by Lambert Zuidervaart
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.
Hendrik Hart and Calvin Seerveld when I studied at ICS in the 1970s have shaped all of my work since then. I hold Henk and Cal in the highest esteem, both as scholars and as persons. That has not stopped me from sometimes disagreeing with them, however, or from taking their contributions in directions they would not have taken. So my essays on second-generation reformational philosophy in Part Two have particular significance, especially for my ongoing work in truth theory. That might help explain why the current post, in response to commentaries on Part Two, is a little longer than my previous two posts. At stake, for me, are the philosophical character and contemporary tasks of reformational philosophy.
My colleague Ron Kuipers raises questions concerning the philosophical character of discussions about “ultimate beliefs and conceptions of divinity.” Specifically, he wonders about my “seeming insistence that critical intellectual discussion” of such matters “must be or is always ‘philosophical’ in nature”—why couldn’t it be theological or sociological, for example? I can quickly set readers at ease on this score. I do not think such discussions must be philosophical. My point in the chapter “God, Law, and Cosmos” (chapter 6) is more delimited. It has to do with what one can expect of such discussions when they occur in a philosophical book written by a philosopher and when they do significant philosophical work. Perhaps Kuipers does not think one should have such expectations—he describes “philosophical” as “just another kind of writing, with its own virtues and vices.” But if it is a kind of writing, and if it has its own virtues and vices, then one can at least ask how philosophical writing differs from other kinds of writing, and what its virtues and vices are. If one takes a position on such questions, one will have definite expectations about the sorts of discussions that occur in a philosophical book written by a philosopher and that do significant philosophical work.
Kuipers himself calls attention to the “totalitarian pretensions of philosophical discourse,” and he shares Hendrik Hart’s suspicions about them. Kuipers also shares Hart’s desire to leave room for mystery, although he says we can experience mystery in language. To describe philosophical discourse as having “totalitarian pretensions” is to conflate two different issues, however. One issue has to do with the scope and methods of philosophical inquiry. On this issue I agree with Dooyeweerd, Vollenhoven, and much of the Western philosophical tradition that philosophy properly studies all of creation, and it does so in a comprehensive and theoretically vigorous way. It should do so, I think, with a view both to inquiries and findings in other disciplines and to issues and challenges in society and daily life. In this sense, philosophy is what one could call a “totality discipline.” There is nothing improper or dangerous about that. Indeed, Hart’s Understanding Our World takes a similar stance on the tasks of philosophy in general and of ontology in particular.
The second issue raised by calling philosophical discourse “totalitarian” pertains to the finality and power philosophers have assigned to their work—which, to be sure, can be both ideologically loaded and idolatrous in spirit. Like Kuipers and Hart, I have little patience for illegitimate pretensions to absolute knowledge in philosophy. Yet I do think exposing such pretensions and offering an alternative, one that embraces philosophy’s traditional aspirations to be a totality discipline, are crucial contributions for reformational philosophers to make. For this, playing Wittgensteinian language games or engaging in Rortian edification will not suffice.
But what about mystery? What about that which exceeds the grasp of philosophical knowledge? What about that which does not belong to “all of creation”? What about God? To begin, one must acknowledge that mystery is not external to philosophy—philosophy itself begins in wonder at much that resists human understanding. I see no reason why philosophy should stop before it starts, why it should not try to meet wonder with attempts to understand, even when the mystery pertains to what exceeds philosophy’s grasp or is not within creation or is considered divine. Simply to speak of what exists as “creation” is to assume a divinity belief of some sort; any attempt to provide a full-scale ontology for “all of creation” will require some elaboration of such a divinity belief. In my own work, for example, when I describe societal principles as “love-callings,” I rely upon an understanding of God as not only creator and redeemer but also as a creation-partnering God of love. Even though many contemporary philosophers would frown upon including such openly “theological” language within philosophical writing, here too I see no reason why philosophy should stop before it starts. God-talk is intrinsic to good reformational philosophy. I see no reason either to relegate it to the margins of a “prescientific” Appendix or to restrict it to overtly religious or poetic endeavors.
Even though many contemporary philosophers would frown upon including such openly “theological” language within philosophical writing, here too I see no reason why philosophy should stop before it starts. God-talk is intrinsic to good reformational philosophy.
