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There is no attempt here to lay down as inviolable or to legislate certain ways of looking at things or ways of proceeding for philosophers of religion, only proposals for how to deal with a range of basic issues-proposals that I hope will ignite much fruitful discussion and which, in any case, I shall take as a basis for my own ongoing work in the field. -from the Preface Providing an original and systematic treatment of foundational issues in philosophy of religion, J. L. Schellenberg's new book addresses the structure of religious and irreligious belief, the varieties of religious skepticism, and the nature of religion itself. From the author's searching analysis of faith emerges a novel understanding of propositional faith as requiring the absence of belief. Schellenberg asks what the aims of the field should be, setting out a series of principles for carrying out some of the most important of these aims. His account of justification considers not only belief but also other responses to religious claims and distinguishes the justification of responses, propositions, and persons. Throughout Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion, Schellenberg is laying the groundwork for an elaboration of his own vision while at the same time suggesting how philosophers might rethink assumptions guiding most of today's work in analytic philosophy of religion.
The Will to Imagine completes J. L. Schellenberg's trilogy in the philosophy of religion, following his acclaimed Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion and The Wisdom to Doubt. This book marks a striking reversal in our understanding of the possibility of religious faith. Where other works treat religious skepticism as a dead end, The Will to Imagine argues that skepticism is the only point from which a proper beginning in religious inquiry-and in religion itself-can be made. For Schellenberg, our immaturity as a species not only makes justified religious belief impossible but also provides the appropriate context for a type of faith response grounded in imagination rather than belief, directed not to theism but to ultimism, the heart of religion. This new and nonbelieving form of faith, he demonstrates, is quite capable of nourishing an authentic religious life while allowing for inquiry into ways of refining the generic idea that shapes its commitments. A singular feature of Schellenberg's book is his claim, developed in detail, that unsuccessful believers' arguments can successfully be recast as arguments for imaginative faith. Out of the rational failure of traditional forms of religious belief, The Will to Imagine fashions an unconventional form of religion better fitted, Schellenberg argues, to the human species as it exists today and as we may hope it will evolve.
The Wisdom to Doubt is a major contribution to the contemporary literature on the epistemology of religious belief. Continuing the inquiry begun in his previous book, Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion, J. L. Schellenberg here argues that given our limitations and especially our immaturity as a species, there is no reasonable choice but to withhold judgment about the existence of an ultimate salvific reality. Schellenberg defends this conclusion against arguments from religious experience and naturalistic arguments that might seem to make either religious belief or religious disbelief preferable to his skeptical stance. In so doing, he canvasses virtually all of the important recent work on the epistemology of religion. Of particular interest is his call for at least skepticism about theism, the most common religious claim among philosophers. The Wisdom to Doubt expands the author's well-known hiddenness argument against theism and situates it within a larger atheistic argument, itself made to serve the purposes of his broader skeptical case. That case need not, on Schellenberg's view, lead to a dead end but rather functions as a gateway to important new insights about intellectual tasks and religious possibilities.
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