Thursday, January 28, 2016

It’s Time for Reformational Philosophy

By Neal DeRoo

This post is part of an ongoing symposium interacting with Lambert Zuidervaart's book Religion, Truth, and Social Transformation: Essays in Reformational Philosophy. For more responses to the book, see our table of contents.

I am very excited about the forthcoming publication of Lambert’s book Religion, Truth and Social Transformation. For one thing, Lambert’s philosophical abilities are world-class—his ability to be clear and maintain consistency, even when using the most technical of vocabularies, is a wonderful blessing to those of us trying to make sense of the world in a systematic, philosophical way. His work isn’t easy to read, but it’s always helpful. Very helpful. And therefore the chance to read it is always welcome.

An occasion to read a more sustained account of Lambert’s interactions with reformational philosophy—something that is not only dear to my heart, but also near to my current research interests—is doubly promising and exciting for me. Clear, concise elucidation of the problems and promises inherent in the work of Dooyeweerd, Vollenhoven, and their followers is extraordinarily valuable, not least because neither of those men would be considered an excellent writer by anyone familiar with their work (and with good writing). Excellent thinkers and philosophers, perhaps; but no one has called their work easy to follow or simple to comprehend.

It was with excitement, then, that I received the invitation to join this on-going engagement with Religion, Truth and Social Transformation. I think that reformational philosophy has much to offer the philosophical world, and the world more broadly. Lambert articulates the promise of reformational philosophy very well, in a way that mirrors many of my own interests in it. I echo his desire for “an interdisciplinary, spiritually open, and socially engaged philosophy that seeks sociocultural renewal and the transformation of society” (20), “a philosophy that does not ignore the suffering of God’s creatures, a philosophy that seeks comprehensive wisdom in order to critique social evil” (22).[1]

I think that reformational philosophy has much to offer the philosophical world, and the world more broadly.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Living Philosophical Tradition of Redemptive Hope

By Doug Blomberg

This post is part of an ongoing symposium interacting with Lambert Zuidervaart's book Religion, Truth, and Social Transformation: Essays in Reformational Philosophy. For more responses to the book, see our table of contents.

I hesitate to write the response I have been invited to give to the Introduction to Lambert Zuidervaart's new book, given the time frame available and the fact that I am currently a long way from home, hunkered down in a basement apartment in Washington on what has been a weekend of historic snowfalls, without access to books, articles and other sources. However, I do not feel I should resile from this opportunity to mark and hopefully honour what my longtime friend and colleague has offered to us, so I am determined to bite the bullet. For this collection of essays, volume one of two to be published, is a great gift to the Reformational community, to Christian scholars and others generally, and to all those who are concerned to reflect and act on the need of our world for radical and comprehensive social transformation – both radical and comprehensive because it is rooted in the sacrifice of Jesus by which all things everywhere, and in all times, will be reconciled.

Zuidervaart is a scholar – I was tempted to say, through and through, but he is of course much more than this. His vocation, in the narrow but commonly understood sense, is scholarship, including of course, teaching. He is an intensely-focused, dedicated and consummate practitioner of his craft. Like all of those who take a stand within the Reformational tradition (and many more besides, of course), he offers his scholarship in service to God and neighbour. It is scholarship devoted to glorifying his Lord and bringing flourishing life to all God's creatures, human and otherwise, and these not as individual beings in isolation from one another, but as standing in inextricable interconnectedness. Thus, his scholarship incarnates the genius of Reformational philosophy, that scholarly investigation is always accountable to everyday people in their everyday lives.

Thus, [Zuidervaart's] scholarship incarnates the genius of Reformational philosophy, that scholarly investigation is always accountable to everyday people in their everyday lives.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Ground Motive Symposium on Lambert Zuidervaart's "Religion, Truth, and Social Transformation"


In April 2016, ICS Professor of Philosophy Lambert Zuidervaart's book, Religion, Truth, and Social Transformation: Essays in Reformational Philosophy, was published with McGill-Queen's University Press. To celebrate, Ground Motive hosted a blog symposium inviting a wide variety of authors to respond to the book essay by essay. At the end of the symposium, Dr. Zuidervaart provides a response to the event as a whole. Though the symposium is now over, we invite our readers to follow along and participate in this exciting conversation through the comment sections of each post. Below is a table of contents for the symposium, followed by the publisher's information about the book. Some of the essays are available in ICS's Institutional Repository and are linked.*

Table of Contents

Introduction: Transforming Philosophy

1 The Great Turning Point: Religion and Rationality in Dooyeweerd’s Transcendental Critique (2004)

2 Reformational Philosophy after Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven (2006)

3 Dooyeweerd’s Conception of Truth: Exposition and Critique (2008)

4 Dooyeweerd’s Modal Theory: Questions in the Ontology of Science (1973)

5 Fantastic Things: Critical Notes toward a Social Ontology of the Arts (1995)
[read, hosted at Philosophia Reformata]

6 God, Law, and Cosmos: Issues in Hendrik Hart’s Ontology (1985)

7 Artistic Truth, Linguistically Turned: Variations on a Theme from Adorno, Habermas, and Hart (2001)

8 The Inner Reformation of Reason: Issues in Hendrik Hart’s Epistemology (2004)

9 Metacritique: Adorno, Vollenhoven, and the Problem-Historical Method (1985)

10 Defining Humankind: Scheler, Cassirer, and Hart (1988)

11 Good Cities or Cities of the Good? Radical Augustinian Social Criticism (2005)
12 Religion in Public: Passages from Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (2010)

