistic, transcendent God, this thesis turns to Patricia Huntington's article 'Contra Irigaray: the couple is not the middle term of the ethical whole.'The concluding chapter explores Irigaray's reworked notions of incarnation and salvation.Throughout these explorations, this thesis holds that Irigaray's re-integration of the natural and the spiritual will promote more ethical living -- with others, our selves, the earth and the divine.
    • Love's Circumscriptions - the self in hide(ing) - : Surviving and Reviving the Truth

      Olthuis, James H.; Leaman, Michele; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2005-11)
      I trace Jacques Derrida's notions of self and truth in Circumfession. This text paints a gruesome self-portrait depicting the inescapable violence of subjectivity. The self is born in blood. Derrida courageously confesses to being a casualty of this lovelessness. Similarly, exploring the depth of patriarchy's inscriptions requires facing the painful truth of my bleeding self. Investigating these wounds seems to reopen them, making me complicit in my own oppression. Drawing from the rich narrative of Ingeborg Bachmann's novel Malina, I allow feminists such as Helene Cixous, Luce Irigaray, Drucilla Cornell and bell hooks to engage Derrida's notions of the wounded and wounding self. Beginning in this bloody place, they attempt to write a way-out of the disempowering systems of subjectivity to which the female self seems confined. They write in order that love will bleed some light on the struggle for empowered female subjectivity, re-writing the self as a space of love rather than violence.
    • Reading The Brothers Karamazov in Burundi

      Ansell, Nicholas John; Atfield, Tom; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2005-10)
      In 1999, aged eighteen, I read 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Dostoevsky. I read this novel in Burundi, where I witnessed the suffering of others. The country's basic problem was civil war, which is best described in this terse note: "Rwanda, the sequel. Same story, different location. Nobody cares." The well-publicised problems in Rwanda in 1994 didn't end, they went next-door. The only thing separating the problems of those two countries was the most heavily landmined stretch of road on the planet. It was on this road, which was littered with the remains of vehicles and people, that I experienced the immediacy of 'the problem of evil'.I had hoped that the book I held in my hands on those lifetime-long hours on the road would resonate with my experience. Ivan Karamazov's accusation of the God who creates a world of atrocities seemed fuelled by an unflinching look at senseless, disteleological suffering. I had hoped that Ivan, with his face turned against God, could countenance the horror I saw. Karamazov's stance has been seen as the antithesis of theodicy, which is the attempt to reconcile faith in God with the existence of evil. This antithesis seems to overcome the distance between the experience of real suffering and the account of that suffering given by academic theodicy. Ultimately, however, that distance remains. Dostoevsky's protagonist in his railing against God connects no more with the victims in this world than a writer of theodicy does with her defence of God.
    • The Nature of Critical Theory and Its Fate: Adorno vs. Habermas, Ltd.

      Zuidervaart, Lambert; Klaassen, Matthew J.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2005-10)
      Jurgen Habermas argues for a paradigm change in critical theory from Theodor W. Adorno's philosophy of consciousness to his own linguistically-turned theory. Habermas claims that Adorno's conception of reason sets up an antagonistic relationship between subject and object that can only be overcome by a non-rational mimesis with nature. This thesis defends Adorno against Habermas, and argues that the linguistic turn is a mistake. Chapter 1 outlines Habermas's critique, and corrects some of his specific misunderstandings of Adorno. Chapter 2 offers a positive defense of Adorno. By means of an expanded notion of nature, Adorno shows how the relation between subject and object need not be the antagonistic one characteristic of so much of modern philosophy. Chapter 3 argues that it is not Adorno's dialectical thought, but Habermas's linguistically-turned critical theory that suffers from an inability properly to articulate the relation between subject and object.
    • Confluent Confessions: the Flowing Together of Deconstruction and/as Religious Confession

      Olthuis, James H.; DeRoo, Neal; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2005-08)
    • The Politics of Jesus and the Power of Creation

      Ansell, Nicholas John; Parler, Branson L.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2005)
      This study examines the theology and social ethics of John Howard Yoder with a view toward how creation and redemption are related in his theology. The first chapter examines Yoder's aversion to certain construals of creation and argues that he is not inherently hostile to creation as such, but is cautious with respect to the possible abuse of creation as a theological and ethical category. The second chapter evaluates the nature of the state in Yoder's theology, examines his view of the Powers in this context, and argues that his view of redemption can be seen as a restoration of an eschatologically open creation. The third chapter compares Yoder's theology and social ethics with those of J. Richard Middleton, arguing that there may be a potential for interconnection between Yoder's Anabaptistic focus on the politics of Jesus and Middleton's Reformational emphasis upon the goodness of the power of creation seen in the imago Dei of Genesis I.
    • Hart and Plantinga On Our Knowledge of God

      Hart, Hendrik; Huisman, John; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2004-08)
      The thesis explores and takes a stand with respect to the differences between the religious epistemologies of Alvin Plantinga and Hendrik Hart. For Plantinga, direct rational knowledge of God "in Himself" is possible because it is grounded in the experience of our rational faculties. For Hart, direct rational knowledge of God's nature is impossible because God transcends the created order and, therefore, the limits of rational understanding. Our knowledge of God, as a consequence, can only be faith knowledge that is decidedly indirect and metaphoric in nature. Plantinga believes that such views are Kantian in inspiration and that they turn our knowledge of God into nothing more than rationally incoherent "disguised nonsense." The thesis shows that Plantinga's own philosophical theology fails to meet the rational standards he sets for religious knowledge, his critique of Kantian religious epistemologies fails to apply to Hart's position, and that he himself allows for indirect knowledge of God in certain instances. The thesis concludes by noting if our knowledge of God can be indirect in some instances without also being rationally incoherent disguised nonsense, then perhaps Hart is not wrong for regarding it to be indirect in all instances.
    • The Challenge of Love: Impossible Difference, Levinas and Irigaray