Normativity and Differentiation
Saying this raises issues about how I view the relations among religion, art, and philosophy. It also points to questions about my account of rationality. These matters come up in the commentaries by Adrian Atanesescu and Hendrik Hart on chapters 7 and 8, respectively. Atanesescu raises two sets of questions. The first set pertains to the nexus of modern differentiation and “Habermas’s idea of rationality as the discursive redemption of the three validity claims” of truth, rightness, and sincerity or authenticity.
Because I have addressed such questions in other writings, and because adequate answers would require a much longer essay, let me make a few incomplete remarks. I regard modern differentiation as a relatively good process that nevertheless is deeply problematic. My historiographic story is not one of “rationalization” but rather of a “dialectic between structural differentiation and normative distortion,” within the horizon of “interconnected flourishing,” as I put it in chapter 13 (256). For me, normativity has primarily to do with socially embedded fidelity to societal principles. Moreover, the Hegelian distinction between “morality” and “ethics” applies to every social domain, including not only polity, economy, and civil society but also art, religion, and science. A specific societal principle sets the tone in each of these domains, such that the relevant practices within a domain involve an ongoing tension between more parochial and more universal pursuits of fidelity to, say, justice or resourcefulness or solidarity. In this sense, if by “morality” one means a distinct social domain devoted to the making and vindicating of rightness claims, then, contra Habermas, there is no moral domain. There is, however, a heightened awareness in modern Western societies of the tensions between more parochial and more universal attempts to be faithful to societal principles.
This stance on normativity implies, in turn, that, as a social institution, art has its own “normativity” whose relation to the normativity of other social domains is not simply external to art. Elsewhere I try to explain such intrinsic normativity in terms of art’s “relational autonomy.” I argue that art is (or should be) autonomous, but art’s autonomy is both anchored in what I call “artistic truth” and tied up with what I call “social ethics.” In other words, the modern differentiation of art from science, “morality,” and religion need not be—indeed, should not be—regarded as a separation. Rather it is a (potentially) life-enriching complexification, despite the powerful systemic, cultural, and technological countervailing forces that the modern process of differentiation unleashes.
The second set of issues raised by Atanesescu pertains to the “secularist premise” built into Habermas’s linguistic turn and how that premise affects my understanding of disclosure in art and religion. Although Habermas’s discourse principle (D) holds important insights into the presuppositions and parameters of rational discourse, I do not think discourse ethics “can replace the authority of the sacred,” as Habermas claims in The Theory of Communicative Action. Rational discourse can “redeem” (i.e., vindicate) validity claims, but it cannot redeem us or the societies and cultures we inhabit. Nor does the discursive redemption of validity claims provide the key to either artistic or religious truth.
Artistic truth and religious truth do give rise to validity claims, and participants in art and religion do need to enter discourse about such claims when these are challenged. Yet validity claims and discourse about them are not the key to such truth. Rather, as I explain at greater length elsewhere, a dynamic correlation between imaginative cogency (i.e., the societal principle of aesthetic validity) and imaginative disclosure makes up artistic truth. The related claims about authenticity, integrity, and significance that arise in art talk are rooted in this dynamic correlation. If authenticity, integrity, and significance were never achieved in art itself, no art talk about them would be valid, no matter how sophisticated the discursive attempts to vindicate such claims.
Artistic truth and religious truth do give rise to validity claims, and participants in art and religion do need to enter discourse about such claims when these are challenged. Yet validity claims and discourse about them are not the key to such truth.
A similar pattern holds for religious truth. As chapter 12 argues, organized religion is a distinct social institution. As such it also is a distinct social domain of truth, distinct not only from art but also from science. The distinctness of religious truth lies in the specific correlation of fidelity and disclosure that occurs in organized religion. It does not take place between imaginative cogency and imaginative disclosure, as it does in artistic truth. Nor does it occur between logical validity and propositional disclosure, as it does in scientific truth. Rather, religious truth consists in a dynamic correlation between the societal principle of faith and the sort of disclosure that occurs in worship. Or, to say this a little more carefully and completely, I characterize religious truth as a process of worshipful disclosure in dynamic correlation with human fidelity to the societal principle of faith as hopeful trust.
