Faith Order Understanding: Natural Theology in the Augustinian Tradition

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9780888444219: Faith Order Understanding: Natural Theology in the Augustinian Tradition
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In Faith Order Understanding, all of the late Louis Mackey's virtues are on display. His sensitivity to language and to the limits of language to bear stable meaning seems especially appropriate to the study of what is arguably the most elastic of the medieval traditions of thought, the so-called Augustinian tradition. Defining that tradition by the project of 'faith seeking understanding,' Mackey documents this point at one of those places in any body of Christian thought where heaven and earth can be said to meet - rational reflection on the existence of God. What he makes clear is that 'not everyone who proves the existence of God is proving the same thing' and 'those who prove the existence of God do not all understand the nature of proof in the same way.' This is especially true to the variety of such reflections found in the Augustinian tradition and among its four greatest medieval representatives: Augustine, Anselm, Bonaventure, Scotus.

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About the Author:

Louis Mackey (1926-2004) was born in Sidney, Ohio. He received his BA in English from Capital University, before proceeding to Duke University for graduate work in philosophy. Robert E. Cushman of Duke Divinity School became his mentor and eventually facilitated his transfer to Yale, where he completed a dissertation on Kierkegaard. He held professorships at Yale and at Rice before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught philosophy for thirty-five years. His wide-ranging works include Kierkegaard: A Kind of Poet (1971), Peregrinations of the Word (1997), Fact, Fiction, and Representation (1997), and An Ancient Quarrel Continued (2002). In addition to his work in philosophy and literary criticism, Mackey enjoyed performing music and acting (credits include Slacker [1991 and Waking Life [2001) and served regularly as lay reader at All Saints' Episcopal Church, Austin.

Review:

One sees Mackey's work in Peregrinations of the Word (1997) and in the present volume as together doing for the Augustinian tradition something similar to what Etienne Gilson did for (existential) Thomism. As Gilson argued that Thomism laid bare a perennial feature of the Western philosophical tradition - the need to acknowledge and account for being and existence in one's philosophical reflection - so Mackey argues in these works that the Augustinian tradition too lays bare a perennial feature of the Western tradition, that dialectic of faith and understanding that comes to anchor itself in faith to the reality and implications of hierarchic order. - Robert Sweetman, Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto

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