The Unforgivable Sin of Philosophy?

unknown-3A standard, albeit potted, way of characterizing the dominant modes of thought for ancient, modern, and postmodern intellectuals is in terms of the relationship between being and knowing. The concept of “being” has to do with metaphysics: what kinds of things exist and how do they relate? The concept of “knowing” has to do with epistemology: what can we know and how can we know it? For the ancient thinker, as the story goes, issues of being were primary and knowing secondary. In the modern era, this relationship was reversed: knowing determines being and not vice-versa. With the so-called postmodern era—an era I think has largely passed—neither being nor knowing are primary: rather our shared use of language determines what we can know, which in turn determines what there is.

In Defense of the Liberal Arts

unspecifiedThe purpose of the university, in the good old days, was to make fully functioning human beings. Alas today the purpose of the university is to created human doings, automaton who possess marketable skills—but are incapable of participating in a thoughtful conversation. The university, traditionally a place for the cultivation of intellectual and moral virtue, is today largely driven by market factors which place a priority on sports over academics, image over substance, and research—especially grant money research—over teaching. Only the fittest students and professors survive.

Answering Jihad

imagesTerrorist attacks by Muslims have almost become a routine of 21st century life. Daily it seems we read of new assaults by Muslims in the Middle East, Africa, and now, in Europe and North America. A very natural question to ask concerns the religion of Islam itself. Is Islam a religion of peace, as many claim, or is it a religion of violence, as my daily newsfeed suggests? Is the problem “radical” Islam or “fundamentalist” Islam or just run of the mill Islam? In our politically correct environment, these are not easy questions to answer. Yet, they have real implications: should America send troops to fight ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al-Qaeda? Should America allow Syrian refuges to enter the country? Should the future president ban all Muslims from entering the United States?

Could Jesus Sin? The Problem of the Incarnate Temptation

unknownThe consistent teaching of the New Testament is that Jesus, “the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) is himself without sin.[1] He is a perfect sacrifice for the sins of man because he himself, unlike the rest of us, never did wrong. He is without blemish. He is not bent, crooked, or fallen. There is, however, a philosophical problem lurking in the shadows.

The Illusory Freedom of Pop Culture

imagesWestern culture is changing at an astonishing speed today. Twenty-five years ago, when I graduated from college, cell phones were barely a known commodity. Today smart phones are a staple of contemporary life. Al Gore had not yet invented the internet. Today our family panics if the Wi-Fi goes out. Socially the country was largely conservative and the values were largely biblical. Oh how things have changed. The guiding principle today is “freedom”—freedom to do and be whatever one wants. Casting off the shackles of a repressive morality—anything goes. An important question to consider, however, is this; does the new “anything goes” morality work? In other words, does the pursuit of unfettered freedom really make one free?