This characterization does not mean that imagination and propositional insight play no role in religious practices. Nor does it mean that the search for religious truth can ignore the societal principles of imaginative cogency and logical validity. Like art, and like science too, religion is multidimensional, and the truth it promotes is connected with truth in other social domains. Yet my approach does suggest that, within religion as a distinct social institution, neither imaginative nor propositional truth properly predominates. It is a mistake to reduce religious insight to nothing more than either the work of imagination or a topic for argumentation. Hence, with respect to the imaginative dimension of religious practices, it is probably better to say that imagination serves the pursuit of worshipful disclosure in hopeful trust than to say, as I misleadingly said in chapter 7, that “faith talk and beliefs of faith function as means of imaginative disclosure” within religion (175). Similarly, with respect to the propositional and logical dimension of religious practices, one can say that this dimension serves the pursuit of religious truth without claiming that faith talk and beliefs of faith function as means of propositional disclosure.
Faith and Reason
Perhaps this last point sheds light on the running debate about rationality that I have had with my mentor Hendrik Hart since the early 1980s: where I hear him giving up the rationality of faith, he hears me placing my faith in rationality. Both descriptions are caricatures, of course, but there’s something to them. Hart’s response to chapter 8 raises several questions about my attempt to reframe the notion of rationality from one that emphasizes propositions and order to one that emphasizes linguistic communication and intersubjective validity claims. First, does this attempt actually avoid realism? Second, does it give reason a privileged or exclusive relation to validity? Third, does it make reason the source of legitimacy for practices of faith? Fourth, do I subscribe to an “ontic realism of the Trinity”? Let me respond briefly, without pretending to address these questions adequately.
First, it is hard to see how a focus on communicative validity would commit one to a realist account of the relation between reason and what reason is about. On the account I recommend, reason has to do with primarily linguistic practices in which people raise and vindicate validity claims. When they make an assertion, for example, they simultaneously raise a claim to the correctness of this assertion. When they make a promise, they simultaneously raise a claim to the appropriateness or legitimacy of making this promise. So the focus of my account lies on the claims people make and on how they make and vindicate them, not on some “mind-independent” reality.
It is so, of course, that when we discursively sort out such validity claims, we do appeal, for example, to “how things are” or “what is the right thing to do.” Yet one can account for such matters without positing a mind-independent reality, whether that reality be Order or Validity or Law. At least one can do this if one begins with the intersubjective character of linguistic communication and the interdependence of “subject” and “object,” as I have tried to show in an essay on Habermas’s truth theory, and as I hope to demonstrate at greater length in two monographs on truth.
Nevertheless, one might wonder, as Hart does, whether what I call a “post-anti/realist” approach gives reason a privileged or exclusive relation to validity. At one level, it does. For I argue that detecting and testing the validity of our claims is precisely the specific task of rational practices. Yet there is much that rational practices cannot do with respect to validity, and at these levels reason does not have a privileged or exclusive relation to validity. For example, rational practices cannot make an artwork authentic when it is inauthentic, nor can they make our religious practices true when they are false. Nor can rational practices ensure that we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).
Still, rational practices can and do help us sort out whether our linguistically articulated claims are valid, and in which respects. If I say an artwork is authentic, you can challenge this assertion and I can try to back it up. If I claim to do something out of love for God and you doubt this, you can ask me to demonstrate religious sincerity. Given the grandiose claims made about reason in the past, such sorting of validity claims may not seem like much. It is not to be sneezed at, however, especially in a society where religious fundamentalism, celebrity politics, and xenophobic hatred run rampant. At the same time, of course, my account gives reason a limited role: I do not trust in reason to save us.
Does my approach nonetheless make reason the source of legitimacy for practices of faith? I would say no, no more than this approach makes rational practices the source of legitimacy for artistic practices. What makes religious practices and artistic practices legitimate is whether they are true, and what makes them true is the extent to which, within their own distinctive social domains, they manifest fidelity to societal principles and contribute to interconnected flourishing. Hence the legitimacy of religious practices neither stems from rational practices nor requires a final stamp of approval from reason.
Does my approach nonetheless make reason the source of legitimacy for practices of faith? I would say no, no more than this approach makes rational practices the source of legitimacy for artistic practices.
