Sellars and the Origin of the Theory of Folk Psychology

In Saving Belief, Lynne Rudder-Baker takes to task one of the two central doctrines within reductionist/eliminativist (RE) philosophies of mind: the doctrine of folk-psychology as an empirical theory. This doctrine, put simply, states that what traditional philosophers take to be the very ‘stuff’ of the mind – propositional attitudes, for example – is a kind of empirical theory and framework used in every-day, common-sense interaction and prediction of behaviour. Paul Churchland defines it thus: Continue reading

A Monstrous Indifference, by Joy Overcome: Pt. 1

The reader of this essay may at first be excused for the feeling of bewilderment that is sure to set upon her on her reading of the title. Cormac McCarthy and H.P Lovecraft are hardly literary bedfellows, and to draw the central themes of their writing together by interpreting an independently developed video game may appear to many to be a futile, as well inappropriate, exercise in interpretation. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Calvin, Barth and Reformed Theology’, eds. Neil B. MacDonald, Carl Trueman

Calvin, Barth and Reformed Theology‘, eds. Neil B. MacDonald, Carl Trueman, Paternoster, 196 pp. $26.00

This collection of seven essays – six of which directly compare the theology of John Calvin and Karl Barth, with one focusing just on Calvin – might be some of the best engagement with Barth’s theology from a Reformed perspective I’ve read. As a word of warning, these essays for the most part clearly favour Calvin and Reformed orthodoxy over Barth, which should only upset Barthians (generally a good sign). Being such a slim volume is a strength here, as the authors of the various essayshave plenty of room to breathe and develop their themes. Since there are only seven essays, I’ll offer a brief reflection on each. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘The Sacrament of the Word Made Flesh: The Eucharistic Theology of Thomas F. Torrance’, by Robert J. Stamps

The Sacrament of the Word Made Flesh: The Eucharistic Theology of Thomas F. Torrance, by Robert J. Stamps, Wipf And Stock, 352 pp. $41.00

In this volume, Robert Stamps attempts a systematic exposition of T.F. Torrance’s sacramental theology. This had to have been a daunting task, given the massive number of footnotes from both well-known and very obscure writings by Torrance on the topic of the sacraments. This is probably one of the strengths of the book: the sources are handled superbly, and even folks who are somewhat familiar with Torrance are bound to read something of his they haven’t seen before here. This could almost serve as a primer for Reformed sacramental theology in general, since Calvin (and to a lesser extent Luther and Roman Catholicism) is a prominent conversation and at times sparring partner. It’s safe to say that I learned a good deal not only of Torrance but of Calvin’s understanding of the sacrament here.

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Notes on Naturalizing the Mind

Naturalizing intentionality is easy. We could go Searle’s route, and argue for a causal, but not ontological, reduction of intentionality and intentional states, as well as their emergence from brain processes. Intentionality here would be inseparable from consciousness, and would be a way of representing the world so we can act on it. Keeping with Searle, an arrangement of particles by an agent would be an example of derived intentionality, the same kind of intentionality that language has. Continue reading

A Confession Against Tradition: T.F. Torrance and the Role of Justification in the Scottish Confession of Faith

‘Justification by Christ alone calls in question all systems and orders, and calls them in question because Jesus Christ alone is central and supreme in the one Church of God. In any true theological system, Justification is by reference to Christ alone, for conformity to Christ as the Truth of God for us is the one ultimate principle of unity.’ (Thomas Torrance)

In his gloss on the Scottish Confession of Faith, T.F. Torrance spends a good deal of time on the doctrine of justification. This is interesting, because as Karl Barth notes, ‘the doctrine of justification is never discussed in the Scots Confession,’ (The Theology of the Reformed Confessions, p. 130). What Torrance picks up on is the expression of the nature and consequences of the doctrine. We now will turn to the nature of the doctrine.
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Book Review: ‘Evangelical, Catholic and Reformed: Doctrinal Essays on Barth and Related Themes’ by George Hunsinger

Evangelical, Catholic and Reformed: Doctrinal Essays on Barth and Related Themes by George Hunsinger, Eerdmans, 331 pp. $34.00

 

Evangelical, Catholic and Reformed has fast become one of my favourite collections of theological essays, for a couple of reasons. First, as you may have guessed from the title, the focus is on broad, ecumenical themes in a Barth-ian key, meaning that Barth is at the center of most of the various discussions. Hunsingers exposition of Barth in relation to these topics is masterful, and shows just how Barth can contribute to matters of ecumenical and catholic theology today, and this is no easy task. Second, the essays very rigorous (but quite readable). Hunsinger has a real familiarity and mastery of his sources and conversation partners, and reads them in a charitable but critical manner. Since there are a large number of essays, I won’t review each one, but focus on those that stood out to me. Continue reading