      Olthuis, James H.; Baker, Larry Joseph; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2004-08)
      Engaging the question of postmodern ethical intersubjectivity in the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Luce Irigaray I attempt to move beyond Levinas sacrificial view of intersubjectivity with Irigaray's critique of sexual difference. I argue that Levinas view of ethical 'subjectivity' is violently conditioned by a necessary narcissim located in Levinas's description of the feminine dwelling. Instead of narcissim I argue with Irigaray for a way of love that offers an ethical relationship bonded in mutuality. This way of love is rooted in an understanding of the primordial matter of life as good for intersubjective-relationships that do not depend upon narcissim for connection. Concluding this study I suggest that his kind of intersubjectivity can be rooted in a primordial way of life found in the rhythm of breath.
    • Discovering Connection: The Dynamic Tension and a 'More-Than' in an Eckhartian Conception of Soul

      Sweetman, Robert; Schulz-Wackerbarth, Yorick Immanuel; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2004-02)
      This thesis is first and foremost the result of my grappling with the works of Meister Eckhart. Accordingly, I intend to present here my reading of Eckhart's thought. This reading, my struggle to interpret the Meister, was, from the beginning, however, motivated by the aim to join a certain conversation. This conversation is what I have come to know as 'Christian philosophy'. I am new to the circles of those who admit to be participating in this scandalous project, yet already I have become quite aware of the controversy pervading this notion. It comes to the fore not only in the critical voices from the 'outside', questioning its meaning, relevance and legitimacy, but also in a lack of 'internal' consensus concerning its entailments. This is not necessarily a point of criticism on my part. In fact, I am much a proponent of conversations or projects that have an openness to them and lack clear cut deliminations. It does, however, make a brief apologia in preparation to this thesis necessary. I have no ambition whatsoever to state here what Christian philosophy is or should be. God forbid! I merely deem it important to place my project in context, and for that purpose I intend here to point out to the reader the direction I am facing. Thus, what needs to be clarified at the outset of my argument is that particular understanding of Christian philosophy this thesis intends to engage. The question here is, where and how to locate the conversation this thesis hopes to join. [from Prologue, p. 3]
    • The Triunity of Life: On the Unity of the Vollenhoven Project

      Sweetman, Robert; Kamphof, Eric J.; Institute for Christian Studies (Eric Kamphof, 2004)
    • Conceiving the Miraculous: At the Limits of Deconstruction

      Olthuis, James H.; Moord, Lucas Martin; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2004)
      With a view to Jacques Derrida's rearticulation of Plato's khoral myth I consider the possibility of non-oppositional difference within a relational economy - a notion that Derrida seems quite resistant to. By framing a discussion in terms of Derrida's critical interaction with phenomenology, looking specifically to Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt, I attempt to mark the context from which deconstruction emerges as a philosophical position. In a general sense, I deal with Derrida's conception of the relational space in-between persons, places and things, and the implications of his appropriation of khora for thinking about how we properly relate to one another.
    • A Critical Assessment of Will Kymlicka's Theory of Minority Rights: Dilemmas of Liberal Multiculturalism

      Chaplin, Jonathan; Hys, Dmytro; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2004)
      This thesis argues that to take into account only liberal interpretations of multicultural dilemmas would be insufficient and unrealistic in assessing the claims of justice for ethnocultural diversity. The current liberal approach as offered by Will Kymlicka is a good beginning for ethnic conflict management. However, his theory is marked by a number of limitations due to the fact that he operates only with the principles and norms of liberal institutions. In modern multiculturally constituted democracies, the presence and constant increase of cultural diversity challenges the self-understanding of liberal democracy. Kymlicka's liberal theory of multiculturalism has been challenged by several political theorists, who emphasize the insufficiency of his approach due its reliance on liberal readings of ethnic conflicts. [from Introduction, p. [1]]
    • Not Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself: Thomas Reid's Epistemology in the Light of Artistotle's "De Anima"

      Sweetman, Robert; DeMoor, Michael; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2003-09)
      This thesis argues that, in spite of his explicit denunciation of Aristotle's theory of perception and thought, Thomas Reid's own theory of perception marks a return to the central themes of Aristotle's theory. It is argued, first, that Aristotle's 'De Anima' presents an account of sensation and thought in which the functions of the object of perception play the determining role with respect to the structure, order and intelligibility of the act of perception. Thomas Aquinas' and Descartes' transformation of Aristotle's account are then discussed, showing how the "apparatus" of Aristotle's theory remains while the ground of order and intelligibility is shifted from the functions of the object of perception to those of the perceiver as subject. The theories of the British empiricists are then shown to be continuous with this transformation of Aristotle's thought. Finally, it is argued that Reid returns to an objectivism by way of his rejection of the subjectivistic transformation wrought by Descartes et al. It is argued that this rejection is not---as Reid himself believes---a rejection of the crucial aspects of Aristotle's theory, but instead constitutes a return to its primary themes and theses.
    • The Quest for Rational Agreement: a Critical Assessment of Alasdair MacIntyre's Attempt to Overcome Relativism

      Chaplin, Jonathan; Gassanov, Samir; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2003-02)
    • On the Problem of Common Ground: Van Til, Dooyeweerd and Thomas Kuhn

      Hart, Hendrik; Lee, Joongjae; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2001)