Nevertheless, the truth of religious practices needs to be borne out, in a multidimensional process I call authentication, and part of authenticating truth is to offer justification for claims made in the name of religion when these claims are challenged. The fact, for example, that assertions about God’s will for human life function as means of faithful and worshipful disclosure in a religious context does not exempt these assertions from rational scrutiny and contestation, whether among the members of a religious community or within a wider public. If one does not see such discursive justification as part and parcel of what it means to practice religion in the contemporary world, one throws the doors wide open for the worst sorts of religious dogmatism and fundamentalism, which are not only politically problematic but also, and most importantly, religiously false. Perhaps most religious adherents do not worship and trust as they do because they have rational justification for doing so. This, however, does not—and should not—exempt them from attempting such justification when their religious claims are challenged. In this very specific sense, I cannot accept Hart’s assertion that “whatever the faithful are confessionally committed to in their life of faith will be held as non-negotiable.” Worship and trust need not be—and should not be—dogmatic.
Yet, somewhat surprisingly, I seem to have a more tolerant view of classical Christian theology than Hart has. From my passing reference to “the Trinitarian complexity of God’s relationships to creation” (177) he launches into a diatribe against “the rational theology of early Christianity,” detecting there “a gateway to onto-theology,” and suggesting that I subscribe to “the ontic realism of the Trinity.” Where does one begin to respond to such a broadside blast?
Like Hart, I regard doctrinal accounts of the Trinity as having narrative and liturgical sources—sources in inscripturated stories of faith and in rituals of Jewish and Christian worship. As I say in chapter 12, doctrines are “attempts to render explicit the significant meaning of a [religious] community’s stories of faith and rituals of worship” (241). I also hold that the propositional truth of doctrines such as those that pertain to the Trinity is “indexed to such significant meaning” (241). So if classical Trinitarian theology fails to render well the meaning of our inscripturated stories and worshipful rituals, then it needs to be criticized and revised.
Notice, however, that doctrinal criticism and doctrinal revision rely heavily on rational practices, and these are intrinsic to the practice of a religion that, like Christianity, includes not only teachings and doctrines but also theological explications of teachings and doctrines. If classical Christian theology messed up on “the Trinity,” then this must be demonstrated, and alternative formulations need to be offered. One “Trinitarian” formulation I have found helpful is to say that God calls, guides, and inspires us “in the very stuff of creation and human life.” So far as I can tell, this formulation carries not a whiff of ontic realism with respect to the Trinity. Yet I would want to remain open to correction from those who are better versed in Christian theology than I am. Moreover, if I were a theologian, I would want to show, through immanent criticism, how classical formulations fail and how, when elaborated, a formulation like the one just suggested is better suited to render explicit the significant meaning of Christianity’s inscripturated stories and rituals of worship. Instead of broadsides aimed at classical Christian theology, I would recommend immanent criticism with metacritical intent.
Immanent Criticism with Metacritical Intent
That, essentially, is what I recommend for contemporary reformational philosophers too, whether they address their own immediate tradition or take up topics and texts in the wider philosophical tradition. Not all of my readers will endorse this recommendation, however, and questions about it have arisen in two of the blog contributions. Bob Sweetman’s commentary on the essay “Reformational Philosophy after Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven” (chapter 2) asks whether, with its emphasis on immanent criticism, my critical retrieval of earlier generations of reformational philosophy errs on the side of philosophical solidarity at the expense of religious difference. Ben Hampshire’s commentary on the essay “Metacritique” (chapter 9) wonders whether my emphasis on historiography’s making a creative contribution would impede the transmission of an intellectual tradition to subsequent generations.
Sweetman rightly highlights the appeal to solidarity that underlies my emphasis on immanent criticism. He describes this as “solidarity with philosophy [as] a cultural form,” and he raises two questions about it. First, does such solidarity let one maintain the central reformational task of “witnessing to the religious root of all human endeavours” and to the cosmic “integrating role of the Christ?” Second, have the conditions that prompted Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven’s “dichotomizing edginess” toward other philosophical traditions really changed so much that now reformational philosophers can afford “greater solidarity with the religiously heterogeneous ethos of current philosophy”?
