Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Philosopher's Return to the Faith

There's a wonderful post up on Edward Feser's blog, describing in detail his journey-- apparently entirely through philosophy-- from atheism to Catholicism.

Edward Feser, if you don't know, is an American philosopher who works in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition. His book The Last Superstition was just what the doctor ordered when I was making my own way to faith. And his blog is always worth checking out, especially since it responds to specific arguments atheists and naturalists and materialists commonly make.

I don't know how it is with you, but I can't take an impersonal interest in an author. If I'm reading an article or a book, I want to know whether the writer is a man or a woman. Then I want to know what he or she looks like. Then I find myself wondering about his or her life history, working methods, political and religious beliefs, and so on. C.S. Lewis would be horrified and brand me a victim of the "personal heresy". So be it. Anyway, it's an interesting post.


  1. Back in 2005, Ed wrote the following on a previous incarnation of his blog:

    "Charity, tact, and prudence are therefore called for even in the context of polemical criticism - indeed, especially in the context of polemical criticism."

    The full blog post can be found at the Internet Wayback Machine.

    Would you say that Ed has observed these principals in The Last Superstition? (I've yet to read the book.)

    Congratulations on your betrothal, by the way.

  2. Thanks Jonny!

    I think Dr. Feser's polemics in The Last Superstition were fair enough. They were directed at antagonists (like Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett) etc. who have been unsparing in their ridicule of theists. As Dr. Feser points out, he is more respectful in his engagement with atheist philosophers who don't descend to playground tactics. (He actually has high praise for many more sober atheist philsophers.) This may not be turning the other cheek, but I think that injunction (like all Christ's words) require some interpretation.

    And I have to admit I enjoy a good polemic...

  3. Feser is a first class philosopher. Do you know that our own Gerard Casey has written an article against him? Well, it is a defence of Murray Rothbard more than a rejection of Feser's philosophy.

  4. I did know that! I actually read about half of Professor Casey's monograph on Murray Rothbard. I really liked his lectures but I didn't find the philosophical Rothbard book very convincing. Can pure philosophy really predict what would happen if you did away with the State entirely? I don't think so.

    I should also add that Professor Casey is always exceptionally pleasant whenever I've had to deal with him the library.

    I like Edward Feser's writing because he always seems to engage arguments at their strongest and to anticipate all the counter-arguments. I'm not saying I always understand him because I don't.