Edited by Chris L. Firestone and Nathan A. Jacobs
In The Persistence of the Sacred in Modern Thought, Chris L. Firestone, Nathan A. Jacobs, and thirteen other contributors examine the role of God in the thought of major European philosophers from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. The philosophers considered are, by and large, not orthodox theists; they are highly influential freethinkers, emancipated by an age no longer tethered to the authority of church and state. While acknowledging this fact, the contributors are united in arguing that this is only one side of a complex story. To redress the imbalance of attention to secularism among crucial modern thinkers and to consolidate a more theologically informed view of modernity, they focus on the centrality of the sacred (theology and God) in the thought of these philosophers. The essays, each in its own way, argue that the major figures in modernity are theologically astute, bent not on removing God from philosophy but on putting faith and reason on a more sure footing in light of advancements in science and a perceived need to rethink the relationship between God and world.
By highlighting and defending the theologically affirmative dimensions of thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, Gottfried Leibniz, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, F. W. J. Schelling, G. W. F. Hegel, and others, the essayists present a forceful and timely correction of widely accepted interpretations of these philosophers. To ignore or downplay the theological dimensions of the philosophical works they address, they argue, distorts our understanding of modern thought.
Contributors: Nicholas Adams, Hubert Bost, Philip Clayton, John Cottingham, Yolanda Estes, Chris L. Firestone, Lee Hardy, Peter C. Hodgson, Nathan A. Jacobs, Jacqueline Mariña, A. P. Martinich, Richard A. Muller, Myron B. Penner, Stephen D. Snobelen, Nicholas Wolterstorff.
“Over the past twenty-five years there has been a gradual change in the study of modern philosophy toward recognizing the centrality of our relation to God in the work of most of the major modern thinkers of the period. The Persistence of the Sacred in Modern Thought is a timely and useful collection that has the potential to crystallize this important development in the study of modern philosophy.” — John E. Hare, Yale Divinity School
“This volume makes an original contribution to discussion about modernity and secularization and the under-appreciated place of God in the thought of a number of important modern and late modern European thinkers. It will be of significance for scholars and students of religion and theology, philosophy, and intellectual history.” — Robert Louden, University of Southern Maine
“In this important and timely volume, editors Firestone and Jacobs bring together a host of distinguished scholars to consider the theological views of modern philosophers and the role that such views played in the development of their philosophies. This book is sweeping in its scope . . . . The essays in this book are excellent and, individually, stand as contributions to the literature. More impressively, though, the essays collectively serve to challenge the prominent ‘secularization’ of modern philosophy as proposed by Leo Strauss, among others.” — Choice
“[Firestone and Jacobs] have compiled fifteen essays that focus on discrediting the idea that religion was absent in the thinking of modern philosophers. The purpose of the essays is to reverse the secularizing trend evident over the last two hundred years. . . . Timely, intelligent, [and] thought-provoking.” — Comitatus
“Certainly . . . the authors of The Persistence of the Sacred in Modern Thought make a useful and original contribution by correcting willful or innocent misunderstandings of the role of God in modern philosophy and by pointing to the need for contemporary scholars to be more aware of their own historical and cultural presuppositions in approaching texts from the past.” — Philosophy in Review
“To their credit, these essays, incorporating a remarkably cohesive theme, advance modest proposals of revision and not carte blanche dismissal of all previous scholarship. The documentation is thorough, the writing is technical but crisp, and the arguments are compelling.” — Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
“In short, The Persistence of the Sacred in Modern Thought seeks to amend exuberantly secularist accounts of modern thought. It succeeds strikingly. . . . Inasmuch as the book shows how profoundly the sacred infuses modern thought, and insofar as it does so in a way that will surprise and challenge secularists and theists alike, it deserves wide, appreciative reading.” — Journal of Church and State
A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2013