Permit me two clarifying remarks before I address these excellent questions. First, the solidarity that motivates my emphasis on immanent critique is not in the first instance solidarity with philosophy as a cultural form but rather solidarity with fellow human beings who, among other activities, try to make philosophical sense of their lives and society and sometimes do this in the vigorously disciplined manner of academic philosophy. I start from the assumption that “we are all in this together”—i.e., we are all created, fallen, and redeemable, to use traditional reformational language. Further, we all owe each other solidarity—mutual recognition—in a social setting, no matter how difficult on occasion this may be to muster. Solidarity is not mere tolerance, however, and it is not incompatible with critique and transformation.
Second, and in line with what I have just said, I do not emphasize immanent criticism tout court. As becomes more obvious in chapters 9 and 14, I emphasize immanent criticism with metacritical intent. I begin with the assumption that I can learn from another philosopher’s contributions—why else would one bother to study them?—and I do not begin with the assumption that these are either fundamentally right or fundamentally wrong. Whether they are right or wrong, and in which respects, needs to be discovered through careful scrutiny, paying close attention to the texts, arguments, rhetoric, and hidden assumptions in which potential contributions are wrapped up. Yet, in the end, the goal of immanent criticism is neither immanence nor criticism but the achievement of transformative insight. This is a laborious process. I see it as a labor of love, love not simply for philosophy but for fellow human beings and for all of creation.
Yet, in the end, the goal of immanent criticism is neither immanence nor criticism but the achievement of transformative insight. This is a laborious process. I see it as a labor of love, love not simply for philosophy but for fellow human beings and for all of creation.
Accordingly, in response to Sweetman’s first question, I do not see the exercise of philosophical solidarity as either impeding or neglecting the challenge to bear witness to the heartedness of all human efforts. I do, however, believe that such witness is better borne, at least in contemporary circumstances, by showing rather than telling, by demonstrating in the very manner of doing philosophy that the entire enterprise, like the rest of society and culture, hinges on the spiritual direction in which it proceeds. Moreover, matters of spiritual direction do not line up neatly with one tradition or another in either philosophy or religion. Reformational philosophy, too, must remain open to spiritual redirection.
Do I say this because I think there has been a dramatic shift in the conditions that prompted the reformational “edginess” of an earlier generation? On one hand, my answer is yes. We live in an economically and technologically globalizing society where religious adherents often exacerbate political conflicts rather than develop the global ethic that would be required not only to redirect economic and technological systems but also to develop suitable transnational frameworks of law and governance. At the same time, by now the ancient, medieval, and modern philosophies that Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven challenged have been thoroughly problematized both within and outside philosophy. Indeed, philosophy itself, both as a tradition and as an academic discipline, is under severe threat from powerful bureaucratic, economic, and cultural forces. How should reformational philosophers address such a world? To begin with an emphasis on religious difference and antithesis seems both parochial and outdated.
On the other hand, the spiritual conflicts that Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven noted and articulated have not gone away, and the “ethos” of professional philosophy is even less hospitable to wide-ranging, religiously informed, and spiritually motivated thought than it was in their day. It would be naïve to write and speak as if reformational philosophers are simply “part of the (professional) club.” Nevertheless, I think it is incumbent on reformational philosophers today to let the opposition come to them, as it surely will and surely does, rather than to begin in an oppositional stance.
Reformational solidarity, then, does not ignore deep-going differences, but it looks for life-giving insights both within and beyond these differences. That is one reason why, when I discuss the role of metacritique in the historiography of philosophy, I say philosophical historians must not only move beyond the positions they immanently criticize but also participate creatively in the history they report. They should not simply report on this history. They should also make a contribution with regard to the problems and solutions they locate via immanent criticism. Philosophical historiography, too, should be a redemptive enterprise.
This approach makes Ben Hampshire wonder whether it precludes efforts simply to pass on the philosophical tradition, an urgent task, he says, “because most people have little or no knowledge, familiarity, or experience with philosophy and its perennial questions.” Having taught philosophy to undergraduates for more than 20 years, I recognize his worry as legitimate. Yet I do not think creative participation and faithful transmission are at odds. When I taught undergraduate aesthetics at Calvin College, my course touched down in historically significant figures and texts, from Plato and Aristotle to Hume and Kant to Adorno and Benjamin, for example. I framed our historical inquiry around the emergence, articulation, and contestation of two issues: aesthetic normativity and artistic autonomy. The students and I also examined how feminist, postmodernist, and other critiques of the Western philosophical tradition do or do not help address these issues. Both issues are important in my own work as a systematic philosopher, and they have salience in the tradition of reformational aesthetics.