13 Macrostructures and Societal Principles: An Architectonic Critique (2011/2015)

14 Unfinished Business: Toward a Reformational Conception of Truth (2009)

15 Science, Society, and Culture: Against Deflationism (2007)

Epilogue: Earth’s Lament: Suffering, Hope, and Wisdom (2003)

Concluding Responses | Lambert Zuidervaart

Publisher's Overview

Reformational philosophy rests on the ideas of nineteenth-century educator, church leader, and politician Abraham Kuyper, and it emerged in the early twentieth century among Reformed Protestant thinkers in the Netherlands. Combining comprehensive criticisms of Western philosophy with robust proposals for a just society, it calls on members of religious communities to transform harmful cultural practices, social institutions, and societal structures.

Well known for his work in aesthetics and critical theory, Lambert Zuidervaart is a leading figure in contemporary reformational philosophy. In Religion, Truth, and Social Transformation - the first of two volumes of original essays from the past thirty years - he forges new interpretations of art, politics, rationality, religion, science, and truth. In dialogue with modern and contemporary philosophers, among them Immanuel Kant, G. W. F. Hegel, Martin Heidegger, Theodor Adorno, Jürgen Habermas, and reformational thinkers such as Herman Dooyeweerd, Dirk Vollenhoven, and Hendrik Hart, Zuidervaart explains and expands on reformational philosophy’s central themes. This interdisciplinary collection offers a normative critique of societal evil, a holistic and pluralist conception of truth, and a call for both religion and science to serve the common good.

Illustrating the connections between philosophy, religion, and culture, and daring to think outside the box, Religion, Truth, and Social Transformation gives a voice to hope in a climate of despair.
*Essays in the final publication may not be exactly the same as essays linked in the repository.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ICS Alum Michael Kelly to be Profiled on CBC Radio’s Tapestry

1 comment:
by Michael Kelly

On a Sunday afternoon in October, 2015, I was going about my typical Sunday afternoon, getting chores done and getting ready for the work week, and I was listening to the CBC Radio program Tapestry. I was fascinated by the subject of that day’s program, Howard Axelrod, who had suffered an injury which seriously affected his vision. This event led Mr. Axelrod to spend more than a year living in solitude, in an isolated cabin in the woods. I’ve long wished to do something like that (though perhaps for not quite as long!), so I listened with great interest to his story and how that time in solitude transformed him.

To the best of my recollection, Mr. Axelrod had been headed in a certain career direction, but the injury and subsequent period of isolation caused him to re-evaluate everything about himself and to alter the trajectory of his life and career.

After hearing this, I had to chuckle to myself because Mr. Axelrod’s story follows a familiar pattern, which typically goes like this: a person pursues a specific career path, finds success, and then at some point (usually the proverbial “mid-life” point) they experience an epiphany and decide to give up their successful business career in order to head into pastoral ministry, or something of the sort. I chuckled, because I, too, identify with that kind of mid-life change, and the gratification that such a change brings to life.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Fight Club and the Christian Faith

1 comment:

This post is part of our "popular mythology" series, investigating the intersections of religion and popular culture.

by Mark Novak

Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk in 1996, is a commentary on the state of humankind in the end of the 20th Century, and a critique of society, at least Western society, during that time. With Fight Club 2 released in comic book form starting in May 2015 and continuing into 2016, it is a story that continues to be compelling and relevant. The book’s[1] opening sentence – “the first step to eternal life is you have to die” (11) – is one that delves into questions surrounding the nature of humanity, and is a lead-in to the many foci of the book, including identity, consumerism, spirituality, and gender. The main character and narrator, a man who is anonymous, finds himself estranged from his job and suffering from insomnia. Part of his therapy is attending multiple self-help groups, at which he lies about having the condition addressed by that specific group, in order to create or discover meaning in his life and to improve his sleep. However, his ultimate therapy comes when he ‘meets’ Tyler Durden, with whom he creates Fight Club. The content of the resulting meta/physical journey and its commentary on human nature align well with certain Christian beliefs, and show both the issue of alienation in post/modern humanity, and that the road to redemption involves navigating a path of intense trial and tribulation.

The content of the resulting meta/physical journey and its commentary on human nature align well with certain Christian beliefs...

In Fight Club, Palahniuk conveys the notion that humanity as a whole is composed of beings that are out of touch with themselves. Readers are shown first through the main character, and subsequently through the individuals that join Fight Club, that the majority of individuals lead untrue lives: a false-self is projected and engaged with, while the true-self is repressed and hidden. The main character is left nameless which points to his anonymity, perhaps because of his routine and mediocre life. However, readers learn through the course of the novel that Tyler Durden is a manifestation of the anonymous narrator. Commentator Renee Lockwood says that this split personality is the ultimate act of consumerism, but “ironically represents the very empty and transient aspect of consumer culture against which a kind of holy war is waged.”[2] While a portion of the identity issue is explainable by consumerism, Tyler Durden can be seen to represent a truer and more in-touch-with-himself version of the narrator, and so is named.