I like to think my aesthetics students simultaneously received a solid grounding in the history of Western philosophical aesthetics and became proto-participants in creatively addressing its issues, not only in the classroom but also in their own lives. I also believe that historically-grounded, problem-posing pedagogy like this does more to keep the philosophical tradition and its questions alive than a more “impartial” and “comprehensive” survey of the history of aesthetics would at the undergraduate level. So, although I recognize the tension Hampshire mentions, I do not think creative participation and faithful transmission must be at odds in a pedagogical context—nor in scholarly research and writing either.
 This is not to deny that there is a distinct domain of kinship, friendship, and intimate partnerships—such as Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven label “moral” or “ethical”—nor is it to deny that there is a social domain where the societal principle of justice sets the dominant tone— namely, the state and related institutions.
 See chapter 7 (“Relational Autonomy”) in Lambert Zuidervaart, Art in Public: Politics, Economics, and a Democratic Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 207-40, and Lambert Zuidervaart, “Creating a Disturbance: Art, Social Ethics, and Relational Autonomy,” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 90.4 (2015): 235-46.
 See chapter 6 (“Countervailing Forces”) in Art in Public, 170-203.
 To be fair, here Habermas is saying that only morality, not either science or art, can replace the normative authority that once attached to religion. He also recognizes that morality is not as clearly differentiated as science and art are in the modern world. See Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, trans. Thomas McCarthy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1987), vol. 2, pp. 91-2.
 Lambert Zuidervaart, Artistic Truth: Aesthetics, Discourse, and Imaginative Disclosure (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). For a short summary of this book and of Art in Public that places them in the context of reformational aesthetics, see “Imagination, Art, and Civil Society”—chapter 7 in Lambert Zuidervaart, Art, Education, and Cultural Renewal: Essays in Reformational Philosophy, Volume 2 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, forthcoming).
 Lambert Zuidervaart, “How Not to Be an Anti-Realist: Habermas, Truth, and Justification.” Philosophia Reformata 77 (2012): 1-18; also in Truth Matters: Knowledge, Politics, Ethics, Religion, ed. Lambert Zuidervaart, Allyson Carr, Matthew Klaassen, and Ronnie Shuker (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013), 23-45.
 The first monograph, titled Critical Retrieval: Truth in Husserl, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School, is currently under review for possible publication. The second, as yet untitled, is a work in progress. Its contents are summarized in my essay “Holistic Alethic Pluralism: A Reformational Research Program,” Philosophia Reformata 81.2 (2016), forthcoming.
 I leave aside the complication that questions about goodness also figure into questions about legitimacy, and truth and goodness, albeit intimately connected, are not the same.
 Lambert Zuidervaart, “Spirituality, Religion, and the Call to Love: On Being a Christian Philosopher,” in Art, Education, and Cultural Renewal (forthcoming). An earlier version, given as a lecture in November 2014 to the Scripture, Faith, and Learning seminar at ICS, is available online. The formulation of God’s calling, guiding, and inspiring stems from my reworking what an endnote to “Earth’s Lament” describes as Vollenhoven’s “Trinitarian distinction among three relationship that God sustains with creation” (387). See the entire note (n. 19) for the details of this distinction and its relevance for thoughts about law and order.
 Perhaps I should add that I have found Frederick Copleston’s A History of Philosophy to be an invaluable resource for teaching undergraduate philosophy, even though I have never assigned its volumes as course texts. I may be wrong, but Copleston strikes me as an engaged reporter. Indeed, I regard his work in the history of philosophy as a successful synthesis of creative participation and faithful transmission.
Lambert Zuidervaart is Professor of Philosophy at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto and Professor of Philosophy, status only, at the University of Toronto. He and his wife Joyce Recker live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Philosophy at Calvin College. Recognized as a leading Adorno scholar, and widely published in aesthetics and social philosophy, he is currently developing a comprehensive and transformative conception of truth. His other interests include singing, hiking, and hanging out with friends and his Golden Retriever Hannah Estelle. In 2010 he published the literary memoir Dog-Kissed Tears: Songs of Friendship, Loss, and Healing (Wipf and Stock, Resource Publications). More information about his scholarship and teaching is at his faculty web page.